If the question is, are RVs allowed to go through drive-thrus, the answer is yes. If the question is, should I take my RV through a drive-thru, the answer really should be no.
You’ve probably seen a YouTube or TikTok video that an onlooker took of an RV side-swiping the corner of a fast-food restaurant trying to make the turn in a drive-thru lane. Or maybe you’ve seen a Facebook post with a photo of an RV stuck under a drive-thru awning.
Don’t be one of those drivers. You don’t want to be the subject of a viral video on social media. Plus, you don’t want to pay for the damage to your RV or the restaurant either. Let’s look at why driving your RV through a drive-thru isn’t a good idea.
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Will Your RV Fit in a Drive-Thru?
Just like you need to pay attention to clearance when you’re driving under a bridge, you want to pay attention to clearance when you’re going through a drive-thru if you decide to take that chance. Many drive-thrus have a bar overhead with a minimum clearance marker.
It’s possible that your RV could fit in the lane. Some big rigs and taller Class B vans may not be able to, but other Class B or Class C RVs and most travel trailers probably won’t have an overhead clearance issue.
Pro Tip: Whether you’re considering going through a drive-thru or not, you should always know the height of your RV.
But overhead clearance isn’t the only consideration here. The biggest problem is the tight turns. You might not have an excessively tall rig, but if you’re towing a trailer or driving an RV other than a small camper van, you’ll struggle to make the turn after ordering your food. You run the risk of side-swiping a pole, taking out the menu, or damaging your tires while riding up on the curb.
If you end up getting to the window, the distance from the cashier will become a problem. The mirrors on large trucks and motorhomes stick out farther than typical sedan mirrors. And the RV itself is wider than standard vehicles. You may end up having to get out of the truck or RV to pay and receive your food because you’re so far from the drive-thru window.
What Happens When You Try to Drive-Thru With a Fifth Wheel RV
Fifth wheels are taller than most RVs (clearance issues) and can be longer than many RVs depending on which model you have (tight turning difficulties). If you choose to go through a drive-thru with a fifth wheel, there’s a high possibility you’ll end up in a viral video and your day could abruptly end very badly.
Viral videos are truly the least of your issues, though. You’ll likely be liable for the damages to the restaurant, and if you don’t have good insurance, you’ll be paying out of pocket. Even if you do have good insurance, your premiums will probably skyrocket. Taking out the menu at a restaurant doesn’t look great on insurance forms.
What Is the Typical Overhead Clearance of a Drive-Thru?
The typical overhead clearance is around nine feet. Don’t push this. If your rig is right under nine feet, don’t try to go through a drive-thru.
You need to know your rig height. If you don’t know it, measure today. You never want to get stuck with clearance issues, no matter where you’re driving.
Can You Pull a Trailer Through a Drive-Thru?
Depending on the size of the RV trailer, it’s possible to drive through a drive-thru but not recommended. The height probably won’t be an issue. But you still have to make tight turns. Sometimes, trucks pulling landscaping equipment struggle to make it around a drive-thru, which is why you usually see them parked in a nearby parking lot. So, it’ll be even more difficult to pull a travel trailer safely through a drive-thru.
How to Get Your Fast Food Fix in an RV
Typically, fast food restaurants are near other stores, restaurants, and shopping centers. Find a place nearby with a large parking lot (like Walmart RV parking) and leave the RV there. Even if you have to walk several blocks, it’s a much safer option. Plus, you can stretch your legs, walk the dog, and have a bathroom break all at the same stop.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to go inside and order, almost all fast food locations have a mobile order feature. Place your pick-up order, pull off somewhere nearby, and have a family member run in to get the order. If you’re using RV-friendly apps or searching for places to grab a quick bite, search the surrounding area for adequate parking.
Play It Safe: Avoid the Drive-Thru Lane
Please don’t drive your RV through a drive-thru. The risk is not worth the reward. You don’t want to make the local nightly news, see a photo of your rig on Facebook with an unkind comment about your intelligence, or be on the hook for repairs.
Use your fast-food stop to relax and rest on a travel day. Don’t be in such a hurry that you feel like your only option is to drive through the drive-thru. Leave your campsite with plenty of time to stop for lunch. Drive safely, travelers!
One of the big mistakes new full-time RVers make is traveling too fast. Learn how to avoid this and other common mistakes here: 17 Beginner Full-Time RV Mistakes You Can Avoid
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