Getting behind the wheel of a big rig can be a pretty daunting task and I’ve received a few emails and comments about how inspiring it is to see a little thing like me behind the wheel of this huge motorhome. It’s so inspiring to know there are other women out there like me who want to take control of the wheel and drive these beautiful roads.
Anyone who’s ever been on the road knows a lot can go wrong and usually does, but that’s no reason to stay home! Take everything slow at first. I always visualize my trip before I actually drive it and Google Earth can help you get an idea of what your route might entail, but sometimes it’s just not possible to know the roads before you go. Again, take it slow and stay in the slow lane. If you give the people behind you enough warning with your turn signals they can *usually* figure out what you’re doing and let you do your thing.
There are a lot of things to get used to; you’re higher up off the ground, which can be a little awkward, but it helps to be able to see above and beyond all the traffic and it takes a bit longer for you to stop. It’s also a lot wider and much loooonger than your average sedan so, again, go slow until you get your bearings.
As silly as it might sound, before I drive any rig, I walk around the whole rig once, this helps me get a better feel for how much clearance I’m going to need. Another great way to familiarize yourself with your rig, is to bring it to a large (and empty!) parking lot to practice in until you get comfortable (or at least until the adrenaline has worn off). You could even buy some orange cones to see how many you can crush while backing into a spot! ;D
When we bought our first rig, Duncan and I split the driving time in half. It was only fair and we didn’t really have much time to mess around – we needed to drive as much as possible so we could get to our first workamper gig, stat! The entire drive was smooth sailing except for one instance. Duncan was catching up on some sleep and I was driving on an unassuming two lane road that was surrounded by small hills. As I came out of the hills and hit the open prairie, a small gust of wind hit us and moved the entire rig about a foot to the left, and our tires started thumping the reflectors in the road so I calmly steered us back into our lane. Whew! That was close! Then came The Big Gust, jolting us three feet into the other lane! I had no control, she slid over just. like. that. I squealed and Duncan was abruptly woken up from his nap. Luckily there wasn’t another car or semi in the other lane! After I calmed down, I realized that was the only scary thing that happened the entire trip from Florida to South Dakota. That was pretty good odds! I also chalked it up to being a Florida native and not having enough experience driving in (and out) of hills. Now I know when I come out of the hills onto open prairie to be prepared for those big gusts! (duh)
When we bought our motorhome I was given the task of driving it alone from the dealership to a gas station, then to it’s temporary parking spot and finally to our first campground. No co-pilot! I was terrified! I didn’t want to scratch my
new home! Just like with any vehicle, big or small, I took my time, drove defensively and stayed alert. It took me FOREVER to get through that first intersection! I must admit, the tail swing had me pretty worried – it’s like driving a bouncy T-rex down the freeway – but I took it very slow and everything worked out fine.
Girls, don’t let the boys have all the fun and excitement - grab that huge steering wheel with your tiny girly hands!