I go with those that take their first trip with any "new" coach at a near by RV Park. This gives you a chance to drive it while towing your Oddessy and maneuvering it into an RV park. Most people do not have full hook-ups in their driveway so you do not get the pleasant experience of hooking up water/electric/sewer/ and maybe cable. When you leave, you also have the pleasure of dumping your sewer tanks and maneuvering out of the RV park. You get a little experience with dealing with a RV park owner and camping around other users. This all will give you a good chance to make notes on things you want to change and things you do not understand. Don't be afraid to ask your neighbors in the park if you have questions. They were also new once. Relax and enjoy your first trip.
But there is one more important issue and that is, What do I need to know about towing my Honda odyssey?
Check your owner’s manual on the specifics of what you need to do to insure the transmission is in neutral. I pull a 98 Honda Accord and there is a pattern you have to follow.
If this this your introduction to RV'ing leave the Honda at home for the first couple of trips. Get used to driving and parking the rig before you add the addition of a toad to the picture. Take a couple of local trips with the Honda in place to get used to it. What you really have to be careful of is fuel stops and not hitting the fuel island with both the rear end of the coach and the Honda. There are a few other items I include in a private message.
Also should you find yourself traveling on the North-East toll roads you will be charged extra not only for the RV but also for the Honda (four axles).
* This post was
edited 02/20/12 09:53am by Dale.Traveling *
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When we bought our fist motorhome we also stayed for a weekend at a local KOA to learn our coach and systems. You'll also find things that need to be fixed before a long trip. You can practice all you want but until you start hooking everything up, using the appliances and putting the slides out at a campsite you won't have the full experience.
You are going to make mistakes, we all do at first, but mistakes are learning opportunities. It's just that some of those opportunities are more expensive then others.
For every 8 hours of towing you must start your honda and run through the gears with the engine running, and don't do it fast. Give the car time to realize it's in a certain gear before you shift to the next. Last, always, always shift to drive before putting it in neutral again to tow. If you shift from reverse into neutral you will damage the transmission and honda will not help. D first, then N.
1. Do a trial camp-out at home for one night and then in a campground for another. You need to make sure that you understand and can use all of your units features, can hook-up your electric, water supply, and sewage.
2. Make a check list to use for packing.
3. Make a check list for departing - divide it into inside and outside things to check. Is your antenna stowed or in the down position, is your electric cord disconnected and stored, is your water hose disconnected, have you emptied your waste tanks and stowed the hose, have you checked the path you will take to leave the camp-site for narrow places, sharp turns, overhead clearances?
Inside have you stowed anything that fly around in a sudden stop, closed all cabinets, turned off all appliances, retracted jacks, etc.
I would add practicing driving the coach before attaching the toad.
A. Some driving suggestions for a big-rig novice:
Several important steps to take.
1. You must know where you are in a lane. Your coach is wider than a car.
Go to a large parking lot as soon as you possibly can. Look for the double face-to-face parking slots away from other vehicles. Pull into one so that you take up just the first space leaving the end of the coach out of the space, AIMING to place yourself in the middle of the space.
Stop, set your parking brake, go to neutral, turn off your engine and go outside and look on both sides to make sure you are centered in the space on both sides. Correct if necessary by backing and pulling forward to get centered.
When you are satisfied that you are centered, sit behind the wheel and locate the parking space lines in the space in front of your space, and make a small mark on the lowest part of the windshield that you can see. A small dot of blue painter's tape works well, or a dot from a Magic Marker.
Next check your side mirrors to locate the lines alongside the coach.
You now have visual references for where you are in the parking space. Lanes on the road are wider, but with these marks you can always keep road lines ahead slightly outside the windshield dots. This works for narrow spaces at slow speeds.
2. For highway driving, aim for the center of the lane as far ahead as you can see.
When passing, or being passed by a semi - don't stare at the semi, concentrate on your lane markers on the windshield and your side mirror to stay as close to the off-side lane marker as possible. Left when passing, right when being passed.
3. I always use the rear-camera. When passing a vehicle I know I can pull back in lane when I can see their front grill. Obviously you don't want to pull in as soon as you see the grill, but in an emergency you will know you are clear.
4. Defensive driving rules for a car are to stay 3 seconds behind the vehicle your are following (doesn't work well in dense traffic). In a motor home you want to extend that to about 5 seconds.
It's easy to estimate. When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes some "landmark" such as a sign, start counting "one Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc. Stop counting when you cross that spot. Drop back or close up to maintain that 5 second gap. It gives you plenty of time to brake or take evasive action as traffic warrants.
5. For backing up, I have a small dot at the top of the rear camera monitor screen that shows me the exact aim point of the rear of the coach. Watch the rear camera AND the side mirrors, and use an outside spotter if possible to check for overhead obstacles, etc.
6. For turns, practice initially in that parking lot. Since the rear of the coach pivots around the rear wheels, anything beyond the rear wheels will swing out wider than the path of the wheels. Go slow, stop often and look to see where the front, side, and rear of your coach are located. When you get a feel for it trying turning past a light post. Do this VERY SLOWLY, watching the side mirror closest to the light pole. If you start getting close STOP.
A good series of short video clips on driving a coach:
B. No one has mentioned Campground directories. Several publishers have them. They run about $20. Organized by state, then by city or town. They have estimated costs, ratings, and directions from major highways. They also indicate big-rig accessible or not.
Find them at most truck stops, Camping World, large chain bookstores.
When I moved up from a vintage (1968) class A with a 15Amp electrical system to my newer 1996 50Amp rig in 2007, the first short drive was from the point of purchase to a Wal Mart for the night. While it was still daylight I practiced turns, etc. and got my windshield reference points established.
My second night was spent in a campground (cg) and I plugged in the electric, etc. In the morning I was stymied trying to remove the end of the shore line from the receptacle on the side of the coach. I tugged and tugged for about ten minutes before I accidentally twisted the plug. That's when I recalled the plug goes in, is twisted to lock in place, and then a metal ring at the end of the plug is screwed onto the receptacle.
We always go to the RV park across the street from our RV dealer for the weekend for the first trip every year. This allows us to make sure everything is working and if there are problems we can go across the road and get it fixed before we get into any serious trips. It also allows us to test the tow car and go to Wal Mart or other stores to get "what we forgot". It just gives us a little piece of mind for the start of the season.
When hooking up the car or the rv do not let people stop you in the middle of doing your job. Second get your wife involved in hooking up the car. Try to do it the same way each time then double check everything before you take off.I had a guy come over one time when hooking up and forgot I was filling our water tank. Good thing it has a over flow because water was leaking all over the under side of the coach.I got the water shut off but had a lot of campers watching and laughing. Lesson Learned.
Not sure what year your Odyssey is but I have an 08 and have never had a problem by doing the following. Prior to leaving, with my foot on the brake, I run through the gears going from P down through 1 and back up to N. I let the engine idle for 1 minute in each gear before switching to the next. When you get to N (this is the 2nd time in N) on your way back up from 1, do not accidentally put it in R, otherwise ( I've been told) you need to start the process all over again. When you get to N, turn the key off to auxillary so the the steering wheel remains unlocked but the gauges are not powered. Make sure your parking brake is off and all draws on the battery are off. Every 4 hours or so, as part of a usual stop in a rest area to stretch or fueling stop, start your car up and run it through the gears using the same procedure. When you arrive at your destination, run it through the gears again and let the car idle if your not going to use it so the battery has a chance to recharge. I carry a portable battery booster that I make sure is always charged, just in case the battery drains too much and I need a jump. Also, with the Blue Ox bar, your car needs to be fairly straight in order to unhook. Hope this helps.
Good advice, let me add my $.02. Plan your route prior to departure - use gps, trucker atlas, and if Good Sam member, their website has a good mapping program. Some roads are not RV friendly, and don't ask how I know that!! Next, plan your fuel stops. Not all stations are rv/toad friendly. I always call a cg that is new to me, to get their directions, they will give you a rv friendly route. When I arrive at a cg, I generally unhook the toad at the check in area, it is usually level and straight. If I am just overnighting, and have a pull thru, I will ask the staff if the cg roads/site will allow me to stay hooked up. If you have a back in site, you and your wife need to learn to communicate. This should be practiced in a large, empty parking lot, using cones to define campsite. Use hand signals, or walkie talkie - but most important rule - if you don't see your wife in your mirrors - STOP. Make sure outside person knows where the hookups are located, depth of slides (for that we use a string), and look up for low branches. I have been fulltiming for 5 years, and each day is a learning experience - don't drive yourself crazy - take your time, be prepared for the unexpected, and enjoy the journey
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