There are few adventures that are more fun than camping. You get to immerse yourself in nature (which offers a wealth of mental health benefits), grill in the great outdoors (check out these culinary camping delights), toast marshmallows over an open campfire (be sure to take precautions when doing so), take time to get lost in a good book (find some inspiration here), and connect with your camping mates in a way you simply can’t when you’re in the city. And if you’re taking a recreational vehicle on your outing, the fun begins on the drive to your campsite!

Using an RV for camping trips is a popular way to explore the great outdoors. However, there are quite a few basics to learn when it comes to driving these oversized vehicles so you can avoid having any accidents. Once you get the hang of driving an RV, though, you'll surely have the itch to hit the road as often as you can manage.

Be proactive and prepared when you get behind the wheel:

Check into taking a course designed for driving recreational vehicles before your first trip. Driving an RV is quite different than driving a regular car, especially when it comes to blind spots, braking and turning. One of the first steps to safe RV driving begins with making adjustments before hitting the road. Check your seat and mirror positions and properly stow and secure everything to minimize issues and distractions while you are driving.

Utilize the help of other adults traveling with you as a guide for parking or tough turns or as an additional driver. For your first few trips, it may work best to stay in the right-hand lane on interstates and stay under the speed limit until you gain confidence. Stay about four seconds behind the vehicle in front of you to allow room for braking, and regularly scan 10 to 12 seconds ahead down the road to be prepared for potential issues.

Axle Addict suggests stopping for breaks every couple of hours. Look for rest stops or truck stops to accommodate the size of your vehicle, and use these breaks to take a quick walk so you stay awake and alert. Use the restroom and do a brief check of your RV's exterior before hitting the road again. Even if your motorhome is fully equipped with everything you think you need, stopping regularly to stretch your legs will keep you feeling invigorated behind the wheel.

Know the size of your vehicle to avoid accidents:

It’s vital that you know both the width and the height of your motorhome, including an air conditioner or anything else on the roof of the vehicle. KOA recommends writing down the exact exterior height along with the gross vehicle weight rating and keeping that handy for a quick reference as you drive.

Be cautious entering gas stations, going over bridges, or driving under an overpass, as the size of your vehicle may exceed the room available. If you aren't vigilant about this, you may be setting yourself up for an accident or vehicle damage. You also want to plan your route thoroughly to avoid rush hours, construction zones, and winding or mountainous roads that will be difficult to navigate in an RV.

Make adjustments when turning in an RV:

It can take some practice to get accustomed to making turns in an RV. Motorhomes are significantly longer than regular cars, so you have to pull forward further than you expect before starting your turn. In addition, the back of the RV swings out in the opposite direction while turning, and this tail swing can lead to accidents if you don't anticipate it.

Camping in a recreational vehicle can make for a great adventure, but you need to be prepared for how different it feels to drive a vehicle this large. Learn the basics related to the size and weight of your RV, and do thorough route planning to avoid tricky situations. Stay alert by taking breaks and using other adults for driving, and learn how to turn properly. RV camping can be addictive, and some time spent learning the basics before you begin traveling will serve you well once you hit the road. 

Author: Jamie Strand is an unashamed nerd. He loves writing about science-related topics and spending time with his two daughters. He wants to share his love of science and math with kids today and that’s why he and a friend got together to create

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