There are a lot of right ways to level a travel trailer. Many of the ways listed simply evolved out of necessity by boondocking on government land.
Bottom line, whatever you do to make your trailer level is fine pending the outcome is a level RV.
We wanted to sum up some methods that may help expedite the leveling process for you. The following six leveling methods have served us well in our travels (and still do).
Check out the video for clear explanations.
- Establish definitive hand signals between the driver and copilot.
- Don’t be afraid to maneuver the trailer around the site to find level ground.
- When facing uphill, roll back on the Anderson levelers.
- When facing downhill, roll forward onto the Anderson levelers.
- Dig a trough or ditch under the wheels on the high side.
- Before uncoupling, place your tow vehicle in neutral briefly to release the tension.
Hand signals may not level a travel trailer, but they are important in getting into camping sites without spousal/partner carnage.
Campgrounds are one thing, but BLM and National Forest land are a completely different animal. They’re far less level and require a lot of manipulation.
And good hand signals can speed up the process of finding the most level spot within a site. It doesn’t matter what the signals are, only that they are defined and agreed upon.
Why not use a cell phone? Well, yes use a phone if you have a signal. But most of the great spots we find have no signal or very poor signal. Our weBoost helps, but it’s useless outside the rig.
This is the part where hand signals work so well. It can save a lit of time by just moving the trailer around the site to find the most level spot.
This may seem obvious, but with so may things to consider when pulling into a site, it’s often overlooked.
In fact, we frequently forgot early on and did more work than we needed to do. Having bubble levels mounted to the outside of your trailer can also make a big difference with this particular tip.
This only applies if you’re using a “roll up on” leveling device that changes the degree of lift by going forward or backwards. We happen to use Anderson levelers, which work great for our travel trailer.
They don’t work for all trailers, so research before buying if you decide to go down that path.
Nonetheless, if the front of your trailer is facing uphill, set the levelers behind the tires on the side that requires elevating and roll back onto them. In essence, this acts like a chock, preventing backward roll.
As importantly, it relieves some of the pressure on the tongue jack. Any directional force that is large on the tongue jack increase your chances of the tongue jack slipping off its base.
Now let’s look at the opposite situation. If the front of your trailer is facing downhill, set the levelers in front of the tires and roll up on them by pulling forward.
Again, this acts like a chock preventing forward roll. This releases the tension on the tongue jack as well.
Even though this makes perfect sense, when we started, we still got it wrong on occasion. Why, many of the times that we arrived at a site, we had been driving for many hours. This translates into fatigue, which is where mistakes happen.
Again, a no brainer. But often forgotten after we worked hard to elevate one side on soft ground. So, travel with a small shovel for digging a trough under the elevated side.
It doesn’t take a very deep trench most of the time, so keep it shallow and test. That way you can pull out of the trough and dig dog out or add the appropriate amount of soil.
All of this said, if you are parked on a slope, use a combination of the Anderson levelers and a shallow trough. This is to help minimize the constant force on the tongue jack.
In other words, the trailer wants to stay in one place.
This brings me to the last suggestion. When you drop your tongue jack with your emergency brakes applied, sometimes there’s still force on the tongue jack. This can cause the coupler to get hung up on the hitch ball and then drop once the force is overcome.
It can be scary and sometimes move the jack off the base. We experienced this when we first started and then had to figure out how to get the coupler high enough to reach the hitch ball.
You can watch that in our first video titled “It Fell.” The video quality is subpar, but it delivers a clear message.
So, before jacking the coupler off the hitch ball, take a moment to release the emergency brake with your foot on the brake and shift to neutral. Then reapply the emergency brake and shift to park.
This relieves any pressure on the hitch ball and generally allows for a smooth lift off the hitch ball. It’s a lot less scary and worth the thirty seconds required.
Final Thoughts on Leveling A Travel Trailer
It’s worth the effort to memorize these tips to make sure you make it easier during stressful times. And yes, many people are stressed after a long day of driving and getting into a difficult site.
Simply practicing these methods just a few times will make finding and leveling a site a total breeze.
Do you have any leveling tips to add?
Happy and safe travels!