Last Updated on November 8, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Are you asking, “How do I learn to drive an RV?”
When we first started RVing, I was sure you needed a special license to operate an RV—especially the bigger ones. I was pretty surprised when I learned that you could take one of these huge RVs out on the road without any formal training.
How Do I Learn to Drive an RV Responsibly?
Since there aren’t any laws against any “regular” driver getting behind the wheel, I figured I would change it to how you can learn to drive an RV responsibly if you don’t feel confident about your skills.
Some people are more than happy to hop in the RV and see what happens, but some of you might be like me and be a little on the anxious side of things.
If I hadn’t had a husband that was a truck driver in the military for years, I would have totally done what I am going to lay out below. Thankfully, my husband was a great teacher and helped me drive the RV confidently.
Do I Need a Special License to be an RV Driver?
Above I said you didn’t need a special license, but there are some times when you do—it’s just very rare.
Question: When do you need a special license to drive an RV?
Answer: Each state has different licensing rules, but often, if the vehicle is over 26,000 pounds, you will need a special license.
Some states require you have a CDL even if you aren’t driving the vehicle for business reasons. Make sure to check your specific state rules, but if your RV is pretty small, you should be good to go.
RV Driving School
If you want to avoid close calls and frustration, then going to an RV driving school might be the perfect option for you to enhance your RV driving skills. Many people find they are much more confident after going to driving school for RV education—especially for larger rigs. It’s much different than driving a passenger car after all.
Question: How much do RV driving schools cost?
Answer: You’re usually looking at paying at least $500 for professional instructors to train you to drive your RV. However, you can find some by the hour training private lesson situations that are less expensive.
When you go to one of these RV driving schools, they teach you how to deal with situations that might come up on the road. Oftentimes you will learn about things that could happen that you had no idea about.
Besides that, they often talk to you about how to get your RV to pass inspection if that’s something your state requires.
Tips for Driving Your New RV
If you don’t feel like going to RV driving school and sitting through safety seminars, you can learn it on your own, even if you’re new RV owners.
As I told you above, my husband taught me how to do this, and I was so grateful. I’m such a control freak that while he’s an amazing driver and actually a professional—I would rather do it myself.
Yes, I am weird, but I’ve accepted that, and so has he.
Here are some simple things I’ve learned that can help you hit the road with confidence.
Drive on Empty Roads
Before you decide to take a cross-country road trip, find some roads without heavy traffic that don’t have a lot of people on them and practice.
Remember when you were learning to drive a car? Well, this is much bigger, so you need to be even more careful.
When you’re on these roads, try to see how you do staying in between the lines, make lane changes, and staying calm.
I remember when I started pulling our rig that I would be so tense that by the time we go to our spot, I was in such serious pain from gripping the steering wheel too tight. Easy does it.
Ease Into It
Once you feel like you’re ready to take your first trip, just go an hour or two away. Trust me. That two hours will feel like the longest hours of your life if you’re all stressed out.
Ease into it so you won’t be too far away from home if there are any problems.
Check Your Rig Before You Leave
The best way to avoid an eventful and stressful RV trip is to check your rig before you leave and head to your camping spot.
You never know when you might leave something unsecured or forget to put something where it goes. That might not sound like a big deal, but if something is flapping around or flies off while you’re driving—that’s not good.
Shadow a Successful RV Driver
If you have someone that already knows how to drive an RV, it can be helpful to shadow them.
While they’re driving, ask them questions about why they did or didn’t do things on the road. You will be surprised at how many situations pop up that help you make split-second decisions while you’re pulling your RV.
Know Your RV’s Measurements & Weight
Knowing how tall, wide, and long your RV is will help you avoid tight situations. You should also know the weight of your RV in case there are roads with maximum weight limits on them.
When I was driving, I was always worried that my RV would be too wide for some of the roads we went down. When I measured it and then looked at the measurements of the roads, it made me feel safer.
My husband also let me know that it’s okay to drive in the middle of the road on back roads if no one is coming. I honestly didn’t think about it, and was making my life a lot harder than I needed to.
Knowing these measurements is also helpful when you’re planning out campsites to visit. If your RV is really long, you might find you’re limited to only a few spots.
The good news is that a lot of campgrounds save some of the most amazing spots for the big RVs. That’s a plus if you’re a big rig, but it can be annoying if you’re a little RV trying to get a sweet spot.
Plan Your Fuel Stop
One part of driving a lot of people don’t think about until they’re on the road is getting fuel. If you don’t plan things out, it can be pretty frustrating.
Not all fuel stops are friendly to RVs, and the bigger your RV is, the more annoying it can be.
Practice close to home at gas stations you know well to figure out how to pull into places to get fuel. Once you do it a few times, you’ll get the swing of things—literally—and be able to get gas or diesel as needed.
How Do I Learn to Drive an RV? – Conclusion
Now you’ve got some basic tips that can save you a lot of trouble when you’re learning how to drive a motorhome or pull a travel trailer.
RV driving doesn’t have to be stressful, even if you have anxiety. Use these tips to hit the road without a care.
If you need more tips and advice to help you enjoy your next RV trip, make sure to check out some of my other articles, like How to Make Your RV Refrigerator Colder or How to Do an RV Power Awning Upgrade.