Purchasing your first travel trailer is exciting. Driving it is too, but not always in a good way. These 12 beginner camper trailer towing tips can help you get on the road with less fear.
12 Beginner Camper Trailer Towing Tips for More Confidence
Beginner travel trailer owners worry about safely towing their bumper pull or fifth wheel trailer. And with good reason. Camper trailer towing means paying attention to everything from RV tire care to GVWR trailer safety, and what’s on the road in front of you. Towing a travel trailer feels easier over time. These beginner camper trailer towing tips can help get you there sooner.
Below are some tips on traveling with your camper.
1. Know how much weight your tow truck can pull
It is important to know how much weight your truck can safely pull and follow those guidelines carefully. Otherwise, you could end up with a trailer pushing you around.
Don’t buy a tow truck until you look at trailer weights. Use the gross vehicle weight rating rather than the dry weight as your guide.
The gross vehicle weight rating is the most your trailer and truck should ever weigh when fully loaded. Once your truck and trailer is well matched, weigh your RV occasionally. This makes sure you don’t exceed the proper trailer weight.
2. Get a weight distribution hitch
For larger bumper-pull trailers, you will need to get a weight distribution hitch. A hitch like this helps spread the weight of the trailer to both sides of the truck. A weight distribution hitch cost is not cheap, but it makes for a safer ride that is better for your vehicle.
3. Evenly distribute cargo weight in the trailer
Pack your things inside the trailer or fifth wheel so they are distributed fairly equally. This ensures a balanced weight throughout. In return, you reduce the risk of an RV tire blowout by putting too much pressure on one side of the RV. Always store heavy items near the trailer axles.
4. Install an anti-sway bar
An anti-sway bar is a tool you can add to your bumper pull trailer hitch for steadier towing and less side-to-side motion. Anti-sway bars are especially helpful for long trailers. But any size camper trailer benefits from sway prevention tools like this.
5. Learn safer hitch up and towing methods
YouTube features endless beginner camper trailer towing tips. Dozens of RV towing experts can answer any questions you may have about using your hitch. If you are unsure how to hitch up properly, seek out help either online or in RV driving school. Experts can help you tow camper trailers better by teaching you how to drive safe, like commercial truckers.
7. Think like a commercial trucker
Do what commercial truckers do on the road. They follow a trailer towing safety rule called the “G.O.A.L” – Get Out And Look! Gary Lewis, founder of the RV driving school, RV Basic Training, says “You never move it without doing a safety check. Do a walk around. Check underneath, look at the tires. Go clockwise and then counter clockwise to make sure you’re all clear. Are the doors secured? Any funny smells? Is everything put away? All commercial drivers do this.”
6. Upgrade your trailer brake system
Most camper trailer braking systems are installed with electric drum brakes. They generally do the job and stop your trailer. But they don’t always do it on a dime, when you really need stopping power. Consider an electric over hydraulic trailer brake upgrade. They’re not cheap, but you’ll enjoy more peace of mind on steep downhills and when driving in city traffic.
8. Replace RV tires on time
Pay attention to the tires on your trailer and tow vehicle. Know how long RV trailer tires last. Make sure yours are in tip top condition before you head out. An RV tire blow out when towing a trailer can cause big trouble.
9. Anticipate sudden stops
Beginners towing a camper trailer weighing several thousand pounds need practice braking. Even with upgraded trailer brakes, you need more time to stop than with a passenger car. Always leave plenty of space between your truck and the vehicle in front of you.
10. Make slow, wide turns
Wide, slow turns are a necessary camper trailer towing safety measure. When turning, move as far over to the left of your lane as possible. Give yourself plenty of space to take up an intersection and pay attention to where your trailer is going as you turn.
11. Carry a spare tire and emergency kit
Always have a good spare tire in case of a trailer tire flat or blow out. A small emergency kit should include reflective cones or flashing lights to create visibility if you pull over at night. A flashlight and a basic camper tool set is also necessary.
12. Have a roadside assistance plan
It’s not a question of if, but when you will need RV roadside assistance help. Don’t cheap out. Pay for a high-quality roadside assistance that covers both your vehicle and your trailer. Not all roadside assistance plans cover camper trailer towing. Read your contract carefully. And remember, RV roadside assistance plans are not the same as RV insurance.
These are the basic beginner camper trailer towing tips every new RV owner should know before hitting the road. You might be an experience passenger car driver, but get behind the wheel of a travel trailer and you’ll see what a big difference it is between the two. Practice as much as possible for the safest RV travels.