What Is RV Fuel Anxiety?
The media is buzzing these days with talk of EV range anxiety. This is the fear or anxiety faced by owners of electric vehicles, aka – EVs. It’s related to the uncertainty of how far you can drive on a charge and could you be stranded somewhere before you find a charging station? So what is RV fuel anxiety?
RV fuel anxiety is not wholly about running out of fuel at an inopportune time, though there are elements of that. It’s more about finding fuel in time and the uncertainty of getting your motorhome, travel trailer, or 5th wheel in and out of the fuel station and back on the road.
What Drives RV Fuel Anxiety?
RV fuel anxiety is driven by several factors. We’ll look at a few. Some of these factors may apply more to new RVers, some will not. Circumstances can dictate that any of these factors could crop up and cause concern.
Fuel Capacity and MPG
RVers, particularly new ones, often don’t comprehend the full scope of their fuel capacity and miles per gallon. They may not know or be familiar with how large the fuel tank is on their new or rented motorhome. When they do fill up the fuel tank, the large quantity of fuel they just paid for can give them a false sense of security, particularly if they don’t realize how low the MPG really is.
While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, most of us can count on a miles per gallon of between 8-12 for most RV and trucks pulling RVs. Suddenly that new RVer that just emptied his or her wallet a few hours ago is looking at an almost empty fuel tank wondering where the heck are they going to find fuel next?
RV Size and Navigation
RV fuel anxiety is also driven by not knowing what your fuel destination looks like. This can apply to all RVers. How many pumps are there? How high is the roof/awning over the pumps? Is there a diesel lane? Is there an RV lane? How big and how sharp of a turn is the turn-in to the station? Will there be a busy intersection? Will I have to make a U-turn?
For all but the smallest of campers, these are real and concerning questions. Heading down the road with the gauge nearing empty, knowing you need fuel and spinning all of those questions around in your head, you can’t even enjoy the drive.
Ways To Prevent RV Fuel Anxiety
The way to prevent being overly anxious about fueling up is to be prepared. First, you want to remember to figure your distance based on your fuel capacity, less a reserve amount. Figure out what’s comfortable for you. For trucks pulling a travel trailer or fifth wheel, that might be 5 gallons. That gives you anywhere from 40-60 miles of buffer when seeking fuel. For motorhome owners that have an onboard generator, that reserve should always be ¼ of your overall fuel capacity. This will allow the generator to continue to run if needed, but gives you a quarter of a tank in an emergency.
Satellite View and Street View
Scouting out the locale with satellite and street view before you leave on your trip will prove to be highly beneficial. You can know in advance what the layout of the fuel station is, and the roads and intersections in play around it. You can go down to street view and get a drivers eye view of what the height limitations are above the pumps. Sometimes you can even read the posted height limit.
Plan Every Fuel Stop
Ultimately, the only way to travel with zero RV fuel anxiety is to have every fuel stop planned ahead of time. This can be daunting if not impossible on your own. However, with a tool like RV Trip Wizard, you can plan every fuel stop 100% in advance and leave that RV fuel anxiety at home.
RV Trip Wizard, part of the RV LIFE Pro tools, uses your RV’s fuel capacity, reserve, and MPG settings you enter to show you exactly where you will need fuel on the trip you have planned in RV Trip Wizard. You can use the built-in tools to get a satellite view or street level view of your planned fuel stop to ensure easy access in and out. You can “fill up” your tank virtually in RV Trip Wizard, and add those fuel stops to your trip.
That planned trip, complete with the fuel stops you have added, is also shown on your GPS enabled mobile device, in the RV LIFE GPS & Campgrounds app, also included in RV LIFE Pro.
RV fuel anxiety is a real thing, but it can be cured. With careful planning and tools like RV Trip Wizard, you can enjoy every mile, not sweat them.