youtubeHave you recently purchased or plan to purchase a travel trailer? If so, take the time to learn the needed information to safely tow your trailer ensuring an enjoyable experience.

Below are 9 tips to get you started:

  1. Know how much weight your tow vehicle can tow / carry. Make sure your tow vehicle is rated to tow the weight of the travel trailer including your gear, propane, water, etc. along with carrying the tongue weight of the trailer. Here is an article that will help you determine how heavy a trailer your tow vehicle is capable of towing.

  2. Get a weight distribution hitch. As the name suggests, a weight distributing hitch distributes a portion of the travel trailers tongue weight from the rear of the tow vehicle to the front of the tow vehicle. This provides a smoother, safer ride and often increases the weight rating of the tow vehicle’s hitch receiver allowing you to tow a larger travel trailer. An Eaz Lift Recurve R6 is one of many weight distribution hitches worth considering.

    Equalizing Hitch

  3. Evenly distribute the weight of cargo within the trailer. Proper tongue (hitch) weight is essential to safe towing. Experts agree that the tongue weight of the trailer should be between 10-15% of the total loaded trailer weight. Less than that can result in excessive sway and loss of control as this video demonstrates. Try to evenly distribute heavy items side to side to avoid overloading the tires on one side of the travel trailer. The heaviest items like cases of bottled water, canned goods, etc. should be center over the trailer axles when possible.

  4. Get Out And Look “G.O.A.L”. Commercial semi-truck drivers employ this safety technique and travel trailer owners should too. Never move your travel trailer without first doing a walk around the trailer and tow vehicle. Look at all four sides, underneath, overhead for low clearances (branches), check the tires and make sure the doors are locked, etc. This is especially true before backing up into a campsite.

  1. Check the tires and wheels. Regularly check the tire pressure to make sure tires are properly inflated to carry their rated load. Check that lug nuts / bolts are tight. After driving long distances, check the tires and wheels for excessive heat which could indicate a problem. Hot tires could be caused from underinflation or pending tire failure. A hot wheel could be the result of a dry / failed wheel bearing or a dragging brake shoe.

    Check the Tires

  2. Be prepared for sudden stops. Keep in mind when towing a travel trailer for the first time, that weighs thousands of pounds, the stopping distance of the tow vehicle with the travel trailer attached will be considerably longer than you are used to with just the tow vehicle. Always leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you and be attentive to what is happening around you.

  3. Slow down and take wide turns. Travel trailers need a little extra room when turning. When planning a turn, slow down, swing wide to the opposite side of the turn and stay wide until the axles of the travel trailer tires have cleared the curb, traffic signs or other obstacles you are navigating past on the inside bend of the corner.

  4. Practice. Find a large vacant parking lot and practice your turns and backing skills both left and right. Use traffic cones to navigate around as they are unlikely to damage your tow vehicle or travel trailer when you error. This is also a good time to learn how to adjust the brake controller in your tow vehicle.

  5. Be prepared. Carry a spare tire and wheel that fits your travel trailer along with a jack and the proper lug wrench. Know in advance how to properly and safely change a travel trailer tire. Also consider carrying a small emergency kit which includes reflective cones and a safety vest or flashing lights to make sure other drivers can see you and your RV.

    Be Prepared to Change a Tire

Enjoy safely exploring the great Pacific Northwest in your new travel trailer.

Questions? Comments? Please add your thoughts below.

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.


+1 #1 Terry French 2022-06-01 15:08
All good stuff. Thanks for the reminders.

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