6 Must-Have RV Apps

RVing gives you the opportunity to relax, escape from your busy life and enjoy the outdoors, but this doesn’t have to mean a technology-free experience. In fact, technology is very useful when RV’ing, especially when you have the right apps. Here’s our list of top RV’ing apps to make your trip smooth and stress free.

Google Maps [Free for Apple & Android]

Google Maps is a widely used maps app and is well known for its accuracy. Both Apple and Android mobile devices support Google Maps, which is constantly up-to-date. This means that Google Maps will give you the fastest routes with accurate updates on construction and traffic delays.

Whether you know the exact address of the place you are looking for, or just the name Google Maps will help you get to your destination. You can sit back and enjoy your drive as the built in voice guided GPS tells you where to turn (with lots of warning).

GasBuddy [Free for Apple & Android]

To help you cut back on gas expenditures, GasBuddy helps you find the cheapest gas options in your immediate vicinity. With a large tank to fill, climbing gas prices are a concern for every RVer. GasBuddy helps you save on gas, so you can get the most out of your vacation budget. In fact, we’re so confident you’ll love this app, we’re betting that you’ll end up using it outside of your RV’ing adventures too!  

Roadtrippers [Free for Apple & Android]

Roadtrippers is a map app specifically tailored to those travelling on a road trip. Supported by both Apple and Android devices it provides a list of nearby attractions with ratings organized into categories such as restaurants, hotels, services, shopping and more. You can use Roadtrippers to plan your vacation online or from your mobile device by downloading the app. Roadtrippers makes it easy for you to stay organized because it syncs all of your saved places across all your devices, so you can plan your trip at home without worrying about accessing those plans while you’re on the road.  

Camp USA App [Free for Apple & Android]

The Camp USA app allows travellers to quickly research and book stays at over 190 Encore and Thousand Trails RV resorts and campgrounds across the United States. With ample amounts of information on each park and simple, built-in payment features, your RV site will be ready for you when you arrive!

Sanidumps RV Dump Station Locator [Free for Apple & Android]

While it’s not as fun as finding a great park to stay at, this app is practical – RVers need to be able to locate dumping stations for their full waste stations. This app makes finding a dumping station simple and will save you a ton of time. Of course, this job stinks, but with this app it’ll be as painless as possible.

RV Checklist [$0.99 for Apple & Free for Android]

Don’t you hate it when you get on the road and then realize you have forgotten a series of important items? The RV Checklist app makes sure this doesn’t happen by helping you plan and organize before you leave. You can create and customize your own list and save it to reuse each time you head out on an RV adventure. This app will help you cut down on your preparation and packing time and get out of the door quicker!

These are just a few examples of the amazing and affordable apps that exist for mobile devices to help make your RVing adventures more enjoyable! When downloading, be sure to check out the other suggested apps in the app store.

Let us know about some of the apps you use during your RV adventures!

6 Benefits of RVing for Adults +55

Have you always loved camping, sightseeing and the great outdoors? Are you looking for a fun and convenient way to see more of the US? If so, RV’ing may be for you. With your kids grown up and retirement fast approaching, taking to the road in an RV has many benefits.

Time

With kids and limited time off work for vacationing, in the past you may have planned trips that minimized travel time. Now you have time to spend travelling, which means you can take your time planning an extended vacation, enjoy getting to your destination and see more things along the way through a relaxing road trip.

A Second Home

With an RV that is your own, you have the freedom to customize it to your liking. Most RVs are quite spacious and have room for you to make it your second home. Your RV can become the backdrop for many memories and will feel more personal and convenient than a hotel room or a bed and breakfast.

Community

Although campgrounds are not the only option of places to stay in your RV, they are a popular one. Many RV parks are known for their welcoming and inclusive culture and their strong community.

You’ll find your fellow RVers share your sense of adventure and are keen to get to know you, share a meal, or sit around a campfire. Likewise, many campgrounds and RV resorts offer activities, programs, sports and recreational facilities to help you fill your time and enjoy your stay to the fullest.  

Affordability

For seniors who want to travel, but must budget carefully in their retirement, RVing offers many affordable options. Compared to a cruise or all-inclusive resort, the RV lifestyle is much more affordable.

For anyone who is contemplating RVing, consider renting an RV first to ensure that it’s for you. Then, when it’s time to purchase your own RV, explore your options. If a new RV is not in your budget, consider purchasing a used one. Many of them are in near perfect condition and this route can save you a lot of money.

While you will need to consider maintenance and operational costs, being able to stay in your vehicle means eliminating the rising costs associated with staying in a hotel. You can also save money on food since you can cook in your vehicle rather than eating out for every meal (which is also much better for your health).

Convenience

If you have always enjoyed camping but do not have the energy or man power to do all the work involved with setting up and taking down your tent and campsite, then try an RV. You’ll enjoy the same benefits that camping provides (like communing with nature, relaxing under the stars, and seeing new places). One of the greatest aspects of RVs is that everything is ready to go, just hop in the driver’s seat and head out on your next adventure whenever you feel like it!

Visiting family and friends

For people with friends, family, or kids who live across the country, an RV is an affordable option for visiting. If you have the time, then you can save on the cost of a plane ride and get more visits in throughout the year. You can park the RV in their driveway or stay at a nearby RV resort. This gives you some personal space, doesn’t put your hosts out and still allows you to spend lots of time together.

Having an RV is like having a mobile cottage. By purchasing an RV later in life, you are making an investment in the quality of your retirement, opening doors to travel and trying new things, while forming and maintaining relationships. What better time to hit the open road than after 55?

Any other benefits we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below!

6 Tips for Getting the RV Ready for the Trip South

For many Canadian snowbirds, heading south—whether it’s to Fort Lauderdale, Scottsdale or Palm Springs—is an annual affair, one that takes careful planning and organization. Of course, before you can even begin to pack up, you’ll want to make sure your RV and its tires are ready for this epic journey.

1. Inflate & inspect

No one wants to start their trip south with a flat tire. One of the best ways to ensure your tires are healthy and ready for the journey ahead is to check their pressure and condition.

Inflate tires to the recommended PSI, including your spare tire.

Inspect sidewalls for signs of weathering and aging, including cracking, feathering and fading.

Inspect the tread for depth and unusual wear (which could point to an alignment problem that could decrease the life of your tire. For a journey like this, where you may be crossing through the snow and mud of Canada before hitting the dry, hot pavement of the South, it’s best to have a tread depth of at least 6/32”. Your tires should still be in good shape for the trek back to Canada in the spring if you follow this guideline

2. Prepare

Even with all that inflating and inspecting, you can’t always ward off debris on the road. Before you head out, make sure you have the necessary equipment to change a flat tire, including:

  • An accessible, well-inflated spare tire in good condition
  • Jack or ride-on ramp
  • Chock (for double-axle trailers and to keep other tires in place)
  • Tire iron
  • Cones to place around your RV as a warning to other drivers

3. Get your brakes in line

This is an essential step with any vehicle you plan on driving, and on any road condition. Even if your brakes are not making that horrendous squeaky noise when you depress them, a professional brake inspection should be done at least once a year, and an ideal time is in the weeks ahead of your cross-country journey.

A certified mechanic will check to see if your brake fluid is clear and transparent like cooking oil, and will replace it if it’s dark and cloudy. They will also check to see if your brake pads and/or discs need replacing or if there is any damage to your brake lines.

4. Make sure your wheel bearings are bearing up

Most people find out about their wheel bearings when they hear a loud rhythmic and vibrating noise emanating from below their RV while driving. Some people confuse it with tire distress, but it usually means the seal on your wheel bearings is broken or damaged and the bearings are not ‘rolling’ properly.

Wheel bearings are a set of steel balls that ride the axel inside your wheel’s hub and help your wheels spin fast and with as little friction as possible. A certified mechanic can check to see if the wheel bearings require repacking with new grease or if they need replacing. This can be done when you get your brakes inspected.

5. Get power to the people

Before you embark on any road trip, it’s important to inspect your RV’s electrical system (AC and DC), including all plug-in outlets, appliances, batteries, cables, AC unit, and especially your circuit breaker and fuses. Knowing where your circuit breaker is located and testing your fuses is imperative in preventing any power surges and your circuit from overheating, which in the worse case scenario can cause a fire.

If you’re unsure of how your RV electrical system works, visit your local RV dealer or a certified mechanic. For this task, it’s best to get assistance, as there is a risk of shock and serious injury.

6. Ensure lights are ready for action

Now it’s time to make sure your exterior lights are in working order. First, ensure headlights, high beams, indicator lights, marker lights and brake lights shine in front and back of your RV, and triple-check that the wiring is working if you are towing your vehicle behind your RV. Having someone inspect your lights while you are in the driver’s seat, turning them on and off, is best.

7. Have supplies at the ready

If your RV does break down, being prepared will go a long way. Carry an RV survival kit with emergency food and water, an LED flare, solar and hand-crank NOAA radio, LED flashlight, candles or lanterns, mobile phone charger, water purification tablets, hand warmers, etc.

Of course, double-check you’ve got what you need in the event of a flat tire, and that you’ve got tools to check your tire pressure throughout the journey.

Article courtesy of Snowbirds & RV Travelers

3 Ways to Avoid RV Electrical Problems

3 Ways to Avoid RV Electrical Problems

When it comes to your RV, it’s important to understand how the electrical system works, especially considering all the appliances you’re probably running on a regular basis.

As long as you stay within your available wattage (overall power) then things should run smoothly. If your voltage is too low or too high, then you’ll have problems like a power surge, which could seriously damage your RV, ruin your appliances, or even cause an electrical fire.

These three simple steps will help you avoid a serious electrical issue:

1. Know Your RV’s Capacity

Protecting your RV means buying one with adequate power for your needs. RV veteran Rob Lily suggests leaning towards a 50-amp RV if you plan to run a lot of amp consuming appliances. “You need at least 50 amps, which have two legs, giving you 100 amps’ total,” he says. “Considering that the average RV’er spends at least 30.8 amps on their A/C unit alone, a 30-amp RV may not give you enough power over time.”

If you have a 30-amp RV you may experience some electrical woes, especially if you want to run a lot of electrical devices like a microwave, A/C, fridge, hot water tank, and lights.

2. Monitor Your Power Usage

Even if you have a 50-amp RV, you’ll still need to monitor your power usage. “You should get a meter that will plug into a 110 outlet in your coach, it will tell you how much power you’re really using,” Lily advises. You’ll also need to be aware of how much power the appliances you’re using are drawing from your RV and ensure you don’t exceed your RV’s capacity.

Most of your appliances come with manuals that detail the required power (in watts or amps) needed to run it, but you can also find general outlines on the Internet for the most common appliances and electronics that RV’ers commonly use, like this list:

  • Coffee maker – 8.3 amps
  • Converter – 8 amps
  • Hair dryer – 9 to 12 amps
  • Microwave – 13 amps
  • Refrigerator – 2.8 amps
  • Roof A/C 13.5 amps
  • TV – 1.5 amps
  • Toaster – 8 to 10 amps
  • VCR – 2 amps
  • Electric skillet- 6 to 12 amps

You may be surprised by some of the items on this list – would you think that your electric skillet uses more power than your fridge? That your hairdryer uses more than your TV? If you’re not aware of how much power each electronic device uses, then you run the risk of operating too many things at once, which could cause an electrical issue.

3. Use a Surge Protector

A surge can fry your microwave, electrical oven, or even your battery. Surges aren’t always caused by using too much power. The campground could lose a neutral in the ground or lose part of a hot line, which can cause a surge. With a surge protector, as soon as that excess power, loss of power, or excessive power drain is noticed the protector will kick in and shut everything off, to protect your appliances and electrical components from damage.

That’s why it’s so important to always use a surge protector. “I would never run my RV without a surge protector,” Lily says. “The first reason is safety. It’s just not safe to run your RV without one. I’ve seen lots of RV electrical fires, and a surge protector should shield you from that. The second reason is to protect your coach from damage. The cost of a surge protector is small in comparison to the cost of replacing a damaged microwave or A/C unit,” he says.

Troubleshooting Problems

“If the surge protector picks up any problems, it will shut everything off and give you a code to tell you what has happened,” Lily explains. “You should get used to checking the surge protector and your meter every day,” he says.

Surge protectors are portable units, or you can get one hardwired into your RV. Both types do the trick and can be found at your local RV store. In addition to protecting your RV from a power surge, your surge protector will show you how much voltage you’re getting from the RV park. “With 6-8 RV’s hooked up on to the same box the person who is closest to the box generally has the best source of power,” Lily says. In other words, if you’re furthest from the box you may not be getting as much power as your neighbors.

If you’re having problems with your power, go to your park’s maintenance manager and have them check the box to see if there is a problem. Ensure that the maintenance manager also goes into your RV and turns off the main appliances and then checks the box again, Lily advises. “It’s important to see if there is a problem when the RV is underloaded, not just when it’s running at full capacity,” he says.

High voltage and low voltage are both problematic for your RV. Anything outside the range of your RV’s capacity (usually between 108-132 currents) can cause problems. To protect yourself, your family, and your RV, it’s important to understand and respect your RV’s power capacity, to monitor your power usage, and to protect your RV from electrical issues with a surge protector.

Tips & Tricks: How to Safely Back-Up a Fifth-Wheel Trailer

Watching someone with no experience back in their RV is hilarious, unless that person is you! If you haven’t done it before, or it’s been a while, don’t worry. Every 5th Wheel owner has been there. Becoming proficient takes practice, but watch this helpful video and learn a few tricks from experienced RV’ers.

Top 5 Tips for Long Drives

It’s that time of year when sober Snowbirds are thinking about the return drive home, and other forward-thinking RV’ers are excitedly planning long summer trips to new destinations.

In either case, you may be planning for some long days behind the wheel. Fatigue can set in unexpectedly with awful results. That momentary lapse of concentration when the mind is distracted, can subsequently lead to an inability to correct the unsavory direction your rig has taken.

Driving is Work

Ask any trucker about his glamorously easy occupation, and you’ll be faced with the kind of expression that asks if you’re off your medication, followed by a glance of the room in search of your custodial social worker.

While driving, your mind is constantly monitoring the GPS, speed, weather, and dash gauges while attempting to predict the probable behavior of traffic in front of you. While much of this may occur almost subconsciously, the mental awareness and continual eye movement will wear you out. Especially as darkness falls and your eyes and body strain with the additional focus and tension, that reduced vision creates. Driving all day to reach your waypoint, especially driving longer than planned because of poor weather or traffic is tempting but very ill advised.

Here are my suggestions accumulated over 100,000 km behind the wheel and the occasional inadvertent lane change.

Work in Shifts

If you have another driver on board take turns. They don’t have to be equal shifts if someone isn’t comfortable behind the wheel. Give the less inclined driver the shorter shifts (even just a half hour) on the easier, straighter stretches of road. You don’t even have to nap off-shift, the mental break from driving will be rejuvenating.

Take Breaks

Stop often and before you get tired. Most tips say every two hours. I stop at scenic viewpoints even if I’ve only been driving 30 minutes. The next stimulating rest stop might be a couple hours away. Get your blood flowing by walking. I do pushups, deep knee bends or jumping jacks. You won’t look like a lunatic. People will know right away why you’re doing it and it may spur them on to do the same. You could save a life!

Eat Lightly

Those health nuts telling you to eat small meals all day are right. My grandmother would make my favourite meal when I came to visit. Ribs and spicy sausage surrounded by dumplings and sauerkraut seasoned with bacon. I would fill my belly and then lay down on the couch and sleep, while my girlfriend chatted with my grandmother. Big delicious greasy meals will knock you out faster than an MMA fighter in the octagon. I drive with single serving size foods like snack bars and fruit, especially grapes.

Avoid Late Nights

There’s less to see, and more eyestrain. Mental fatigue is the silent killer here. I’ve actually fallen asleep with my eyes open attempting to stay awake – not healthy. If I am planning to drive a long day, I start early before the sun comes up and finish before it goes down, with some leeway to reach my destination should traffic or weather hold me up. Having a back-up (sooner) destination at the end of the day is the mark of a seasoned hauler.

The Little Tricks

No, pumping caffeine and energy drinks into you is not a safe solution. The temporary boost in awareness is ‘temporary’. Then your body/mind crashes to lower than when you started. The same goes for rolling the window down, turning the radio up, sucking on menthol/eucalyptus candies, swallowing caffeine pills, splashing water on your face and eyelids, pinching or slapping yourself, talking/singing, … did I miss any? I’ve tried them all in my younger days, which has resulted in near death experiences. I recognize that I am one of the lucky ones.

When you are tired, you are tired. Be smart, plan contingencies, rest, and enjoy the journey.

Have any tips of your own? Feel Free to share them in the comments section below!

Story courtesy of Snowbirds & RV Travelers Magazine

Discover the Top 8 RV Essentials!

seniorRVCouple (1)

There are all kinds of tips and tricks out there for RV vacations, but we’ve put together a list of the most basic of RV essentials for those who are just getting started.
RVs are an amazing way to vacation.

With transport and accommodation combined comes a whole host of great benefits – freedom, flexibility, adventure, affordability and more. Of course, they also require a bit of insider knowledge. If you’re new to it, or are renting, it can be a little overwhelming – so we’ve put together a list of RV must-haves to get you started on your journey! Adding these simple, invaluable items to your packing list will have you road tripping like a pro in no time.

1. A First Aid Kit

We’re off to a fairly obvious start, but a kit of basic medical supplies is important. The kit should include all of the usual supplies, plus any special individual requirements like an epipen. If you’re heading to more remote areas, you might want to include a few survival items: emergency blanket, snacks, maybe even flares.

2. Non-slip matting

This has no end of uses in an RV. Bring pre-cut mats or a roll of material, and a scissors to cut them to size so you can give multiple surfaces the non-slip treatment. Where should you put it? Anywhere you might want to leave loose items: shelves, cupboards, tables, benches.

3. Dust pan and brush

There’s not much worse than a big mess in a small space! With so much flow between indoors and outdoors, an RV’s floors get dirty quickly. Hauling the vacuum out is bothersome but a dust pan and brush is perfect for spot cleaning.

4. Flashlight (and spare batteries)

Bring one for each person, so everyone can keep it within reach for night-time toilet trips. Not only does it light your path outside, it also lets you get out without waking everybody else by turning on the lights. A lantern might come in handy too, for al fresco dining and socializing.

5. Clothesline

A place to dry your wet things is essential camping equipment. You won’t want damp clothing spread out inside, so take any opportunity to get them out in the sun and air. There are some very advanced contraptions available, but a piece of rope is simple, effective and easy to fit into your luggage.

6. A GPS

Getting lost can be a bit of an adventure when you have no other plans, but if you have made any kind of bookings, it’s a pain. Phones are useful on short local trips, but if you are going anywhere remote or heading overseas, a GPS is definitely the way to go.

7. Games

Evenings in the RV are the perfect opportunity for some friendly competition. A TV is very much an optional extra, but a pack of cards could be considered an essential. Avoid games with many small pieces that could get misplaced and stick to the basics – charades is a good one that requires no gear.

8. A camera

The experiences and the memories they create are the best part of an RV trip, and you will certainly want to record a few of them. For some people, a smartphone will do. Others might feel the need to bring an SLR and a GoPro too. Whatever your photography preferences, make sure you don’t forget a camera!

Did we miss anything? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Story courtesy of Snowbirds & RV Travelers Magazine

Tips & Tricks: How To Pick The Right Trailer Tires For You

ThinkstockPhotos-139530925

When it comes to buying trailer tires, the numbers you’re probably most concerned about are size and price, but there are a host of digits—and letters—imprinted on the sidewall of your tires, and knowing what they mean helps you better understand how your tires work, and how you can choose the safest trailer tires for your needs.

Tire class and size:

Trailer Tire Graphic

ST215/75R14

The first thing you want to see is ‘ST,’ which stands for Special Trailer tire. With their heavy-duty construction, trailer tires are built to tow heavy loads, withstand excessive heat, and reduce sway. Trailers can only use ST tires, and ST tires can only be used on trailers.

After ‘ST,’ you’ll see the numbers used to indicate your trailer tire’s size: 215, width in millimetres; 75, aspect ratio or ratio of height to width; R for radial construction; and 14 for rim diameter.

Load rating

Load rating or load index tells you how much weight a tire can safely carry at its maximum air pressure. At its maximum air pressure of 50 PSI (cold), a load range ‘C’ tire might have a load rating of 1760 pounds.

Load range

Load range tells you the type of load a tire is designed to support at a specific inflation pressure. Trailer tires typically have C, D, or E load ranges. A load range ‘C’ tire, for example, is at its peak load capacity—possibly 1600 pounds—when it’s inflated to its maximum pressure of 50 PSI. A load range ‘C’ tire at 25 PSI might be able to support a load of 990 pounds, while at 40 PSI, that capacity could be 1300 pounds.

Max press.

This tells you the maximum pressure (when your tires are cold) needed for your tires to carry its maximum load, in PSI.

DOT

This stands for the U.S. Department of Transportation.’ There will be about 10-12 numbers following ‘DOT.’ The first six to eight numbers indicate the manufacturer’s code, where the tire was manufactured and the tire size.

Date code

To find out when your tire was made, look for the serial number that begins with ‘DOT.’ The last four numbers indicate the week and year your tire was made, respectively. A date code of 2615 means the tire was made in the 26th week of 2015. Some trailer tire manufacturers suggest three to five years is the average life expectancy of a trailer tire, regardless of mileage.

Tire type

Below the tire size, you’ll see either ‘radial’ or ‘bias.’ Radial tires (or ‘radial-ply tires’) are constructed with polyester and/or nylon plies that run across the tire perpendicularly, and sometimes include steel belts that run under the tread. Bias-ply tires Bias-ply cords layer in a criss-cross pattern from sidewall to sidewall, and they are also sometimes reinforced with a steel belt.

Puncture Resistance of Sidewalls

There is no specific sidewall marking that identifies the puncture resistance of a tire; however, a rough link can be made about durability based on the ply rating, tire construction and the application that the tire is used in. For example, a tire designed for highway use will not tolerate rough, rocky driving. An all-terrain tire which has been designed to handle off-road conditions would be a better choice.

A tire with LT 265/70r17 E markings on the sidewall tells us it’s designated for use on a “light truck” and the letter “E” indicates it is a 10 ply equivalent tire, keeping in mind that “plies” is an older term which is now more commonly referred to as “load range”.

Since newer materials perform better, a tire doesn’t need as many layers and makes for a lighter tire that runs cooler and performs better.

These load ranges show what the equivalent ply is:

Load range “E” = 10 ply equivalent

Load range “D” = 8 ply equivalent

Load range “C” = 6 ply equivalent

Older bias ply tires have sidewall markings that indicate how many cotton plies are in the tire, whereas most current/modern tires contain newer polyester, nylon-type materials and usually have only 2-3 carcass plies.

Also, the higher the load range, the more weight carrying capacity of the tire. To carry that extra weight, more air pressure is needed, and to hold that extra air pressure, a more robust carcass is used, which usually adds more durability.

Tips & Tricks: RV Refrigerator Maintenance Checklist

ThinkstockPhotos-dv1435029

You’ve made the investment in a quality refrigerator for your RV. Now you need to learn what you can do to keep it running for the life of your RV. Some maintenance can be done yourself, but others require a service technician.

Maintenance Checklist For the Do It Yourselfer

1.Be sure to check the burner flame for proper appearance. The flame should be light blue. If it has a yellow tip, this means it is burning incorrectly and should be serviced by a qualified technician. Check to be sure there is no spider web, insect next, soot or rust on or around the burner. If there is, knock it off with a small screwdriver and clean the area with compressed air or by blowing through a soda straw.

2.For proper ventilation, keep the area behind your refrigerator clear. Check the upper and lower vents and the area between those openings for any obstructions such as a bird nest.

3.Check all connections in the LP gas system (at the back of your refrigerator) for gas leaks by applying a non-corrosive commercial leak detector solution to all connections. Do not use a flame to check for leaks. The appearance of bubbles indicates a leak and should be repaired immediately by a qualified service technician familiar with LP gas.

Maintenance Checklist to Be Performed By a Qualified Service Person at Least Once a Year

1.Check the 12-volt battery system and wiring. Battery problems can adversely affect your refrigerator causing intermittent operation or dim interior lighting. The technician should look at the battery terminals, electrolyte level, amount of charge, etc. A normal operating voltage is 10.5 to 13.5 volts DC.

2.Finally, be sure the technician takes a look at the gas pressure, checks for gas leaks, cleans the flue tube and burner jet and checks the LP gas safety shutoff.

Let us know if you have any other tips we may not have mentioned in the comments below!

Story courtesy of Snowbirds & RV Travelers Magazine

Tips & Tricks: Backing Up Your 5th Wheel

thinkstockphotos-100163031

There are a few parts of RV ownership – specifically, 5th wheel ownership – that are a bit intimidating. For one thing, it is a significant financial investment to purchase a 5th wheel, so that is an early hurdle that you will need to clear. Also, driving such a big rig down the road can be intimidating to those with no experience, as driving a truck and 5th wheel is a big departure from piloting a sedan. However, the biggest challenge to 5th wheel ownership for most people is going to be the issue addressed in the title of this post – backing up the rig.

Backing up a 5th wheel is a challenge on multiple fronts. For one thing, the rig is rather large, so you may feel nervous moving in backward into an area that you can’t really see. Also, the rig is going to move in the opposite direction as your vehicle, so you will have to learn how to ‘dance’ with the 5th wheel in order to place it in exactly the right spot.

If you are struggling to back up your 5th wheel successfully, or if you would just like to have some tips in mind before trying for the first time, review the points below.

It’s All About Opposites

As mentioned above, you have to think ‘opposite’ when you want to back up a 5th wheel. At first, the fact that the 5th wheel moves opposite of your vehicle is likely to throw you for a loop, but you will get used to this factor relatively quickly. Try to find an open parking lot or another safe place to practice backing up and you will start to naturally respond to the way the trailer moves in reverse.

Go Slow

You don’t need to be in a rush to back up your 5th wheel properly. Take it slow, especially at first, and only keep moving back when you are confident in the direction that you are going. Don’t worry if other people are watching or even waiting – it isn’t worth pushing your 5th wheel into a bad spot just because you are trying to get out of the way.

Have a Spotter

This is perhaps the most important piece of advice that you can receive. If you are backing up your 5th wheel into any kind of a tight spot, have a trusted spotter and use them to direct your movements. If necessary, pick up some two-way radios to communicate between the cab and the spotter with ease. Or, if you prefer not to use radios, develop a few hand signals that you can use to make sure you are on the same page. Of course, you don’t want to back up into your spotter, so make sure you can see them at all times while the vehicle is in motion.

Stay on Driver’s Side

If at all possible, work on backing into spots that are on the same side of the vehicle as the driver. It is more difficult to go to the other side, as it will be harder to see as you back up. An experienced 5th wheel driver may be able to go the other way without too much effort, but stick to the driver’s side until you have confidence in your skills.

Spend Time Practicing

Just like any other skill in life, the only way to master backing up in your 5th wheel is to practice on a regular basis. If you are willing to put in some practice time in a nearby parking lot (or even in your own driveway, if it is big enough), you should be able to develop your 5th wheel backing skills in short order.

Have any tips of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments section!

Story courtesy of Snowbirds & RV Travelers Magazine