Tip 1: Know the size of your RV and how it maneuvers.
RVs vary in length, but most are about eight to ten feet wide in order to fit within standard driving lanes (12 feet wide) with room on each side. Knowing the size of your RV is the first step to knowing where you’ll fit and how.
Before you head out, look up your width, length, and height clearance in your RV owner’s manual, and walk around the RV to put those dimensions into context. Then, head to an empty lot and practice parking your RV. Pull through spots, back into spots, and pull out of them again.
If you have a travel trailer, pay attention to the angle at which your RV starts to jackknife. If you have a motorized RV, pay attention to how tight or loose your turning radius is.
Park your RV, get out of the driver’s seat, and walk around to see how you fit within the lines, including any mirrors, ladders, and equipment on the outside of your RV.
Gradually work your way up to practicing near objects like curbs, trees, walls, and finally other vehicles. Being comfortable with parking is half the battle.
Tip 2: Know the size of spaces at RV parks and shoot for the pull-through spots.
At an RV park or a campground, you’ll either park on a natural surface like dirt, grass, or gravel, or you’ll park on a paved pad. Pads range from 10 to 12 feet wide and vary in length from 20 to 45 feet.
What can you do to get the best RV parking spots? Plan. Not to kill your spontaneity, but if you can book your spot ahead of time, absolutely do it. If you can’t, try to get there early so you can nab the best spot that’s open. “Best” can mean a whole lot of things to different people, but as far as parking goes, you want the one that makes you the most comfortable with entering, exiting, and using your RV in the space.
RV parks and campgrounds are made for RVs, so driving and parking there is often easier than anywhere else. Many are designed with looping drives and wide turns, and many have pull-through spots where you enter from one side and exit the other.
Tip 3: Keep in mind slide-outs and lifts, which need extra room.
Slide-outs are pretty magical, because when they’re all pulled in your RV stays the standard width of around eight to nine feet. But when they’re extended, you get an extra two or three feet of living space inside. Just keep your slide-outs in mind when you’re parking; know where they extend and how much room you’ll need on each side.
Also, if you have a lift or other special access needs, you’ll need a little extra room on the sides of your RV. According to standard access guidelines, parking spaces for RVs with a lift must be at least 20 feet wide in order to give room to lower the lift and get mobility devices (such as a wheelchair) off of it. The same goes with utility hookups; you’ll need an extra three feet of space to access the utility hookups if you use a mobility device.
Tip 4: Know how to park at places like Walmart.
Sooner or later, you’ll need to stop for supplies, and maybe you’ll decide to stay in a parking lot overnight when you’re between destinations. That means, unlike at the RV park, you’ll be the biggest vehicle among lots of smaller cars – and smaller spaces. Luckily, big box stores like Walmart usually have huge parking lots that make it easy to take up a few spots on the outskirts where you won’t block anyone in or get blocked in yourself. Be sure to position your RV toward the exit so you don’t have to do any tricky turns when departing the lot.
If you know you’ll have to park in a certain lot that won’t have a bunch of wide open space, it helps to know that the standard parking space is nine feet wide by 18 feet long. That’s about the size of a full-size SUV or truck. Lots of Class B and C motorized RVs can fit in these spaces just fine if you take it slowly and have a spotter with you. Travel trailers and larger motorized RVs might need to take up multiple spots, and you might have to pay for as many spots as you’re using – so ask or check before you leave your RV there.
Tip 5: Get the hang of eyeballing it.
You can’t plan for everything. For example, all gas stations are set up differently, and you’ll have to stop for gas and figure it out on the fly. If you know how your RV maneuvers in tight spaces, you’ll learn to eyeball where you’ll be able to fit and where you won’t. Of course, a spotter always helps, especially when you need to turn around.
Patience is also super important in on-the-fly situations. Usually if you can wait a little while in line at the gas station, you can position yourself so that pulling in and getting out are pretty easy. The more patient you are, the more other people often try to help you out as well.
Tip 6: Make sure everyone who drives the RV knows how to park it.
Obviously your five-year-old shouldn’t get behind the wheel, but everyone who’ll drive the RV should learn how to park it in different situations. That way, every trip you take doesn’t hinge on one person parking everywhere you go. Plus, it’s just empowering to figure out how to get into, through, and out of tight spaces safely in your RV, and everybody will love having that skill.
We hope you’ve found this Togo RV blog helpful. Please share it with your RVing friends and point them toward safe travels.