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Advice for motorhomers, from motorhomers

FMCA members share tips on buying, driving and maintaining a motor coach, and on enjoying the motorhome lifestyle.

Buying

— "Don’t buy a smaller motorhome than you can be comfortable in, or you may give up the RVing lifestyle without giving it a real chance."

— "Try every feature and function on the coach prior to leaving the dealer lot. Document every problem in detail. Question the dealer on how easy the manufacturer is to deal with on warranty issues."

— "If you have any doubts that motorhoming is for you, rent first. While our coach was being created, we were itchy for a trip. We rented a 22-foot Class C for two weeks and visited Arizona and New Mexico. It was cramped with the three pets, and the layout didn’t suit us at all, but we had so much fun that we knew we were doing the right thing."

— "Buy the coach to meet your lifestyle, not others’. Purchase the best floor plan for your needs. Choose the chassis and horsepower first, then the bells and whistles."

— "Take your time in selecting the right coach for your lifestyle. Make a list of things you would like to have in a motorhome. Get a buyer’s guide or visit manufacturer’s Web sites that offer features and floor plans. Be patient in your purchase. Get the one you want."

— "Don’t impulse buy. Make a list of your priorities in a motorhome and search for the right one in your price range."

— “Try before you buy. Rent a motorhome to check the preferred layout.”

— "Do a lot of research before buying a motorhome or you will buy the wrong one. Surf the Internet, attend rallies, take seminars and talk to motorhome owners before making a decision on which motorhome to buy."

— “Buy a coach like you buy clothes for your growing children: a little larger than is needed today, but not too large.”

— “Buy a quality high-line unit to start with rather than trading up several times.”

— "Be sure to rent or borrow a motorhome before buying one. Most important is to buy a motorhome that is within your realm of expertise. Motorhomes run from basic to premium with features that require study and knowledge to understand and care for the coach."

— "Your first coach probably will not be your dream coach, nor will it be your only coach."

— “If you are buying a used motorhome, get a seasoned RVer to look it over for you. We could have avoided some early problems if we had done that. The dealer was reputable but we did have to fight to get warranty items understood and looked after.”

— “Do not sell your home until you’ve traveled for a couple of years. Buy a used motorhome and use it for a season or two. You then will have a better idea of what to look for in your ‘dream’ motorhome.”

Driving

— "Remember, a motorhome doesn't stop as fast as a car."

— "Stay on the “red roads” or at least the roads where conditions make it possible to maneuver a big rig. Sometimes you will end up in a place where the road is full of switchbacks, the bridge is too low, or a weight restriction prohibits passing through. Occasionally, you’ll need the help and patience of other motorists to get you out of a tight space. It’s best to try to avoid those situations but sometimes it just happens, so stay cool."

— "If you are towing a car, when changing lanes, remember that you are towing a vehicle."

— "Be alert at all times, stop often and limit your daily travel miles to a comfortable level."

— "Be patient, don’t get in a hurry, drive safely and READ YOUR OWNERS MANUALS."

— "Use walkie-talkies to communicate when parking the motorhome, and also when traveling if one spouse is in the car and the other is in the motorhome."

— "Know how to drive a motorhome before leaving on a trip. Practice in large, empty parking lots and large cemeteries, not cutting corners, making sharp turns, etc."

— "Never tailgate someone. Constantly check mirrors and rearview monitor if you have one. Make all turns wide. Know how long it takes to stop. Never go over the speed limit."

— "Patience! Be alert, scan down the highway and check your mirrors frequently. If you’re behind schedule, don’t hurry … that’s what cell phones are for."

— "Take your time, have patience, and regardless of how much it may sometimes hurt your pride, give the other guy the right of way."

— "Be patient and courteous. Slow down and don’t try to make the whole trip in one day. Take your time and enjoy life."

— “Do not drive long distances at any one time. Schedule your time, retire early and never stretch your attentiveness while driving. No matter what you might think, you must always drive your coach; never let it drive you. Besides, retiring to a campsite early in the day allows you to truly enjoy whatever environment surrounds you."

— If you leave early, and stop early, you are more apt to find a vacancy, and have time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. Use walkie-talkies to communicate when parking the motorhome, and also when traveling if one spouse is in the car and the other is in the motorhome.

— "Slow down, smell the flowers. Take time to enjoy the area in which you are traveling. Don't drive 12 hours a day and get off the interstate."

— "Keep a close eye out for low trees and underpass clearance signs."

— "Ladies, learn to drive your motorhome; gentlemen, encourage your wives to drive. This is not really a tip, but our strong recommendation. It’s not very safe for one person to drive many hours in a row. When we got our first motorhome, we set a rule that neither one of us would drive more than two hours continuously, unless absolutely necessary. If one person suddenly becomes ill and the partner has to drive to a hospital or obtain other emergency help, it’s much better to be comfortable with handling your vehicle.”

— "Be sure to use mirrors and keep all surroundings in sight."

— "Unless you have driven an 18-wheeler professionally, take driving lessons. No matter how long you have driven a motorhome, you'll learn something new. Be sure your wife or copilot also takes lessons. Can you imagine being 25 miles from a town when you need medical help and your wife doesn't know how to drive your coach— Take turns driving, so you don't tire out. If you drive1-1/2 to two hours and then trade off, both of you arrive at your destination feeling pretty good."

Maintaining the coach

— "Read your owners manual, research the things you don’t understand, and remember just because your neighbor says you should do something 'this way,' doesn’t mean it will be appropriate for you and your coach.

— "Check the fluids in your motorhome and check the tire pressure on a regular basis. We are always amazed that many people wait until they have a problem to perform what should be a routine check.

— "Join an RV club and take advantage of members' knowledge and experience. Larger clubs have classes in almost everything and so does FMCA. Don’t be afraid of asking questions."

— "Join an FMCA chapter so you can meet other motorhomers and learn how to fully enjoy your coach. And use your coach as much as possible. Motorhomes don't like to sit in the barn!”

— "Do the little maintenance things, like changing radiator hoses, fan belt and the like BEFORE you have a breakdown. It sure is silly to be sitting by the roadside for something that is not that expensive to replace.”

— Use the motorhome. Learn all you can about the motor, transmission, rear end, brakes, exhaust system, air intake, carburetor and intake manifold — the things that make it work.”

— "Always check tires and the hitch every time you stop."

— “Do not think that just because your motorhome is large, you can load it with everything you can find room for, and do not drive it too hard (fast), lugging the engine. Also, learn to glance at the gauges often. If a warning light or buzzer comes on, pull to the side of the road as soon as possible. When you get a new motorhome, study the operating manual thoroughly; if you do not understand any part of it, call the manufacturer or a friend who is an experienced RVer for help.”

— "Never leave your awning out when you leave your motorhome. Never park in a sunny space when the Asian beetles are present. If rain is forecasted make sure your spot is high and dry. Don’t park under old trees when it is windy."

— " 'Things' seem to accumulate and keep adding weight, thereby lowering fuel mileage. Like your house — clean out the basement at least once a year." 

The lifestyle

— "When traveling, be sure to say hi to your fellow RVers. We’ve learned so much from others."

— "Enjoy yourselves, and don’t rush or get upset about little things. There is so much to learn and always someone to help."

— "Minimize your stuff.  When you live in a small space there’s not room for more than the essentials, but be sure you have the following: maps, slow cooker, camera, cell phone, binoculars, collapsible laundry sack, batteries and flashlights. Also, slow down your pace.  Allow time to immerse yourself in a destination.  When you slow down you truly experience a community and its people."

— "Stop along the way to smell the roses. We don’t know what tomorrow brings, so take the time to enjoy each day of your life while we are on this earth. There are so many wonderful sights to see and so many wonderful people to enjoy. Breathe LIFE!"

— "There are many places to spend the night other than conventional RV parks. Most motorhomes are quite self-contained; if you haven’t tried boondocking, you should!"

— Use the disposable (blue) gloves for dumping, hooking up and unhooking. The gloves are available cheap from auto supply stores.

— “Join an FMCA chapter and get involved. When you commit to a rally, it is just the beginning of the enjoyment of it.”

— “Just relax and enjoy the beautiful country. And remember, things are not perfect, including your new motorhome.”

— "Travel slowly. We usually only went 250 to 350 miles per day and stayed in an area long enough to enjoy it. Very important is to know your motorhome completely to avoid costly and time-consuming repairs. In 12 years, the only breakdown we had was one tire blowout."

— "Do not be afraid to go beyond your wildest dreams. Do not go to the same RV park every year. Go to different states, areas, types of parks. Meet new friends. Broaden your RV info. Pick up new ideas and help. Ask questions, seek answers."

— "Do not prepare a rigid schedule. Enjoy the freedom to move from a location whenever you want. We never make all campsite reservations before leaving home and we have always found a place to stay."

— "If you have access to a computer and the Internet, check out all the great sites on RVing, including FMCA.com and RV America. Become a member of FMCA and join a chapter in our area. Don't be afraid to ask questions of other RVers. We are a social lot and love to share what we have learned."

— "Life is short. If you own a motorhome, use it often. There are many places in this country that should be seen, experiences to experience, and people to make friends with."

— "Take time in camp to get out and walk around and meet your neighbors. Don’t set up the TV and hibernate! Also, try to set aside some time to get off the interstates and travel some interesting side roads. Stop off in small towns and wander around, eat at the local diners, talk to the people, visit the small museums and town halls. Enjoy your fellow Americans."

— "Join FMCA and a chapter for the best in camping tips and camping friends. You get all kinds of great information in Family Motor Coaching magazine. We look forward to it each month and have learned a lot of great tips and ideas from it."

— "Prepare two checklists, one for preparation and packing and one for breaking camp. Preparation and packing: Make a list of all the things you will need. Do not over-pack. Remember there are stores on the way to your destination. For breaking camp: Don’t rush. Make sure all things are in order before you take off down the road. We use a checklist to make sure we don’t forget anything."

— "Think of your neighbors and the affect your actions have on the general public, like when you park at Wal-Mart for too long."

— "Be friendly and courteous to others. Leave your campsite cleaner than when you got there."

— “Go wherever you can; use the motorhome!”

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