Tuesday, September 27, 2022


Motorhome brake dancing — Parking the RV


Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
Maybe you can help solve this constant problem my wife and I have every time we park our rig. It’s a little embarrassing but I know many other people suffer from the same situation. We both drive our motorhome, we both take turns dumping the septic, we both know how to troubleshoot all the appliances. We are a great team.

The problem is, she thinks she’s an expert at backing up and parking the rig. She is always telling others that I’m terrible at it. The fact is, I just give better signals than she does. I can get behind the motorhome and maneuver her right into the tightest spots with good hand signals. When I’m driving, I can’t even see her in the mirrors. She is usually in a blind spot behind the rig, flapping her hands and her gums. While she’s back there dancing around I can’t see or hear her. We have discussed this problem a million times, but I still can’t get it through to her where to stand and what signals I need. Any help would be greatly appreciated. —Brake Dancing in Denver

Dear Brake:
This is a huge problem. I hear this constantly. If you look around the campground as people arrive you will see this scenario played out time and again. Couples seem to get frustrated with each other when trying to work together to park, especially in tight spaces.

I suggest patience. Armed with that I suggest a couple props. The first is very important — an oven mitt. Yes, you heard me right. This is most important. If the person behind the rig giving parking signals wears an oven mitt there are certain signals that will not be able to be seen no matter how frustrated that person becomes. This can go a long way toward keeping the peace until the rig finally gets parked.

Another piece of equipment that comes in handy is a cheap pair of walkie-talkie’s. You can often find them at secondhand stores for a few bucks.

Another problem I see, in a majority of parking conflict cases, is over politeness. Not between the couple but with blocking traffic. Don’t worry about blocking the road or holding up another camper. We are all in the same boat (land yacht). They don’t mind waiting for you to take your time and get parked properly. Just don’t let them help you. Remember, they don’t have anything invested. Your spouse is going to make sure you don’t impale your rig on some hidden branch, but a bystander may not be as concerned.

The next time you park the rig make a conscious effort to hold your tongue. Remember, it’s in a slippery spot. Make a pact: No fighting over parking. Watch others and see just how silly it is, then put yourself in that picture. Your parking motto should be, “I’ll watch your back-up, you watch mine.” —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.



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Richard Callander
5 years ago

We used to use walkie talkies, but couldn’t ever remember to charge em up. Now we just use cell phones. And the rule is ALWAYS, if driver can’t see director, then STOP and wait until director moves into view. We always use hand signals for which way the back end should move, or how much distance is left. Hardly ever speak a word, and it works great. But it should, since we’ve been doing it together for 30 years!

Lisa Adcox
5 years ago

We use driver’s side ,passenger side instead it right and left. Helps a lot. Plus walkie talkies are a lifesaver.

5 years ago

Me too on where to get a “$20.00 WiFi Pan Tilt Cam??
Couples giving & receiving back-up directions is always interesting to watch.
One thing that seems to be overlooked most often tho’ is watching for low branches, even the thin ones can mar a paint job.

5 years ago


Marcel Ethier
5 years ago

I really don’t see a problem. You give good signals which your wife uses to back in the MH. I would leave it that way.

5 years ago
Reply to  Marcel Ethier

Except she insists in degrading and insulting her husband to others, I would not stand for it. Not for one minute. Loving couples do not do that – EVER.

Bob Godfrey
5 years ago

My wife always stays in view in my side mirrors and if I cannot see her I stop the motorhome and wait, that way I shouldn’t be able to do any damage.

Gene Bjerke
5 years ago

Instead of walkie talkies we use our cell phones. She (the guider) calls me (the driver). I have my phone mounted on the dash and on speaker. She can talk normally and I can hear fine. Works.

5 years ago

If her parking and you giving directions, concede and let her do it. As for hearing, we use the backup camera which comes through loud and clear.

5 years ago

Understand one anothers understandings… My wife has no idea how to back a trailer, so I tell her STAND HERE and TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT THE TRAILER TO DO. This avoids her own confusing of her right/left hands combining with which way the tail swings, which way the truck steers, and which way my nose swings. Just convey “make it end up drifted left 3 feet, and turned diagonnaly towards the right more” and I know what to maneuver to arrive where I can’t see.

That all said, a $20 WiFi pan-tilt camera is a lifesaver, especially if parking alone. People are shocked when a crewcab backs a 35′ trailer in one shot.

Allen Walker
5 years ago
Reply to  Wolfe

This sounds like a great solution for me! Where can I buy $20 wi-fi pan/tilt cam?

5 years ago

I’m one of those people who right and left doesn’t come quickly. So I am the one who gives “directions” when backing in our MH. Instead of saying left or right I give directions by using my hand and twirling the way my husband needs to turn the wheels. People have watched us and most of the time I don’t really say much of anything. Twirling my hand and a few stop signs and we’re in our spot. Anyone need a pair of walkie talkies? Lol

5 years ago

We use walkie-talkie’s. I try to stay within sight range but it’s not always possible. The biggest problem we had at the beginning was just getting the DH to do what he’s told (insert appropriate editorial comment here). Solved that when we had to back a tag coach down a long 11′ driveway with lots of curves and steep drops on both sides. When the back end is hanging over air you have to learn to trust your partner to keep you on the pavement. Get the wilkie-talkie’s. It’s worth the investment into a decent set.

5 years ago

Men give directions differently than women. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.

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