The following tips will help you determine how your RV will fit into big and small spaces, and how to get comfortable parking your RV wherever you go.
1. Know the Size of Your RV and How It Maneuvers
RVs vary in length, but most are about 8 to 10 feet wide. This allows them to fit within standard driving lanes (which are 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. Write them down on a sticky note and place them near the driver’s seat. 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 your vehicle fits 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.
2. Know the Size of Campsites and Book Pull-Through Spots
At an RV park or a campground, you’ll be parking on a paved pad or on natural surfaces like dirt, grass, or gravel. Pads range from 10 to 12 feet in width and vary in length from 20 to 45 feet.
If you can book your spot ahead of time, do it. If you can’t, try to get there early so you can get the best available spot. You’ll want the campsite 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.
3. Mind Slide-Outs and Lifts
Slide-outs are convenient because they extend your RV living space. 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 3 feet of space to access the utility hookups if you use a mobility device.
4. Know How to Park in Parking Lots
You’ll need to drive your rig to stores and shops for supplies, groceries, and maintenance, or maybe for overnight parking 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 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 lot that doesn’t have open space, it helps to know that the standard parking space is 9 feet wide by 18 feet long. That’s about the size of a full-size SUV or truck. Lots of Class B and C motorhomes can fit in these spaces if you take it slowly and have a spotter with you. Travel trailers and larger motorized RVs usually 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.
5. Know Your Rig
You can’t plan for everything. For example, gas stations are set up differently from one another, 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 important, especially 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 is easy.
6. Make Sure Everyone Knows How to Park the RV
Everyone who drives 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 empowering to figure out how to get into, through, and out of tight spaces safely in your RV.