Last updated on 4 July, 2023
Women towing caravans should be the norm. If the men can do it, so can we!
It is not unusual for women to be hesitant about towing caravans and for their male counterparts (where there is one) to accept that they are primarily responsible for the towing. Many women often lack confidence in their ability as drivers and believe they don’t have the skills to tow, are fearful of what could go wrong and assume men are better experienced and skilled to do the job.
In reality, only by doing, that is, to drive and tow the caravan, can the necessary confidence and skills be gained.
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- Why Women Should Tow Caravans
- Tips and Information on Towing a Caravan
- Are Caravans Hard to Tow?
- What is the Safest Speed to Tow a Caravan?
- What Licence Do I Need to Tow a Caravan in Australia?
- What is the Legal Speed Limit Towing a Caravan Australia?
- Can You Use Cruise Control When Towing a Caravan?
- What is the Most Economical Speed to Tow a Caravan?
- Do You Have to Use Towing Mirrors When Towing a Caravan?
- How Do You Tow a Caravan for Beginners?
- Tips for Women | How I Learn To Tow a Caravan
- PIN It!
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Why Women Should Tow Caravans
While more women are towing caravans, it is seen as primarily the responsibility of the male driver unless he loses his licence or she is travelling solo. So why should more women tow their caravans?
The first time many women tow is because of an emergency, hardly the ideal situation. It is best to gain as much experience prior so that when in unforeseen circumstances, having to tow unexpectedly does not add more stress.
Shared Responsibility and Equality
Daryl and I are doing our travels around Australia together. It is only fair and reasonable that towing is something we both do. Daryl enjoys driving much more than me, so he does most of it. Although, now I can tow confidently, when I do.
Skill for Life
Learning to tow is a skill. For women who love to travel, it is a skill for life.
Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
Life begins outside our comfort zones, right? We learn more and achieve more by challenging ourselves. Towing a caravan is one way of stepping outside our comfort zone and being pleasantly surprised by what us women can do.
Tips and Information on Towing a Caravan
Are Caravans Hard to Tow?
Towing is not too dissimilar to driving. It is essential to be aware of road conditions, the weather and other hazards. Narrow windy roads, windy weather and in traffic are more challenging for towing than straight country roads on a sunny day.
What is the Safest Speed to Tow a Caravan?
The safest speed to tow a caravan depends on:
- the weight and size of the caravan,
- the tow vehicle, and
- the road conditions.
Generally, it is safest to drive to the conditions and, if necessary, below the speed limit. Also, I have learned to use the advisory speed limits (the yellow speed signs in Australia) to adjust how fast or slow I drive on bendy roads.
What Licence Do I Need to Tow a Caravan in Australia?
In Australia, the licence you need to tow a caravan are:
- If the caravan and towing vehicle have a combined weight of up to 4,500kg, you need a standard car licence (C class).
- If the caravan and towing vehicle has a combined weight of 4,501kg and 7,500kg, you need a Light Rigid (LR) licence.
What is the Legal Speed Limit Towing a Caravan Australia?
The maximum speed limit for a car towing a caravan is 100 km/h in all states except the Northern Territory. The limit is 130 km/h on some sections of the Stuart Highway, but 100 km/h is the recommended speed limit for towing a caravan on all other roads in the NT.
Can You Use Cruise Control When Towing a Caravan?
No law in Australia states cruise control is not to be used when towing a caravan. Generally, however, the concern is cruise control may distract drivers by lessening their awareness of road conditions, hazards and response times.
Our car does not have cruise control, so I cannot comment on ever using it. There have been times on some of Australia’s highways, such as the Stuart in the Northern Territory and crossing the Nullarbour, that I have thought cruise control would be advantageous.
What is the Most Economical Speed to Tow a Caravan?
80 – 90 km/h is the most economical speed to tow a caravan.
When towing a caravan, the faster you drive, the more fuel you consume. Driving too slowly can be dangerous, particularly on motorways and highways, where slower vehicles can cause congestion and accidents.
It is essential to balance fuel efficiency and safety when towing a caravan.
Do You Have to Use Towing Mirrors When Towing a Caravan?
In Australia, the law makes it mandatory:
- that the driver has a clear and unobstructed view of the whole length of the caravan and the road 20 metres behind it, and
- that vehicle has towing mirrors that extend at least 100mm beyond the widest point of the caravan.
How Do You Tow a Caravan for Beginners?
Towing a caravan for beginners can be challenging. It is nerve wracking for many to think about:
- that the caravan is hitched correctly and securely to the tow vehicle,
- how the tow vehicle will respond to having 2 – 4 tonnes behind it,
- the road conditions and all the possible hazards,
- using and adjusting towing mirrors,
- how efficiently and quickly the tow vehicle can stop safely (braking) with the caravan hitched on.
Then there is learning to reverse a caravan.
Towing a caravan for the first time makes most people nervous. However, like learning to drive, with practice and knowledge, it gets easier. It is helpful to have the support and encouragement of others experienced in towing to give guidance and share their expertise.
Do A Caravan Towing Course
Caravan towing courses will skill up any driver to:
- safely hitch and unhitch a caravan,
- confidently drive and maneuver a vehicle while towing a caravan, and
- complete basic maintenance and safety checks.
Taught by experts, a towing course is an excellent way to start.
Tips for Women | How I Learn To Tow a Caravan
Daryl taught me how to tow our caravan. He grew up on a farm driving and reversing trucks and other vehicles long before he got his licence to drive on public roads. So, he was confident he could teach me.
Making The Decision To Give Towing A Go
The decision to learn to tow our caravan came 105 days into travelling around Australia. As someone who suffers from generalised anxiety, I had built towing up in my head to be a monumental task and developed a huge fear I would cause a major accident.
Related read: Travel with Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Anyway, I am a pretty logical, task focused, sensible kind of person and eventually used rational thinking to ascertain that:
- I am a competent, confident driver with a very healthy respect for the road rules and the dangers of the road.
- I understand that my actions on the road can either improve my safety and that of others or not. I always chose to be a safe, respectful driver.
Make the decision to give towing your caravan a go. It turned out not to be as scary or difficult as thought it would be.
Set Some Ground Rules
Daryl and I agreed before I had my first proper go at towing our caravan:
- I only had to tow for as long as I felt comfortable.
- He would be nothing but encouraging.
- I only had to tow the caravan when I wanted to until I had a fair number of caravan towing hours under my belt.
First Tow Your Caravan A Short Distance On A Quiet Road
My first two goes at towing were both under 5 kilometres on quiet roads at a slow speed. Although short, I learnt what it felt like to move off with the extra weight of the caravan, how much pressure the accelerator needed and how much longer it takes to come to a stop.
I also got used to using the towing mirrors and learned how the caravan follows behind. The short tows meant I could stop towing within a short distance before my confidence took any hit.
Build Confidence Towing Over Time
Find somewhere the road is in good condition, not too busy and has a speed limit of 60 km/h or less. As you feel more confident, practice on roads with higher speed limits, more users and varying conditions such being windy, in wet weather and so on. Also, drive for longer each time.
Use Advisory Speed Limits
Until I started towing our caravan, I did not realise how useful the yellow advisory speed signs could be. Often too slow when driving just a car, yellow advisory speed signs are spot on the speeds you should be doing while towing, especially around bends.
The signs significantly reduced how stressed I felt towing initially when I was learning to judge my speed.
So fellow female travellers with a caravan (or a camper trailer), if you are not already, get out and start towing. Take it from me; it is not as hard to learn as you think. If you do not tow your caravan regularly, you will know you can, if the need arises.