RVing is supposed to be fun. And some simple campground etiquette helps
to keep it that way for everyone. If you are starting out or need a
refresher, here are 10 tips on minding your camping manners to make your
- Follow the rules:
Individual parks usually hand you a copy of their rules when you
register. Adhering to these rules is one of the basics of campground
etiquette. It makes things easier for everyone involved – you, your
neighbors and the park operators. Typical guidelines include reduced
speed limits on campground roads for the safety of all involved. You
are typically expected to unhook a dinghy before driving to your site.
There are usually defined quiet hours when you should keep the noise
down, turn off outdoor lights, generators – basically, the party is
- Eliminate pet peeves:
Literally. Pick up after your pets. Stop excessive or extended
barking. Don’t leave a howling dog unattended to bother the neighbors.
Use a leash. Even if Spot is friendly, not everyone is an animal lover.
Good pet-etiquette on your part helps ensure that the many RVers with
pets are welcome at campgrounds.
- Parking the rig:
Sometimes it is very clear how to orient the rig on a site – you may
even have a cement pad. But in many cases, the only guidepost will be
the hookup for electric and sewer. General campground etiquette is to
stay on your side of that hook-up, and not have awnings or slide-outs
encroaching on the site next door. Look at the campground map for a
clue about preferred orientation. Or, look around you to see how other
rigs are angled, if they are centered on sites or close to the utility
hook up. You will get the most out of the space you have (and so will
your neighbors) if you are all situated the same way. There are bound
to be exceptions – we have been in many campgrounds with no uniformity
in the size, shape or orientation of sites. The main objective in these
cases is to just “guess the site” and fit the RV into it. But even
then, the idea is to park in a way that gets everyone their fair share
of privacy and room under their respective awnings. Common sense and
campground etiquette go hand in hand.
- Late arrivals:
If you are arriving at a park after normal quiet hours, attempt some
degree of stealth behavior. Not that it is easy to be unobtrusive
pulling in an RV. But keep the set-up to the minimum required for the
night. Your neighbors will understand that you need to pull in and hook
up. They have probably been in the same situation. But they will lose
patience if they spend an hour listening to loud conversation, slamming
doors and arguments over how to level the rig. Do what is essential
and remember that tomorrow is another day. The same sort of courtesy
should be used if you are making an early morning departure. Don’t keep
the engine idling for an hour before you leave. Tidy up your campsite
the night before.
- Sewer connections:
Do them right. Make them secure. No torn hoses. In most places, your
sewer connection faces the side where you neighbor has their “patio”
area. Another time where being discreet and careful is part of good
- Washing the RV:
Most campgrounds will not allow washing to avoid wasting water, high
water bills, muddy sites, etc. Read the rules. You usually have to get
by with a small bucket and rag and/or waterless cleaner to just do
minimal spot cleaning. If you are lucky enough to find a place where
you can really wash the RV, use common sense. Don’t have the water
flowing when you aren’t actually using it. Watch the spray – your
neighbor may not be interested in having their rig washed. In fact, it
makes for friendly campground etiquette if you let you neighbor know
ahead of time that you plan to wash your rig. That way, they can close
any windows or put away articles that might inadvertently get wet.
- No trespassing:
When we first started out, a fellow RVer came over and asked if he
could look around on “our property” for something he had lost, a paper
that had blown out of his car the night before. We appreciated his
asking first, and were somewhat amused by the term “our property”. But
in fact, one of the unspoken rules of campground etiquette is that you
stay off occupied sites. For the time a camper is on a site, it is
their space and their privacy should be respected. If you are taking a
stroll around the campground, the operative word is “around”. Stay on
roads and pathways – don’t cut through your neighbors’ turf.
- Around the campfire:
Before you light it, make sure it is permitted, and follow any rules the
campground may have. Do not use your firepot as a garbage can. There
is sure to be a trash can available in your rig or on the park premises.
No one likes to pull into a site with a firepot full of beer cans or
the remains from someone else’s dinner the night before.
- Keeping up the neighborhood:
In general, be tidy. RVing is an outdoor pastime and RVers are generally
an easy going lot. But there is a point where too much stuff laying
around outside the RV starts to look sloppy. Trash or anything loose
that can blow around is a definite no-no.
- Do unto others:
When in doubt, follow the golden rule. If you aren’t sure of the proper
campground etiquette for something, think about how you would like to
be treated. If you are concerned that something might bother your
neighbor, your best bet is just to ask them. If you find yourself in a
situation where your neighbors or park operators are doing something
that you find intolerable, politely address the subject with them. If
that doesn’t work, consider moving to another site or another
campground. You are in an RV after all.