Did RVers buy “too much” motorhome?



Dear RV Shrink:
rvshrinkI think we bought too much motorhome. It makes my husband nervous to drive. He’s always saying, “I just want to park this sucker.”

We are now headed south for the winter and he will only drive on interstate highways, stay in commercial campgrounds with pull-thru sites and use truck-stop-sized gas stations.

Today was our most stressful yet. We pulled into a Flying J and pulled up to a gas bay that had another truck in it. My husband thought it was leaving because it was not fueling. Once he pulled up tight behind it we noticed there was no driver. We were blocking traffic and could not back up because of our toad.

We were getting the stink eye from dozens of people for several minutes until a woman finally came out of the store embracing a month’s worth of junk food. She had left her vehicle at the pump while she went shopping, yet everyone was annoyed with us.

I think we should lose about ten feet of living space, but my husband says we will take a bath on downsizing.

Are we stuck? I wanted to see America, but not at 65 mph rocketing along some super slab. Help!
SuperSized in Santa Fe

Dear SuperSized:
I have no idea what size your motorhome is, but obviously it’s too large for your driving comfort. I agree that you would most likely take a bath downsizing, but there are other options.

I would start with investing in some driver’s training. Yes, there is such a thing. Many people bite off more than they can chew when choosing a big rig, adding a toad and other toys. They are so big and powerful that I have seen people take out electric and water facilities while leaving a campsite and not even realize it.

Becoming comfortable with your home on wheels is essential to happy travels. Be aware that size will limit you at times as to where you can camp, drive, park and fuel.

You describe one of my pet peeves with your story of pulling into the gas station. You will always have to deal with people who are not courteous. It doesn’t matter what size RV you have. That said, the bigger the rig, the more planning involved in making your approach to a campsite, fuel pump, dump station, etc.

Don’t wait too long to look into driving lessons or downsizing. I have witnessed people destroying their whole RV making one swing through a campground they never should have attempted. That route can often lead to more of a loss than a bad trade. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

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Maybe she should also learn to drive. That would give her an appreciation for what it takes to drive the behemoth. Not sure where they travel, but secondary or state roads might be a good compromise–slower speed through America while on usually well paved roads. We’ve also found it helpful to sometimes detach the toad before entering the RV park.

S. M.

Downsize and consider any loss an investment in happiness. I suggest renting 1 or 2 different smaller rigs for a weekend and trying them out. We downsized to a Roadtrek because we want to travel back roads and see out of the way places. Life is great and we can park anywhere.


We downsized and are MUCH happier traveling. We didn’t take a bath in a trade — kept the bigger rig but parked it in a long-lease site. Now it’s like staying in the Ritz when we stay in the “older” rig.

The question is whether you want to enjoy your travels or not. If you don’t, keep the big rig (definitely take lessons). If you do, call any money you lose in a trade an investment and go on with your life. Depending on what you choose as a smaller rig (smaller doesn’t necessarily mean less expensive), you might not take the loss you think. Good luck!

Tommy Molnar

It has always scared me to think that some people spend their lives commuting to work in a VW Bug, then retire and buy a 40′ motorhome. ‘Real men’ don’t need driving lessons . . . .