When you back a travel trailer for the first time, you may feel like you're back in driving school. The process is not intuitive for many people, so it takes time and patience to learn. Remember to put safety first. Always go slow, practice in an area free of hazards and be willing to ask for help until you feel confident.
Always use a spotter. You have several blind spots when you back a trailer, so it's impossible to see all your surroundings. A spotter stands at the rear, driver side of the trailer, to help direct you. Have your spotter tell you which way to turn your wheels to line you up in the right direction, as well as how far you can safely back up.
Remember that your trailer moves in the opposite direction of your truck's wheels. With your hands on the bottom of your steering wheel, move them in the direction you want the back of the trailer to go. For example, if you need the trailer to move to the left, put your hands on the bottom of the wheel and move them to the left. This moves your tires to the right, but when you reverse, it pushes your trailer to the left.
Unroll your window to watch the direction of your wheels and have a better view of your surroundings. When you first learn to back up your trailer, looking out the window to see your wheels helps you know if you moved your steering wheel in the right direction. Looking out a window can also give you a better rear and side view compared to using your mirrors alone.
Position yourself so you can back up in a straight line. Whenever possible, avoid having to back your trailer at an angle. This avoids the need to turn your tires in the right direction or worry about jackknifing. This requires a large open space, but it's possible to find a parking lot or boat launch where you'll have enough room.
Article Written By Kathrine Cole
Kathrine Cole is a professional outdoor educator. She teaches rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and bike maintenance classes. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.