How to Backup a Travel Trailer Step by Step

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Towing a travel trailer on the roads is an easy task compared to maneuvering it and parking it in the assigned area of a campground.

Anyone who tells you there is nothing to worry about when it comes to backing up and parking a travel trailer, or is lying, is a pro, or did not park a trailer in her life. Backing up your RV at campground can be stressful and requires the help of others - your child or your travel companion - as well as having devices like a parking camera in your mobile home. However, do not be alarmed. There are many things you can do and steps you can take to make it easier.

Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get your towable RV where you want it. Practice them and you'll be a pro in no time.

Check the Space Ahead of Time

Keep in mind that backing up a trailer requires prior movements of the towed vehicle to move the towed vehicle in the correct direction. You need a preconceived route, keeping in mind the direction of the trailer, the direction of the towing vehicle, any objects in the immediate vicinity of the driving route, and the relative motion between all the objects involved.

One of the best things you can do is check the camp space before attempting to return. This will allow you to identify obstacles or problems that you may not have noticed on your tow vehicle.

Study the basics

Have a Spotter

Seek the help of an spotter. We said before that it can be your spouse, your child, a neighboring camper, anyone. You just need one more pair of eyes to watch your trailer. This will help keep you and your vehicle safe and make backing up much easier.

You must watch your observer at all times when backing up. He or she should be able to tell you to go one way or another or tell you if you need to readjust the movement.

Generally, all you need to do is roll down your window, but you can always get a handy pair of walkie-talkies or keep them on your cell phone while backing up.Take a little walk with your observer and get a feel for the space where you are going to come back and set up your RV. This will help you avoid unfortunate surprises.

The spotter must remember to look up! It's easy to become so aware of ground obstacles that you can forget to keep an eye on the top for tree branches and cables. Always keep an eye out for leaning trees, it is possible to lose sight of the base of the trunk and if the tree is leaning towards the trailer, a piece of the upper deck could be carried away on the roof line!

Slow and Smooth is the Way to go

No matter how you feel about backing-in your RV, you need to take things slow. Going slow will allow you to readjust if you need to. There’s often a delay from what your hands do on the steering wheel and how the trailer reacts. Going slow will let you account for that time.

It can be hard to take things slow if there are a lot of other campers or people waiting to get into their own campsite, but don’t let people rush you. When you rush something like backing-in your camper into your campsite, you are far more likely to either get the unit in the right spot or damage it by colliding with something. Slow and smooth is the way to go.

Adjust your mirrors

It is very important that you can see behind you because you will be backing up with a large trailer attached to the vehicle. Make sure your mirrors are adjusted so that you can clearly see the rear of the trailer.

You will be able to see the trailer much better and the spot in the driver's side mirrors and also look back over your shoulder to see the rear of the trailer. In case you need to go around the esplanade to get closer to the point on your left side, go for it!

Get Oriented

You don’t want to be backing up blind. When you park and are trying to look out the passenger side of the vehicle you’re going to have a way harder time of it.

When you pull up to your campsite, make sure it’s on the driver’s side of the tow vehicle. Then you can turn as you back-in and look right out the driver’s side window at the camper’s progress. 

Your spotter should also be on this side so you can easily see them. If you can’t back in this way, then make sure you utilize your spotter even more.

Try the Z-Method

The Z-method might sound difficult, but it really isn’t. Say you have pulled your tow vehicle and RV to the side of the road with your campground on your left. You want to back into that campground.

With the Z method, you actually turn your tow vehicle a bit towards the right side of the road and move forward. This puts you on an angle across the road and points your trailer at the campsite space. It also makes the angle you have to take to back into the campsite less severe.

Then you can turn the wheel and start backing into the camping space while keeping an eye on both your trailer and your spotter.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't turn the steering wheel too fast in either direction.
  • Go slow! In the event of something unforeseen, stop the vehicle and find out what to do before making any decisions.
  • It is easier to reverse with longer trailers than with shorter trailers.
  • In case the trailer begins to scissor movement (turn at an acute angle), stop the vehicle immediately. Go ahead a bit and try again.
  • One way to think about motion is that the rear wheels of the vehicle are the steer wheels for the trailer (imagine the trailer has four wheels, where the front steer wheels are actually the rear of the vehicle). So to get the trailer to move in the right direction, you will need to have the correct angle between the trailer wheels and the rear wheels of the vehicle. Therefore, first use the vehicle's turn signals to achieve the correct angle between the trailer wheels and the vehicle's rear wheels (by turning the steering wheel in the "wrong" direction), and then back up in the direction you actually are. want to go.
  • Check and secure the hook, safety chains, hydraulic jack and cable for the lights.
  • Don't be afraid to stop, go out, and look to see where you are. It is better to stop several times to check where you are to pay to repair damage to your trailer, truck or other things.
  • Stop immediately in case you go in a direction you don't want to go, go ahead and try again.
  • It is much easier to go back in an almost straight path, making slight corrections. Avoid trying to back up to your destination with a sharp 90 degree turn. If possible, access your destination through the street to get a straighter path. If there is room, move forward and turn across the width for a straighter path.
  • Although most modern trailers have built-in rear parking cameras, if this is not the case, invest in a backup camera.

Ask For Help

Learning how to live in an RV is your own full-time job at first, and it can take months to get into the flow of this lifestyle. You have to learn to efficiently organize a very small space. You have to learn to cook (and store food) in an incredibly small kitchen. You have to learn to manage your fuel and water resources so that you don't run out of any when you're camped out in the middle of nowhere.

You also have to learn how to haul a caravan, dump your tanks, find affordable places to stay, reorient yourself to a new city every week, navigate sometimes maddening traffic jams, and the list goes on.

Add the reality of working full time on top of all of this, and you can see how being a full-time RVer can be a huge adjustment. If you are not prepared, you can burn quickly.

Never forget that you are not alone and that people like you travel, they are very supportive people who help each other. You will never lack a helping hand and the voice of experience will be by your side to advise you on the best.

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