1. Plan your trips carefully so you always arrive at your campsite after dark. Backing a trailer is much faster when done at nighttime, when it is harder to see the rocks, trees, ditches, holes, grills, picnic tables and small children that may cause you to worry needlessly and expend extra time in the backing process. Your motto should be, “If I hear a crunch, I'll worry a bunch”, otherwise, go for it! Do not stop until you “get it right” or hear the “crunch of failure”.
2. Much has been written about how to get your trailer to go in the direction that you want it to go when backing. Some so-called “experts” even recommend that you should simply “place your hand on the bottom of your steering wheel and move it in the direction that you want the trailer to go”". This is nonsense and serves only to overcomplicate the situation. The best, quickest and only recommended method is "trial and error", and is performed as follows:
- Turn your steering wheel all the way in either direction (it doesn't matter which way)
- Back up a little bit and observe which way your trailer is going
- If your trailer is going in the desired direction, keep going
- If your trailer is not going in the desired direction, stop, turn your steering wheel all the way in the opposite direction, then proceed
- Repeat the steps listed above until your trailer is where you want it to be.
3. Select a campsite that is far from being level. You will have to call upon all your expertise and talent as a trailer backer to position the trailer and any blocks, Legos, logs, rocks, Happy Meal toys, etc., you use to eventually get it level. The feeling of accomplishment after sixty minutes of trailer level fine-tuning is unsurpassable.
4. “Jackknifing” a trailer by turning too far when backing is a myth. Unless you hear the "crunch of failure", you are fine - even if you can see the rear bumper of your trailer when looking through the front passenger's window. By “pushing the envelope” like this, you will find that you are able to get in and out of campsites that otherwise may look impossible.
5. Always enlist the help of a qualified assistant when backing. Qualifications can be any one of the following:
- The helper is your spouse and is “burned out” after a long day of confinement in a very small area with you and your children. Trailer backing is a great way to relieve stress.
- The helper is a small child who preferably has not learned to speak yet. Trailer backing is a great way for kids to learn the nuances of human communication.
- The helper is an ADHD prone child who fully understands the backing process and the role of the helper, but “drifts off” to other non-backing related activities without warning. Trailer backing is a great way to teach ADHD kids how to be responsible. The telltale “crunch of failure” is a perfectly acceptable way to reinforce the importance of staying “on task”.
6. Don't agree on a system of hand signals ahead of time. You and your helper will forget the signaling system between trips anyway, and it's much more fun to have an impromptu game of “charades” every time you have to back into a campsite.
7. In lieu of hand signals, the preferred method of voice signaling is “screaming” or “yelling”. This has the added benefit of frightening any stray forest animals away from the vicinity.
8. The correct answer to the question “WHICH LEFT (or RIGHT) DO YOU MEAN?” is always “MY LEFT (or RIGHT), YOU DUMMY!”
9. For extra fun, instruct your helper in the fine art of “standing right where (you) can't see them” while giving confusing hand signals as described in (6) above.
10. Even the most seasoned backer will rarely “get it right” on the first try. True backing perfection is achieved only after many attempts and iterations. If a backing job looks perfect to you and your helper, it is only an indication that true perfection has not been achieved, and at least five more attempts are needed. If your helper thinks the attempt is perfect but you don't, you should execute at least ten more attempts. Stop only when it is clear that you will never get it as good as you had it that one time.