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Wife helping driving and backing --


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How does your wife help you during RV trips? My wife is a big help when I am driving. She thinks way ahead and warns me about things like lanes that will soon end, highway road signs, speed limit signs, which exit to take, etc. I am not ashamed to admit that I need help at times. (Don't we all?) --- When we have to back into a camp spot, we have "walkie talkies" that we use, which are a huge help. My current wife is "wife" number two --- First wife died in 2___, God rest her soul --- anyway, my current wife knew nothing about RVing when we married. It was a learning process for her. For example, when helping me back into a site, she would often say something like, --- "Now straighten up." It took be awhile to make her understand that I could not really understand what that meant! Was she talking about the trailer or the truck? Finally I said --- "Don't say that! Instead say, --- "Move the rear of the trailer over to the right (or left,)" Now we work much better together! On the subject of backing, our first "RV" was a tent trailer. I am speaking of my first wife now, --- God rest her soul --- Once, somewhere near the West Coast, she was trying to help be back in, and suddenly started waving both arm in an extremely fast and aggressive way!!!!! I stopped and got out and went back and said, -- "_______! What are you trying to tell me?"

To which she answered, --- "NOTHING! A swarm of knats attack me!"

 

I am proud that my wife helps me while driving and during the "set up" process in campgrounds. Four eyes are better than two! And two bodies are better than one, on cold nights!

 

RV on into that bright day, when all campsites are "pull throughs," and where all roads lead to beautiful campgrounds, and when there are no detours because of road construction, and where there are no low hanging limbs over camp sites, and most of all, when RV is made and sold that NEVER HAS A MECHANICAL PROBLEM!!!!!!!

 

C. S.

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We're new to the RVing game - so our individual roles in the team game are still in a state of flux. At this point - I'm the sole driver (we're planning to get to work getting her some behind the wheel time soon). So far, our trips have all been pretty close to home - so there hasn't been any need for a navigator per se. I'm hoping this will change as we start to travel farther and farther into unfamiliar territory - but suspect it may not. (I'm an IT nerd by day ... and very much a techno geek, my wife is a pediatric intensive care nurse who is great with the touchy feely stuff but notoriously tech challenged). She's got lots of say about our destinations and waypoints ... however, I suspect it's likely that I'll continue to do most of the route planning, GPS programming, etc. - simply because I'm good with the tech tools that can help make that stuff easy. I do appreciate her extra set of eyes when we're on the road (she's good about letting me know when there's traffic to our right, helping spot upcoming turns, driveways and the "in close" stuff that is easy to drive past if you're relying on a GPS).

 

We're new but learning at the game of "backing up". I drive - while she takes on the role of spotter. It's new for both of us. We picked up a pair of FRS radios - which help a lot. She's starting to understand what information I need (I need help with what's right behind the coach, the low stuff (i.e., camp site posts!) that are along side the front half the coach and of course what's up high) - and is starting to give me that information in a more meaningful format (i.e., "Come back 3 more feet" as opposed to "back up a little more") ... and I'm starting to feel more comfortable now that I see her looking up and around when I see her in the rear view mirrors. Each "landing" seems to go a little smoother than the one before so we're making progress.

 

After we've "landed" - I take care of leveling the coach and extending the slides - while she stays outside and keeps an eye on the slides as they're extending. We can't store our coach (43') at home - but do pull up in the street in front of our house to take on fresh water, load the refridgerator, hook up the toad, load personal items, etc. I pull up on the "wrong side" of the street (i.e., "roadside" of the coach is against the curb) so that I have easier access to the wet bay .... and so that I can extend the wall slide on the road side of the coach to allow us easier access to the 'fridge, the bedroom storage and the back bath and closet. We're within inches of a couple of big tree limbs when we do - so keeping an eye on the slide (again, with a radio in hand) is a requirement.

 

Once we're parked, leveled and extended - we switch places. I head out of the coach and handle whatever hookups (electrical, water, sewer) are needed ... and she heads into the coach to transition the inside from "travel" mode to "living" mode. We each keep a radio handy - so she can confirm that power is on, water is flowing, etc. - once I've made the connections. I take care of getting the "patio" put together as well ... while she finishes up getting the kitchen switched over to "living" mode. For the weekend trips we've been taking - seems like we're always pulling in near dusk on Friday nights ... and are rushing to a) get done before it's dark and B) get dinner started! We've gotten it to where we need roughly 15 minutes from the time she gets out of the coach to help me back to the point that we're done transitioning from "travel mode" to "living mode".

 

We're not as smooth and comfortable at this as we're going to be - but we're clearly making progress at it!

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No one helps me back up except my wife! Sometimes there will be someone else back there waving their arms, but I just ignore them. Generally all I need is help with the depth, I can spot the fiver pretty well. When we first started out we used walkie-talkies, but now only get them out if we are in a tight or troublesome spot with obstructions on my blind side.

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My wife is an important part of our RV'ing team, with navigation her specialty. I've equipped our coach to make backing into sites a one-man operation in most situations though, so backup help is rarely needed. Between the mirrors and a dual camera rear view setup, I can see everything from the rear bumper back and along both sides. We both handle hooking up or unhooking the toad, making that a quick operation. We've both also spent time learning all aspects of the requirements for RV travel, so if either of us is incapacitated for any reason, the other is capable of filling in as needed, whether it's driving, parking, or hooking up.

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Love my wife dearly, so will take the Fifth Amendment on her help. :wub:

Fortunately I have always had a gift of backing things up well, which really helped when we had our HDT.

I will add that the two way radios work very well....also the wife standing in one spot with a flashlight for a guide marker in the dark.

Cheers,

Bob

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In our crew, I'm the wife responsible for all backing up. DH does more of the actually driving, but since our beginning 15ish years ago it was clear that he should NOT be the one backing us into any space. He's my spotter, but as much as I love him, he's actually not great that. When I get in a tight spot, I always Get Out And Look myself. My very favorite spotter from the time he was about 10 was my younger son. He knew exactly what I needed to know, how to give me information that was useful at the right time and to stay *where I can see him at all times.*

 

This is one of the reasons I've insisted that we hire a driving instructor when we move to a fifth wheeler. I think when we are full timing that we both need to be able to do that and DH will learn better from someone other than me.

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Dennis and Dutch have it worked out with their spouses. Engage them as often and as deeply as possible in all aspects. It really makes it a lot more enjoyable to have another person anticipating, evaluating and making adjustments to your process as you do it.

 

As an IT person, you know there is no such thing as computer illiteracy. It is about developing skills through practice, practice, practice. Knowing everything about a computer has little to do with being able to apply it in appropriate situations and developing the skills make the job easier the more one does it.

 

One thing I have found that helps during this non-intuitive stage of RV movement is to size up the job, then identify the 3 most important things to be concerned about. Then, give no more than 3 specific questions that you need constant answers to as you move the RV. Have the person show visually how much clearance there is with their armspan. Work on this. You will find it one of the most useful ways to get perspective.

 

As an example; say :

  • "I need to know when the back bumper is 'this far'" (show with your hands) from that log/rock/tree/etc.
  • "I need to know as I turn, just how close I am to that pedestal on the blind side" (again, show me).
  • "Watch that tree limb. Let me know how close that (point) corner is getting to it." (again, show me).

And always remember, there is no such thing as too slow. There is no shame in pulling up a few times to reset your angles or approach.

 

Above all, make sure you both have a clear signal for STOP! No matter what may be changing or going wrong. STOP! is always the goto guy. Multimedia is best. Hand signals alone only work if you happen to be looking exactly at her at the right time. A loud shout definitely has a dollar value.

 

And finally, GOAL: Get Out And Look ... as many times and as often as you need to keep your perspective about what is happening overall. Reposition your assistant as needed for a better point of view and whenever possible, have her in your mirrors. You can't see hand signals if you can't see her and Murphy's law says that microphone buttons will not get pushed in at the most critical time. Multimedia communications are always the rule.

 

Above all, have fun learning. You will feel a surprising sense of accomplishment when you guys are able to put it into a tricky spot together. You don't have to be afraid of maneuvering when you develop your cooperative confidence. Not every campground has wide streets and pull-thrus that can be used for runways.

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I am the wife, and prefer backing up on my own than having hubby (who's a brilliant backer) making arm movements in my wing mirror, I can't understand him trying to tell me which way to turn the steering wheel when it's all in reverse motions. I arrive observing the area, partially reverse, stop get out and check around for overhanging limbs, small site signs/rocks, and most importantly any children or people (If solo I will ask someone to watch out nearby for children/people etc and just let me know only if I'm likely to hit something with a halt sign). If all looks clear do it alone with the rear camera monitor on just in case = that's my preferred choice in my own time. If folks around or low hanging limbs or other obstruction I might clip, I'll sternly lecture hubby if with me to not flail his arms around or say anything other than a beckon me back or halt signal depending if I'm clear of an obstruction or to stop. Drives me in sane when he makes those rotational movements with his arms and hands I'm viewing in reverse in the wing mirror = arrrgggh.

 

And ladies, please, please, please make the effort/courage to try and learn some of the systems and driving especially if you are boon docking inclined as we are. You just never ever know when you might need to take control if your partner ever becomes indispose. Appreciate not everyone genuinely can physically, but as much as I don't enjoy driving this 37ft beasty, I'm so glad I can. Same with daughter's horse box or when seadoo on the back of his truck - don't enjoy reversing them, but glad I can by practicing every now and then.

 

Happy Travels.

 

FTWB

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A few months before we went fulltime we attended a session put on by Peggi McDonald (a Canadian) who has written several RVing books. She gave us one of the very best bits of advice that we ever got. She made a number of suggestions about proper communication between two parties when parking an RV, but mostly she told us that we should develop our own methods of communication and signals and once that is done, always use the same methods and words, always do things in the same manner and only park in that way, ignoring all directions from park staff or bystanders.

 

I could tell a few interesting stories that come along due to that rule but we have observed it religiously ever since and it has served us very well. We use FRS radios and if a park employee insists upon directing, Pam stands well behind that person and talks into the radio softly so that I am able to follow her instructions and ignore the "helpful" party. As long as they don't know she is doing it, all goes just fine.

 

In directing, we never say right or left but rather driver's side and passenger side. We have retired Navy friends who use port & starboard and the terms are for the same reason, neither ever changes by where you are standing. The word stop means immediately, while "that's good" or similar term means an ordinary stop.

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Helen can and does do everything. Drive, back, hook, unhook, dump tanks . She is as good as any RV diver anywhere. It makes being on the road a lot easier .She does get some funny looks from guys at times. I find it amusing .

 

My lovely bride does the same thing. After 11 years of FTing....we are amazed of how many women don't drive, etc. It makes no sense to us. Never have figured this one out. We do know a few couples that only the woman drives and the man does nothing, some due to disabilities and some because they can!!!! :lol: rockin'

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I'm the wife who now does all the driving and backing. Oh and the navigating too (Guess its the truckers daughter in me). We used to share and Ron was always the backer with the 5th wheel.

He is a great spotter and once I convinced him to use big arm movements we were good to go

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My DW is the First Officer and in charge of everything except the steering wheel and brakes ( yes she monitors the gas peddle as well). The GPS is mounted on her side as is the TPMS. She handles all the navigation, any change in routes or detours. Warns of upcoming exits, construction, which lane to be in, etc. This makes driving an absolute pleasure for me and allow me to enjoy the views while traveling.

Although she really doesn't like it she is my spotter and does a very good job in getting us into and out of tight parking sites, and we have been in a couple that required multiple consultations between the two of us. This 42 foot tag does not turn as sharp as our previous 36 foot gasser. We have always used hand signals but are thinking of adding our iPhones as well.

Many resorts want there person to guide you into a spot. That's OK and I will follow their instructions but she is typical with them and if something doesn't look right she'll will signal me to stop.

We each have specific setup and take down duties. Same with tow setup. Once ready to go we check each others work; I'll check parking break, transmission in neutral, ignition position. She check pins locked, cables attached, etc. Last she stands back and checks turn signal/brake lights.

All in all, it is a team approach that makes this traveling life style enjoyable. I rely on here directions so much now that I'd be hard pressed to find my way out of the camp ground.

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Because my wife has eye problems I do all of the driving and parking. She can still see and drives in the city but has depth perception problems on the hiway so wont drive on the hiway at all.

That said .....I Do all the parking as well with her spotting me if its a back in site. If the park employee wants to spot me its ok because I have already looked at the site and know exactly where I want to go so It works out. Between my rear camera and big mirrors I pretty much know what is going on and usually get out and look before I consider it parked.

After we are parked and leveled....a MH is so easy.....if the site is level I just dump the air and we are done. Then she sets up the inside and I set up the outside, she usually waits for me to finish outside and then deploys the slides...takes about 15 minutes total and its time for a beer.

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I guess we are bucking the trend. I have slowly become disabled over the past 9 years we have been full timing. I no longer have the stamina needed to spend all day driving. As a result, my wife, who drove transit buses, assumed the driving duties and I assumed the navigator duties.

 

I now watch the GPS, keep her in the proper lane in high traffic situations, advise her on where the next rest stop is, and pour her coffee. When we are on long drives on the interstate, I take a nap.

 

Upon arrival, I also do the spotting while she backs in. We have always used radios and well developedphrases. It is now just a matter of which person is driving and which person is spotting.

 

On my very first “spotting” job, I was backing her in, on a lake front site. I had positioned myself at the power/water pedestal and was leaning on it. As she backed in she said, by radio: “How far is the water?” She wanted to know how far to back up so that the hose would reach the trailer.

 

I was looking at the lake, which my wife could see in the mirror, thinking “What does she want to know where the lake is and how far away is it?” Finally my wife radioed back:” NO, the DRINKING water hookup.” (You know, the one I was blocking from her view by leaning on it.) The big light bulb above my head went off.

 

Now it is a private joke. Often, I will look at my wife and say: “Where’s the water?”

 

I have watched her back me into sites for 9 years, and thought I knew what the job was, but until I actually did it, I certainly did not know the details!! Like where’s the water?

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My wife does most of the driving as well. I have to beg her to let me drive. We have done mostly pull thrus with occasional back an forth jockying to get set up in the right spot. We've done a few back-ins which she has been the one to do it. I get to practice when we take the 5th wheel back to storage and have to back in. I don't mind that she loves to do the driving.

 

After we position the RV I'm in charge of leveling. she helps me with the power cord and I take care of the water and sewage. We like to get all of the outside amenities set up before we set the inside up. It is so nice to have someone that shares all of the joys of rving including setting up and tearing down. It makes it so much enjoyable for the both of us.

 

She also gets lots of looks towing our 37 footer. We went to Spring Training in Arizona this past March from Norcal and on the way home we stopped at an RV park in Bakersfield for the night and after we got all set up the nice guy next to us introduced himself and said he was going to send his wife over to learn from my wife.

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I'll shift the discussion slightly. As a woman driving, backing up or whatever, I'm wondering if I'm the only one who has had the experience of someone insisting that they know better than I how to handle my trailer. I'm not talking about the occasional campground where they insist on helping with the back in, but more like the guy on the ferry who reached in my window and jerked my wheel in a way that I knew would put my rig at a serious risk of damage. It hasn't happened often, but it's never happened to my husband despite the fact that at times in our travels I have had way more experience managing our set up than he has. Am I the only one?

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Hear you NJTroy, but fortunately they didn't get their hands actually in our cab.

 

Hubby went down to an area in Santa Cruz over 16 years ago with our 36ft 5er at the time, and it drove him crazy all the interference immediately from others at the bottom when he realized he couldn't turn around - he just wanted to be left to his own devices and me walking behind outside to reverse quite a ways back - first they started on me telling me to tell my husband this and that and ........... Two different guys told him to jump out and let them reverse it for him = we don't think so! We were admittedly only second year vacationers at the time, but nonetheless he is really skilled at backing up from farming tractors and trailers over years prior, if people just shut up and leave him alone unless asked otherwise - I just always like to be outside walking the route so he can see me in his wing mirror just as an extra precautionary in case some kiddie runs out or otherwise = we don't trust parents to control their kids or pets, even themselves at times, in this day and age!! My paranoia but not unfounded seeing a child killed by his father (my cousin) reversing a farm tractor and trailer back in the 70's.

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i went through a full CDL school for 2 months in 2004 just to get in the practice and build the muscle memories on someone else's equipment. When Merrily retired in 2011, she did the same for the same reason. She drives about 1/3 as much as I do but that is more about where we are and what kinds of roads than about anything she lacks. She is just more comfortable if I handle it and I don't mind but she would in a heartbeat if necessary.

 

One thing we both came out of the school with was the ability to climb into a truck and be comfortable with whatever we had to do with it. That was something that I expected would take a lot of miles to reach, if ever. Even now, after sitting for 6 months in one spot, getting into the truck and moving it for whatever reason still surprises me just how comfortable it is to do that.

 

Once we both do everything, each just falls into a pattern of prepping or cleaning up or changing things to make it easier for the other one to do what comes next. An example is when loading or unloading the Smart car from the bed of the truck. We both get started, often she is getting out the tie down straps and winches, the ramp bolts and chocks while I am getting the ramps. She helps me carry them into place, bolt them onto the truck, move the Smart into an initial position. I always drive it up/down the ramps just because it is done so seldomly, someone needs to build an expert level of experience doing it to keep the risks of oversight out of the process.

 

I have done it all by myself a few times, too, but that is the only time I actually used my treefinder (ladder) on the back of the RV while backing.

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We've always shared everything - driving, planning, navigation, parking and dumping the tanks!

 

X2.

 

There have been times in our 20+ years of motorhoming when one or the other of us has been incapacitated and the other took care of EVERYTHING.

 

I was down for about 2 years and we still traveled about 8,000 miles with Marie doing it all while I just sat.

 

Dave O

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