Sep 052015

I’m not a subtle kind of guy. If you want to give me a message, sometimes you have to hit me between the eyes with a 2×4 to get my attention first. So if you want to tell me where to go, don’t give me the finger, go all the way and give me the whole arm!

After 16 years of fulltime RVing, Miss Terry and I pretty much have this down to a science. One thing that we always get comments on is how easy we make it look when we back into an RV site. Most of the time we can get the job done on the first attempt, even in tight spaces. More than once our campground neighbors have complimented Terry on the good job she did directing me into our site.

It all comes down to clear hand signals that we both understand. How many times have you been in a campground and watched your neighbors attempt to park and get frustrated and end up in a screaming match? Or, try over and over, before they finally get the job done? If the driver and the ground guide agree on hand signals ahead of time and use them, it makes life a lot easier.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the ground guide using signals like this to indicate which direction the RV should be going.

Bad right small

Now, put yourself in the RV driver’s seat and imagine seeing that from 40 or 50 feet away in a mirror! It looks something like this, at best.

Bad right far small

Ground guides, stop giving your drivers the finger! Arms are a lot bigger than fingers and a lot easier to see. If you’re backing up an RV and your ground guide wants you to go left, which is easier to see? This?

Bad left small

Or this?

Good left small

How about when you’re backing up and need to stop? Which is easier to see in your rearview mirror? This?


Or this?

Good stop far small

These are the signals that Terry and I use for go left, go right, come straight back, and stop.

Good left small

Good Right small

Good straight small

Good stop small

And ground guides, you must be in a position where the driver can see you at all times. Likewise, drivers, if the ground guide moves out of your line of vision, stop immediately and wait until you can see them again. If you are the ground guide and see an obstruction, or there is something you need to investigate, give the driver the signal to stop and go do it, and then return to where he or she can see you.

Where’s the best place for the ground guide to be? If you position yourself where you want the left rear (driver-side) corner of the RV to be when parked, you make life easier for both yourself and the driver.

One final word of advice for ground guides; you must be looking in all directions when guiding an RV into a campsite. Are there tree limbs that the RV is getting too close to? Is there an obstruction in the ground? Did somebody’s kid or dog wander too close? When in doubt, give the stop signal and make sure it is safe to proceed.

And drivers; as they drilled into us over and over during Army basic training, obey the last command first! If your ground guide gave you the stop signal, do not take your foot off the brake and move one inch until they have returned to your line of vision and given you the signal to continue.

There’s a lot more that goes into parking, including knowing the pivot point of your RV, being aware of the RV’s height, and proper mirror alignment. But just knowing and using good, clear, easy to see hand signals will make your life a lot easier, and parking your RV a lot safer.

So far, over 245 readers have entered our latest Free Drawing for an autographed copy of Miss Terry’s Kitchen. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.


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And if you have kids or grandkids who enjoy story time, read them Nan Sweet’s Fierce Winds and Fiery Dragons, the first book in her Dusky Hollows children’s series. It’s currently free on Amazon.

Thought For The Day – Every path to a new understanding begins with confusion.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  13 Responses to “Don’t Give Me The Finger!”

  1. Well blow me down !!!!! What a great description of how to assist a driver in maneuvers into the correct and safe position…really well documented with clear pic’s ….well done

  2. I had a bad experience yesterday that I blogged about. It was so tight I had to bring the mirrors in to get by trees. There’s a photo of the end of the ordeal on the blog. I had to depend on my spotters.

  3. I got the biggest kick out of reading this! I couldn’t help but click on the title, wondering who’d done what in the RV world to merit the finger. Totally unexpected, and totally cool!

  4. Thanks for the mention, and the tips, too. If I ever go RVing, or for that matter have to park any kind of trailer, or help to do so, I’ll remember these tips.

  5. Exactly! Keep it simple and make it clear. Works everytime.

  6. This is great and although we have a working system, I will be adding your whole arm signals when we pull into our next park. Our system is to use our cell phones. It’s eliminated frantically trying to stay in the driver’s direct line of sight when there are multiple things to keep track of, such as when he’s backing into a tight spot from the right.

  7. Yeah but what do you do about a wife who won’t get out of her seat to guide you in? She says that way if I hit something its my fault not hers.

  8. Great blog, love the visual on Terry’s hand signals. I can attest to how easy you both making getting into a site.

  9. Lee, if your wife won’t get out of the coach to help you, if you do hit something, it will be entirely HER fault!!! How can it not be? If she were there guiding you, it wouldn’t have happened!! For Nick and I, we live most things as a team effort, doing what it takes to make life safe AND enjoyable! I hope your travels are safe anyway.

  10. We’ve had our RV for about 6 months and have just started full time (26 days, so far). Our great plans almost came to a geinding halt over the backup and maneuvering directions until we worked out the signals. They are almost exactly like your except for the overhead stop. Once we got that sorted, it made our RVing life MUCH better, calmer and less stressful.

    your article gives great explanations … As with most of your posts. I love reading them – you’ve been and inspiration and affirmation that we CAN actually do this! Thanks.

  11. Nick and Terry, this is brilliant! Love the photos. May I share this on a women’s’ RV Facebook group? Thanks!


  12. My wife and I use walkie-talkies. There are instances where backing from the “blind side” (right) that the hand signals are not visible to the driver. She tells me where the rear of the rv needs to be. If I don’t here her voice command for approx three seconds I stop backing. This works for us. I just love the camp assistants that try to help by signaling which way to turn the wheel!

  13. I just can’t seem to train Emma to use those hand signals! 😉

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