My first driving lesson with a trailer went great. Now granted it’s not a 33 ft travel trailer but it was the same width as my trailer will be. This was a great help in being able to see where the tires were in relation to my car and the lines on the road. I was glad to see there was still room between the outside of the tires and the lines on both sides.
My friend, John Mullen, hooked up his utility trailer (similar to the one in the picture) to my SUV and we went to a vacant lot with lines to practice backing up. It was very challenging to get the trailer to go the way you want and then get the car to follow. You have to remember to turn the wheel the opposite way of the way you want the trailer to turn and not to turn the wheel too much. I kept turning the wheel way too much thinking the trailer wasn’t turning when in fact it was. So again, another lesson in patience.
The next step was to get the car to follow the trailer until the car was in line with the trailer. Again, I wasn’t waiting long enough for the car to come in line with the trailer. One very helpful tip was to stop the car completely and then turn the tires instead of trying to turn while rolling. This gives you time to think and it also helps prevent rolling past where you should have turned. There was a lot of pulling forward and trying again. By the end I was starting to get the feel for it. We practiced in a variety of situations. Backing in from the drivers side, backing in from the blind side, backing into a narrow pathway, backing between lines.
The test for the day was backing the trailer into his driveway when we got back. I had to avoid the mailbox, power lines, house, Jeep, truck and plow. To top it off the neighbor was out sweeping the street with his lawn tractor so he stopped to watch. Nothing like an audience when trying something new. I think I only had to pull forward once and managed to avoid all the obstacles and back the trailer safely into the yard. John said I did very well and his wife Betty remarked that John doesn’t hand out compliments easily so if he said I did good then I really did. This was a great boost to my confidence.
I felt a lot more comfortable after my lesson and even felt that I could actually do this. I’ve had many sleepless nights wondering and worrying about driving something so long and big so it was nice to feel a wave of confidence for a change. We’re going to go out again on Sunday for another lesson and a lot more practice.