How to Tow a Boat Behind a Travel Trailer

by Nicole Vulcan
Consider your boat's trailer weight as well as the boat's weight when determining your GVW.

Consider your boat's trailer weight as well as the boat's weight when determining your GVW.

Towing a boat behind a travel trailer is not for the faint of heart. While driving, you need to be constantly vigilant about the safety of your rig and the driving conditions. A few states, such as Georgia and South Carolina, don't allow double trailers at all, while others recommend you take special safety courses before you attempt the feat. If you're ready for the challenge, be sure to take the proper steps to ensure that you're doing the right thing.

Check the laws in your state regarding the length of your combined trailers, driver's license requirements and whether your trailer must be equipped with any particular safety features. Your state's Department of Motor Vehicles is the best resource for such information, but you can get a rough idea by checking out Towing World's "Towing Laws Listed by State" web page.

Assess the towing capacity of your towing vehicle to ensure it can handle the weight of both your travel trailer and your boat. To do this, you'll need to know the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of your travel trailer and your boat's trailer and boat, which you can typically find in the owner's manual of each vehicle or trailer. Add each GVW together to get a combined GVW. Then consult your towing vehicle's owner's manual to determine its towing capacity. Most RV experts recommend that you tow no more than 80 percent of your towing vehicle's towing capacity. For example, if your vehicle's towing capacity is listed at 1,000 pounds, don't tow more than 800 pounds on a regular basis.

Prep your travel trailer for towing. This includes adding a tow package to the rear of the travel trailer. Have your tow hitch professionally installed so the tow hitch is welded to the travel trailer's chassis. Also have your travel trailer's brakes checked and maintained. If your travel trailer does not have its own braking system, you may not be able to use it to tow your boat, so have a system installed.

Check and top off all fluids in your towing vehicle, to ensure optimum function. Have your towing vehicle serviced according to its manufacturer's schedule. Especially important is adequate tire pressure for your towing vehicle, travel trailer and boat trailer, so if you have a tire that seems to get low quite often, consider replacing it.

Connect your chain of vehicles, taking care to follow manufacturer's instructions for proper hookup. Check all lights to ensure they're working and properly installed.

Map out your route before you go. Roads may be undergoing construction or have weight limits that would keep a triple-trailer from traveling on them, so be sure to take this important step before setting out on the road. Also check on gas stations and RV parks that have pull-through capabilities, since you won't be able to back up your triple trailer. The best place to check on current road conditions is with your state's Department of Transportation.

Tip

  • Practice driving your rig before you head out on the road. Find an open parking lot and use cones to practice turning and stopping your vehicle. Make sure all drivers have adequate skills before embarking on your trip.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

Photo Credits

  • parking remorques à bateaux image by Unclesam from Fotolia.com