For most RVers, driving an RV in the city is not the highlight of any trip. Drives should be scenic and pleasant when moving from one location to another. But a large percentage of cities do not offer us this luxury.
What to Consider When Driving a RV in the City
City driving is often a stressful but necessary departure from the fun part of our journey. The goal is to get somewhere quickly – we hope. Here are some things to consider whether taking the RV through the city is a good option or not.
If you are not used to driving in a city, think of it like waiting in line for a ride at the fair, or weekends at the grocery store. It’s not quick and sometimes you can come to a complete stop on the highway. We lived most of our lives in Dallas, Texas and we knew when not to get on the major highways and short cuts to miss them. Rush hour for most cities is between 7:30-9:30am in the morning and 4:00-7:00pm in the evening.
If you are going through the city, try to plot getting in and out of there between 10am-2pm or sneak through on the weekends.
Drivers and Road Hazards
City drivers don’t understand you can’t stop on a dime when they launch in front of you to reach an exit they didn’t plan for. Try to drive in the second lane from the right. This allows drivers to get on and off without you having too much interference. Drive under the speed limit. This is not to keep from getting a ticket, this is to practice safe RV driving. You need more time to interpret the highway division signs, poor interstate directions and last-minute road hazards or construction.
Does part of the road you will take through the city have toll roads? Sometimes taking a toll road may save time, but it might not save on costs. When determining if a short cut through a city on a toll road is worth it, you will need to factor in the toll costs. Maybe the toll roads have better surfacing and will be better on your RV.
From our experience, toll roads can be in worse shape, but we haven’t found them to be in better shape than the roads around them. Once we took a toll road in Chicago. We were on it less than three minutes. It seemed like a good short cut and a possible savings. Because of the number of axles we have, that three minutes cost us $33 dollars!
Older Roads Infrastructure
Most of the major highways through cities can handle your rig since they handle semi trucks. But what if you must get off the road for an emergency or make a wrong turn. When you get in these situations, immediately find a place to safely pull over and review your maps or GPS if you are not familiar with the area. You do not want to take a route that has an overpass that is too low or a bridge that will not handle your weight.
City Driving Tips for RVers
I’m not trying to scare anyone from driving an RV in the city. Sometimes you just don’t have a choice. When this happens, you should just be prepared for the above scenarios. If you know you are going to need to drive through a city – or want to because it is a scenic drive, there are some things you should prep before you head out.
- Have a full tank of gas when entering a city. This will protect you if you do get caught in stop and go traffic. You won’t have to take an unexplored exit for fuel.
- Fuel yourself up as well. Eat before you go through a city. You do not need any distractions on the road and if you get stuck in traffic, you won’t miss a meal either.
- Go to the bathroom first!
- Have change in case there’s a toll booth. Some toll roads still require old-fashioned coins. Quarters are good.
What if you want to drive your RV into the city on purpose?
Your destination may be in downtown or there is sightseeing you want to do but dropping the rig off is not an option. Not a big deal. Semi trucks get into downtowns for deliveries all the time. They know where to go and how to get there. (Like I said about us avoiding the traffic in Dallas, Texas). You can do it too.
How to make it look easy driving an RV in the city.
- Plan your route. Use RV LIFE Trip Wizard. That’s the best way to know if there are RV-friendly roads, one-way streets, overpasses, or other issues.
- Know your rig. Know the length, height, and weight of your rig so you know where you can drive.
- Determine parking. Where will you park, how long and what are the parking restrictions.
If you really think about it, driving your RV in the city is no different than driving it anywhere else. You just need to familiarize yourself with the restrictions, limitations, laws, and other issues that affect your rig no matter where you drive it. It just takes a little more homework because we are unfamiliar with the new location. Consider it an adventure and leave yourself plenty of time to learn as you go.