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“Backing Up an RV” Learner’s Kit: Everything You Need

| Updated Nov 25, 2023

Backing up an RV, whether it’s a motorhome or travel trailer, can be really intimidating and frustrating at first. So here’s a Learner Kit with things that will help you park like a pro…

If you ask a newbie RVer what they’re most concerned about, they’ll likely say backing up their RV. This is especially true for Class A and travel trailer owners, though it’s a common concern for all RVers.

The topic even came up in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group recently and it made me realize I should offer more advice on our blog. I started by compiling the FB member’s suggestions into an article called RV Pro Tips: How to Back Up a Travel Trailer

While writing that article, I realized they recommended several items that would make a great “Backing Up an RV Learner’s Kit.” So, I’ve now compiled those items into the following list. 

Backing Up an RV Learner’s Kit

Jennifer and I have driven Class B campervans and Class B+ for the past 10 years, so backing up hasn’t been much of a concern. However, we recently purchased a 5th wheel that we’re slowly getting used to, and that includes backing it up.

So, I think this list is as much for me as it is for you! You don't need all of the following, but at least 2 or more would help a lot!

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

1. Backup Buddy

photo of Jennifer using 2 way radio for rv handheld to drect Mike as he backs into a space - Backing Up an RV
Jennifer helping to direct Mike as he backs into a camping space

If you plan to travel with someone a lot, bring that someone with you to practice. My Backup Buddy is Jennifer and yours might be your spouse, too. But a friend or even one of your kids can be your Backup Buddy, as long as they're mature enough (and I don’t just mean your kid).

Establish hand signals that your Backup Buddy will use to communicate with you. Usually, a raised open hand means “keep on coming” and then a raised fist means “stop!” Some people will hold their hands closer and closer together as you back up to show you how much room you have left before you stop.

Whatever signals you use, just make sure you’re on the same page before you start practicing. 

2. Orange Cones

Did your parent ever take you to an empty parking lot when you were a teenager to teach you how to drive? Well, it’s time to take yourself when you start RVing. 

When practicing backing up an RV in an empty parking lot, it’s best to set up orange cones as a pretend campsite. Give yourself a break and start off with a wide “campsite” and then slowly bring the cones closer and closer together to mimic tight spaces. 

You could simply practice over and over again with these cones, but there are other things to make it even easier…

3. Walkie-Talkies

Photo of Midland Walkie Talkies - Best RV Products for Backing Up an RV
Midland Walkie Talkies – Best RV Products

One of the most frustrating things about backing up an RV is not being able to see or hear your Backup Buddy. Some people solve this problem by using their cell phones to communicate, but as you’ll learn, cell service is often very sketchy in campgrounds.

The better alternative, I think, are walkie talkies. And really, I think every RVer should always have walkie-talkies on hand. They’re even on my list of 10 Best Hiking Gear to Keep You Safe.

Walkie-talkies will not only save you from having to scream at each other but can also keep your Backup Buddy and RV safe. You don’t want bad cell reception or not being able to hear them result in driving into something, especially if that something is your buddy!

4. RV Back-Up Camera

Even with the best of mirrors and a trusty Backup Buddy, a backup camera really comes in handy. For those who travel alone, it’ll especially make backing up an RV much easier and your camping experience more enjoyable.

With an RV backup camera, you don’t have to rely solely on a Backup Buddy or an overly helpful campground neighbor. Nor do you need to keep getting in and out of your rig to check your positioning and proximity to things.

This particular model monitors up to 4 cameras from a single screen, split-screen, and even a 4-split screen. That means you can buy additional cameras to use with one monitor. You can even attach the cameras to different vehicles and just take your monitor with you.

The monitor comes with two mounting options. The heavy-duty camera is durable and easy to mount, too. The camera bracket is adjustable to any angle. 

5. Wireless RV Parking Sensor

This is a more affordable option than the backup camera. Instead of seeing how close you are, this sensor audibly and visually alerts you. It beeps to warn you when an object is behind you. It also has a progressive light display that turns from green to red as you grow closer. If that’s not enough, it also displays the distance between the sensors and the detected objects.

The system has a wireless option, so you don’t have to worry about running a line to your cab and can use it with travel trailers. Be sure to select the wireless kit as a wired kit will not work for RVs! The kit comes with a drill bit to drill holes in your bumper to insert the sensors. 

Tips for Backing Up an RV

All of the above tools will help you learn to back up an RV as well as aid you as you continue backing up an RV throughout your travels. But none of them tell you how to back up an RV. For that, I recommend watching YouTube videos about backing up your particular kind of rig.

Backing up a travel trailer is very different than backing up a motorhome, and backing up a Class A is very different than backing up a Class B or C. Even backing up a travel trailer vs 5th wheel is different. So, be sure to search for video tutorials for reversing your type of RV.

The one tip I will give you directly, though, is to practice, practice, practice. No matter how bad you are at backing up an RV at first, you will get better IF you give yourself the chance and practice.

How to Build Confidence Driving an RV

Jenn driving RV

Trying to give you specific RV driving tips would be difficult (and even bordering irresponsible) without knowing what class or type of RV you have. Driving a 5th wheel, for instance, is very different than driving a Class A.

The purpose of this article is to give RV driving tips that EVERY RVer can apply. Then you can take these tips and dig deeper with your specific type of RV. KEEP READING…

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-11-25

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

4 Responses to ““Backing Up an RV” Learner’s Kit: Everything You Need”

November 25, 2023at6:48 am, Les Croland said:

How about providing a video of you backing up your Fifth Wheel into a camping space.


June 10, 2022at10:26 am, John Sutjak said:

Oh, and the backup buddy and micro phones are really helpful. I am looking into adding a backup camera, but have not decided on one yet. I do like the parking sensors, may get them just as another helpful safety feature. Have not seen them advertised before.


June 10, 2022at10:22 am, John Sutjak said:

Can’t agree more with the practice, practice, practice. I have cut up several 2×6’s, into 6×6 blocks and longer sizes to use for leveling the trailer. I painted these orange so it is not so easy to leave them at the camp site. These also help when practicing backing up and actually backing up. I can use them to mark my practice site or the path into the campsite. I also have a yellow tow strap, about 10 foot long, that can be used to mark the line in the campsite you want to back up along or to.


June 11, 2022at10:43 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

This sounds like an excellent way to practice – thank you for sharing! Team RV Lifestyle


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