Here’ll you find 7 things that we’ve found that make hitching up a caravan easier.
They’re definitely things that’ve reduced stress in our relationship!
There’s some things that help improve communication with your better half…
…or just make it easier to do by yourself.
Here we go:
1. Use your mobile phone or handheld UHF to make it easier to hear each other
One of you is outside (towards the rear of the car)…
…the other inside the car (with the engine going).
You have to speak louder than usual (and it sounds like you’re yelling at each other)
That’s how arguments can start.
A delay in communication.
One day we had an ‘uh huh’ moment. We thought:
Why not just use our mobile phone in the car (on handsfree)?
So we started with one of us outside speaking calmly into the phone… the other inside the car being able to hear through Bluetooth.
When our little boy got some handheld UHFs for Christmas, we realised these ‘spoke’ to the UHF in our car too.
Now we just ‘borrow’ one off him.
2. Work out some short, clear and simple ‘catch words’
Does this sound familiar:
“A bit to the right… no, the other right! Go. No, not forward, back”
So we started using some simple words.
Words that we both know EXACTLY what they mean.
This made made hitching up our van A LOT easier.
Use whatever you like, but we stick to:
- Right hand down
- Left hand down
Short, sharp, and shiny.
This works even better if you combine it with some non-verbal communication…
3. Use hand signals to show how far there is to go
“Back, back, back, more back… stop! Back a bit more… Stop! Forward… too much. Back… stop! That’s it”
Instead, we always make sure we can see each other in our mirrors.
Whoever’s guiding holds up their hands [like they’re about to clap]:
This shows how far there is to go.
Hands 30 cm apart means there’s 30 cm to go.
As the tow ball gets closer, the hands do too…
When they touch, that means ‘STOP’
Simple, but very effective.
You’ll end up over the tow ball, first time, every time.
And, rather than be a stressful thing:
Both clearly communicating with each other to achieve something that’s usually a stressful situation… first go, with no fuss?
Funnily enough, it can make hitching up your caravan a bit of a bonding experience!
Or maybe that’s just me.
4. The person who isn’t as good at reversing… should be the one to reverse
Here’s the deal:
Someone who’s good at reversing has a good understanding of how “a little right hand down” affects the tail end of the car
(or trailer for that matter)
But if they’re behind the steering wheel, and not getting the clearest instructions?
It can lead to some interesting conversations.
The person who isn’t as good at reversing should be the one in the driver’s seat.
Virtually everyone who has a license can respond to the directions of the guide.
[the guiding is actually the hard part]
So why not switch it up.
An added bonus is that it not only gets rid of the stress of the situation…
…but it can be uplifting for someone who isn’t a confident reverser to know that they hitched up the caravan easily. On the first go.
Seriously, give this one a go.
5. Use a reversing camera
To be honest:
Installing a reversing camera should be number 1 on this list.
They definitely make hitching up your caravan easier.
A reversing camera makes it so easy it’s almost fool proof.
Now, I know that not all cars come equipped with a reversing camera…
But a simple one is dirt cheap these days
These ones are simple to install, anyone could do it.
[even if you don’t consider yourself a ‘handy’ person]
You can even get wireless reversing cameras that require no installation (although a decent one of these costs a bit more).
Worth it… and not just for hitching up your caravan.
The reversing camera (and the handheld UHFs) are part of the 33 Most Popular Caravan Accessories for Travelling Australia 
6. Work out the specific height your jockey wheel needs to be before you start reversing
Where’s your caravan parked at the moment?
On the flat, facing downhill, or facing uphill?
The point is:
Your caravan hitch is quite often at different heights.
So you get in the car, reverse back, and…
- It’s too low. You have to stop, wind it up, then go again.
- Or, it’s too high. You stop… and when you wind it down you find that the tow ball is no longer lined up perfectly.
[shearing the hitch down onto the tow ball is never a good thing]
One day I realised that the bottom edge of my caravan hitch needs to be EXACTLY at the base of my knee cap.
When I reverse back, the tow ball just slips under snugly.
Then, when the jockey wheel is wound down, it sits on it perfectly.
7. Instead of reversing… bring your caravan to your car
If you have a Trail-A-Mate you can skip this part.
Still using a normal jockey wheel?
Then here’s something to consider:
You can replace your current jockey wheel (pretty cheaply) for a ratchet jockey wheel.
This type of caravan mover will only set you back about $130 for a good one (the Alko Power Mover)
[if you’ve got a big caravan, a heavy duty one like the one in the video costs a bit more]
Not only that, they stay on your caravan like a normal jockey wheel.
But the cool thing?
You use the handle to ratchet the caravan forward onto the car.
You just need to reverse the car back into the general vicinity of the caravan…
…then the ratchet mover will definitely make hitching up your caravan easier.
[These ones are light too, about the same as your standard jockey wheel]
It wouldn’t be my first choice to go for a caravan mover if it’s just to make hitching up easier.
That is, unless you need a caravan mover anyway (if you store your caravan in a really tight spot at home)
Then you might want to check out: Best Caravan Mover in Australia [2019 Review]
Your turn: How do you make hitching up your caravan easier?
These are things that have helped us:
Our go-to is set the jockey wheel to the right height, then use the reversing camera.
We have had some reversing camera issues though after a bit of 4WD’ing…
…so then we use a UHF with clear and simple communication, helped by a handheld UHF.
What about you?
What’s your number one tip to making hitching up your caravan easier?