Even if you are a seasoned traveler with your rig, chances are that backing up your trailer into a camp site or parking spot still gives you a little anxiety. For others of us, the mere thought conjures dread. Not to fear! Here are a few tips and tricks that will have you backing like a pro in no time.

Scout Ahead. Walk the potential parking location to identify any hazards and mark them clearly if needed. Whenever possible, walk the site with a second person and have them be your spotter as you back in. Make sure your spotter has eye contact with you in the mirrors at all times. If you do not have a spotter, watch in your mirrors for all hazards you were able to identify on your walk.

Adjust your mirrors. You want to be able to see the rear bumper of your trailer at all times.

Orient your steering wheel. Place your hand on the bottom rim of the wheel. Moving your wheel hand to the left will turn the trailer to your left, while moving right will turn it right.

Make small, slow movements. There should be no rush to get into your parking spot. Take  your time and make deliberate movements while backing. Don’t be afraid to pull out and try again if things aren’t lining up right.

Make the S-Turn. An S-Turn is executed in four steps, as follows:

  • Pull along side your site and line up the front of your trailer tires with the edge of the parking spot closest to your rig. Turn on the 4-way flashers and roll down your windows. Turn your wheel (without using the gas) so that the front tires of your rig are pointed roughly 45 degrees away from the curb that you are backing toward.
  • Begin backing slowly while holding the wheel to guide your trailer around the front corner of your parking site. Only hold the wheel for a small distance, and then begin turning the wheel slowly out of the curve until the rig tires are directly aligned forward and the trailer front tire is beginning to enter the parking site. 
  • Keep “unsteering the curve” gradually, turning the wheel in the same direction as you started in step 2, until the rig is straightened out parallel to the curb once again. Keep an eye out on the front of your rig for hazards at this point.
  • Make small corrections as you back into your spot fully. You should not have to turn your wheel any more than a quarter turn at this point. If you do, always remember you can pull right back out and start again on your approach. Watch for hazards and your spotter.