Although I have lived in my Shadow Cruiser Fun Finder travel trailer for almost five years, I never had the proper towing vehicle to be able to haul it anywhere. Relying on family members and towing companies to move it from time to time, not having a tow vehicle required me to remain mostly stagnant. However, that changed in May of 2018 when I acquired my Toyota 4Runner. Now I’m parked over 1,000 miles away and have plans to continue even further.
Below I have compiled a list of 4 things I’ve learned so far from towing my travel trailer. I am still an absolute beginner and want to stress that the knowledge I’ve gained is not from years of experience. But sometimes hearing testimonies from beginners helps encourage those who may be new to the travel trailer journey themselves!
1.) Proper Towing Equipment
This can’t be stressed enough and is number one for a reason. You aren’t getting anywhere, at least not safely, without the proper towing equipment. First you have to make sure you have a vehicle that can pull your trailer. My vehicle has the ability to tow up to 5,000 lbs. My travel trailer is only about 70% of that. While having a larger towing vehicle would have a bit of an advantage just by sheer strength, my 4Runner, so far, is doing the job very well.
But that is also with the help of a stabilizer bar which is another important point in having the right equipment. The 4Runner can pull the camper without any assistance, but the ride is bumpy, heavily manipulated by wind and terrain, and is often a more stressful ride. Adding a stabilizer bar, the ride becomes much smoother, more controlled and allows me to drive comfortably even on bumpy back country roads. I recommend going into a local trailer company and seeing what they suggest for your particular set-up.
2.) Take Small Trips to Get Familiar
If nothing else, this helps you get comfortable with your new ride. Pulling a travel trailer is new territory if you aren’t used to it and it’s a good idea to drive around some to get a feel for how it maneuvers. How wide do you need to turn? Can you back it up into a campsite properly? How do you handle bumps or slight trailer sway? These are good things to learn while you are still close to home and able to make any adjustments. Also, the practice helps make you more comfortable with your set-up should you choose to go long distances.
3.) Stay Calm and React Properly
You always like to believe that everything will run smoothly but the truth is nothing is ever truly predictable. You may run into harsh weather, chaotic traffic, or even malfunctions in your set-up (like your awning deploying as you pull into a gas station, thank goodness for duct tape and wire!) The key to dealing with these issues is to just stay calm and react appropriately. Really this goes for any rv set-up. Check the weather (not just in your final destination, but along your journey), drive slowly when you need to, and keep important numbers handy in case of emergency. If you need to pull over to avoid strong winds or slow down through mountain passes, do it. You safety is number one.
4.) Enjoy the ride!
I have to admit that I was quite intimidated to pull my home on wheels at first, but with some practice, patience, and adaptability, I have found I quite enjoy the ride! I love being able to take my home anywhere with me and having a tool belt of knowledge puts me at ease when I hit the road.
So do your research, take your time, and enjoy the ride! Learning how to tow a camper can be a fun and challenging experience well worth it for the beautiful destinations and countless possibilities.
You can follow @kamper.kid and her RV adventures on Instagram!