How Do You Back Up a Gooseneck Trailer? Tips For Parking a Fifth-Wheel Trailer

By: South Thompson Motors & RV   |   07 May 2024

When it comes to purchasing a travel trailer or camper, one of the biggest deterrents folks have is the daunting task of actually having to park one. Is my vehicle big enough? What’s the optimal degree angle? Is my hitch set up correctly? Will my marriage survive this?! These are all common questions that come up as you familiarize yourself with the world of RVs and get ready to take one out for a spin.

At South Thompson RV, your RV dealership in Kamloops, BC, we’re here to help guide you through the process. In this blog post, we’ll show you just how easy parking a travel trailer can be with the proper techniques in place!

Travel Trailer Towing Basics

Towing Capacity

Whether you’re towing a travel trailer or a fifth-wheeler, it’s always ideal that your vehicle be a hefty one with strong towing capabilities. Always be sure to check your vehicle’s specifications to find out the maximum weight they’re able to carry. Cross-reference this with the weight of your trailer to ensure they’re both in alignment. Fifth-wheel trailers are one of the heaviest types of trailers, with an average empty weight of about 13,000 pounds. The average gross vehicle weight rating for fifth-wheels is around 18,000 pounds, but some are as much as 20,000. In addition, you’ll also want to factor in an extra 1000 to 2000 lbs. for all the stuff you’re likely to store in there for your travel adventures!


When it comes to the hitch, you have three choices:

  1. The rear receiver hitch,

  2. The weight distribution hitch, and

  3. The bumper hitch

Each type of hitch will determine how much weight you can tow. For example, as the name suggests, the weight distribution hitch is best for towing heavier trailers. For fifth-wheelers, it’s important to note that the hitch should be located in the bed of the truck, as opposed to a travel trailer, which would require it to be under your bumper.

Shop Fifth-Wheel Trailers

Tips for Parking a Travel Trailer

Like all things in life, practice makes perfect, so it’s totally okay if you’re not a pro “trailer parker” on your first try.

The Opposite is True

When it comes to parking a trailer, more specifically backing one up, it’s all about geometry. But don’t let that scare you if you’re not a math wiz! The main concept you want to understand is usually the one that causes folks the most frustration. The trick is to turn your wheel in the opposite direction to the way you want the trailer to go. That way, if you turn the wheel to the right, the trailer will go to the left. The best technique to do this is by holding your steering wheel at the base rather than at the top like you normally would. This allows you to trick your mind into thinking your hand is moving to the left, for example, while the wheel is actually turning clockwise to the right! Once you get moving, you want to correct to the other direction to avoid trailer jack-knifing.

The Swoop

Ensure you go super slow and don’t panic or become easily frustrated, as this typically leads to accidents. One technique that can work wonders is the “swoop.” With this method, you drive towards your parking space from an acute angle. Once your vehicle is just at the nose of the spot, swoop away from it until the rear of the trailer is just past the parking spot. The rear of the trailer will be in a perfect position to steer clockwise and back up into the spot.

Cameras and Guides

Other helpful tips include investing in a backup camera for your RV or having a person to help guide you. Both of these options offer an extra pair of eyes and make the process a lot easier! Backup cameras are a great help for backing into tight spaces and typically come pre-installed with most modern RVs. Having a person act as a guide can also be quite helpful. Just don’t let it ruin your marriage! Pro-tip: communicate with each other over the phone to avoid yelling and miscommunication, which is often what leads to more frustration!

Parking RVs Made Simple

At South Thompson RV, we get many first-timers excited to explore our great nation in comfort and style. If you have any questions about parking fifth-wheelers, travel trailers, campers,  etc., our team can always offer helpful tips and advice when you come to check out what’s on the lot! Browse our exciting inventory of all-new fifth wheels and other RVs today! 

Shop Fifth-Wheel Trailers


Contact Us

Leave us a voicemail
or send us a message

Give us a call at (250) 374-4949 or click here to send us a message!

2449 Trans Canada Hwy E, Kamloops, BC V2C 4A9