5 MARRIAGE SAVING TIPS FOR REVERSING YOUR CARAVAN
There is a jovial saying among travellers that if you arrive before 3pm you can enjoy the entertainment. Arrive after 3pm and you ARE the entertainment. The 'entertainment' being the reversing and setting up of your caravan and campsite. Trust me, people love to have a sticky beak at the new arrivals at a camp ground or caravan park, but that’s not a bad thing. After all, caravanning is a very social pastime and where many lifelong friends are made. Most of the time they are seeing if they know you, have seen you before or are simply just admiring your caravan, so don't take it personally.
But here is a chance to show off your reversing skills. How well do you really know your van? How much help do you need to get it 'just right' and lined up perfectly to the cement slap whilst missing the low tree branches at the back? Does it take you a few go's or can you usually get it right in just one attempt?
The number one argument (or more so 'heated words') between partners when caravanning is usually over something fairly trivial, backing into the camp site! “More, more, more, left, left, back, keep coming.....STOP. Too far!” And the longer the van, the louder you have to yell. You can be heard from the other side of the park... and we ourselves have had many of laughs and giggles at other peoples expense. We are by no means expert reverse parkers either, but I'm sure we laugh just as much at ourselves as others do at us when we make a train wreck out of reverse parking. We have tried our own 'system' to help us make the task of reversing a little less stressful.
Here are our top 5 tips for saving a marriage when it comes to reversing your caravan.
Great communication is the key. Try to establish clear visual and verbal communication with your caravanning partner. The person giving the directions needs to be aware of how effective and useful their instructions and guidance actually are. Use hand signals that wont be confusing and most of all - relax! No need for name calling when your directions are misintrepreted!
Stand where the driver can see you. No point violently waving instructions and hand signals if they are going unseen. I prefer to reverse into site with it on my left (the passenger side, but this is an individual preference) so I can line the wheels up with the slab by looking out the rear left side window. My 'helper' stands at the rear left of the van where I can see her and she can keep an eye on any obstacles either side of the van such as posts, stumps, rocks etc.
Install a reversing camera. These are GREAT. They may take a little time to get used to but from a safety point of view, its nice to see any obstacles behind you and minimises the amount of third party help needed. But a person helping you is always still a good idea when possible.
Use a portable UHF CB. Keep your arguments to yourself. Nice, calm, clear instructions can make for a simple and stress-free reverse park! Ask the driver what information they need. Is it distance, is it the straightness of the van, is it level, is it going to miss low hanging branches? After a while you will get to know the important factors of caravan positioning such as location of caravan door against the slab, allowing for the annexe to be set up and allowing roof clearance for TV antenna, hatch etc.
Get lots of practice. Visit a vacant parking lot with your van. Get used to the 'left is right' and 'right is left' principle of reversing. Use markers and set yourself parking challenges. Get to know your vehicle and become familiar with judging the length of your caravan (usually longer vans are easier but it all come down to you knowing your rig). Take your time and master it. And remember, there is nothing wrong with having several attempts at getting it right. Its an art form, and no one is perfect!
When the stress of an audience watching you in a busy caravan park starts to make you feel frustrated. Forget they are there and take your time. Have a laugh with each other when you get it wrong- after all you're on holidays!
But just remember one annoying thing. That one time when you actually fluke the trickiest of reverse parks first go, is the time that no one will be watching (and you kind of wish they were).
Article and photos by A. Hayden.