Dear RV Shrink:
My wife bought me a new GPS for my birthday. It’s an expensive, big rig model. It is supposed to have all the latest information to keep me from driving our 40-foot motorhome and toad into areas that are too narrow, too low, etc. Now I am more frustrated than ever.
Not only are we out the money for this “special” device, but it is no more accurate than the cheap one I used prior. Besides that, it just sent me down a dead-end street in New Orleans and I left the top hand rail of my ladder on a low tree branch.
My wife says I may not be cut out for RVing, or that we need to downsize. I love this big rig, but I find myself nervous as a cat under a rocking chair when I get this train on the wrong track. Am I just a novice, nervous Nelly? Will it get better once I get a few more miles under my belt? Should I start looking for a smaller rig? —Train Wreck in Trenton
Dear Train Wreck:
Your concerns are fairly normal. Let’s start out with using a GPS. If this can solve your problem it will be a lot cheaper than taking a bath on trading down. A GPS can be a valuable tool if used properly, but nothing is foolproof.
My suggestion on using high-tech navigation is to use everything available. Even after updating my GPS I consider it only 70% accurate. Study your proposed route using other programs that are free. Google Maps and free GPS apps give varied formats. You can also use Google Earth to fly into congested areas and get a visual idea of what you will run into. Don’t fall blindly in love with the voice on your GPS and take its directions as gospel.
If that doesn’t work out for you, perhaps downsizing will. There is a huge difference in maneuvering a 30-foot versus a 40-foot rig. It may be worth your while to take a driving course if you haven’t already. Many dealers offer that option to new owners.
If you have never driven a vehicle of that size you will discover there is a learning curve. A few driving tips that you could glean from an instructor or fellow campers will make you much more proficient. You will also learn that one size does not fit all (campgrounds). The larger you get, the more restricted you become no matter how sharp your driving skills. You can’t put a 40-foot motorhome in a 24-foot space.
Everyone has their own comfort level. Find yours so you can enjoy your travels and not have to deal with a case of nerves every time you get behind the wheel. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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