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Are you comfortable backing up a trailer?
The video above really sums it all up, and provides a somewhat unique, but very effective solution to simplify backup up a trailer. It's definitely my #1 tip to making it a lot easier. But let me go back and give you some overview, then a few more tips!
By the way, the video was produced by Sean Michael. He has a great website called Long Long Honeymoon (often referred to as LOLOHO). It is full of a lot of great info and videos. Be sure to check it out.
For me, backing up a trailer and getting it parked at the campground was probably the most stressful part of getting started with a small travel trailer. In the beginning, I would backup and pull forward, over and over, and then I'd still end up having to pull out into the road and start over again. Eventually I backed in well enough to leave it parked, but it always felt like I just got lucky. Or in other words, it wasn't because I knew what I was doing.
Now that I've been at it quite a while, I look back and see that there were really three problems I had in the beginning. I didn't...
- really have any idea on how to approach it
- understand how to make the trailer go where I wanted it to
- know how to monitor my progress while backing it into place
Would you feel comfortable backing up a trailer into this site?
Here's what made it easier for meAfter our first few trips, I realized there must be an easier way. It had been purely trial and error up to that point, and quite honestly, way too much error. So, I started doing some research. I read other's suggestions and watched some videos. Before I learned the Scoop, I discovered 3 other keys that made backup up a trailer a lot easier for me. Even with the Scoop, these tips make a lot of difference.
Tip #2: Begin by pulling up near the site, then getting out to look things over well before you start to back in.Determine where you want to end up (level area, hookups, convenience for setup, etc.). And in particular, take note of where there are any obstacles (like trees!) that you need to avoid.
Tip #3: Hold your steering wheel at the bottom, not the top while backing up.Backing up with your trailer requires you to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction of what you normally do when backing up without a trailer. In other words, if you turn the top of the steering wheel right, the trailer will go left. So, the direction you turn the bottom of the steering wheel is the direction your trailer will head. This might feel strange at first, but it will help get the trailer to go where you want it to go.
Tip #4: Adjust your left outside mirror to point down, so that you can see the ground next to your trailer.As long as you looked things over well in step 1, just focus on getting the left side of your trailer to end up where you want. (But be careful. You still need to keep an eye out for any obstacles. In my case, this is Fay's job. I keep my windows down and she stands outside and yells when I'm about to hit something!)
Tip #5: My Final Tip to Backup Up a Trailer
I thought about having a camera on the rear of our trailer for a long time, but never found an easy, affordible solution. Finally, I stumbled onto one on Amazon. Since it's always easy to return things to them, I decided to give it a try.
Combined with the other tips, having the rear camera has been incredible. It has pretty much eliminated Fay yelling at me when I was about to hit something. In addition, it's nice to be able to see behind the trailer when driving on the highway.
The two things that made it feasible for me were:
- It's wireless...no need for wire between the trailer and the truck.
- I found an easy way to mount it and get power to it with our Casita.
This may or may not be a good solution for you, depending upon your trailer. I wrote a detailed article about the camera I purchased and how I installed it. Check it out if this is something you are interested in. It will at least give you some ideas. [How I Installed a Rearview Camera on my Small Travel Trailer]
Bottom line...If you're just getting started, it's going to take some practice. However, the tips above were the turning points that simplified the whole process for me. Each one made things much easier. Once I learned about and began to apply all of them, I started feeling like I was in control. At this point, the stress is gone, and I usually get it right on the first or second try. As always, be sure to drop me note if you have any questions. - Denny
Denny JohnsonAfter having spent most of our adult life in Orlando, my wife Fay and I moved to Knoxville, TN in 2020. We are loving the change of seasons and being near the mountains. Plus, this part of the country is loaded with great places to camp.
We camped years ago with a pop-up camper, but got serious about it when we purchased our Casita in 2014. There was a lot to learn as we started traveling with it, and a lot of conflicting opinions on line. That's when I decided that creating a website would be a good retirement project. I started tinyTowable.com to share things we've learned along the way that have worked well for us in hopes that the information would be of help to others.