Is a 40-foot motorhome too big? (pros and cons)

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: Is a 40-foot motorhome too big? We will discuss the ideal size of a motorhome and explain the pros and cons of a 40-foot RV. 

Is a 40-foot motorhome too big?

A 40-foot motorhome is not too big in terms of space and comfort, but it may be a downside if you plan on travelling through National Parks with it. 

For certain trips, such as boarding a ferry, or visiting certain villages or foreign countries, the length of your vehicle will be decisive for you and truth to be told, 40 feet is a big motorhome (but not the longest)!

 The maximum allowable dimensions for an RV are:

  • Maximum length of 45 feet;
  • Maximum width of 102 inches (+ more or less six inches for add-ons);
  • Maximum combination length of 65 feet. 

The RV measurements can affect you on a day-to-day basis, so it is very important to know exactly the length of the vehicle because when passing through certain narrow places, tunnels or tolls, we will have to be safe to avoid unwanted accidents.

It is also essential to know the dimensions when parking on public roads since the motorhome must be correctly parked without invading more space than it should or could penalize us. As is logical, a smaller vehicle will allow us to manoeuvre and circulate more comfortably in confined spaces.

How long should a motorhome be?

The ideal length for a motorhome? It’s hard to say. It all depends on the number of people on board, personal habits, where you want to park. And overall, all motorhomes are happy with the size of their vehicle. Those who travel by van, such as those who ride in an American motorhome 40 feet long. However, if we limit ourselves to motorhomes from 19 feet to 25 feet, the differences in terms of habitability are not negligible.

But regardless of the number of passengers and the roads you take, there is one essential fact: parking in the city. If your vehicle leaves the road markings, you can be fined for obstructing traffic (it has been seen, even if it is not that frequent). However, parking spaces are generally between 5m and 5.30m long. Would they be too small for motorhomes? This is another debate.

Is it difficult to drive a 40-foot motorhome?

Although 40-foot motorhomes offer a better view of the landscape and the possibility of monitoring traffic flows more easily, it is more difficult to drive a vehicle of this size. 

The first thing you must do before turning the ignition key is to place a sticker on which you will have written the height, width and length of the vehicle. 

This will prevent you from leaving the nasturtium on the roof of the first underpass you find, but you should also know that the risk can come from the branches of trees, the sides of a mountain road or the balconies that line a narrow street and that are not marked on the panels.

Despite having large rear-view mirrors and a panoramic windshield, visibility is far from perfect. There are always dark areas on the sides. At some crossings, only the passenger, next to the driver, will be able to tell you if the road is clear. 

Nor is it easy to appreciate the entire length of the motorhome. Also, to carry out a manoeuvre (reversing in particular), it is necessary, in the absence of a backup camera, to be guided by someone who, outside the vehicle, watches the rear and everything that is outside the field of vision of the vehicle. 

Travelling with an RV is a unique experience as it provides a fantastic feeling of freedom. But driving a car that pulls one of these houses on wheels is not trivial. 

Differences in the vehicle’s response to acceleration, braking and cornering speeds due to the extra weight and increased aerodynamic drag make it necessary to drive particularly cautiously.

What are the advantages of a 40-foot motorhome?

There are many advantages to owning 40-foot motorhomes:

  • they are completely autonomous,
  • are built with heavy and durable materials,
  • have safety features such as engine brakes,
  • offer a better view of the landscape and the possibility of monitoring traffic flows more easily,
  • have large retention tanks, which gives travellers the option to dry out their camp for longer periods,
  • give travellers the opportunity to eat without having to stop,
  • provide the possibility of using the chest of drawers when travelling,
  • have been professionally decorated and give the appearance of small houses or apartments, and
  • eliminate many of the road noise you normally get in other types of travel units when properly equipped.

Plus, most have generators, giving homeowners the freedom to park wherever they want and still have electricity.

What are the downsides of a 40-foot motorhome?

While the benefits look good, it’s important to understand that owning and travelling in a 40-foot motorhome comes with its fair share of issues. Below are a few things to consider carefully before purchasing one.

COST VS QUALITY: People who buy such units assume that because they pay a lot, they will have a quality coach. However, in recent times a few hundred thousand dollars is buying only mediocre credits in terms of construction and design. 

It may sound awesome, have nice amenities, and seem to work well at first, but soon an owner learns that any joy they thought they had from owning a home turned into frustration, anger, and grief. The long-term financial consequences can be considerable and sometimes even ruinous.

SAFETY ISSUES: Here is a summary of the safety issues concerning 40-foot motorhomes:

  • cabins that are too heavy for the chassis on which they are built, 
  • underrated chassis that do not have the capacity to stop a coach under normal road conditions, 
  • the absence, in many models, of steel bars which can be used as bumpers to protect the coach and its occupants in low-speed collisions, and
  • The units leaving the factory are almost at full capacity and therefore exhibit poor road stability.

These safety concerns should all be reason enough for people to take the time to investigate the units to find out what they are (or may be) facing with regards to bigger motorhomes.

The truth is, they have more structural issues than any other type of RV. At least half of them are unfounded to the point that an accident, even at a speed of 25 mph, could destroy one and cause serious or even fatal damage to the driver and passengers!

NATIONAL PARKS: The 40+ monster caravans are cool, but many national parks lack the capacity to house them. If you have a small trailer, you can place it almost anywhere. A 32 footer will not have this problem for the most part. It can comfortably fit 81% of national parks.

Be aware that there are often other camping parks close to the national parks. Many of them can provide accommodation for larger campers. We do not have exact data for those parks so you will need to do more research to get exact numbers.

The longer the caravan, the more dangerous and inaccessible the road will be.

When you drive an RV about 40 feet long, small gusts of wind can blow your mind behind the wheel. Midsize RVs will still handle this, but it will be a more moderate experience.

There are also several national parks with roads that are too narrow, dangerous or inaccessible for a longer motorhome. An example is Sequoia National Park with a maximum length of 22 feet. The road is too dangerous for anything else.

The bottom line

For some people, a 40-foot motorhome is the only way to go. For others, they prefer something smaller. Finding the average length, width, and height of your motorhome is a great way to start your search. We are all unique and this is reflected in our choices. Choose the one that is right for you.

Do let us know if you have any comments or questions on the content. 

References

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