One of the biggest anxieties people have about embracing the RV lifestyle is the fear of not being able to maneuver their rig. It is an understandable fear, but it's also one that quickly dissipates once you get behind the wheel and get a little experience under your belt. But before you hitch up and head out to put your maneuvering skills to the test, take a look at these quick tips for backing up towable trailers!
Tip #1: Use Your Mirrors!
Before making any sudden movements, be sure to adjust your mirrors so that you have a reliable view of your trailer's rear end. Your side mirrors are going to be much more effective for backing up than your rear view mirror. Ideally, you'd position them so that your trailer tires are in the line of sight. The idea behind adjusting your mirrors is to expand your visibility, so roll the windows down as well to provide an even clearer view. Ensuring that your mirrors are adequately adjusted and clearly visible will make maneuvering infinitely easier!
Tip #2: Take Advantage of a Spotter!
If you're with a traveling companion, have them get out of the vehicle and help you back up (even if you're confident that you don't need a spotter, getting them outside will increase your visibility inside). Their extra set of eyes can help you avoid obstacles and squeeze into narrower sites a lot easier. If you are traveling solo, it is still smart to get out of the vehicle and scout out the site yourself for potential hazards like picnic tables, low-hanging tree limbs, stumps, and campfire rings.
Tip #3: Find Your Bearings!
When maneuvering a towable trailer, everything can seem completely backwards. Having to turn the wheel in the opposite direction of where you want your trailer to go is, at the very least, mind-boggling, but it's what must be done! To help simplify the thought process of doing this, place your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel when backing up. This way, you just need to move your hand in the direction that you want your trailer to go. Meaning if you pull your hand left (which turns the wheel to the right) your trailer will also move to the left.
Tip #4: The Angle is Everything!
Make slow, intentional movements as you maneuver your trailer backwards. Getting the right angle will ensure a safe distance between your trailer and your tow vehicle. If you over angle your rig, you run the risk of putting yourself in a jackknife situation which can cause damage to both your trailer and tow vehicle. As you reverse, you'll also want to angle your rig so that the front end clears any obstacles. Don't get distracted with the rear of your trailer and forget about the front end of your tow vehicle or the hitch section of your rig!
Tip #5: Practice Makes Perfect!
Unfortunately, reading this post won't automatically make you a pro at backing up your RV. Like most things learned in life, experience is the best teacher and this skill is no different. Take your rig out into an empty parking lot and try a few practice runs. Hands-on learning is by far the best and most effective way of getting comfortable behind the wheel when it comes time to toss things into reverse!
After you've successfully backed up your rig once or twice, your confidence and your ability will both drastically improve. Even skilled RVers can struggle with backing into certain campsites, so don't be embarrassed if you have to completely scrap your initial approach and start over again. Go ahead and take a lap around the campground loop, clear your head, and give it another go! Remember, fear is no reason to give up on your dreams! Instead, face your fears head on because once you do, there is so much fun to be had!