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Old 02-23-2016, 09:51 PM   #1
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Brawny's Avatar
2004 30' Classic
London , Ontario
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Boxing yourself in while towing?


My wife and I are eagerly awaiting arrival of our 2004 30ft Classic in April, and probably are a bit too focused on becoming 'Streamers.

We currently have a 10 foot Taylor Coach (, which is almost trivial to tow, or turn around. I expect that maneuvering a 30' trailer takes a bit more practice - and probably some foresight to avoid getting into situations that are difficult to get out of.

I'd be interesting in hearing advice from folks towing longer trailers on how they approach exploring new territory with the trailer in tow. Do you use Google maps to make sure you don't end up heading down dead-end roads? Unhook and explore with the TV alone? I find myself looking at familiar territory in the town we live in, wondering where I'd park if I was visiting and had the trailer in tow... Even shopping malls or grocery store parking lots could be a challenge! Locally here I know of at least a couple where the entrance / exit has a pretty good grade compared to the roadway, so I'd be concerned about bottoming out the hitch, or scraping the back end of the trailer...

I'm sure there are some great stories out there, and likely plenty of good advice, as usual on these forums... We'd love to hear if anyone wants to share!

Thanks in advance!

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Old 02-23-2016, 11:15 PM   #2
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1973 31' Sovereign
Middletown , California
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An 18 speed mountain bike in addition to Google earth is a must. It hasn't happened to me yet but I'm sure that it would be possible to drive forward into a place that I can't back out of because of the geometry of my rig. The steering wheels are more than 20' from the trailer wheels and there is a hinge in the assembly! I have disconnected the truck and re positioned it a couple of times in tight spaces. It's almost funny how many back and forth runs I've done just to get the trailer wheels over another foot to the side before I give up! Can't beat planning ahead. The next tow vehicle I get will have 4 wheel drive even though I almost never leave pavement due to low ground clearance. I got stuck on wet grass a couple of weeks ago!

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Old 02-24-2016, 10:11 AM   #3
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2014 23' Flying Cloud
Fair Oaks , California
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It is definitely a concern of mine, even with my 23' FC. Once we spotted a Starbuck's that looked like it had clearance all around it, only to find out one side was blocked by a drive-thru with a cover the trailer wouldn't fit under. Cars were backed up behind us and had to be persuaded to move out of the way so we could back out. That was interesting. Another time we were in a small town looking for an RV park we had found on the Internet, and turned down what looked like a perfectly normal street only to find out that it was a dead-end. More backing. At least, being a dead-end, there weren't a lot of cars behind us. Planning approaches in and out of gas stations requires thinking ahead every time you refuel. I often find myself making a first reconnaissance pass by a station and circling around the block before entering it to refuel. This is a major reason why I recently got a supplemental diesel tank for my truck. I don't really need an 800 mile cruising range, but I'll only have half as many refueling stops, and some of them can be done after I unhitch the trailer.

With a 30 footer, you probably won't be doing much boondocking, but we do. Fortunately, my wife loves to hike and she often walks ahead on dirt roads to make sure there is some place to turn the trailer around. Do be aware, though, that just because you're heading down a long road with a campground at the end of it doesn't necessarily mean there will be a place to turn around when you get there. People have driven 5-10 miles down a road with no place to turn around only to find the campground closed and gate locked when they get there. So check ahead before you get into this fix. If necessary, unhitch and drive up ahead to check first. I suppose it's possible to back up a trailer 5 miles, but I sure don't want to be the one to do it.
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Old 02-24-2016, 10:52 AM   #4
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Princeton , New Jersey
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You may find this difficult to accept at first but the fact it the longer it is the easier it is to back up.

Now that said, when towing a longer trailer, you have to get used to longer swing out with the TV when turning. Most important,always glance in your mirror at the inside trailer wheel as the trailer passes the corner you are going around, whether it is a tree or a curb. This means your mirrors have to have a field of vision big enough to see the ground at the trailer wheels.

Yes I have ended up in someones front yard while following my GPS that said the road went through and it did not. A common problem in FL. as they subdivided the whole state on paper back in the 60s and never built the roads.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 02-24-2016, 11:14 AM   #5
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2015 23' FB Flying Cloud
Walnut Creek , California
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With a short trailer and a short TV we do not have much of a problem getting boxed. Brag, brag, brag.....that of course does not help you. Before we got the trailer, we watched a lot of videos. One was about a 30 ft rig that got dropped after 200 miles and the TV got a fill up for the next day's run. No problem with entry/exit and all the travel can be planned. But that is a rather drastic solution.

We actually do have concerns and follow rule number 1. If you can not see, do not go there. We wanted lunch and pulled off to have some fast food. When we got to the turn, it was up a grade that hid the parking lot. No FF for us. We did an around the block and back on the road. Just part of the deal and other folks do it so you can.

When planning, you can be reasonably sure that if semis go there, you likely can. The exception would be driveway transitions and large chuck holes which may require a bit of blocking, bridging, or backing. If other travel trailers go there, you can probably be sure you can too. The one problem we ran into was a soft driveway in an RV park. Deep ruts and questionable traction. The park directional arrows led us into it. Sometimes it pays to ignore directions and go against the flow, which is how we left the park after our first try. See rule number one. If you can't see, don't go.

You'll get the hang of it. Making a run past to check out the flow is an excellent suggestion. Take it slow. A schedule will get you in trouble. Repairs are expensive and your time is kind of free. Or at least a little of it on the front end can save you a lot of your time on the back end.

Also, practice a bit and understand what the rig and your driving experience can do. Brother thought his rig was too big to go into a lot of places. Navigator thought it would. Considerable friction developed so he turned in. Ended up in a very tight spot. After much backing and filling they got out. More understanding of the issue developed and a better trip was had by all. Experience, experience, experience........practice before you travel. Travel a few shakedown runs before you make the important ones. Pay for a pull through until you are comfortable with a back in. But get comfortable soon as that may be your only choice in a lot of parks. Travel in off season when you can. Less traffic makes for an easier route. And it is not a bad idea to have a backup rear view camera. The more you can see the better. And....keep one knows it all.

Good luck - you are going to like it. Those miles will put smiles on your face. Pat
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Old 02-24-2016, 11:28 AM   #6
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2002 30' Classic S/O
Melbourne Beach , Florida
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I haven't done any boondocking to speak of, but regarding services there are two rules I have read on here that should not be violated:

1. Never enter a location until you know how you are going to get out.
2. (Almost) never trust anyone but your co-pilot to guide you back.

Violating these rules could be expensive. Don't ask how I know.


"You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"

Al, K5TAN and Missy, N4RGO
2002 Classic 30 Slideout
S/OS #004
2013 Dodge 2500 Laramie 4x4 Megacab Cummins
2001 Safari 25 RB Twin (Gone, but not forgotten)
WBCCI 1322, TAC FL-39, AIR 82265

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Old 02-24-2016, 11:41 AM   #7
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2014 22' FB Sport
San Antonio , Texas
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Parking Lots

Our number one rule is to not pull into a parking lot, unless we have actually eyeballed how we are going to get back out. This is particularly true in an urban area where there are multiple businesses, fast food places, and other stand alone structures out in the parking lot. Some of those pad sites are open and connected, others funnel you into a drive-thru (not recommended), and others just flat out dead end into nowhere.
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Old 02-24-2016, 12:35 PM   #8
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2004 30' Classic
London , Ontario
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 68
Great advice, everyone!

We still have some work to do to figure out our TV, and how to bring bikes along. My wife and I have about 6 or 7 bikes between us - everything from touring bikes, racing bikes, mountain bikes, and old beaters for commuting. I'm thinking that we'll probably look at a pair of folding bikes for the trailer. What's a couple more to add to our existing fleet of rolling stock, right?

I agree with both of the 'rules' - they both make a lot of sense.

It sounds like we'll need to do a bit more planning than we normally do. I like to say that my wife follows the 'Ready, Fire, Aim!' school of planning, but I find myself doing the same thing on occasion too.

I guess one technique will be to drop the trailer for the day before we go exploring, but that doesn't always work if you're 'en route' to your destination. I can recall leaving the interstate more than once with our little trailer to get coffee and gas, and ending up in the midst of some major road construction that had us bouncing along in a dusty line with a lot of other frustrated drivers. If only our 'dum dum' (our pet name for our GPS) knew about municipal construction, etc.

So, if you're in a situation where you haven't decided whether to enter a parking lot, do you park on the road to scout it out on foot or bike? It seems to me that most 4 lane roads tend to have no parking signs posted along them - but pulling over to sort things out seems like it might be the logical solution at times - even if you're not making any friends with vehicles behind you...

Man, do I have lots to learn!?!
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Old 02-24-2016, 01:08 PM   #9
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Melbourne Beach , Florida
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I approach fuel stops slowly and don't enter unless I can clearly see how I'm going to exit. Ideally this would include identifying (for me) the diesel pump(s) but it is not always possible from the road. I have pulled into stations after I saw I could get out and realized I couldn't get to or get away from the diesel pump and simply pulled out and headed for the next station on the exit. As you can imagine, this often involves one or more U-turns, which are also fun. Another little piece of information you need to know is how many lanes do you need to make a U-turn. Usually for us, a U-turn is possible from a left turn lane if there are two lanes going the other way but it may require the use of a little shoulder.


"You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"

Al, K5TAN and Missy, N4RGO
2002 Classic 30 Slideout
S/OS #004
2013 Dodge 2500 Laramie 4x4 Megacab Cummins
2001 Safari 25 RB Twin (Gone, but not forgotten)
WBCCI 1322, TAC FL-39, AIR 82265

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Old 02-24-2016, 01:37 PM   #10
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1999 34' Excella
Davidson County , North Carolina
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I use Garmin, Google maps, road maps, park maps, or anything else I can find. I try to be aware of where I'm headed.
Still, stuff happens!

A few years back I got trapped in a gas station that was almost empty when I pulled in. I thought there was plenty of room to drive through, but there was a curb I could not see from the road. A herd of cars arrived just after I did. I tried to wait until some left, but cars kept coming. Finally, I had to pull up/back up while making a turn, about 20 times, and block the driveway for several minutes. Horns blowing, mad customers, no body wanted to give me room to maneuver. That was a fun one.

Last fall while towing in New England, I got myself into a predicament when I missed a turn and found myself at a dead end, ending into a lake. On the bright side, I was towing the 25' not the 34'. I was able to get out, but it took some maneuvering. My DW really enjoyed telling all my friends about that one.

Things like this will happen to you, but don't worry. It's part of the adventure.
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Old 02-24-2016, 01:49 PM   #11
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Fuel stops are frequent and with more and more stations having the pumps perpendicular to the buliding you need to a store with an outside pump, on the side of your TV with the fuel filler and an easy way out of the parking lot. If you drive a diesel then the problem is much easier as the truck stops have pull throughs. Anyway, when my Tundra's odometer shows 175 miles (23 gallon tank and around 11mpg towing), I start looking for an easy place to gas up. That way I can pick my place and I am not desparate and then have to fuel at a place that is tought to get out of (how did I learn this- don't ask). Over the years, since we tend to camp at the same places a lot, we have our "regular" fuel stops.
Bruce & Rachel
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Old 02-24-2016, 04:09 PM   #12
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2016 26' Flying Cloud
London , Ontario
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Hello Brawny....I'm from London as well. Eleven years ago, my first TT was a 10' Taylor Coach. Traded that in for a wonderful 17.5' Bigfoot that I keep for 10 years and just last month traded that in on a 26U AS at 26' 11" long. Leaving on our maiden voyage March 9th.

Last year in deep Alabama we were trying to get to Geez Bend. Locals told us there was a ferry across the Alabama River or drive around for 45 minutes. We found the road to the ferry....took it and a couple miles down the road, all of a sudden the road disappeared under the Alabama River. No ferry, no dock in site. Luckily for us, construction work seemed to be going on for something, so with moving construction cones, back and forth manoeuvres, we finally got turned around and drove the 30 miles to Geez Bend.

Had I been towing a 30 footer, I'd still be there. Good luck with your new adventure.
You're a long time underground!
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Old 02-24-2016, 04:21 PM   #13
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Brawny, welcome to the forum and congratulations on your new Airstream!

In addition to the excellent advice already given, judging from your original post, you seem to have an awareness of the road ahead, and are already asking all the right questions. Coming to mind is the first time I towed our 25' AS, after only a small boat trailer, and I was nervous as can be. When I realized I could relax a bit -- that everything was going well and would continue -- I began to have fun. Yes, one hiccup going into a fast-food parking lot whose rear exit was blocked off (even though it looked OK from the street), but we got out alright with some help.

Relaxing and trusting one's self are key IMO.

Happy Trails!
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Old 02-24-2016, 05:13 PM   #14
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Wimberley , Texas
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If you think you'll be roughing it with your camper (we do), having the following will make it drop-dead easy to get in and get out of what you can't just drive out of. I never leave home without this "free it up & get on with it" gear:
Snow chains for all 4 tires on my 4x4 Yukon XL 2500 (used these more in mud than snow but plenty of both).
Front-mounted receiver and ball (makes impossible manuevering possible, IMO every TV needs a front hitch as standard equipment)
Farm jack, trolley jack, bottle jacks, wood blocking, & skid-pipe
Receiver-mountable power winch (have used innumerable times w/ several "swivelings" in place of my TT & many retrievals of my TV, my TT, & others who got stuck) & of course a come-along and chains
Chain saw, bow saw, shovels, cheater/skid pipe

Hey, for those who find themselves truly boxed-in in an urban/suburban setting like a drive-thru, a parking lot, or dead-end street, the front hitch is a God-send. eTrailer sells them (mine was ~$110) and anyone who can turn a wrench can have it installed in under 30 minutes.
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Old 02-24-2016, 05:24 PM   #15
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Even though you have some towing experience you might want to call a local truck driving school and see if they offer RV towing classes. Sure is simpler and cheaper to learn to tow a 30 footer by starting with a utility trailer that would normally carry landscaping equipment and can be fixed with a can of black spray paint!

Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 02-24-2016, 05:30 PM   #16
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Old 02-24-2016, 05:36 PM   #17
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We have a 30' trailer and don't have many issues. I have had on more then one occasion the situation where a dive isle designed for RVs was blocked for some reason. Or the RV parking area at the travel plaza was full of cars too lazy to park in their area. So we have had to back out. But typically you develop an eye for problem areas very quickly.
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Old 02-24-2016, 06:32 PM   #18
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All good advice here. I always scout the gas stations first and never enter until I can see a way out. Remember, though, the turns in those places can be tight so make sure you leave plenty of turning room.

I haven't had too many issues other than those caused by unthinking drivers. Gas stations, for instance, where I've plotted my way out only for some idiot to park where they shouldn't and take up my turning zone; that's happened more than once. Similarly, at a waffle place in Mississippi, I parked considerately in the corner of a large and mostly empty parking lot, facing out so that I could drive away easily, and someone parked almost directly in front of me. I wouldn't have minded if it had been busy but there weren't many others in there. I managed to get out OK but made sure I went perilously close to the offending (gleaming white) pickup truck, hoping that its owner was having palpitations watching me from the restaurant.
Steve; also known as Mr UK Toad

"You can't tow that with that!"
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Old 02-24-2016, 06:55 PM   #19
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We try not to end up boxed in but I've always been convinced that if I can pull into it, I can back out of it. Along with a good sense of humor, that has gotten us by.
Hi Ho Silver RV! Vernon, Sarah, Mac the Border Collie(RIP) -
A honkin' long 34' named AlumaTherapy
and a 26' '63 Overlander, Dolly
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Old 02-24-2016, 07:16 PM   #20
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2015 23' International
Charleston , South Carolina
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I second the front hitch. It is amazing how much more maneuverability it provides. We have an impossibly tight approach into our backyard parking place and the front hitch makes it effortless. Even if you will rarely need it, it's a nice option to have.

Another big lesson for me is patience. Approach an unknown path slowly and don't be afraid to stop where you are if uncertain. That's what emergency flashers are for. Of course, common sense has to apply but in an urban setting with tight clearances and a safe traffic situation, I'm not afraid to stop in the middle of the road, turn on the flashers, and get out and take a look.

Finally, don't sweat it. I've pulled a lot of different things and nothing tows better than an Airstream. As long as you remember it's back there (which can be easy to forget) you'll be fine.

Happy travels


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