|RV School Days, by Alice Zyetz|
How DO they know how to maneuver those giant RVs down the road? The truth is most people aren't born knowing how to drive RVs, how to work with solar panels, propane, or any of the myriad details necessary to live a safe RV life. Some people are taught by their parents, siblings, friends; some people have been truck drivers or mechanical experts during their working years. But for the rest of us -- former teachers, accountants, insurance salespeople -- we go to school to learn. Yes, RV School!
RV schools come in many forms. There are many outstanding books on the subject. Check out RoadTrip America's recommendations. Do a Google or Amazon search for RV books. There are videos to help the novice. Visit RV Education 101. Instructors will give private tutoring sessions (visit www.campingworld.com) for example. Many dealers will give a walk-through when you first purchase your rig. Some companies will provide hours or days of instruction. Always ask your vendor for assistance.
Particularly for beginners, classes devoted to specific topics prove very effective. There are many resources for classes. Jaimie and I just returned from the Spring Escapade, a huge semiannual rally sponsored by the Escapees RV Club, providing more than 60 seminars taught by volunteers, covering a variety of topics important to RVers of all experience levels, such as safety issues, driving tips, WiFi, digital cameras, RV travel to Central America, working on the road (taught by Jaimie), writing on the road (taught by me). As is true at many rallies, in addition to the classes, many vendors display their wares. This year, Jaimie and I joined with ten other RV authors to create the RV Authors' Cooperative, providing a one-stop shopping mall for RV books.
The Life on Wheels (LOW) conferences are held at universities and colleges in Idaho, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Iowa. Designed for all levels of RV experience, classes are offered in four categories:
- Technical (e.g. Maintaining an RV's Systems, Gas vs. Diesel, Chassis Maintenance, Solar Power, etc.)
- Lifestyle (e.g. Fulltiming, Choosing an RV, RV Clubs and Memberships, etc.)
- Lifestyle Enhancement (e.g. RV Cooking, Digital Photography, Keeping Fit, Writing for Magazines, etc.)
- Safety (e.g. Driving, Fire, Tire, Weight of Rig, Personal)
At the University of Idaho ( June 26-July 1) week-long program, more than150 classes are offered. At the three-day programs (Western Kentucky University is the first from May 13-16), about 75 subjects are covered. Instructors are all leading experts in their subject matter. On a personal note, I will be teaching in Idaho this year.
RVIA (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association) offers a variety of information about RV courses. Colleges in more than 35 states offer a Saturday "RV Defensive Driving" course that can qualify for a discount on auto insurance. "Welcome to RVing," an introductory course, is also offered.
Many RV shows offer courses. Visit RVIA online for information about upcoming shows. Many individual RV companies (like Fleetwood, Lazy Daze, Alfa) often feature seminars and workshops led by their own mechanics as well as guest speakers at their rallies. Visit RVUSA for resources and links about the RV industry, including information about various manufacturers and dealers.
If you have been hesitant about
exploring the RV lifestyle because you don't have the background
knowledge, delay no longer. Help is at your fingertips. In
no time at all, you can be tooling down the open road exploring
this great country of ours.