RV Basic Training

We knew it was going to be a good day when we met our RV driving instructor, Tom “The RV Guy” Gooch and discovered that he and his wife are also part of the Old Dog Haven family. Seriously, what are the odds? We found Tom through RV Basic Training, an organization that offers RV Boot Camp nationally. In addition to being a dog-lover he also happens to be the RV Boot Camp ‘trainer of the month’ for April. You can read more about Tom here.

Tom met us at Kevin’s parents’ house in Lake Stevens, WA on Saturday morning. They have been kind enough to let us park our RV in their driveway (Thank you Jim and Ginny!). The first part of our training was a classroom session where Tom took us through basic information about our RV, the rules of the road, safety precautions, best practices and more. We learned to “Think like a pilot” –  it’s easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble. This includes pre-planning, researching routes, performing pre-trip inspections and asking questions like, “Can I turn around in this dead-end?”

We also learned the acronym GOAL. If your goal is to stay out of trouble then it’s important to “Get Out and Look.” With a 36-foot home on wheels it’s important to walk around the vehicle before moving it and especially before moving it in reverse. Once our classroom session was over Tom took us through a pre-trip inspection and then the next order of business was  to back the RV out of the driveway.

Seeing as how we were wedged between the house and Jim’s camper and we were backing onto a narrow road, we anticipated this to be a difficult task. But with Tom’s expert guidance, Kevin’s expert hand signals and Suzanne’s expert driving skills, we were ready to hit the road in no time (and we managed to do this without running anyone over or damaging any property. Hooray!)

We were running low on gas, so en route to the parking lot where we would learn behind the wheel, our next request for Tom was to guide us through our first gas station experience with the RV. We found a gas station with a canopy high enough to accommodate our RV (because we definitely didn’t want this to happen) and were soon back on the road.

We spent the rest of the afternoon with Tom, practicing a series of maneuvers in a parking lot where the only things we risked damaging were his cones and our pride. There were some things we did really well the first time and some things we still need to practice. In the end, we both agreed that the training was well worth our time and our money and we are now more confident (and more skilled!) RV-ers because of it.

And in case you weren’t aware: there is no training or additional test or licensing required for driving an RV. Just remember that the next time you’re driving near one of these huge vehicles on the road. Chances are the driver hasn’t been through Tom’s boot camp, so make sure you give them extra room and extra patience. The cone you save could be your own.

Pictures from RV Basic Training with Tom “The RV Guy” Gooch:


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