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RVer Stories: Navigation Nightmares

Climbing into an RV and navigating the nation’s highways is a celebrated past-time. Even today the family road trip is a staple of summer vacation, and getting to the beach or the park or even Grandma’s house is half the fun.
But as RVers know – seasoned drivers and newbies alike – driving a motorized or towable RV is a skill.

Without safe routing for your large vehicle, travels can be stressful and downright dangerous. And with children, pets and even grandkids along for the ride, safety is the #1 priority.
Rand McNally recently polled a group of RVers for their tales from the road. Here’s a quick overview of those events that turn RVer Stories into Navigation Nightmares.

Wrong route for the RV
The most critical job in navigating an RV is to stay on the road that is the right size and legal for your vehicle. The complexities of safe routing include physical and legal restrictions. Factors such as vehicle weight, height, length, as well as propane on-board, should all be considered.

Have you ever found yourself in this situation?

“What started out as a simple trip, quickly turned into a stressful event,” explained Bill Ryan, who travels in his RV with his wife Laura and two Shih Tzus, Honey and Dallas. Starting on a trip one evening after a full day of work, the couple navigated off the interstate, through town, and down a road their old car GPS told them to follow. That’s when things got scary and complicated.

“We turned and started down the road, which soon turned to dirt. We discovered that the road is just wide enough for the RV and not much else…we realized that we needed to find a place large enough to turn around.” But that was not possible. After 30 minutes of hair-raising driving (with apologies to the Shih Tzus) and holding their breath (Laura blamed the gasps on Honey), the Ryans thankfully reached “a blacktop road with lines.”

The point is, RV routing is specialized and requires critical information that takes into account RV type, road restrictions, dirt roads, low tunnels and bridges, and other obstacles. That type of key information is not available on a typical car GPS.

Stopping for the night, or even for a coffee RVers have specific needs – whether pulling off for a quick fuel or propane refill, or finding the perfect campsite for the evening. Who else thinks about electric hook ups and dump stations?
William Burnett, who travels the highways and byways in a new Class A with his wife Ann, uses a variety of materials to navigate. He recently used an RV-specific GPS to route across country.

 “The National and State Parks function which includes Public and Private Campgrounds was one of our favorites. The Rest Stops and Parking Areas function was very useful.”

The bottom line here is that routing an RV successfully requires not only RV navigation but RV-friendly content and destinations as well.

Emergency management Whether a full-time RVer or just renting a vehicle for a one-week trek, RVers need to be prepared for all types of emergencies. Trying to find the closest RV dealer or pet hospital for a beloved dog or cat can be a challenge. And, general emergency services may not work. Not every tow truck can manage a Class A or an SUV with an RV trailer.
Sometimes emergency situations can take you out of your way – and into more danger. Take the case of Judy Jones:

 “We were on the Blue Ridge Parkway and had a flat” Judy said. After putting on a spare tire and routing to a closed tire store in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, her car GPS directed her back to the highway via Blackberry Road.

“Blackberry was the road from Hades. It had steep grades. It turned into a dirt road for a few miles. Then there was a tunnel, which was narrow and low. A friendly neighbor came out and was amazed that we were on Blackberry Road because no RV should be pulled on that road. He helped us measure and we slowly made it through the tunnel.”

The moral of this story is that RVers need information to help them prepare for the worst – but that information should always take into account where RVs can safely route.

Building a tool with RV Routing & Content
Having developed tools for another specialized form of routing and navigation – long-haul trucking – Rand McNally knew the ins and outs of large vehicles. Luckily, the company also had quite a number of active RVers on staff to help round out the full RV experience.

In 2011, the company launched a line of RV GPS devices, the TripMaker® RVND™, designed specifically for RVers to help take the worry out of travels.

Rand McNally provides RV-specific routing for 11 types of vehicles; height, weight, length and propane on board can be entered to produce a custom route. In routing, the devices take into consideration legal and physical restrictions, turn radius, and turn preference (left for larger vehicles, right for smaller).

Want to find the best place to pull off? Use Rand McNally’s RV amenities and points of interest to ensure that the campground or park does indeed have a dump station. RVers can even use features on the devices such as maintenance logs and safety checklists to avoid mistakes. A “breadcrumb” feature records a vehicle’s trail back to the campsite, making it easier to find that location in the dark. Have a roadside emergency? Seek the closest dealer for repair, or even a vet for your pet.

With the right tools in place, Navigation Nightmares are replaced with blissful RVer Stories.

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