My First Fifth Wheel Driving Lesson, Sorta

I never thought I would be that kind of RVing woman. The one who sits on the passenger side, happy to navigate but never to drive. That may be changing. Two weeks ago I got my first fifth wheel driving lesson, sorta.

first fifth wheel driving lesson

Eeew, do I really have to get my hands dirty?

When Jim and I met, I was a freewheelin’ motorcycle mama who made him get his own bike because I got tired of him riding bitch. He did, and we had some good times. Motorcycling was the best decision I ever made. It helped me uncover strengths I never knew I possessed. 

In 2007 when it came time to go RVing, we just fell into this pattern of Jim as pilot and me as navigator, because as many couples know, it’s just easier that way. See, when I drive, things get testy. I get nervous knowing he’s watching and I do dumb things. He gets nervous watching me get nervous, and I do more dumb things. The volume goes up, words get said. So, I’d rather just avoid this situation when pulling a trailer. 

Rene and Jim Badass Motorcycle Riders

Back in the day, she rode a motorcycle!

But the longer we full-time, the more I’ve come to accept that there may come a day when he needs my help with the trailer. Yeah, we’re “at that age” when you start to realize that your good health may not always be at 100%. Or, he may be away when an emergency evacuation happens and I need to get us out of a campsite.

I just accepted that it’s better to be safe than be in denial, so I decided to seek out some instruction.

My first fifth wheel driving lesson was supposed to happen a couple of weeks ago. A Southern California-based RV driving school instructor was going to give me a lesson, to thank me for an article I wrote that mentioned his company. Unfortunately, wires got crossed and at the last moment while waiting for him to show up, the lesson didn’t happen. 

short driver unhitches fifth wheel

It sucks being short and trying to hitch up a fifth wheel.

There we were, in the Fantasy Springs Casino parking lot, with no instructor but plenty of gumption. I was going to get that lesson, instructor or not. The next best thing: my own husband.

I told myself to be gracious, to allow him to instruct without it turning into a bickering match. After all, with over 175,000 miles of RV driving under his belt, even I will admit he’s got plenty of experience.

It went pretty well. I didn’t leave the parking lot, but we went through all of the basic maneuvers: hitching and unhitching, backing up, turning, etc. By doing so, I learned that my vertically-challenging 5-foot-three height is not a barrier to driving a fifth wheel. I can’t use the old “but I can’t see the hitch!” excuse any more to avoid learning how to hitch up. 

first fifth wheel driving lesson

It was pretty easy, but next time we’ll go on the road.

Maybe one of these days we’ll actually go on the street. I honestly don’t want to haul our trailer on a regular basis, but I think it’s time to know for sure that I’m capable of doing it if I need to. 

At some point, I’ll make other arrangements with that RV driving school and get an all-day lesson. When I do, you’ll be the first to know!

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10 Responses to “My First Fifth Wheel Driving Lesson, Sorta”

  1. I have learned to drive ours but I’m a very nervous driver. Jim is also nervous when I drive so I will always be the emergency backup driver.

  2. Kudos to you Rene! This is something I also never want to do – I hate backing his truck in our garage, never mind having it hooked to a trailer! Motorcycle riding was a piece of cake, but this scares me.

  3. Get in the Driver seat
    When you’re driving down the highway why don’t you take over driving for a half hour or an hour
    It will help ease you in to get over the size of the vehicle just don’t look in the Mirrors it should help you from getting a A timid dated
    Overtime you just get used to it
    When you go to a campground have your husband line it up and you back into the camping spot Just do it slow
    Each time you do that you’ll be gaining more confidence
    If a woman can’t fly a 777 jetliner. Just think how she felt when she stepped in a Cessna 150 for her first time
    You could do it go for it

  4. Good on ya Rene! Having had several lessons in the ‘you never know whats gonna happen with your (husband’s) health vein’ over the past year I know I will have to learn how to drive (and operate) our rig too. Hell, I have not even learned how to drive the Big Ass Gray Truck yet! Like you, I have no interest in doing this on a frequent basis but it is only prudent to know how! Nothing like facing your fears to vanquish them!!

  5. You go girl. Maybe the next step before going out on the road might be backing it into your next RV site. Just a thought.
    Glad you are making the steps to be a driver for all the reasons you mentioned.

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