How Difficult is it to Drive a Motorhome?

It’s not hard to see the attraction to motorhomes. They generally offer more space than the average caravans, and often a lot more space, various great features and facilities that can provide you with all your creature comforts from home. All this in a self-contained and compact package on wheels.

Although you don’t need to tow anything when driving a motorhome, many people find the idea intimidating, as they would driving with a caravan hitched up to their car. It’s not hard to understand why though, as motorhomes are much bigger than even the biggest family-size people carrier.

Perhaps that’s what’s holding you back from owning a motorhome and reaping the benefits. You may wonder, how difficult is it to drive a motorhome, though? Is it really that hard?

It may surprise you to learn that no, it’s not that hard at all. Especially if you think of them as being large vans and drive them the same way you would drive vans. The golden rule is to take each journey in a motorhome as a steady and paced affair rather than a race against everyone else on the road.

To help ease your worries and remove a lot of the mystique, particularly if considering investing in one and you will be driving a motorhome for the first time, we will cover a lot of the most important points and offer tips in this post.

Here are our tips

Can I Drive a Motorhome with My Driving Licence?

This question is asked regularly, and the truth is that it really depends on your age and the maximum authorised mass or MAM of the vehicle. This is calculated by taking the maximum load it is designed to carry added to its actual weight.

  • If you are looking to drive a motorhome that has a MAM between 3.5 and 7.5-tonnes, you need to possess a Category C1 driver’s licence.
  • If you are looking to drive a motorhome with a MAM of more than 7.5-tonnes, you need to possess a Category C driver’s licence.

Take One for a Test Drive/Hire A Luton Box Van

With anything you’re unfamiliar with, especially something that constitutes such a huge investment that a motorhome does, it’s always wise to test one out first. To get a feel for owning and driving a motorhome you could hire a Luton box van for a weekend. They have a very similar shape and size to coach-built motorhomes.

Why not go to a motorhome dealership and request a test drive? Renting a van like a Luton box for the weekend will give you lots of flexibility to try out different techniques and practice manoeuvres and driving different on different surfaces and road types.

Size is Important

The debate rages on in other walks of life, but as the team here knows at Caravan Helper, when it comes to tourers and leisure vehicles – size is very important. Especially when driving throughout the country, particularly in unfamiliar parts, where you may be faced with unexpected restrictions due to bridge heights and road widths.

It’s therefore crucial to know the correct dimensions of your motorhome. We would recommend also, particularly if you’ve not got a head for retaining numbers, that you keep a note of the width and height somewhere in the ca, in both imperial and metric measurements. This will help you avoid potentially embarrassing (or even dangerous) situations.

Don’t Forget to Check Your Mirrors

As with a car, you should always make sure your motorhome wing mirrors are adjusted properly and that you use them regularly. It can be quite a shock to the system, not having a traditional rear-view mirror, if you’ve only driven cars before. However, with practice, you’ll soon get used to it. Besides, modern vans and motorhome wing mirrors are designed to provide amazing amounts of visibility.

N.B. Some, but not all motorhomes, have blind spot mirrors. These are normally located just behind the doors to the cabin. Be sure you know exactly what you can see and what you can’t see in your vehicle’s mirrors.

Always Plan Your Journeys and Remember to Check You Have Adequate Vertical Clearance

Although we’d recommend you plan journeys in any vehicle, just to make sure you don’t use more petrol or fuel than is necessary and so you don’t get lost, in a motorhome this is even more vital. Remember what we said in the opening, driving a motorhome is not about racing, it’s about steady pacing.

Take a relaxed, but alert approach to driving your motorhome and always keep your eyes fixed ahead, so you have enough time to change speed or put on the brakes. It’s not just the road ahead you need to be aware of though, as you need to make sure you always have adequate vertical clearance. Remember, you’re in a huge vehicle and not a little Nissan Micra! We would recommend investing in a specialist sat nav that will warn you of narrow roads.

Be Aware of the Speed Limits

Obviously, whenever you start driving a new type of vehicle, it’s imperative you familiarise yourself with the speed limits for that vehicle. This will not only help prevent accidents; it will also stop you from getting points on your licence or fined for speeding.

According to Gov.uk, the speed limits for motorhomes are as follows:

  • For motorhomes that have a maximum unladen weight of less than 3.05-tonnes – 30mph in built-up areas, 60mph on single carriageways, 70mph on dual carriageways and 70mph on motorways.
  • For motorhomes that have a maximum unladen weight of more than 3.05-tonnes – 30mph in built-up areas, 50mph on single carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways and 70mph on motorways.

Handy Tips for Taking Corners in a Motorhome

You need to take considerable amount of care when taking corners in a motorhome than you do in a car, particularly if you have an A-class or large coach-built vehicle.

  • Practice is the best way to master it, but here are some tips to help:
  • Start to reduce your speed more gradually and more in advance than you would in a car
  • You need to really finish braking before you start to turn the corner and then maintain your speed by using the accelerator gently
  • Doing it this way will keep your motorhome stable, enhancing the grip the tyres have on the road and the comfort you and your passengers experience. It also helps to make it safer and easier for you to make any last-minute quick adjustments or to even stop if something goes wrong.

Reversing in a Motorhome

As we’re sure we don’t need to state, reversing your motorhome requires a lot of patience and care. You need to proceed slowly, particularly if you are driving without a second person helping to direct you or with a reversing camera. While you get reasonable amounts of visibility from the wing mirrors, you need to remember your blind spot mat the rear of your motorhome. If you have any doubts, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Get out and look for yourself, to help assess things.

We mentioned reversing cameras. These are a great investment to make and will not only make it easier, but safer to perform tricky reverses in your motorhome.

Conclusion

In a similar sense to driving while towing a caravan or driving a van for the first, it’s understandable that you would feel apprehensive about driving a motorhome for the first time. However, with the right attitude, lots of practice and even help from a trusted friend or professional who has experience driving larger vehicles, there’s no real reason why you won’t be get used to it eventually.

Don’t let inability or your nerves put you off benefitting from the freedom and flexibility owning and driving a motorhome gives you. The world is only your oyster if you are brave enough to get out there and take it.

Check out Caravan vs Motorhome to decide which one is right for you.

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