How to Backup a Travel Trailer?

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Are you new to travel trailers? Do you often struggle to back up a travel trailer and looking for some help? If the answer is yes, you are in the right place.

Although backing up a travel trailer might seem a daunting task if you are doing it for the first time, towing a travel trailer with a vehicle is not that hard. You can make it follow you wherever you go. If backing your travel trailer cause you stress, this post is written for you.

Backing up a trailer is an essential part, especially when you part it in a campground where the only back-in site is available. It is a must-learn skill for every travel trailer owner. Luckily, with just a little practice, you will be an expert to back up a travel trailer.

It can be done by learning some of its basics before practically doing it. After you have learned all the basics, you can practice making it perfect. Below, I have arranged a list of best tips on how to back up a travel trailer that will surely help you.

How to Backup a Travel Trailers

So, let’s start!

How to Backup a Trailer?

Backing up an RV doesn’t mean that it starts when you are behind the wheel. There are some basics that you have to learn before that,

1. Study the Basics

If you are good at geometry, you will learn very fast since backing a travel trailer needs some geometry skills. If you have a little knowledge, you will easily understand the theory behind it far before when you get behind the wheels.

With that being said, the physics of it is counterintuitive. While backing a travel trailer, you just need to turn the wheels of your travel trailer to the opposite way you want to turn the travel trailer. It means if you want to turn the travel trailer to the right, you have to turn the wheels to the left. Similarly to turn the wheels right will move the travel trailer to the left.

The story doesn’t end here since there is also another direction that you have to correct. Once you have turned the trailer in the direction you want, concentrate on other direction to prevent the RV jack-knifing. The reason for this is the rear end of your towing vehicle will come close to the front of the trailer and is worsened by the sharpness of how the wheel has been turned.

Backing up a travel trailer basics

So, it is important to learn these basics before you get behind the wheels that will require practice to backing up a travel trailer, and if you have memorized the basics, you be able to perfectly back up an RV.

Once you have mastered the basic theory on How to back up a travel trailer, now, its time for you to move to the next steps that are mentioned below.

2. Take it Easy – Don’t Panic

I know you desperately want to learn how to back up a camper, but you have to be patient. Quick reactions in a panic situation will lead you to another disaster. To make sure that you are now able to perfectly back up a travel trailer and gained sufficient experience, you have to take your sweet little time. To do that, you have to make the process nice and slow.

It would a great help if you also didn’t think about making a perfect move in your first attempt. It can be too bad, so no need to be panic. It is a skill that will take time to learn. You need to calm yourself down, be patient, give yourself time, and if possible, try to practice before you arrive at a campsite.

3. Ask for Help or Assistance

If you are traveling with your family or friends, ask someone to step out of the RV to assist you. This will make sure you don’t get physically hurt yourself or your trailer while backing a travel trailer. If you are overwhelmed, take some time, stop whatever you are trying to do, and calm down your nerves. You will be amazed to see how much a break can help before you get back into the business.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

While learning how to back up a travel trailer for the first time, you may get a feel like you will not be able to do that, which is perfectly normal since it is a daunting skill to learn.

The only thing that will succeed you to back up a travel trailer easily is to keep trying over and over again. The best time to get better and practice your skills is when your mind is clear, and you feel no pressure. It doesn’t mean you start backing your travel trailer when you are getting ready for a fun camping trip with your family or friends.

I highly recommend you to take your camper to a large and open area or parking lot and practice there. However, it is not possible and seems an impossible task to do if you don’t own an RV. In this regard, here are some ideas that you can try;

  • Try to buy a toy truck and play with it. Make sure it has a brake in the middle since that is where the majority of campers have it. It will help you to observe and understand how will it behave when you are backing. You might find this idea crazy but believe me, is an effective way to learn.
  • If you don’t like that idea because you find it too childish, here is another one. You can try to play a truck simulator video game. It will give you a virtual experience of truck driving to improve your skills. If you are looking for the best truck simulator games, I highly recommend trying Truck Simulator, Euro Truck Simulator, or American Truck Simulator.
  • If you are serious about learning how to back up a travel trailer and not afraid to shell out some money, you always have the option to rent a towable camper.

How to Back up a Travel Trailer in a Driveway?

There is not much difference in backing a travel trailer into a driveway or any other parking spot. However, the slightest difference is your goal is significantly narrower in the driveway comparing to any other spot.

In a driveway, you might confront with trees, vehicles, and other barriers that you have to make sure you don’t hit. However, the theory is almost the same for backing a camper. You have to pull it out forward and perpendicular to the driveway and start moving in the opposite direction directly to make sure the travel trailer is moving back into it while you are going reverse.

Obviously, you have to correct and turn the other direction as well to keep the camper from jack-knifing, as well as to maintain an arrow-straight back-in. Over the time of the whole process, the wheel will make a shape of S or a curve, which will look like a SWOOP.

How to Back up Small Travel Trailers?

Though the basics are the same for both big and small trailers When you back them, however,  regardless of their size, while you back up a small trailer, their smaller wheels mean the movement will be tighter, and you have to correct instantly. If you have a small trailer, it doesn’t mean that you can back it up with ease since the fact is, they are hard to back up as compared to big trailers.

While backing a small travel trailer, make sure to reduce the wheel radius, as well as be ready to move the steering wheel back and forth over and over again throughout the whole process. The most important thing is to keep yourself calm, don’t get frustrated, and control your nerves since you will have to make multiple minor corrections along the way.


What is the best way to practice to back up a travel trailer if you don’t have a camper?

Keep practicing to learn how to back up a trailer that will enhance your camper backing skills. However, if you don’t have an RV for practice, you can play truck simulator games to get a virtual experience. Another way to learn a backing trailer is to purchase a toy truck with a brake to observe and know its behavior while backing it up.

Can I Back up my travel trailer with the help of mirrors?

If you are an expert in backing up a trailer, you can do that with the help of its mirrors. However, if you find it difficult, you can ask someone to stand outside the trailer to assist you while you are backing.

Wrapping Up

So, that is all about how to back up a travel trailer. The most important thing that I have learned while trying to learn how to back up a travel trailer is to know the basics before getting behind the wheel and keep yourself calm and control your nerves. It will help you to make the right move at the right time so you can learn quickly. Moreover, another thing that will help you to master your travel trailer backing skill is to keep trying without getting frustrated. You will need to repeat the same process over and over again. If you have a small travel trailer, it will be more difficult to back up because of its small wheels. Above, I have stated all the things that you have to consider if you really want to make yourself perfect in the art of camper backing.

About Ted Mosby

My Name is Ted Mosby from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a freelance Architect. I live in New Jersey, USA right now and I take my RV every alternate weekend. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.