Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I am trying to talk my husband into trading our big diesel pusher motorhome in for something shorter. When we bought we were thinking bigger was better, but now we are reevaluating. He has hit just about everything in Kansas. The dealer gave us driving lessons and little dots to put on the mirrors. My husband was convinced that if the dots missed the gas pump the motorhome would too. The problem is, while he's watching the dots he knocks the mirrors off on something else. I feel like we do not visit a lot of places because we are afraid we might get stuck in a tight place where we can't turn the motorhome around. He says he will eventually get used to driving it. That may be true, but I'm not sure we will have much motorhome left by the time he gets his driving skills mastered. Please advise.
--Bump and Grind in Grand Rapids
Dear Bump and Grind:
It sounds like you are stripping it down pretty quickly. Is it getting shorter or just narrower? Everyone seems to find their own comfort level when driving a big rig. I don't think there is any argument that the longer the rig the fewer choices you have getting into tight campgrounds and other destinations. Height is another consideration. It is not just motorhomes. I know a guy that drove 40 ft. tour buses in New York City and Boston for years. He bought a fifth wheel and couldn't park it. He said, "The darn thing bends in the middle."
The two of you will have to decide where your comfort level resides. With the popularity of slide outs, in most of today's coaches, you should be able to find a suitable floor plan that offers all the room you need in a shorter rig. It also depends on the type of traveling you plan to do. You are not going to get a 40 ft. coach into many small National Forest campgrounds with small sites and tight roads. Campground trends are growing. Because there are so many larger units on the road, campgrounds are being designed to accommodate them.
I also see a trend in manufacturers downsizing the diesel pusher. You can now find nice units under 30 ft.
Most dealers will let you test drive the units they sell. You should try a few shorter coaches and see if you feel more comfortable with a unit that does not require a driving plan that entails connecting the dots.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink