Best Toad for RVing?

If you’ve been around enough RVers, you’ve probably heard the term toad once or twice. It’s not a special pet that motorhome owners have. You won’t find one in an aquarium or zoo. So what is an RV toad and why do you need one if you own a motorhome?

Motorhomes are awesome: they bring the home along with you no matter where you go. But on the other hand, they can be pretty unwieldy for smaller trips—like that moment when you remember you forgot to bring Pringles and realize that running to the store to get them would mean breaking down camp, packing everything up, and then driving your hulking 40-foot beast to the grocery store.

While many different types of vehicles can be towed (often referred to as toad) behind a motorhome, there’s one important caveat: only certain vehicles can be flat towed or towed with their four wheels on the asphalt.

No, I am not talking about taking an amphibious creature RVing with us. In the RV world, the word toad is slang for a towed vehicle. It’s a silly wordplay that brings a smile to RVers’ faces much like a stinky slinky and other RV terminology. A towed vehicle is also often called a dinghy like on a ship.

But I digress. This article is about the most popular toad vehicles that RVers tow behind their rigs.

When your home-on-wheels is a large motorhome like ours you need a more nimble way to get around. No one wants to break camp and prepare the RV for travel mode just to go to a trailhead, or a restaurant, or for a quick trip to the nearest market.

You don’t want to fire up the Class A (or even a Class C for that matter) to explore a small town or nearby natural wonder or to navigate tight city streets. And if you did where would you park the big thing when you get there?

First, let’s take a quick look at how you can tow a vehicle behind a motorhome.

Flat towing behind Class A motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How do you tow a vehicle behind your motorhome?

There are three primary ways to tow a vehicle behind a motorhome. You can flat tow (4 wheels down), tow on a dolly (front wheels up), or pull a trailer carrying the entire vehicle (either open or enclosed). You’ll want to do some research based on your motorhome and tow capacity and be sure to prioritize safety.

Flat towing

With flat towing, the vehicle you’re towing behind your motorhome has all four wheels on the ground.

The front of the tow vehicle attaches to the motorhome’s hitch receiver with a tow bar. This also requires that the front of your car has a tow package installed including a base plate.

This is the way we’ve been towing during the entire time we’ve been on the road (going on three decades!) and we think it’s the simplest, easiest way to bring a car along. But not all vehicles can be towed with all four wheels on the ground. You’ll want to consult a dinghy towing guide for a list of cars that are capable of safely being flat-towed.

Dolly towing

Dolly towing is when the two front tires of your towed vehicle are on a two-wheel dolly and the back tires are on the road. The dolly attaches to your motorhome’s hitch like a trailer and you secure the car’s front wheels with straps.

More time is required to hook up your vehicle this way and you’ll need to have space in your campsite for it. But dolly towing provides additional options for the types of vehicles you can safely tow. And it works well if you have more than one car that you want to be able to bring with you (one at a time, of course) since it doesn’t require anything to be permanently installed in the car like with flat towing. It’s also usually less expensive than a tow bar and baseplate and the installation required to install it.

Trailer towing behind Class A motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Trailer towing

With trailer towing, you drive your tow vehicle onto, or into an open or enclosed cargo trailer, strap it down, and pull the trailer behind your RV. This makes it possible to bring virtually ANY vehicle along, assuming (1) it fits in/on the trailer and (2) the weight of it and the trailer don’t exceed your towing capacity or take your rig above its maximum gross combined weight rating (GCWR).

Similar to dolly towing, even more consideration needs to be taken for where you’ll store the trailer when it’s not in use. Most campsites won’t have enough space for your RV, your towed car, AND a trailer. And some may not allow it or charge extra even if there IS space.

What to look for in a tow-behind vehicle to maximize exploration

Bringing a toad along is all about maximizing convenience and opportunities for exploration. This could be anything from off-roading in the desert to driving a scenic byway or simply having a smaller car to run errands after parking your motorhome and setting up camp. Knowing what kinds of adventures you and your family enjoy will help to steer you toward the best vehicle to tow behind your motorhome.

Flat towing behind Class A motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Towing method preference

The first step in looking for a vehicle is determining how you want to tow. If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and low-maintenance towing method, flat towing is ideal. Depending on your tow bar system, it will likely take you no more than a few minutes to connect or disconnect your vehicle.

For some people, the biggest drawback to flat-towing may be the limitations it places on car choice since most cars can’t be flat-towed without damaging their driveline. But if you’re happy with a vehicle that can be flat-towed, that drawback is eliminated.

As previously noted, dolly towing can be a little more time-consuming than flat towing. Getting the front of the vehicle onto the dolly may take practice. Having a dolly also means caring for two more tires (the ones on the dolly itself). You may also need a place to store your dolly when it’s not in use. Keep this in mind when booking a campsite to make sure you have enough room for your RV, tow vehicle, and dolly.

Trailer towing gives you the most flexibility in terms of the vehicles you can bring along. For example, if you’re planning to travel with both a car and a motorcycle, trailer towing may a great option, especially if it’s enclosed which offers the added benefit of both security and complete protection from the elements. The downside is that it can potentially double the tow weight. Be sure you know how much weight your RV and trailer hitch can handle.

Off-roading

If you’re off-roading, choose a vehicle that maximizes your ability to seek adventure as well as your motorhome’s towing ability. Jeeps are the most common tow vehicles for off-roaders.

Carrying your gear

You can utilize your tow vehicle for carrying gear that doesn’t fit in your motorhome and you’ll also want to consider what types of items you’re likely to carry regularly. For example, our Chevrolet Equinox is perfect for large grocery runs to keep our fridge, pantry, and cupboards well stocked.

Besides gear, there’s of course the consideration for how many people normally or occasionally travel with you. A family of five will have considerably different needs than a couple. Even though there are only two of us, one of the primary reasons we chose our Equinox is because it’s capable of carrying five people, plus cargo. That way, when we’re traveling with friends we can sight-see together wirhout having to take separate vehicles.

Know your weight limits for towing and carrying gear in your tow vehicle, though. A small or midsize SUV means more cargo capacity which means you could exceed the GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) for your motorhome and/or the capacity of the hitch receiver on the back of your motorhome.

Class A motorhome with toad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Can my existing vehicle be flat towed?

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if your vehicle can be towed behind a motorhome. There used to be many cars that were flat towable but today that list has shrunk to just a handful.

There are many vehicles from previous years that are flat-towable. One of the easiest ways to determine this for your vehicle is to check the Owner’s Manual. Go to the Index and look under ‘R’ for the Recreational Towing section (if you don’t see a Recreational Towing section, then your vehicle cannot be flat-towed). Once you’ve located that section, read through the instructions and warnings outlined by the manufacturer. Somewhere in those instructions, they’ll very clearly say whether or not you should tow your vehicle with four wheels down.

Does my vehicle need to be modified to be flat towed?

Just because your vehicle can be towed behind an RV doesn’t mean that you can simply hook it up and go. There are many vehicles that require additional accessories in order to be towable.

As a general rule of thumb, most vehicles made in the last 10 years will typically need either a battery charger or a battery disconnect. To find out if you need either one of those products, double check the Recreational Towing section of your Owner’s Manual again. If the manufacturer says to disconnect your battery then you don’t need a battery charger. If the manufacturer doesn’t specify or if they specifically state not to disconnect the battery then you’ll likely need some kind of battery charger.

However, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach—some vehicles don’t need either of those products while others require things like third-party 12v outlets to power a braking system.

Flat towing behind Class A motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What 2023-2024 vehicles can be flat towed?

Family RVing Magazine publishes a yearly list of vehicles that can be flat towed. For 2023-2024, they list the following vehicles as being flat towable:

  • Blazer (Chevy)
  • Bronco (Ford)
  • Canyon (GMC)
  • Colorado (Chevy)
  • Corsair Grand Touring Hybrid (Lincoln)
  • Edge (Ford)
  • Encore (Buick)
  • Equinox (Chevy)
  • Escalade (Cadillac)
  • Escape Hybrid (Ford)
  • Expedition (Ford)
  • F-150, 250, 350, & 450 (Ford)
  • Gladiator (Jeep)
  • Grand Cherokee (Jeep)
  • Maverick (Ford)
  • Nautilus Hybrid (Lincoln)
  • Navigator (Lincoln)
  • RAM 1500, 2500, & 3500 (Dodge/RAM)
  • Sierra 1500, 2500 & 3500 (GMC)
  • Silverado 1500, 2500, & 3500 (Chevy)
  • Suburban (Chevy)
  • Tahoe (Chevy)
  • Trailblazer (Chevy)
  • Trax (Chevy)
  • Versa S (Nissan)
  • Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer (Jeep)
  • Wrangler (Jeep)
  • Yukon (GMC)
  • Z (Nissan)

While this may feel like a decent number of choices many popular vehicles from years past (such as the Honda CR-V) no longer come in flat-towable models. (It’s worth noting, however, that older models of these cars can still be flat-towed.) As many auto manufacturers continue to simplify their product offerings, it’s likely that this list will continue to shrink in coming years.

Flat towing behind Class A motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How do I put my car in its towing mode?

This answer is a bit more complex and difficult to answer with a one-size-fits-all solution here. The best thing to do is to consult your Owner’s Manual as I mentioned previously.

Pro tip: If you no longer have your original Owner’s Manual (or don’t have access to it now), try searching for it on the manufacturer’s website. Almost all vehicle manufacturers have online copies of their manuals.

However, as a general rule of thumb the primary thing you’ll do is put your transfer case in neutral so that your wheels can freely rotate as you move (this is a bit more complicated than simply putting your transmission to Neutral and your Recreational Towing section will lay out an exact, step-by-step process for how to do this on your vehicle).

Another very common thing you may need to do is unlock your steering column. In most cases where this is necessary, you’ll have to disconnect your vehicle’s battery. There are some cases, though, where the steering column can be unlocked by leaving the key in a certain position, pulling a fuse, etc. Again, make sure to consult your Owner’s Manual for this part.

How to choose a toad for your motorhome

Choosing a good vehicle to tow behind your motorhome requires careful consideration to ensure that the vehicle is safe, reliable, and easy to tow. Here’s an outline of the steps you should take when choosing a vehicle to tow behind your RV:

  • Determine your motorhome’s towing capacity: The first step in choosing a good vehicle to tow behind your motorhome is to determine its towing capacity. This will help you determine how much weight you can safely tow.
  • Consider the weight of the vehicle: The weight of the vehicle you choose to tow is crucial. You want to make sure that the weight of the vehicle does not exceed your motorhome’s towing capacity. Additionally, you want to choose a vehicle that is light enough to be easily towed by your motorhome.
  • Look for vehicles with flat tow capability: Some vehicles are designed for flat towing which means they can be towed with all four wheels on the ground. This is typically the easiest and most convenient way to tow a vehicle behind a motorhome.
  • Choose a vehicle with a neutral gear option: If the vehicle you choose does not have flat tow capability, make sure it has a neutral gear option. This will allow you to tow the vehicle with two wheels on the ground using a tow dolly. (Though, a flat-tow car is best.)
  • Consider the braking system: Most states require a supplemental braking system for vehicles being towed behind a motorhome. Make sure the vehicle you choose can accommodate a braking system.
  • Check the towing setup compatibility: Make sure the towing setup you have on your motorhome is compatible with the vehicle you choose. To ensure compatibility, you may need to purchase additional equipment such as a baseplate or tow bar.
  • Consider the ease of setup and hookup: Finally, consider how easy the vehicle is to set up and hook up to your motorhome. You want to choose a vehicle that is easy to prepare for towing and doesn’t require a lot of time and effort to hook up to your motorhome.
Class A motorhome with toad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Manual vs. automatic transmissions for towed vehicles

When choosing a vehicle to tow behind an RV, the type of transmission you choose can impact your towing experience. Here are some considerations when deciding between manual and automatic transmissions for vehicles you tow behind a motorhome.

Manual transmission

Generally, manual transmissions are easier to tow than automatic transmissions because they do not require any special equipment to disengage the transmission from the engine.

However, some manual transmissions require periodic running to lubricate the transmission gears which can be inconvenient while on a road trip.

Manual transmissions are also becoming less common in new vehicles so finding a vehicle with a manual transmission to tow may be more difficult.

Auto transmission

Automatic transmissions require a transmission pump to lubricate the transmission while being towed. This pump is powered by the vehicle’s battery which can drain the battery over time if the vehicle is towed for long distances without being started.

However, many newer vehicles with automatic transmissions are designed to be flat-towed which means that they can be towed without any special equipment to disengage the transmission from the engine.

Automatic transmissions are generally more convenient and easy to drive which can be an advantage if you use the towed vehicle daily during your travels.

Both manual and automatic transmissions can be suitable for towing behind a motorhome and the best vehicle depends on your preferences and the specific vehicle you plan to tow. It’s important to consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for towing the vehicle to ensure a safe and enjoyable towing experience.

Worth Pondering…

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.

—Henry Ford

What is a Super C Motorhome?

There are different types and classes of RVs available to own, each with perks that are enjoyable and well worth having. But every RVer is different and we all have different priorities based on our lifestyles and styles of camping.

When it comes to motorized (vs towable) you can choose from Class A, B, or C, each of which has its pros and cons. But there’s another class of motorized RV on the market that might surprise you and today I explore it in depth. Welcome to the Super C motorhome.

Class A motorhome (diesel pusher) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What are the classes of motorhomes?

As I mentioned above, there are several different classes of motorhome. What are they?

Class A motorhomes are the big, box-like vehicles that look the most like a bus and it’s what we drive. The house or living area extends from bumper to bumper giving Class A motorhomes the largest amount of living space for their length which is one reason for their popularity.

Class A motorhomes are available in two basic categories: Gas and diesel, obviously based on the fuel they use. Due to their rugged durability and higher torque, diesel engines are used to power the largest Class A motorhomes. Those powerful engines and the additional carrying capacity they bring allow for larger rigs with lots more heavy gear stuffed into them. Hence the higher price for a diesel-powered RV.

The engine in a Class A motorhome can be located at the front or the rear of the RV but gas rigs typically have front-mounted engines and diesel engines are usually in the rear. This is where the term diesel pusher comes from as the engine pushes the RV from the back.

Class A motorhomes come in a variety of lengths but because larger diesel models are built on rugged heavy-duty chassis they can extend up to 45 feet in length. Most diesel rigs also benefit from the luxurious ride that air suspension brings.

These large Class A motorhomes are great for people like us who live half-time plus in our RV. They can offer lots of space for both living and storage as well as large fresh, grey, and black tanks to accommodate more people and/or and more time in the boondocks. Depending on the size and floorplan, Class A motorhomes can sleep anywhere from 2 to 8 people and larger models provide ample storage space in full pass-through basement compartments.

New Class A motorhomes can range in price from over $100,000 to $2,000,000 (that’s mostly for the highest-end bus conversions) depending on their size, quality, and amenities. So the cost can be a big deterrent to owning one. And because they can get quite large, another drawback is that they can be more difficult to maneuver and harder to park. Some state and national parks won’t have sites large enough to accommodate them.

As they get larger, it becomes even more important to tow a small vehicle for exploring. Driving a Class A motorhome into town or to a remote trailhead falls somewhere between cumbersome and impossible depending on where you’re traveling.

Class B motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contrary to what may seem logical, motorhome types (A, B, and C) aren’t in size order with A being the largest and B being the smallest. If they’d consulted with me when they were crafting the naming scheme, I would have told them to put them in order!

Class B motorhomes are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Class A motorhomes being the smallest and most fuel-efficient motorhomes available. They drive and park like a van because they’re primarily built using van-based chassis: traditionally from Ford or Chevy but these days the more common choice is either the Mercedes Sprinter or Ram ProMaster. Their small size makes them easy to maneuver on city streets as well as in the boondocks making them versatile as both a home base at camp AND a vehicle to go out and explore in.

The drawback of a Class B motorhome is that they’re highly limited in terms of space and don’t usually accommodate more than one or two (very close, very tolerant) people and maybe a small child (or a small pet or two). There are people who full-time in them for which I give major props!

Class C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Class C motorhomes are the middle child of the motorized RVing world and can vary significantly in size and length. They’ll accommodate more people and have more amenities and larger tanks than Class B motorhomes and are less expensive and easier to drive and park than most Class A motorhomes. They’re recognizable because of the large over-cab extension that often houses an additional bed for kids or guests.

One surprising note about Class C motorhomes—if you need additional sleeping accommodations, many of them provide more than even the largest Class A rigs! That’s probably because they’re often designed with the ability to be the perfect family hauler.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So what is a Super C motorhome?

With all of the options listed above there are still travelers whose needs and desires are different. They want a motorhome that’s larger than a typical Class C with more luxury and more space but they don’t want the style of a Class A motorhome. They’re looking for a heavier vehicle, a larger chassis, and maybe a more significant towing capacity. What’s a traveler to do with this conundrum?

That’s where a Super C motorhome is perfect! It takes the best attributes of a Class C—and super-sizes it all

The benefits of choosing a Super C motorhome

Super C motorhomes have numerous benefits for travelers with specific needs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the greatest perks of owning one.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More robust chassis in a Super C motorhome

The foundation of a Super C motorhome is a larger, heavier-duty chassis than a standard Class C—much more akin to the chassis used for a Class A. They can range from the more consumer-grade heavy-duty truck chassis from Ford (like the F550) up to full-on truck chassis from Freightliner and even Volvo. Everything about the chassis is more robust: chassis rails are larger and stiffer; axles are larger with greater carrying capacity; wheels and brakes (often air brakes) are bigger to support and stop the extra weight; and, of course, engines are bigger and more powerful!

More living space

The larger, heavier-duty chassis of a Super C enables the manufacturers to increase the size of the motorhome overall which means that it offers more living space, the ability to accommodate more travelers (for sleeping, dining, and riding), and loads of storage space for everything you want to bring along.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Larger tank capacities on a Super C motorhome

More space in holding tanks is another advantage of the Super C motorhome. Larger models can have freshwater tanks that hold 100-150 gallons of fresh water and grey and black tanks that hold up to 75 gallons each. That makes the behemoth Super Cs ripe for some serious boondocking.

Lots of exterior storage

The number of storage compartments as well as the large size of those compartments allows you to bring a multitude of recreational items for the enjoyment of the entire family. These might include bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, surfboards, parasails, skis, and golf clubs.

Most RVers carry some basic tools for minor repairs and modifications on the road but the Super C motorhomes allow for the carrying of just about any set of tools a DIYer might want to have on hand.

The large, heavy chassis allows you to carry heavy loads and makes it a breeze to bring lots of toys along.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Higher towing capacity

The bigger chassis and larger (usually diesel) engines of Super C motorhomes allow for larger hitch receivers and larger towing capacities.

A Super C motorhome might have a towing capacity between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds. For this reason, the Super C is a common choice for travelers who haul large trailers for car racing, for example.

Great stability on the road

The larger, heavier chassis and longer wheelbase mean that the Super C motorhome is more firmly planted while driving making it more secure on the road and less susceptible to buffeting by larger vehicles. This is an attractive feature for most drivers as tall, flat-sided vehicles tend to feel the wind from both nature and large passing vehicles in a dramatic way.

More comfortable ride

Just like Class A motorhomes, Super Cs often come with air-ride suspension. The large airbags that support the weight of the coach on the chassis help to soften the ride and make them comfortable options for long-range driving. Several Super C motorhome models go so far as to incorporate air-ride driver’s seats just like a long-haul commercial truck would. That extreme isolation from the bumps and vibration of everyday driving DEFINITELY makes for a super-comfortable ride.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Super C motorhomes provide easier access for maintenance

Another benefit of the Super C motorhome is that the engine is located under the hood in the front of the vehicle which makes access for maintenance easier than that of a Class A gas or diesel pusher. Whether you’re doing your maintenance or taking it into a shop that access can come in handy.

Safety

Another benefit of the heavy engine under the hood is that it serves as protection and may provide a larger crumple zone in the event of a collision. Additionally, heavy vehicles like the Super C motorhomes tend to fare well in all but the most serious crashes due to their sheer size and weight.

The extra stability provided by the design of the Super C motorhome is another safety feature that is surely felt as one drives down the road in such a heavy, stable rig.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The disadvantages of choosing a Super C motorhome

While the Super C motorhome provides many excellent benefits, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include in this overview some of the disadvantages as well.

Higher price point

One big disadvantage especially with larger or more luxurious models can be the cost. Super C motorhomes typically range in price from $150,000–$800,000 with most new models costing more than $400,000. As with any other class of motorhome, the make, model, and age of the RV (i.e. whether it’s new or used) are cost factors. But in general, Super C RVs come at a high price point.

Fuel economy

The advantages of the heavier, larger Super C come at another cost as well. The bigger, thirstier engines consume a fair amount of fuel. Most Super C owners report fewer than ten miles per gallon. Towing a heavy towed car or large trailer behind the RV only decreases the fuel efficiency further.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Super C motorhomesc can be harder to drive/park

Bigger is not always better. Larger RVs (regardless of Class/Type) can be harder to drive and certainly make parking more challenging. Not only can it be difficult to navigate city or small-town streets but not all parking lots accommodate such large vehicles. And even when they have sufficient space, those lots can be difficult to get into with a very large rig.

The other prominent issue is campsite accommodation. Many campsites are not equipped to handle a Super C motorhome especially one hauling a long trailer. Most national park campgrounds are unable to accommodate such a large rig, for example, or the few large sites they do offer are often full.

So, while a Super C motorhome may cruise down the highway with little effort, turning, navigating small streets, parking, and backing can present unique challenges for the Super C motorhome owner.

Less living space than a comparable Class A

While having the engine up front under the hood offers advantages for ease of maintenance and safety, it does have a negative: that space is lost. So a 40-foot Super C will have less living space than a 40-foot Class A. While many Super C motorhomes will have driver and passenger seats that swivel around to offer seating in the front living area, the space consumed by the hood is still lost.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you need a CDL to drive a Super C motorhome?

Based specifically on the class of RV, a CDL is not required to drive a Super C RV. However, the size and weight of the rig can be a factor depending on the state or province in which you’re licensed.

For those who are unfamiliar, a CDL or Commercial Driver’s License must be obtained by truckers and commercial bus drivers. The driver of a Super C motorhome does not need to obtain a license like this based on the fact that he or she is driving a Super C but there are states and Canadian provinces that do require a driver to obtain a non-commercial version of this type of license if your rig weighs over 26,000 pounds, if it can carry more than 16 passengers, or if it’s equipped with air brakes.

Many Super C motorhomes weigh at or near 26,000 pounds but if you’re opting for a mode of Super C that exceeds 26,000 pounds you’ll likely need an enhanced license to do so. Check with your state or provincial motor vehicle agency to be sure. In general, it’s the state where you’re licensed that matters most. If you’re legal to drive a certain vehicle in your home state, other states offer reciprocity by allowing you to drive there as well even if they have more stringent requirements for their residents to be licensed.

Is a Super C motorhome right for you?

Choosing the class of RV that’s right for you involves evaluating your needs and desires as a traveler as well as where you intend to travel and where you intend to camp. Other important considerations include cost, fuel efficiency, and whether you need to accommodate a certain number of passengers and/or to be able to haul a small or large load.

A Super C motorhome is a wonderful, high-end rig that is just right for a unique population of travelers but it’s not a rig for everyone. While these fantastic RVs hold a multitude of advantages for some travelers they may be cost-prohibitive and/or excessively large for RVers who are traveling to explore smaller campsites in state and national parks, cities, or small lakeside campgrounds.

Many manufacturers offer Super C models including (but not limited to): Dynamax (Isata, Europa, DX3 and others), Renegade RV (Renegade XL, Ikon, Valencia, and Verona), Jayco (Seneca), Nexus RV (Triumph SC, Wraith, and Ghost), and Thor (Omni and Magnitude).

Super C motorhomes have become popular enough that even Newmar has gotten in on the game offering two models—the Super Star and the Supreme Aire. So there are plenty of options available for you to choose from.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conclusion

While the focus of this post has been the Super C motorhome, there are so many choices out there. From the multitude of driveable Class A, B, and C rigs to the wide variety of towables, there’s a rig out there for almost everyone who wants to travel and camp.

And if a Super C doesn’t sound like it would be the right choice for you, how about a look at some small Class A motorhomes, instead?

Worth Pondering…

Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.

—Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time (1962)

The Class B +: Goldilocks of Motorhomes

Most RVers know there are Class A, Class B, and Class C motorhomes but did you also know there are Class B + motorhomes? It’s confusing, though. A Class B + is really a Class C motorhome.

Class B + is a made-up marketing term. But the term Class B + motorhome is so widely used now that people and RV salespeople commonly refer to them that way. Whether accurate or not the Class B+ motorhome is the choice for many who want something bigger than a B but smaller and less boxy than a C. 

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why choose a Class B + motorhome?

The short and simple answer for most people is because a Class B + motorhome has more space than the Class B but is a small enough motorhome to be easily maneuvered.

Class B motorhomes are also known as campervans. They consist of a van body. The RV stuff is built and formed inside the walls of the van. It can get pretty close quarters in a Class B van.

A Class B + motorhome (and the traditional Class C) is built on cutaway chassis. A cutaway chassis consists of the engine and cab and behind that just the rails and wheels without walls. That back portion of the cutaway chassis is what RV manufacturers build the motorhome part on. Think of the motorhome part as a box attached to rails and outriggers to that cutaway chassis.

The box is a bit bigger and has more living room than the B van.

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is with the Class B + designation?

In short, a Class B + is an unofficial industry classification that refers to a Class C size (chassis/body) motorhome minus the cab overhang at the front that typically is used for sleeping in a Class C. For registration and insurance purposes, in fact, Class B+ motorhomes are considered a Class C.

People wanted something that doesn’t have that overhang so the industry came up with the name Class B +. In other words, it’s a marketing term. Totally made up!

A Class B Plus motorhome is built on the same cutaway chassis cabs used for Class C motorhomes typically from Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, or Ford. The living space of the Class C motorhome or any class for that matter is built by a third-party RV manufacturer. As an example, Leisure Travel Vans builds on the Ford Transit and the Mercedes Sprinter chassis.

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Advantages of a Class B +

Since the only real difference between a Class C and Class B + motorhome is the absence of the traditional overhang associated with Class Cs, a Class B + offers more space and amenities than Class B campervans.

Class B + benefits

With a Class B motorhome you don’t usually get a full bath. And if they have a shower, it’s most often a wet shower meaning the entire bathroom gets wet when you shower in it. Most Class B showers share space with the toilet and sink.

Most Class B + motorhome models, however, offer an enclosed dry shower separate from the toilet and sink which stay dry as you shower.

There’s another thing: Because the Class B + motorhome is smaller than a Class A they are easier to drive and park. You can pretty much take a B+ anywhere you can take a B. It can even fit in a parking spot at most big-box stores.

In fact, you can use a Class B + as a second vehicle, running errands, shopping, doing everything we would with the family car.

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Important features to look for in a Class B+

Despite being a niche rig type, you’ll find quite a few Class B+ models on the market. How do you decide which Class B+ motorhome is best for you? Here are a few features to consider.

Off-grid capabilities

Class B+ manufacturers understand that their nimble rigs appeal to those wanting to travel off the beaten path so units are designed with a range of off-grid capabilities. Expect to find solar power systems, water filtration, cassette toilet options, and more, either standard or as optional upgrades. 

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Platform

Do you want your rig to run on diesel or gasoline? What engine size do you want? Which van manufacturer do you prefer? These elements all relate to the Class B+ chassis which provides the platform on which the rig is built.

Class B+ motorhomes are primarily built on a Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, or Ford E-350-450 chassis and come with both diesel and gasoline engines. You can also find items like all-wheel drive and automotive handling features. There can be more than one platform available from the same Class B+ manufacturer. 

Style

Within the Class B+ motorhome category, you’ll find a range of exteriors to suit your taste. Some exteriors are stylized more like traditional motorhomes with graphic swirls and bright colors. Others use a single color for the exterior. 

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why are Class B Plus motorhomes so popular?

I think it’s because the big Class As are big and some of the smaller Class Bs are a little bit too small for first time owners. It’s like Goldilocks and the Three Bears…she found the exact right one. It’s not too big, not too small.

Worth Pondering…

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.

—C.W. Ceran

What Is A Big Rig RV?

In the world of RV enthusiasts, the term big rig friendly carries significant weight. It’s more than just a catchphrase; it’s a fundamental consideration that can make or break a road trip experience.

We’ve all heard the term big rig tossed around from time to time and those of us in the RV community have often heard the term big rig RV and we’ve seen RV parks and campgrounds described as having big rig access or being big rig friendly.

But what exactly constitutes a big rig RV? And what does big rig access really mean?

I’ll answer these questions and a whole lot more in today’s post all about big rig RVs. Let’s go!

Big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is a big rig RV?

Essentially, a big rig RV is classified as any RV over 40 feet long. Regardless of the type of RV (motorhome, fifth wheels, travel trailers) if your rig is over 40 feet long, you’ve got yourself a Big Rig.

If you have a big rig RV, you have lots of living space and you’ve also got to consider a few things owners of smaller rigs don’t have to think about like navigating city streets, your turning radius, and merging in traffic, among other issues.

You also need to carefully consider the size of your campsite and how to move in and out of it. This is why owners of large RVs search for campsites with big rig access. (You may also see the term big rig friendly used to describe campsites.)

Read more: 25 Questions to Ask When Booking a Campsite

Big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What does big rig access mean?

Big rig access is a term used to describe the approach to a campsite that large RVs should be able to access. While a campsite may be big rig friendly and thus wide enough and long enough to accommodate your RV, if the approach to the campsite requires maneuvering through tight, narrow twists and turns around trees and large rocks, under low hanging branches, requiring masterful three-point turns to back into a site, then you’re not going to get your big rig RV into that campsite without risking damage to your rig.

So big rig access is supposed to mean that you’ll be able to approach the campsite and pull in or back in as needed, safely.

But hear me out…

Just because a campsite or RV park advertises a site or sites as having big rig access there are a couple of extra steps it makes sense to take every single time you plan your camping trip.

1. Always read reviews from other owners of large RVs who have accessed the campsite to get a sense of the reality of the situation. Again, a campground owner or marketer can measure a site and determine that adding the phrase big rig access is sensible because the site will accommodate a 43-foot diesel pusher. But if it’s tough to maneuver the rig to the campsite without risking damage to a large RV, you may not want to be there.

2. Walk to the site before driving to the site. When we arrive at a campsite, we’ll pull the rig over and walk the route we’ll have to drive to get our big rig into the site. We walk the route before we drive it (or scope it out from our easy-to-maneuver toad car). This is the best way to prevent yourself from getting into a situation that could not only damage your rig but could also be difficult to get out of once you’re in there.

Big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is the biggest RV size?

Generally speaking, Class A motorhomes are the largest RVs on the road though there are also very large Super C motorhomes and fifth wheels that top out between 40 and 45 feet that are most definitely big rigs!

But there are also some extremely large, custom-made big rigs out there as well.

Rumor has it that Will Smith is the proud owner of a big rig RV with 1,200 square feet of living space. That’s a pretty big rig! For reference, the rig has 14 televisions (including a 100-inch roll-down movie screen in a 30-person screening room), is two stories tall, 55 feet long, has 22 wheels, and is essentially a yacht on wheels.

But Will Smith’s 55-foot land yacht, behemoth though it is, appears small in terms of length (and only length) next to the Powerhouse Ultra Line Coach, a rig that stretches to 122 feet long with its two separate RV cabins (one towing the other).

Again, these rigs are custom-made.

But the longest Class A motorhomes on the market are 45 feet long. Manufacturers such as Newmar and Entegra make several 45-foot models. Other big forty-five-footers include bus conversions often built on Prevost chassis.

Big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is the biggest RV you can rent?

Why, it’s Will Smith’s rig, of course! You can rent Will’s big rig RV for a mere $9,000 a week. But, seriously, just about any length RV is available for rent via the many peer-to-peer rental platforms like RVnGo, RVshare, Outdoorsy, and RVezy. From big rig to small, they pretty much offer them all (sorry, didn’t mean to rhyme… it just happened).

Big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are big rig RVs considered Class A RVs?

Some custom-made RVs that are pulled by tractor-trailers are in a class all their own. But in terms of traditional RV types and classes, a typical big rig RV is most often a Class A Diesel Pusher (though, as mentioned above, there are 40+ foot fifth wheels and Super C motorhomes that also earn the title).

But, while a big rig RVs could be a Class A motorhome not all Class A motorhomes are big rigs! (There are some Class A RVs that are barely over 24 feet long.

Worth Pondering…

No matter where we go in our motorhome, that sense of independence is satisfying. We have our own facilities, from comfortable bed to a fridge full of our favorite foods. We set the thermostat the way we like it and go to bed and get up in our usual routine.

What is a Class B + Motorhome?

Class B + motorhome? Hmmm…

In general, when the various classes of motorhomes are discussed, Class A, B, and Cs are covered. But motorhomes are limited to Class A, B, and C rigs. Or are they?

We know that Class A motorhomes are the largest and most luxurious of the three classes of motorhomes (with diesel pushers sitting at the top of that class), Class B is the smallest (often referred to as a campervan), and Class C is the middle child usually distinguished by a bed or entertainment center/storage covering the entire area over the cab.

But you may have heard of a newer class of motorhomes notably the Class B +. But what exactly is a Class B + motorhome, how will you know one when you see one, and why might you want one?

In today’s post, I’m covering the ins and outs of the Class B + motorhome—what it is, how it differs from Class A, B, and C motorhomes, and what would it cost to buy one?

Class B+ motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is a Class B + motorhome?

From the perspective of federal regulations, a Class B + motorhome is technically a Class C motorhome. Let’s say that again for the sake of clarity.

A Class B + is technically not in a class of its own but is instead a type of Class C motorhome. All federal regulations that apply to Class C motorhomes apply to the Class B + category of motorhomes, too.

Now that I’ve dropped that little bombshell and absorbed that interesting information, let’s look at what makes a motorhome a Class B +.

As you might imagine, the term Class B + refers to a motorhome that sits somewhere between Class B and Class C. Like Class C, the B + is wider than Class B and is built on a truck chassis.

Unlike Class C motorhomes, the Class B Plus doesn’t have a bunk (or storage/entertainment area) stretching over the cab. And that obvious structural difference is pretty much how you can tell the difference between a Class B Plus motorhome and a Class C motorhome when you see one driving down the road.

Class B+ motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s the difference between a Class B and Class B +?

As I’ve established, a Class B + is built on a truck chassis. A Class B motorhome on the other hand is built from a van. Often referred to as a camper van, Class Bs are essentially long, high-top vans made into motorhomes with all (or most of) the features of a larger rig but in a smaller package. The traditional Class B contains all of the features of a motorhome within the van body without any additional walls, floors, or roofs added in.

As a result, Class B motorhomes pack their bathrooms into tight spaces which is why most have a wet bath—that is, a shower, toilet, and tiny sink occupying one small space (and yes, they all get wet when the showers used, hence the term wet bath).

Class B motorhomes typically have smaller refrigerators, two-burner propane stovetops, and storage everywhere there’s a space for things to be stored. They usually don’t have the space for a dedicated dinette but they do often have front captain’s seats that swivel around to face the rear of the motorhome and small tables (sometimes one in the front and a second in the back) that can be placed in use or stored.

Class B + rigs can be laid out somewhat similarly but because they’re wider, longer, and taller, differences are afforded by the additional space. For example, a Class B + might have a little dinette, a larger refrigerator, a slide, and sleep 1-2 more people than a Class B motorhome could sleep. (All of this depends on where you obtain your information. More on that in a moment!)

One of the most appreciated features of a Class B + compared with a Class B is that a Class B + is often large enough to accommodate a dry bath, that is, a separate toilet and shower area (so you’re not showering all over the little sink and toilet as you would in a wet bath).

Class B + rigs also tend to offer more storage on both the interior and exterior of the motorhome and somewhat larger fresh, gray, and black holding tanks as well. In addition, the larger chassis affords the Class B + motorhome more towing capacity and a greater GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).

When reviewing the differences between a Class B and B + it’s easy to see why the Class B + is technically classified as a member of the Class C family. The B + is quite clearly more like a Class C than a Class B.

Class B+ motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How big are Class B+ motorhomes?

A typical Class B + motorhome is between 23 feet and 25 feet in length but they can be longer. They’re generally easy to park and maneuver through city streets or over terrain that may be a bit more remote.

There are versions of the Class B + that are able to accommodate a slide or two offering even more room to the interior living space. The larger the Class B + rig is, the larger the holding tanks tend to be and the more storage and sleeping capacity the rig affords.

Most Class B + motorhomes come with exterior storage large enough to accommodate such things as bicycles, kayaks (especially inflatable ones), and golf clubs. And, they’re typically designed to comfortably travel and sleep 2-4 people whereas Class C motorhomes are large enough to accommodate more.

With all of that said, if you do a little research online, you’ll find lots of conflicting information on Class B + rigs. Some articles say they’re built for no more than two people. Others say the larger units have slides and plenty of room to sleep four or more.

The truth is this: The Class B + evolved from requests from folks in the market for a Class C-sized rig who were asking for a Class C without the over-cab piece. So a Class C-sized motorhome with a cutaway truck chassis was designed and the term Class B + was born strictly as a marketing tool.

That’s right—it’s a made-up marketing term to indicate the design difference and to appeal to a particular audience. (Reminder: these so-called Class B Plus rigs are technically Class C motorhomes.)

So, it’s no wonder that the details of Class B + motorhomes vary depending on who’s reporting. A Class B + isn’t so much a specific entity as it is a marketing tool.

Features and amenities of a Class B + motorhome

Class B + rigs are often marketed as small luxury RVs with many of the amenities of a Class A rig, only smaller. Class B + motorhomes are indeed often high-end, small motorhomes for sure (and their prices tend to reflect this—more on that in the next section).

A Class B + motorhome has a permanent bed, most often a queen though some manufacturers have begun to offer Murphy beds which make for additional interior space during the day. Some are all-wheel-drive and many have features such as lighted awnings, roof-mounted solar panels and inverters, larger refrigerators than their Class B counterparts, entertainment centers with storage over the back of the cab area, dinette lounges, high-end galley (kitchen) amenities, and fairly spacious showers.

Many of the Class B + motorhomes offer European design with sleek exterior lines and relatively fine interior finishes.

Class B+ motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How much does a Class B+ cost?

Many people look toward the Class B + as a nice midway between the smaller, van-like Class B and larger, more boxy Class C motorhomes with what they suspect will be lower cost compared with the Class Cs. Not so!

Class B + motorhomes are often priced quite high running anywhere from around $90,000 to upward of $300,000. It’s a big price range that’s largely dependent on the model, amenities, and manufacturer.

A Class B + motorhome may afford you a sweet ride and a relatively luxurious small motorhome but it won’t offer you a budget RV by any means and it won’t save you money over a Class C. Class C motorhomes are almost always less expensive than Class B + motorhome. 

How many people can a Class B+ sleep?

I touched on this earlier in the article but most Class B + motorhomes are designed to accommodate two adults and maybe a small child or two comfortably (in the converted dinette) though some manufacturers offer floor plans that can sleep three or four adults.

Class B+ motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are Class B + motorhomes good for full-time living?

This is a tough question for someone who lives in a 38-foot diesel pusher. I prefer a fair amount of room for full-time living, working, and traveling (although I’d happily downsize if there was a 35-foot Class A diesel pusher floorplan we wanted).

Conclusion

Despite the fact that it’s sort of a fake class created as a marketing tool that belongs to the Class C family, a Class B + motorhome is a great traveling rig with just the right amenities for the right travelers. Larger and therefore roomier than a Class B and less boxy and top-heavy than a Class C, the Class B + offers plenty of comfort and ease of driving that delivers just the right balance for many RV owners and renters.

Worth Pondering…

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.

—C.W. Ceran

Gas or Diesel Motorhome: Which is Better?

Which is better, a gas or diesel motorhome? That’s one of the biggest questions RV buyers need to answer. It’s important to ask and answer before buying a motorhome.

“Should I get a gas or diesel motorhome?” It’s a question that will repeat itself through the ages as long as we have fuel.

Maybe electric or another option will be added to the comparison charts in the future. In other countries, propane is a cheaper fuel. It’s used in many hybrid cars although it is rarely used in the U.S. and Canada  For now, it’s gas versus diesel.

RVers love to argue about the best RV fuel. Gas versus diesel motorhomes is the topic of many campfire circles. But we can’t argue until we understand the features and benefits of each type.

Let’s take a look.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gasoline powered motorhomes

Gasoline is the most used fuel.  It is easily combustible which allows for quick starts and fast acceleration.  It is also the leading contributor to pollution. According to AAA, nearly 1/5 of all emissions come from vehicles. Your engine determines which grade of gasoline you can use. You have regular (87), premium (91), and mid-grade (89).

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Diesel powered motorhomes

Diesel is more fuel efficient. In traveling, you can usually go about 20 percent farther on a gallon of fuel than gas-powered vehicles. This is one reason why you will see most truckers with diesel engines. It also produces less carbon dioxide. But, it still creates nitrous oxide which causes smog.

There are six things to consider. I’ll go through them one by one.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. The mechanical basics

For those who might not know the difference between diesel and gas engines, it’s worth spending a little time talking about the basics.

Without being overly technical, the first and perhaps most notable difference is the thermal efficiency of diesel engines which refers to the work that can be expected to be produced by the fuel put into the engine. As mentioned above, a diesel engine is about 20 percent more thermally efficient than a gas engine. That means a 20 percent increase in fuel economy.

Diesel engines also run at a much slower RPM (revolutions per minute) than gas engines. Slower RPM translates to less wear and tear and a longer life cycle for the engine.

Further, increased thermal efficiency also translates to more power and torque. A diesel engine’s high torque application is very beneficial for hauling heavy loads.

Gas engines, on the other hand, deliver a much higher volatility point but a lower flashpoint. A spark controls the combustion of a gas engine. Diesel engines do not use a spark but what’s called a compression combustion engine.

Essentially, a gasoline engine is a spark-fired combustion and a diesel engine utilizes compression.

Now that you have some background on the differences between gas and diesel engines, let’s look at the pros and cons of each about RVing.

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Costs of gas vs diesel motorhomess

The first consideration for many people shopping for a new RV is the price. Simply put, does it fit your budget?

On the whole, diesel-powered motorhomes are much more expensive than gas-powered motorhomes. For that reason, first-time motorhome buyers often decide to go with a less expensive gas-powered RV rather than a diesel or luxury unit.

However there are various degrees of quality within each type. Depending on what you are looking for, the best gas motorhomes on the market stack up against some lower-quality diesel units.

However, well maintained diesel engines have a longer life than gasoline ones and can still perform reliably after extensive mileage. This means diesel-powered motorhomes tend to retain their value longer and have higher resale values than gas-powered units.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Differences in mileage

As mentioned above, the second factor to take into consideration is the fuel economy. After all, fuel is expensive and adds up over time. Here are the main differences in mileage between gas-powered and diesel-powered rigs.

Gas-powered motorhomes:

  • Depending on chassis, gas motorhomes will have between 80-100 gallon tanks (Class A) and 20-30 gallon tanks (Class B)
  • Average of 6-10 mpg (Class A), 10-14+ mpg (Class B and Class C)
  • Widespread availability at all fuel stations
  • Less expensive than diesel
  • Gas has an odor when burned; the smell can fill the cabin
  • Gas has a shorter shelf life due to evaporation

Diesel-powered motorhomes:

  • Depending on the chassis will have between 80-150 gallon tanks
  • Average of 6-18 miles per gallon with Class Cs and A motorhomes getting less, Class Bs and B+ RVs getting more
  • More expensive than gas
  • Diesel is available at most but not all stations but maneuverability presents a problem for most diesel pushers (Class A motorhomes)
  • Diesel has better fuel efficiency meaning less frequent refills at the pump
  • Diesel burns cleaner than gas
A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Maintenance

Gas engines are easier to maintain and repair compared with their diesel counterparts. If you have a general knowledge of gas engines, you can probably do the bulk of the repairs and maintenance yourself.

A downside of a gas engine is that it runs at higher RPMs meaning it will always be working harder than a diesel engine. Running at higher RPMs allows for a smoother, quieter ride with faster acceleration but more frequent upkeep is required.

Diesel engines are considerably more expensive to maintain and require specialized training to service. Diesel engines run at a lower RPM meaning slower acceleration and lower top speeds but less strain on the engine and you can drive more miles between servicing.

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Oil 

All engines require oil. Diesel-powered engines use a lot more oil than gas-powered engines but the oil only needs to be replaced once a year or every 12,000-15,000 miles (depending on the chassis). You’ll need to change the oil in a gas engine every six months or less.

In a gas engine, if you know how to change oil you can do it yourself. Diesel oil changes are more complicated, so you’ll probably have to take it to a professional mechanic to do the work.

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Speed and towing ability of gas vs diesel RVs

Gas-powered engines typically have higher horsepower and less torque so you can accelerate and maintain higher speeds. However, having less torque adds more strain on the engine while towing and climbing inclines.

Diesel-powered engines are designed for higher torque at lower speeds but are not as fast as gas engines. More torque means slower acceleration speeds but greater towing power and ease in steep inclines.

As you can see, there are some pros and cons to both styles of engines but ultimately the decision for you boils down to personal preference and your budget.

Are you planning on carrying a toad? Do you frequent the Rockies and the Northwest Mountains? Having the power to climb hills with a load lends to diesel-powered engines.

Or are you planning on RVing without a toad and in relatively flatter areas such as Florida and Louisiana? In that case, a gas-powered engine would work well for you.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gas or diesel: The bottom line

Simply put, the bottom line on gas or diesel comes down to your particular situation and preference.

YOU are the most important factor when it comes to the best RV fuel option. 

All the miles you drive, where you drive, how you manage your fuel usage, cost of ownership, how long you plan to keep your RV, resale value, and your RV maintenance habits affect you more in the long run. Hopefully, if you already own an RV, it meets your needs. 

We are RVers! We aren’t like everyone else already and neither does our fuel use have to be like everyone else’s. Whether we choose a motorhome that uses gasoline or one that uses diesel, the RV itself should match our travel needs. 

Every RVer’s bottom line is different. If you don’t plan to travel as many miles or aren’t concerned about resale value then a gas-powered RV might suffice for you.

Worth Pondering…

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space.

Born To Be Free, words and music by Mars Bonfire

7 Pro Tips for Backing up a Motorhome

Ah, the fun part of driving an RV—RV parking

Whether your motorhome is a smaller Class B, a Class C, or a large Class A rig like ours, backing up a motorhome can be a concern for every RVer. Backing up a Class B van is undoubtedly far more manageable than backing up a Class A motorhome, but backing up a motorhome of any size or type probably isn’t high on anyone’s list of things to do just for fun.

We travel in a 38-foot Class A diesel pusher, so I understand the challenges that come with backing up a larger rig. Although after nearly three decades on the road, it’s something we’ve done hundreds, if not thousands, of times.

Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How do you back up a motorhome?

In a word, carefully! But seriously, backing up a motorhome, even backing up a large Class A motorhome, is like anything else we learn to do well—it requires practice and more practice.

If you’re just learning how to back up a motorhome, find a large, open, empty parking lot and spend some time getting a feel for the following tips. As you begin your practice sessions, be sure not to position yourself near objects that could cause damage to your motorhome or anything in the area. You want to give yourself as much freedom as possible as you master these tips about backing up a motorhome.

While I understand that backing up a motorhome can be intimidating for many reasons, I’m confident that you’ll become more at ease with the process with practice and the mastering of these tips. Even if you’re backing up a Class A motorhome, the more you understand about the process, the easier it will be.

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

TIP 1: Take a mental picture

Before backing up a motorhome, stop the RV and get out and walk the site while making a mental picture of the area you’re about to back into. Make a mental note of any and all obstacles. Since your motorhome is tall, think in three dimensions looking for trees, poles, and any other obstacles.

Extra pro tip: Know in advance how to pace off your rig’s length. For example, I know that I pace off exactly 12 steps plus two feet (two of my feet) to equal the length of our motorhome. As a result, I can enter walk into any site and know if we’ll fit, even before bringing the rig into place.

While backing into the site, if you’re unsure about anything at any point, get out and look (known by the acronym GOAL by professional drivers).

Hollywood Casino RV Park, Bay St. Lewis, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

TIP 2: Use ALL of your tools when backing up your RV

When backing up a motorhome, it’s important to use EVERY tool at your disposal: All mirrors, both flat and convex, your windows (yes, if your driver’s window allows it, you can stick your head out while stopped), a spotter (if available), and your backup or side-view cameras (again, if available).

The helper/spotter must be aware of your plans (where do you want to actually stop/park the motorhome), be in your mirrors all the times and both have established signals to help each other. A Walkie Talkie is an awesome tool for this.

If things are really tight and you don’t have a spotter, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. If it’s just too tight, consider approaching from the opposite direction or even request another site altogether. Usually, approaching a site that requires backing into is easier from one side rather than the other.

A note of caution about spotters: A well-intentioned helpful stranger with whom you have no real rapport or understanding can back you into something (especially an obstacle that’s high up that they may not think to look for, like a tree limb). While they may mean well, you’ll be the one who’s left to deal with the damage. So choose your spotter carefully.

For example, if you’re backing up a Class A motorhome, you may not want to choose a neighbor with a Class B van to back you if there are folks a few campsites over with a Class A motorhome. Experience appropriate to the rig you’re backing up is most helpful.

If you have a traveling companion, formulating a language that you both understand well before backing up a motorhome at a campsite can be very helpful. Hand signals should be clearly understood and walkie-talkies are often even better. Be sure to take that partner along with you for parking lot practice.

McKinney Falls State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

TIP 3: Don’t be driven by pressure

Never let pressure, nerves, or anyone else drive your RV for you. That means that if you’re trying to maneuver in a tight spot and you’re not 100 percent sure that you’re clear of that power pedestal or tree or picnic table… stop! Don’t continue moving just because stopping and getting out and look (GOAL) may block the campground roadway or make other campers think you don’t know what you’re doing.

First of all, they’re strangers so why should you care what they think of you as you’re backing up your motorhome. Second, anyone who’s had experience backing up a big rig and in particular backing up a large Class A motorhome knows that it can be a delicate process especially when the space is tight. They’ll also understand that nothing is more important than avoiding contact with a fixed object or other obstacle.

We’ve seen accidents where drivers were too embarrassed to simply stop, get out of the rig, and evaluate the situation. And all because people were watching them!

It’s ultimately far more embarrassing to succumb to pressure, appear cavalier, and hit something that causes damage to your rig, someone else’s rig, and/or the campground pedestal than it is to GET OUT OF YOUR RIG and size up the situation from outside the RV and THEN resume backing up your motorhome safely.

Butterfield RV Resort, Benson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

TIP 4: Beware of reverse off-tracking when backing an RV around a corner

When backing up a motorhome around a corner (or any other time you’re not rolling perfectly straight back) beware of something called reverse off-tracking. It’s a seldom-discussed related danger when backing up that you need to be aware of it.

When backing up a motorhome with the wheel turned to the right, the left side of the rig sweeps out to the left basically moving diagonally/sideways. Even though you’re sitting right there in the driver’s seat on the left side, it’s easy to forget about that sweep. This could allow you to strike an obstacle with your left side, right down below or behind the driver’s seat unless you remember to monitor the convex mirror and/or out your left window.

Open your driver’s window when maneuvering back into a site for just this reason. You can stick your head out to look straight down and along the left side of the rig if needed. That’s especially important when items are low and/or close along the left side like a picnic table or fire pit. The open window also allows you to hear better including instructions from your spotter.

Of course, you can’t as easily look down along the right side or stick your head out the right window. That makes the right front corner one of the most vulnerable spots when backing into your site.

When backing up a motorhome with the wheel turned to the LEFT, the situation is even more insidious because now your RIGHT side (which is, by definition, your weak side because you’re sitting on the left) is sweeping across toward the right, basically moving sideways/diagonally as you back up.

Taking that mental picture in advance will allow you to know that there’s a picnic table, fire pit, or other obstacle down there. On that note, keep in mind that a mental picture won’t take into account obstacles that move like a youngster riding a bike or chasing a ball or a dog that’s off-leash.

Distant Drums RV Resort, Camp Verde, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Important note: Monitoring the right convex mirror is the key in this case but not an absolute because it can’t see everything. When I’m backing up with the steering wheel turned fairly hard to the left with my right side reverse off-tracking toward my weak right side, that’s when I’ll often ask my spotter to watch my right front corner near the entrance door. Not doing that is a common cause of damage to the side of an RV in the area close to the front end. It’s also a good way to yank the front bumper off, too, by getting it hooked on the bumper of a car that’s down low and out of sight.

Having a spotter there is sometimes even more important than having them behind me. I can see behind the RV pretty well in the backup camera but I’m blind down low near the entrance door where that picnic table or car may be lurking waiting to damage my right side.

Smokiam RV Park, Moses Lake, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

TIP 5: Whenever possible, back to the left when backing up a motorhome

This means positioning yourself whenever possible with the spot you’ll be backing into on the left side of your RV. We do this because the left side is our strong side due to the fact that our vehicles have the steering wheel and driver on the left. In countries where the driver sits on the right, the right side is the strong side.

It’s easy to remember that the left is your strong side because you sit over there allowing greater visibility in both the left-side mirrors and out the driver’s window. As a result, backing up a motorhome or any large vehicle to the left is always easier than backing up to the right.

There will, of course, be times when the campsite you’re backing into may only be accessible from one side. For instance, if you’re on a one-way street through the campground and/or the sites are at an angle. But when you have the option, approach the site from the direction that will allow you to back to the left.

Bentsen Palm Village, Mission, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

TIP 6: Line yourself up while still driving forward

Always, always, and always (did I say always?) pull forward more than you feel is necessary. Watch professional truck drivers—they always pull up much more than needed and have themselves positioned where they want to be—before backing up.

You absolutely want your rear most wheels past the apex of the turn. I’m referring to the curb cut/opening that you are trying to back into.

Again, watch truckers—they will always pull their trailer wheels past the opening they want to enter. The rear wheels of your RV are the same. They MUST be past that area to allow you to back in quickly and professionally.

Take control! The road is only so wide and you really can’t or at least don’t want to go on the site on the other side. Most campsites require you to back into a space on the driver’s side. If you are too far over to the right when you start to cut your front wheels you’ll be driving on somebodies site!

The most common difficulty newer drivers have is steering while backing. Sawing the steering wheel back and forth too much or too far is a common challenge to overcome.

When you pull up and past your driveway/campsite entrance, position yourself so you are on the wrong side of the road. It won’t hurt! Put your 4-way flashers on and be sure nothing is coming towards you and steer over to the opposing lane and past your driveway. Now, when you start to back into your driveway/parking spot you’ll be able to quickly do so, without cutting your front wheels onto someone’s site.

That wasn’t so bad was it?!?

Have a good helper that knows your plans, pull forward past your entry point and start from the wrong side of the road.

Everything will fall right into place—quickly and professionally!

Sundance 1 RV Resort, Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

TIP 7: Pay attention to your right quarter vision when backing up an RV

You may have noticed that when you pull up to a stop sign where the cross street is angled about 30-60 degrees from your position with the left turn being shallow and the right turn being sharper, you’re unable to see down the road to the right. That’s because the vast majority of RVs don’t have a continuous row of windows down the right side, like a car does.

The mirrors won’t do the required job here either because the flat mirror only sees into the distance mostly straight back along the RV and the convex mirror doesn’t see very far into the distance and mostly downward preventing you from getting an all-inclusive view of objects above ground level such as tree limbs.

That area, generally about 30-60 degrees off your right side is often mostly blind and you need to be aware of that and aware of what’s potentially lurking there. The left side is easier than the right because you can simply look out the left window at almost any angle especially if you’re able to stick your head out. Again, this is part of the reason the left side is your strong side and the right side is your weak side.

When you in this situation, you again can ask your spotter to watch the right side rather than the back at least until you clear any potential conflicts on the right. Then, the spotter can return to the rear of the motorhome to finish backing all the way into the rear of the site.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conclusion: You can handle backing up a motorhome

These are seven tips I think will be helpful to you when backing up a motorhome. So now you’ve got some extra ammunition to make your RVing experience a little safer, easier, less stressful, and less likely to result in damage to your RV or anything else.

With a bit of practice, you’ll surely find yourself more at ease when backing up a motorhome—and safer and more confident, too.

Worth Pondering…

I’m still learning.

—Michelangelo

How to Travel Safely with a Big Rig

Big RVs are packed with amenities and camping comfort but they also call for added planning and a bit of flexibility when you’re on the road

Traveling in a large RV offers perks beyond just added floor space. Big rigs host large fresh water and holding tanks, residential refrigerators, roof space for solar panel setups, and power generators—allowing for extended stays in dispersed and non-serviced locations. Bonus amenities such as washers and dryers, full-sized showers, king-size beds, multiple living spaces, and extra storage capacity can typically be found in RVs that are longer than 35 feet. 

Big rig driving Newfound Gap Road through Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you’re a weekend traveler, a part-time RVer, a snowbird, or live in your rig full-time, navigating roads and campgrounds in a big rig often entails a bit of extra planning.

RVs are long, wide, and difficult to maneuver. But, don’t forget—RVs are tall, too. This means when it comes to overhangs, bridges, canopies, and power lines, you have to be careful; RVs and low clearances don’t play well together. Here’s what you can do about it as an RV driver starting with knowing the exact height of your rig.

Overpass on Colonial Parkway in Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not how tall the owner’s manual says it is but how tall it really is? You simply have to go out and measure it yourself. This way you know for sure and that helps you better plan your traveling route without worrying about losing your satellite dish under a lower-than-expected bridge or underpass. The highest clearance is typically found toward the center of an underpass.

Always check the weather forecast when you’re driving or towing your big rig. The flexibility to leave a location early or late depending on wind or precipitation conditions could save you from a frightening driving experience or serious accident.

Consider weather conditions © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s especially prudent to consider weather conditions when planning to traverse a route with numerous sharp curves or steep grades. Big rig engines are subject to overheating when pushing or pulling up long grades. When the outdoor temperature is high, the risk of engine overheating rises. If you don’t have a substantial braking system on board or the weather is not optimal, routing around long or steep downgrades may be worth the added time and fuel. 

Related article: 5 Tips for Safe RV Travel

Big rig driving Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The taller and longer the RV, the more susceptible it is to strong crosswinds. The National Weather Service says that winds of 30 miles per hour will make it difficult to drive high-profile vehicles. If wind speeds are any higher, namely higher than 40 miles per hour, it’s best not to drive big rigs. A crosswind that strong can easily knock over these taller vehicles.

Before you set out on a trip, be sure to check wind advisories along the route. If you know where and when there will be inclement weather you can modify your route, postpone the trip, or find a safe place to hunker down and wait out the weather.

Big rig driving north on US 89 to Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Consider commuting with empty holding tanks. Not only do full tanks decrease fuel efficiency and tax an engine, but added liquid weight can decrease braking efficiency. 

RVs have advanced in both design and size but not all campgrounds were built or have been upgraded to accommodate large or heavy rigs. Confirm that a campsite can accommodate a big rig by verifying that both the campsite you’ve selected and the access roads to that camping space can support your rig’s overall length, width, weight, and ride height.

Big rig camping at Canyon de Chelly National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the campsite pad is dirt or grass, make sure you have the correct tools to level your rig. Heavy rigs and their levelers are known to sink into soft pads—including asphalt. Wet weather can further impact a site’s ability to support larger rigs.

Related article: Yes, YOU Can Drive an RV: What YOU Need to Know

When researching, consider the campsite’s stated length and width. Look out for any mentions regarding vegetation overgrowth or low-hanging tree branches. Be prepared to respect the boundaries of established campsites. It’s necessary to choose another option if you suspect or realize your rig might negatively impact campsite conservation. 

Covered bridges and big rigs don’t mix © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep reports of a campsite’s grade in mind. Most refrigerators need to be level to function properly but RVs with longer wheelbases (especially Class A motorhomes) can be difficult to level in a site with a moderate grade or more. 

Check out the campground’s official website, read reviews left by previous travelers, utilize satellite-based mapping tools, and/or contact the RV park to confirm the accuracy of the information. 

Not a good camping site for a big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you arrive at the entrance to your destination and are concerned about accessibility, scout the area. While this practice is typical for RVers with big rigs exploring dispersed camping areas, it’s also good practice when pulling up to any campground with dubitable access. Unhooking a towed vehicle, dropping your tow-behind RV, or walking the route may seem like a hassle but it can save you stress, time, and money.

Driving fatigue besets many big rig drivers more quickly than when driving an automobile. Also, big rig-accessible rest stop locations aren’t as readily available, especially on secondary highways. Planning possible break locations ahead of time at rest areas, truck stops, or big box store parking lots makes for a more enjoyable and safe journey.

Be aware of overhanging trees when selecting a camping site for a big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Big box stores and grocery chains typically feature large lots with ample, big rig-friendly parking options during local operating hours and are often within walking distance of restaurants and coffee shops.

Related article: I Did What My GPS Told Me

It’s in everyone’s best interest that large RV operators move slowly and methodically even if that means holding up traffic. When the opportunity to allow more agile vehicles to pass arises, it’s courteous to permit that.

Oops! This could have been a disaster! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Careful research when traveling with your large rig will lead to an enjoyable and safe adventure. Equip yourself with a plan, a backup plan, and flexibility for all your big rig travels.

Related article: What’s so Different about Driving a motorhome?

Worth Pondering…

In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.

—Mark Twain (1835-1910)

What’s so Different about Driving a motorhome?

7 tips for driving a Class A motorhome

Class A motorhomes are the largest motorhomes on the road. After all, you’re bringing all of the comforts of home with you. While these roomy RVs might seem intimidating to drive at first, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. Plus, many luxury motorhomes are already designed with ease-of-use and driver comfort in mind, so there isn’t as much of a learning curve.

Class A motorhomes at RV dealer © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Still, it’s important to understand how to handle a vehicle of this size, especially when you drive one for the first time. To help you get started, I’ve compiled a top 7 tips for driving a motorhome to help you safely and confidently drive your diesel pusher motorhome to your next adventure. With these motorhome driving tips, you’ll be handling your RV like a pro in no time.

Class A motorhome near Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Make Sure You Have the Right Class of Driver’s License

Depending on your state (or province), you may be required to get a Class A or Class B (commercial or non-commercial) driver’s license before you can legally drive a motorhome that weighs over 26,000 pounds.

A commercial driver’s license is a driver’s license required to operate large or heavy vehicles.

Class A Motorhome at Wahweap Campground in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Every state issues different types of licenses, so it’s not always as simple as, “Do I need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive my RV that weighs over 26,000 pounds or not?” 

Related: Buying an RV

The question looks a little more like, “Do I need a special license, and if so, in what cases, and what kind?”

Class A motorhomes on Newfound Gap Road in Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Several examples follow:

  • In California you need a Class B non-commercial license to drive a vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds
  • In North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, and Pennsylvania you need a Class B license for a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds; you need a Class A license to drive a combination of vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds
  • In Texas you need a Class B non-commercial license to drive a vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds

Since regulations do change it is recommended that you contact your local DMV if your rig is close to 26,000 pounds or more.

Class A motorhomes on Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Know How and When to Brake

It’s important to understand that the larger and heavier the vehicle, the longer it can take to stop. You’ll need to plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to slow down and come to a complete stop, even in normal weather.

Class A motorhome at RV dealer © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s also important to keep in mind that hot brakes don’t work as well and they wear out faster. To keep your brakes from overheating, avoid riding your brakes and use your gears to downshift (engine brake) when driving downhills. If you do start to notice a smell coming from your brakes, pull over when it is safe to do so and give the brakes a chance to cool off before continuing your drive. This is especially important when driving in the mountains.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Choosing the Perfect RV for Your Family

A good rule of thumb is to descend a hill in the same gear (or one gear lower) than used to climb the hill.

Class A motorhome at 12 Tribes Casino RV Park, Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Leave Enough Following Distance

Since it takes longer to brake, you’ll also need to make sure you’re leaving sufficient following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. The general rule of thumb in normal weather is to leave one vehicle length for every 10 mph. So if you’re driving 60 mph, leave six RV lengths in front of you.

For a 40 foot motorhome, that means leaving 240 feet of space between you and the next vehicle on the road. However, you’ll need to leave even more space if driving during inclement weather like rain, snow, or fog. Even if the road doesn’t look slippery, it’s always best to slow down and leave plenty of room.

Related: Meet the RVs: Find the Right RV Class for Your Travel Style

Some RVs include technology to help the driver mitigate potential accidents. For example, some models are available with collision mitigation technology, adaptive cruise control, and adjustable following distance control—all to take the guesswork out of your drive.

Class A motorhome on Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Stay in the Right Lane

Most motorhome drivers find themselves driving at slower speeds than the rest of traffic—and that makes sense. The ideal speed to drive an RV is around 55-60 mph—the so-called sweet spot for RV fuel efficiency. However, the speed limit on most US highways is between 65-75 mph. Traveling in the far right lane allows you to drive your RV at the optimal speed for your own safety and fuel economy while allowing other drivers to pass on the left.

Related: Meet the RVs: The Towables

Staying in your lane can be somewhat challenging for high-profile RVs which can be prone to drift when there are crosswinds. Newmar’s Comfort Drive feature prevents this type of drifting with adaptive steering that automatically adjusts to help you stay in your lane—without requiring a death grip on your steering wheel. That said, it’s always wise to keep both hands on the wheel.

Class A motorhome on Newfound Gap Road in Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Understand Your Tail Swing

Once you get the hang of it, driving straight in an RV can quickly become second nature. Getting used to turning might take a bit more practice since you also need to take your tail swing into consideration.

Class A motorhome at Columbia Sun RV Park, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is a tail swing? For every three feet behind your rear axle, you have the potential for one foot of tail swing heading in the opposite direction. So, if you’ve got 12 feet behind your back wheels and you want to take a sharp right turn, you need to be aware of what’s immediate to your left. When you’re just starting out, it can be helpful to have a spotter outside the vehicle to guide you as you practice turning and parking.

Know your clearance; Colonial Parkway, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Know Your Clearances and Plan Your Route Accordingly

Diesel pusher motorhomes aren’t just longer and heavier, they’re also taller and wider than any other cars or trucks you’re used to driving. Because of this, your RV may not meet the clearance requirements for certain overhangs and it may be more challenging to navigate narrow roads in older towns.

Know your clearance; Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be particularly aware of low overhanging trees, the height of tunnels and overpasses, and the clearance at fuel stops. But don’t let that hold you back. It just means you’ll need to plan ahead and stay aware as you drive which are great things to make a habit of anyway, no matter what type of vehicle you’re driving.

Know your height; Parke County, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are navigation tools and technologies available to help alleviate some of the planning for you. After inputting your coach’s dimensions, they can plan the best routes for you based on them.

Class A motorhomes at Newmar Service Center, Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Don’t Drive Tired

When you’re driving a Class A motorhome, there’s a lot to be aware of as you’re driving including your following and stopping distances, your turn radius, your overhead clearance, and more. Plus, you’re probably driving long stretches at a time. Driver fatigue is one of the biggest dangers on the road especially when driving a big rig, so stay safe and avoid driving when you’re tired.

Some roads are best not traveled in a Class A motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conclusion

Driving a recreational vehicle is an extremely rewarding experience. Now that you know these Class A motorhome driving tips, there’s no limit to where your RV can take you.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

Yes, YOU Can Drive an RV: What YOU Need to Know

RV driving for beginners: All the tips you need to drive an RV for the first time

If you’re new to it (or even if you’re not) driving a Class A motorhome can present a challenge. Even if you’re been driving cars and smaller vehicles for a long time, it takes practice to get used to the quirks of such a large and heavy vehicle. The following Class A motorhome driving tips will help you to stay safe on the roads and feel confident behind the wheel of your luxurious RV.

Class A motorhomes at Vista del Sol RV Resort, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is a Class A Motorhome?

Motorhomes are divided into “classes” based on their size. The average, small motorhome that you see used for road trip vacations is probably a Class C. These smaller vehicles typically weigh between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds. Class A motorhomes are the largest class and can weigh anything from 13,000 pounds up to as much as 30,000 pounds.

Even a Class C motorhome can feel unwieldy and bulky to someone who is accustomed to driving a car. Class A motorhomes are huge by comparison and they handle more like a bus than a car. The trade-off is that there is far more space for home comforts and many Class A motorhomes are just as comfortable and luxurious as a small family house.

Class A motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do I need a RV License?

The idea of an “RV license” is a bit of a misnomer. The rules on vehicle licenses vary from state to state and province to province. No state currently has an explicit law that relates to the driving of RVs. States do, however, divide their licenses up into classes based upon the weight of the vehicle that the driver is handling and in some cases whether or not they have a trailer.

The sheer size of Class A motorhomes means that in some cases a motorist may need a special license to drive one. It depends on the weight of the motorhome. Let’s imagine you live in Pennsylvania. If you are driving an RV that weighs less than 26,000 pounds you don’t need a special license. If the RV weighs more than 26,000 pounds you will need a Class B non-commercial license. If you have a trailer and the weight goes over 26,000 pounds then you need a Class A non-commercial license.

Every state has different rules. Some states are more lenient than others. It’s a good idea to check the laws in your state or province and those you intend to regularly travel in before buying a large RV.

Class A motorhome at Tom Sawyer RV Park, West Memphis, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Handling Tips and Tricks

Once you’ve cleared up the legal aspects, the next challenge is to hit the road. It takes a while to get used to handling a large motorhome but it’s worth it once you master it because you’ll be able to visit new places and see the sights in luxury free from the constraints of a hotel.

Class A motorhome on Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Start with a Short, Easy Trip

Keep things simple for your first trip. As strange as it sounds consider a “staycation.” The last thing you want is for your first trip in your brand new RV to be marred with stress, broken itineraries or worse, a broken-down vehicle. Drive on easy roads that you’re familiar with and stay in a local campground. Give yourself plenty of time to get used to how the RV moves, how well it handles hills, how much space you need to stop, and how it turns.

Class A motorhome at Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tech Makes Life Easier

When you’re sitting in a Class A motorhome you’re higher up than you are used to being in your sedan or even in a smaller motorhome. Since your vehicle is also longer and wider you need more space to turn and you’re heavier so your stopping distances are longer. You need to take this all into account and it can take a while for your brain to adjust when it comes to judging distances. You’ll also have blind spots that are bigger than the ones you’re accustomed to in the mirrors of a standard car.

The good news is that there are high-tech answers to some of these problems. Some Class A motorhomes offer driving assist technology such as back up cameras, lane tracking, and adaptive steering. They make parking, backing up, and other maneuvers much easier.

Class A motorhome at Whispering Oaks RV Park, Weimar, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t Fight the Vehicle

Modern motorhomes have many nice “quality of life” features such as power steering, auto-leveling, improved suspension, and ABS. Take advantage of these. Be gentle on the steering, drive slowly and steadily, and give yourself plenty of space for any turns you need to take. Remember that ABS is designed to cut your stopping distance but in a very heavy vehicle you still have a lot of inertia especially on downward slopes. 

If you’re nervous about handling an RV, consider taking classes. Many companies offer rentals and classes where you can practice driving in a controlled environment to build your confidence.

Class A motorhome on Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take Regular Breaks

Remember that you don’t have to get to your destination on a fixed schedule when you’re on a road trip. If you’re held up for a while, that’s not a crisis. You quite literally have a house behind you. If you’re feeling tired, stressed, or slightly concerned, pull over at the next rest area or truck stop and take a break. Get your co-pilot to take over the driving for a while if they’re able to do so. If not, just take a nap, go for a short walk, and then start driving again.

Don’t drive in difficult conditions such as heavy rain, fog, snow, ice, or excessive wind. If you don’t like driving late at night, rest. The point of owning a luxury motorhome is to do things on your terms. Take your time and get to your destination safely then enjoy your holiday.

Class A motorhome at Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

No matter where we go in our motorhome, that sense of independence is satisfying. We have our own facilities, from comfortable bed to a fridge full of our favorite foods. We set the thermostat the way we like it and go to bed and get up in our usual routine.