Google Tips on Driving An RV for the First Time

Renting Your First RV - How To Drive

Renting an RV for the first time?  Picking the right rig is a combination of many things and most people just look at how many people they can get to sleep in it and what is the rental cost.  There are a few other factors to consider when renting an RV.  You should look at the size of the RV and ask yourself if you would be comfortable driving it.  

No matter what size RV you rent, we recommend taking the first day of travel slow so that you can get used to the feel of the RV.  You want to become familiar with steering, braking, and acceleration of the RV so you can drive safely under all conditions.   Practice backing up – you never know when you will need to go backwards.

Here are some tips to consider when driving an RV for the first time:

At some time during your trip you are going to drive up and down hills especially if you are in the mountains.  In addition to climbing hills in your RV it is also important to go down hills with a feeling of full control. I have always used the old adage that whatever speed you went up the hill is probably the right speed to come down the hill.

On the run down the hill it may state a 6% grade for seven miles and with a speed limit of 35 mph for trucks. I would drop down to probably second gear and then run between 30 and 40 mph. Brake down to 30 mph rather briskly and then  off the brake and let your rig run up to 40 mph, this was information supplied by the Highway Patrol several years ago. Continuing this process will help in keeping your brakes cool, especially if you are driving a diesel.  Keep your descent under control.

Many gas powered motorhomes have transmissions which respond to a tap of the foot on the brake pedal and then downshift for you when a decline is sensed. Ask the RV rental company for their recommendation for braking when going downhill or read their manual if provided.


Gas Mileage – Many of our customers are RV renters and frequently ask us what gas mileage they can expect.  The answer is really dependent on your driving habits.  If you stomp on the gas pedal you can pretty much guarantee your gas mileage will be less than if you press gently and don’t worry if you are the last one to get through the intersection.  Also, we recommend driving with empty holding tanks and carry no more water than what is really needed for an emergency to assist you in obtaining better gas mileage.

Another item for RV renters to consider is driver fatigue.  When driving a RV, we recommend limiting yourself whenever possible, to a maximum of 250 miles per day. Try to stop every two hours, take a short break, walk around the rig, and check the tires and stretch.  Driving an RV is not like driving a car, and it puts a little more pressure on one to be alert, and aware of your surroundings.

Nobody likes to drive behind an RV, all the nuts are out there trying to pass, creating all kinds of potential accidents; we RV drivers have to stay sharp. I know what I am driving and how difficult it is to stop, I try to maintain a highway speed of 60 mph and maintain adequate space from the vehicle in front of me.

When you come into camp, you do not want to feel exhausted.  If your head is a nodding, you have gone too far. Many times my wife and I will stop fifty miles from camp, have lunch, and take a short break. It makes going into camp a lot easier, parking the rig can be stressful, the little break helps.

By Norm Eichberger, RV Adventure-USA
Author of the forthcoming book, RV Retirement-Straight Talk