Caravan curtain twitchers and campers coincidentally “just nipping to the loo block” may love watching someone struggle to reverse their outfit on to a pitch, but there’s nothing better than nailing the perfect manoeuvre first time, every time. Here’s how to do it...
It's always best to get practical experience under guidance when it comes to reversing a caravan and dealing with any worries you may have. Give one of the clubs' towing courses a go and you'll feel a lot more confident.
If you’re all about the destination, take a flight! Your holiday begins when you leave your driveway. That’s the incredible thing about caravanning – you’ve got complete control of when and where, with everything.
Enjoy the ride, don’t rush, and don’t worry if you’re not “on schedule” as there’s no such thing. Spend the whole ride worrying about things and you’re not doing yourself any favours when it comes to setting up at the other end. If you give yourself plenty of time and you can’t go wrong.
If you’re not confident with reversing an outfit, don’t leave it until the last minute before you try. Plan your journey and ensure you arrive on site in the light.
Run ups to campsites, especially a remote CL or CS, can be tricky at times and this is only likely to stress you out more.
All of it’s easy if you’re calm and collected but, to save on stress possibilities, if you think there’s a chance you won’t get to the site before dark because of distance or traffic, plan a stopover on a site half or three quarters of the way. Plus, that way you get to see more of the world before you even get to your destination.
There are some great reasons why caravanning is the best way to relax. You’re on holiday! Stop tensing up. Don’t grip the steering wheel with white knuckles as if you’re at Alton Towers, don’t clench your buttocks with unrivalled fear of the manoeuvres to come, and stop swearing under your breath if you’re grinding the gears in imminent panic.
If you feel the onset of any of the above, stop and take a deep breath. Or print these tips out and read them all again, obviously.
You may have seen manoeuvring competitions at a show or two, but you’re not in one when you pull up for your holiday. There really isn’t any rush. Besides, every time you half you’re speed, you make the manoeuvre twice as easy!
Most automatic towcars will gently roll forward or back as soon as you’re foot’s off the brake, without you pressing the accelerator pedal. This is an ideal speed for giving you enough time to check mirrors, adjust steering and look around. In a manual, just catch the biting point and feel your way back.
This is different from purely manoeuvring slowly, because it doesn’t matter how many times you have to pull forward and ‘start again’. If you’re not lined up with your pitch correctly or, more importantly, comfortably then don’t worry about starting from scratch.
Often, it works out best to pull forward a little to get your angle of approach spot on once you’ve made the initial move into your allocated space anyway. Always remember to keep an eye on the front of your car too and watch where it’s circling around to.
That’s both of them. It’s surprising how many people find their gaze fixed on one mirror, forgetting to check them both while reversing in a straight line backwards.
If one mirror starts to ‘fill’ with caravan, turn the steering wheel towards that mirror to counteract and keep your outfit in a straight line. Get in the habit of watching both mirrors even if you want the caravan to go one way.
Mirror full of caravan and you still need to continue in that direction? Remember those big bits of glass either side of you? They’re windows. You can look out of them, too!
Use your mirrors as much as possible, but remember that after a certain point in the manoeuvre you can stick your head out of the window and see exactly what’s going on and how the caravan measures up with the line of your pitch.
Even if you’re confident, it’s better to get someone to stand out behind your outfit once you’re backing up just in case there’s anything you can’t see. My tip is to get them to stand on the corner of your pitch, acting as a gatepost.
Turn the van in once the tourer’s wheels pass your helper and you should be spot on every time. It’s much easier looking at something/someone upright rather than straining to check at floor level.
A lot of site owners will come and help to see you on to your pitch as you enter the site, but don’t be afraid to ask if they don’t offer voluntarily.
Always make the last move you perform when pitching your caravan a forward motion. Namely, if you’re reversing on to the pitch, pull forward just enough to extend the tow hitch drawbar before you apply the handbrake and get out to put the steadies down.
Through a complex system in the hitch head and brakes of your caravan, if you fail to pull forward after reversing then the caravan’s brakes will still be applied while you’re camping and have been known to seize, which will be a pain in the backside when you come to leave the site.
If you have an audience while you’re reversing, so what? Let them watch. The more relaxed you are (see point three, above) the more likely you are to calmly complete your manoeuvring and show everyone exactly how to do it properly.
Want to know how to become the best at towing? The above points will all help but there’s no substitute for practical experience, and the perfect way of getting that is to practice.
Take a manoeuvring course with and you’ll have plenty of expert advice on hand to try until you perfect each manoeuvre in a calm and controlled environment before you take to the pitch!