It really is only about the practice, towing and backing up. I'd never towed a thing before but it didn't take too long to master and, the more you do it the better you get.
People will give you all manner of advice and useful tips and a lot of it is good, but try things out and see what works for you. The old "put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel" backing up trick that many swear by just left me in knots; I resorted to looking behind me to see where trailer was going, which was something that my feeble mind could cope with.
Breaking camp is a personal thing and in time you'll refine not only what you take (what's actually going to be used and not things you image that you'll need - ask me how I know!), but how you unpack and repack stuff. I swear it took us four hours to break camp the first time we went out, now we can do it in an hour (half an hour if we chain the kids and the dog to a nearby tree).
We've had some howlers, like arriving at a campground at midnight and parking so close to a tree that it took some real daredevil driving to get back out again after our stay - the rock filled ditch took some avoiding and we upset the Rangers by leaving the wrong way up a one way road (we ended up facing the wrong way, what else could we do?). We've also had some successes, like backing into a space in one fluid movement, looking over my right shoulder, fending off a helpful fellow camper at the drivers door who wouldn't stop yakking, listening to directions from Mrs T over the radio and avoiding the dog after the kids had let the cursed thing loose!
You'll get there and you'll have some fun finding out what you're supposed to be doing. One day you too will be able to avoid that rock-strewn ditch!
Steve; also known as Mr UK Toad
Look at this video that Sean made regarding backing. He really does a great job explaining the technique.
A lot of it is just getting a good feel for it and more importantly ...be patient and take the time you need. It is easy to get frustrated and sour the start of your adventure.
I am usually backing in by myself... I use the goal method (get out and look). Often fellow rv'ers are ki.d enough to spot me when they see me backing solo (always a generous bunch). My back in and set up time is getti.g quicker and quicker each time.
I like that idea! I am definitely trying it next time I park. Thanks!
Last week I did my first back in with my wife's Overlander. I had to back it into a RV garage that did not have a straight approach. My 20 years of backing horse trailers may have come in handy, butt backing this combo, 29 foot Airstream and Ford Expedition, was the easiest park job I have ever done. In retrospect, I did exactly what was shown in the above video!
There have been a lot of great tidbits here. We also use signals. But, they are ARM signals. The movements are large so that I can see my wife's signals clearly. The arm on the side to which she wants me to move rotates from her knee to over her head, if she wants me to go straight then both arms make the wave. Finally, she crosses both arms in front of her when she wants me to stop. Of course, this mandates that she must be in view of the mirror.
I also believe in taking my time, and getting out and scouting the area.
On our return from Alaska last year, we stopped in Coopers Town, NY. We arrived late and one mile from the state park encountered a Jersey Barrier with a sign that stated "road closed 3 miles ahead". We proceeded to the park and spent a relaxing night. The next morning, I checked the map and saw that it would be shorter towards our destination to continue on the road we had come in on the previous night. I forgot about the road closed sign. The road was a narrow country road, could not even be called a two lane blacktop. Reaching the road block, we had no option but to back down two miles as there were no intersections or driveways suitable for backing into and turning around. What worked in this situation was for my wife to walk about 20 feet behind the AS and act as a 'target' toward which I directed the trailer.
Is there a Guinness Book record for backing up for the longest distance? Maybe I should apply.
Great little video about "The Scoop" - I've forwarded to my wife and back-up "coach" who still is terrified of backing up herself. All the tips here about your backup coach needing to communicate with you, in words, and to be in sight of the driver - it's all great stuff. We had some "dicey" communication issues when first learning to back into our at-home parking spot as well as some interesting camping spots.
When we visited the Gunflint Pines campground up in Minnesota two weeks ago (wonderful place, by the way), owner Bob said his teenage son mastered backup skills at the age of 12 with his toy trucks and trailers. When it came time to back up a real trailer at 14 he had the concepts down pat from his toy trucks. His son has taken the wheel for many campers who were stymied trying to back down to the boat ramp on Gunflint Lake.
So --- does anybody out there know where I can find toy trucks and trailers that steer? I'd get a set for my wife to learn with.
Jim and Marsha "Stream of Consciousness"
2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river
Join Date: Dec 2009
Originally Posted by Go_Airstream
I was so excited about the reality of an AS and then it hit us like a rock on the windshield: driving, backing up, parking (leveling, etc.) would be an everyday reality and I wanted to ask the forum what the learning curve is for this "reality" and how time intensive the process of parking and setting up REALLY is ...
When people totally unfamiliar with trailers show up here, I suggest e renting an inexpensive moving trailer from U-haul and driving around with it, and backing, to get some idea what's to come.
There are some people who never figure it out, probably around 10%, and they end up selling their trailer and either leaving RVing entirely or getting a class C.
Also, how do you deal with difficult parking situations, do you typically "scout" lots before you pull in, or ???
It would be rare indeed that I would be unable to park in a developed campground intended for use by RVs. So, I don't scout, unless I believe there's likely to be something dodgy about the site. This might happen if it's a county campground, or a forest road, or private property.
On our most recent trip, we arrived fairly late at night and I backed into a tight-fitting site with obstacles with minimal fuss and with only parking lights (for courtesy) while a group of people from the next campsite watched. They came over afterwards and offered us jello shots as a peace offering because they felt guilty having figured that I would provide them with much more entertainment than I actually did. I have also had people break out into applause after I park.
So this isn't my cross to bear.
I do realize, though, that some people have a hell of a time with it.
To learn to see below the surface, you must adjust your altitude