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nana's ride 04-15-2007 11:00 AM

Newbie Advice Please
Hey Airstreamers, just found this website and it sounds really cool. At 56 and female i just bought my first motorhome, a 1990 Airstream 36' Land Yacht. I have never even ridden in a motor home so thinking about driving one is really scary. I pick it up next week. Are they easy to handle and drive, or have i bit off more than i can chew. Just wanted to hear what other newbies might have to offer for advice.

nana's ride:)

Silvertwinkie 04-15-2007 11:23 AM

With anything, the 10,000 mile journey starts with one footstep. We've all started where you are. It will take some time to get use to it, but after a short while, it becomes second nature.

My advice would be to take it to a BIG parking lot, that is nearly empty and practice driving it, turning it and more importanly, backing it up. To take it even further, get some cones or non-damaging type markers and practice turning around and backing between them to get a feel for the length and the wider turns needed to manuver around stuff. Take it slow both on and off the course and I think you'll be in great CAN do this! :D

yukionna 04-15-2007 11:35 AM

practice, practice, practice..
...I was petrified the first time I towed. Now I hook up and take off towing on a moments notice like it was riding a bike.

Here is a helpful link to a backing up brochure I created for a backing up seminar I ran for the NEU a few years ago. I hope you find it useful.

Condoluminum 04-15-2007 11:39 AM

Congrats on your new purchase.. It should be a lot of fun, but needs to be approached at first with some caution... The big parking lot practice is good, and there may be driving schools who will provide an instructor to ride with you for a few hours to get comfortable with longer turns, slower acceleration, wideness compared to cars, etc... Here are a couple other ideas, and you should also use search tab above to look for threads like first timer and newbie ideas...

1. Consider renting DVD of movie "RV" with Robin WIlliams.. Funny, and some unrealistic scenes bouncing through woods, but also educational moments.
2. Try to allow time for seller to show you all the "systems", like plumbing, electrical, refrigerator, toilet, etc, which are different from home appliances, and can make a difference in enjoying road trips.
3. Get a paid of cheap ($20 or less) handheld FRS radio's and keep them in the motorhome. If you have to back up and have someone with you, let them out with one radio and let them be your guide in reverse to avoid trees, poles, and other hazards you just can't see in mirroros..
4. Try first camping trip close to home (or real close, like driveway or street in front of house..). You'll discover things you forgot to pack, and it's much easier to handle a crisis when you can walk back into house and start fresh...

davidz71 04-15-2007 05:08 PM

Try for this book: RV Bookstore - Books, Videos, DVDs and Magazines for RVers on "Driving Your Motorhome Like a Pro".

Relentless 04-15-2007 05:22 PM

Remember to square your turns. You will find right turns at slow speed in tight places the most challenging. Try to get someone to go with you to that big parking lot to practice. That person can stand outside and watch. They will be able to see and correct any mistakes you make.

You'll catch on. Remember, if I can do it, you can do it.

Mike Lewis 04-15-2007 05:29 PM

nana---i think in the long run you'll find learning all the sytems operation to be more difficult than driving. you'll be surprissed how quickly the thing gets smaller.-----pieman

Taxman 04-15-2007 05:31 PM

Wow! Congratulations! My wife and I bought a 33' Land Yacht last year and are having a ball with it! First really big trip coming up Thursday, and we are excited.

HST, I'd recommend that you find someone who has a lot of experience with motorhomes to guide you through the initial learning phase of your new adventure. Preferably someone who has no vested interest in your new project (i.e., is not in a position to profit by selling you stuff for your new motorhome).

Also, as has been mentioned, make the seller give you a thorough tour of the mh, and if you don't understand what he/she says, ask hard questions.

Go on the internet and google "used motorhome purchase" or "used motorhome checklist" or "used motorhome delivery." You will find some useful information on the internet which will save your money and grief.

For example, I dearly wish I had had the roof of my motorhome sealed before I brought it home. I will pay for that oversight down the road, because I had (the roof has now been sealed!) some small leaks which led to a minor (and I hope it stays that way!) delamination on the curbside aft area of my Land Yacht.

IAE, if you need some help, email me @ Always happy to help a Newbie.

Don Cook 04-15-2007 05:32 PM

It's a good time to review all the safety basics that are covered in the owner's book. You are female and won't have the gender-based inability to read it.
Good luck. You can do it

Alumatube 04-15-2007 06:51 PM

Hi there, and welcome!! You will LOVE RVing, especially in an Airstream!

The one thing that is one of the biggest things to remember about driving a motorhome is to always be aware of what is on your right side! This may mean installing a better mirror on the right, or adding a close-in mirror (the one where you can see down in the lane next to you) if you don't have one. In that new of a MH you should have one already.

It is VERY easy to miss seeing someone right next to you and if you are changing lanes it can be disastrous. I am always very careful to check and don't move over if I am not comfortable.

The big parking lot idea is excellent, since you will get a feel for how it turns and moves without hazards. Remember it will pivot on its back axle, so the back end may swing out farther than you might think. Backing up is not hard, just take your time and don't get ruffled. You will probably be redoing your first few attempts several times, but you will get the hang of it before long.

You are AWESOME to be doing this! I know you will love it. I have really enjoyed our three MH's and have no problems driving them. You can certainly do it easily if you put your mind to it!

Good luck!

Susan :)

SteSpot 04-15-2007 06:58 PM

RV Driving School
We found a Dick Reed RV Driving School instructor that was nearby and took his 2 day six hour per day driving class in our own rig.....we learned a great deal and feel it was worth every $ and can google Dick Reed RV Driving School.....pj

Phil and/or Sue 04-15-2007 07:32 PM


Originally Posted by Condoluminum
Congrats on your new purchase..
2. Try to allow time for seller to show you all the "systems", like plumbing, electrical, refrigerator, toilet, etc, which are different from home appliances, and can make a difference in enjoying road trips.

I agree that you should get a thorough "walk-through" of operation and use of all the systems in the moho, and you should take whatever time is necessary.

In that regard, another new owner posted a question about their Atwood water heater, and said "At my Airstream Dealer, the service tech, during his walk-through with us, suggested it would be a good idea to remove the hot water drain plug and replace it with an Anode Rod to prevent corrosion. (We reviewed our videotape of walk-through to confirm what he said)."

A video tape of the walkthrough.

What a good idea. Later, when the plethora of new things are starting to make sense, the videotape can be replayed to eyes and ears that actually understand it.

Congratulations, and have lots of fun.

By the way, big plastic garbage cans in the parking lot practice are easier to see than cones, and are still non-damaging when bumped into.

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