|Our Silver Sisters Caravan. Towing is more fun with friends!|
|My truck and Airstream on a 2 month road trip with TLC|
Here are some tips from me and other helpful trailer friends who shared on my Facebook page.
Top 12 Tips for Towing a Trailer
1. Check your set up. Do a final walk around inside and around your trailer before you head out. Make sure items are stowed away inside, off counters and vents are closed and cabinets are latched. Walk around the exterior of the trailer and look underneath it to make sure you're in the clear. Most importantly, check the hitch set up and make sure everything is connected properly and in good working order. Check that your lights and signal flashers are working properly. A checklist is helpful for all of these items and more.
2. Be calm and focused. To this day, I make sure when I get in the truck to tow, I feel calm and focused. I like to sit for a couple of minutes and take a couple of deep breaths and clear my mind, while I have some sips of coffee. It's a big part of towing- to get your mind in the game, get excited for the trip, and to feel centered and calm. Breathe. This mindset with keep you cool and clear when you need to be. Once I'm on the road and on my way, I put on music and enjoy the ride, while staying focused.
3. Take your time. It's important that you don't feel rushed or pressure to go faster thank you're comfortable. The people behind you have a beautiful view! Go the appropriate and safe speed limit. People will pass you when they can. On some smaller roads, when you're able to safely pull over let others pass if there's a stack of cars beginning to form behind you. Be considerate.
4. Think ahead. Just as motorcyclists have to think and look ahead, so do you. Look far ahead down road in front of you and be aware of your fellow drivers around you. When towing, your lane changes and stopping are slower, so you need to think ahead for lane shifts, and slow down sooner. This will eventually come naturally. Sometimes I'll see truckers all merging into the next lane and I'll know that it is an exit only lane ahead or a short merge for entering traffic.
5. Fill up your gas at truck stops. This obviously depends on where you are traveling, but it you're on a route with truck stops, this will make entering and exiting the gas station much easier. Plus, they have some cool trucker stuff in some of the stores. If you don't have truck stops available, look for gas stations with plenty of space to pull in and out of.
6. Bring along a happy co-pilot. You'll likely be nervous behind the wheel the first few times. Bring along that someone who is encouraging and supportive (and perhaps brave) to be your navigator and cheerleader. If this is your dog, that that works too!
7. Have good tow mirrors on your vehicle so you have the best visibility possible.
8. Check your tire pressure on your tow vehicle and trailer before you head out. Inflate as necessary.
9. Take your turns wider. The trailer tracks tighter on turns, so check your mirrors and swing the turn(s) wider than you would if you didn't have a trailer in tow. Again, check your mirrors through the turn.
10. Put your hand on the base of the steering wheel when backing up the trailer. The direction you move your hand on the wheel is the direction the back of the trailer will move. It's easy to over think it. Do this, it works.
11. Ask for help if you need it. There's no shame in asking someone to help spot you when backing up, you may even make a friend. Ask them to use hand gestures you can see in your side view mirror. Have them tell you what the direction the back of the trailer should go (not which way to cut the wheel- that only gets confusing). Fellow Airstreamer, Neil Holman posted on my Facebook page: "Please do ask for assistance, especially when backing up. RV folks love to help...they were beginners once".
12. Enjoy the Ride! That's the whole point, isn't it? Thank the ones who are joining you, take in the sights (while keeping your eyes on the road), and be darn proud of yourself for rising up to the challenge of towing- facing your fear and doing it anyway. This new skill will lead you (and your trailer) to many beautiful places and experiences.
And there you have it. You've got this! Practice in a big wide empty parking lot to start. Drive around your neighborhood when you're comfortable (depending where you live!), soon you'll be ready to get on the road- we'll be cheering you on all the way!
(For you experienced trailer friends reading this, if there are any tips you'd like to add for a newbie reading this, please do. This is a growing list and we can all learn from each other's experiences).