Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Woman UP!


Hey Ladies, with a show of hands lets see how many of you drive your RV.  We’re talking about you towable owners too.  This is by far the most asked about topic of RV’ing that we get.  Who drives?  Do you both drive?  Sometimes we jokingly make reference to our chauffer we keep locked in the basement that we don’t let out until its time to pack up camp and move on.  But most of the time we answer honestly and say, “we both do” because we like to encourage non-drivers and instill a fleck of confidence that might get them behind the wheel.   

Betsy confidently behind the wheel
of our 40' motorhome.
For many years, we have been encouraging women to drive and overcome their fears.  In all honesty, we were very intimidated when we bought our first RV – a 40’ Class A motorhome.  The dealer we bought it from was nine hours away and to get home we went through rain, sleet, New Orleans rush hour traffic on I-10, and had to back down a long and winding driveway in the dark.  After that day, we knew we could do it. 

Recently, our RV buddies the Snowmads (Kristin and Jason) put out a great blog on women drivers.  They highlighted a bunch of female RV’ers,  a few of which are solo, and others that share the driving.  This diverse group of women pass along their tips and what path they took to confident driving; as well as, share some of their “whoops” moments to help you avoid pitfalls. 

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Jason, Kristin, and their sweet dog pack.
Our biggest bit of advice (which you will find is a common theme among drivers in the article) is to TAKE IT SLOW!  There is no reason to rush.  And, if you are in a rush, you need better trip planning.  Give yourself time to react.  The interstate speed for us is 55-60 mph and we don’t mind when a rig goes zooming by at 80 mph. Here is some advice we live and drive by:
  • Switch off drivers and limit drive time.  The point that Jeanette makes in the article emphasizes that they limit their individual driving to two hours and then switch.  You may not feel tired or road weary but chances are good you are and not know it. 
  • Limit the daily drive distance.  We try and shoot for driving 200 miles in a day or less to get to our next destination.  For us, a day of driving 350 miles or more is a hefty amount and is something that we have done less than a handful of times in our five years of RV’ing. 
  • Drive between 10 and 3 pm.  This allows you to avoid morning and evening rush hour traffic, avoid being in a hurry to leave in the morning where you might forget to do something, and gets you to your campsite and set up well before dark (and in time for cocktail hour). 
  • Be a good passenger.  Robin mentions that her husband Jeremy trusts her judgment completely when she is behind the wheel which in turn gives her the confidence she needs to drive their fifth-wheel. 
  • Practice.  Another common theme is practice.  If you are not comfortable driving your RV, practice in an empty parking lot or on the open highway on a quiet Sunday morning.  Get the confidence you need before trying to tackle winding country roads with narrow shoulders, busy interstates in major cities, or navigating through towns.
One last thing.  Guys, don’t be the reason your partner is afraid to drive.  (You know what we are talking about!)  There may come a time when for some reason you can’t drive and she needs to. 

Hopefully, The Snowmads article will inspire you non-drivers to get behind the wheel.  Find a way that will boost your confidence and head in that direction.  We have all been new at this at some point and found ways to shake that feeling of terror when gripping the steering wheel.  If nothing else, you will have been introduced to some amazing women RV’ers whose blogs are full of fun and adventure. 

Time to Women UP and get behind that wheel!



10 comments:

  1. I drive, I prefer freeway driving rather than back roads. I really need to drive more for the practice.

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    1. Sure hope you all decide to drive east sometime so we can see you again.

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  2. My bonnie bride can drive our MH, but prefers to do it on the open highway vs around town, back roads, etc. She can do it if she had to. She also knows how to bring in slides, raise jacks, and what is needed to get the rig for travel. :c)

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    1. Getting the rig ready for travel is sometimes the hardest part.

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  3. Hi guys! Our experience in picking up our RV was similar to yours in that we flew from Colorado out to California to pick it up and had no choice but to drive it back with less than an hour of actual driving experience. I admit that I let my husband do all the driving that trip but it was a sort of tacit understanding that, if this whole RV thing started out on a stressful note, it wouldn't be a happy experience for either of us.

    However, I was in total agreement that, when we go full time (probably mid-year next year), I should be comfortable with driving too. To that end we took a driving course this past summer where I did almost all the driving. I drove our 40' Class A up windy mountain roads from Loveland to Estes Park and back down again. I found it to be much easier than I expected and it instilled in me a great sense of confidence. I also drove back through Denver and I have to say that windy mountain roads are a piece of cake compared to city traffic! But I lived through it and I gained a ton of confidence from it.

    I would highly recommend to women (and men) out there that are uncomfortable driving their RV that they look into taking a professional driving course. Even for those who aren't necessarily uncomfortable driving but haven't had any real instruction, this type of course is really beneficial. In addition to often earning you a break on your insurance premiums, you may pick up some good tips (we learned a great parking technique!) or break some bad habits you didn't know you had.

    Thanks for addressing this topic. I'm always amazed at the number of women who refuse to do any driving. What if something happened to the driver on your team and you HAD to get somewhere else quickly? I want to feel confident that I can handle that type of situation. Although my husband will ultimately still do more driving than I will (he likes driving), I'm going to insist on doing a lot more of it. I know that the more I do, the more comfortable I'll be.

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    1. Great advice on the driving course. Especially if you get an insurance break.

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  4. Am the only driver of a 25 ft RV with tow -- my hubby has glaucoma and no peripheral vision -- he can drive the tow in forest roads. We follow all your great advice and go the speed I prefer which is in the 55-60 mph range. Daily travel is in the 100-200 miles/day and we stop if I feel close to hitting the wall. Hubby plans our travel using mostly state highways. Two more tips - take a walk during those breaks! Also if you're headed into a big city like San Diego (we recently camped at the military base near Coronado), camp outside the city and drive in and out on a Sunday.

    As the only driver have had one scare -- broke an ankle while at the Oregon coast, 1000 miles from home. Turned out that I could drive (took myself to the walk-in clinic and back in a stick shift tow) But we did think hard about our options on how to get to our next destination and back home (thankful for a friend who offered to help).

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    1. A walk certainly helps. It is amazing how still I get after sitting in the drivers seat for just two hours. And like you, we try to approach big cities on Sunday morning. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I just found your blog through Hitch Itch! Nice. Yes, I too drive, switching off with my husband. We have a 35' Heartland Bighorn fifth wheel towed with an F350 DRW. DH has been very good in coaching me through gas stations and around big rigs. I guess I do a good job driving because he usually falls asleep when I do.

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  6. I agree that practice is of the utmost importance. Like any skill, you develop comfort and the reflexes for it. And the suggested driving times that are in daylight and avoiding the heaviest traffic are a great way to cut your teeth on a large vehicle.

    To begin, maybe wait for a day and time when you are on a more rural, quiet road or on a long stretch of consistent highway on a nice day.

    Liza Pilon @ Prairie City RV

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