Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife bought me a new GPS for Christmas. It was an expensive, big rig model. It is supposed to have all the latest information to keep me from driving our 40 ft. 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 RV travel, 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 Treme'
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. 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 it’s directions as gospel.
If that doesn’t work out for you, perhaps downsizing will. There is a huge difference in maneuvering a 30 ft. rig vs. a 40 ft. 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. Dolly Parton’s dad always tried to convince her that you can’t put 20 pounds of mud in a 5 pound sack. Same can be said for trying to put a 40 ft. motorhome in a 24 ft. 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’, Dr. R.V. Shrink