RV & Campground Etiquette for Beginners (And Long Timers, Too)

You’re finally on vacation, ready to relax and enjoy your time off. You’ve worked hard for it and have been looking forward to it for a long time. The other campers out there have been looking forward to their vacation as well. Just like in our everyday life, there are rules to follow when RVing. And just because we’re on vacation doesn’t mean rules don’t apply anymore. Darn it! Okay, let’s talk about RV and campground etiquette. Even if you’re a long time RVer, it never hurts to review your manners from time to time.

RV etiquette applies not only to overnight parking, it also applies to stays in campgrounds and parks – and even on someone’s driveway. Excessive noise, loud parties, unruly children and uncontrolled pets can create a very uncomfortable situation for both you and your fellow campers. Just don’t go there!

First and foremost, remember there is no hurry. You’re on vacation, after all! Take your time and don’t rush to get to the final destination. Consider following the 330 rule: stop when you have driven 330 miles in a day or when it’s 3:30 in the afternoon. It leaves you plenty of time before dark to set up and relax a bit after a long drive.

Stay off the interstates. Seriously, they’re boring. Really boring! Take the back roads and enjoy the beautiful sights, sounds, smells, history, and new adventures off the beaten path. Take the road less traveled. You’ll thank us for it later! Oh, and don’t forget the (paper) road map. That GPS might not work on the back roads (there may not be an internet connection), and even if it does it’s more than likely out of date and unreliable. Be prepared. But hey, getting lost sometimes makes the best memories!

Most parks will generally give you a copy of their rules when you register. Obeying the 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 will include things such as reduced speed limits on campground roads (think safety for everyone) and defined quiet hours for when you should keep the noise down, turn off outdoor lights, generators, etc. (that basically means the party is over). Make sure you follow all rules – you don’t want to be blacklisted or known amongst RVer’s as “that person.” RVers are a tight group and word spreads quickly, so mind your manners!

Don’t block the roadways. If there’s not enough room at your campsite for tow vehicles, trailers, etc., visit with your camp host about overflow parking. Encroaching on campground roads creates a safety hazard for others. Many times, 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 intruding on the site next door. You’ll get the most out of the space you have (and so will your neighbors) if you are all situated the same way, so pay attention to how everyone is parked. The idea, of course, is to park in a way that allows everyone their fair share of privacy and room under their respective awnings. Common sense and campground etiquette go hand in hand.

When arriving after normal quiet hours, do your best to attempt some degree of slyness. Not that it’s particularly easy to be unobtrusive while pulling in an RV, but keep the set-up to the absolute minimum required for the night. Your neighbors will understand that you need to pull in and hook up. They’ve probably been in the same situation, but they’ll quickly lose patience if they have to spend an hour listening to loud conversation, slamming doors and arguments over how to level the rig. Do only what’s essential and remember that tomorrow is another day. The same courtesy should be used if you are making an early morning departure. Don’t keep the engine idling for an hour before you leave. Start the engine and just…GO! You might be leaving at the crack of dawn but that doesn’t mean everyone else wants to be awake with you. Tidy up your campsite the night before.

While in a campground, do not – we repeat, do not – walk through others’ campsites! You don’t want anyone walking through your yard at your sticks-and-bricks house, and you don’t appreciate anyone walking through your yard at the campground, either. So be respectful of others’ and don’t tread on their privacy and space. If you notice another camper’s shades are closed, they are probably sleeping in or resting. Don’t knock unless it’s an emergency. It’s simple, no trespassing!

Be considerate of your neighbors by remembering that RV’s really are not very sound proof. You can hear everything while inside! Fellow RVers understand you are on vacation, though they may not appreciate hearing your boisterous cheers for the latest game plays (or even hearing the latest play on your TV) or listening to your little ones ear piercing shrieks over a new discovery or whose turn it is with a toy. And speaking of littles, be sure to keep an eye on them. Your neighbors shouldn’t be responsible for watching your kids. It’s easy for children to wander off while exploring their new (and tempting) surroundings. It helps to have planned activity time for them to use up all that energy.

Keep your area clean and tidy. RVing is an outdoor pastime and RVers are generally an easy going lot, but come on! Would you allow the yard at your house to become trashed out? Loose trash and “stuff” not tied down ends up getting blown around and requires everyone else to clean up after you. Be responsible and keep your space free from trash and debris. And don’t store stuff under your RV. You won’t be able to see it, but everyone else sure will. And it just looks trashy.

Mind your pets! We cannot stress this enough! You love your furry four legged family member; not everyone else will. Your giant fur baby may not scare you, but the neighbors might be terrified of your massive pooch with enormous amounts of energy. Your yappie little friend might be cute as a button to you, but your neighbor probably won’t be too tickled to hear it barking at every leaf, squirrel, or human that passes by. Practice good petiquette. Keep your creatures on a leash, keep them quiet and don’t leave them unattended. Oh, and a friendly reminder to always pick up after your pet. Not doing so is a huge no-no, not just in campgrounds and parks, but anywhere in public. Don’t give venues a reason to end their pet-friendly practices. If you are traveling with your pet, be sure to check out GoPetFriendly.com to find pet friendly destinations that welcome your furry friend.

When it comes to RV and campground etiquette, the bottom line is to always follow the golden rule. You know, the one where you treat others how you would like to be treated. Everyone wants to enjoy their time away so help make it a pleasurable experience for all involved by doing your part and minding your manners. And above all, enjoy your vacation; savor the new memories your experiences will bring. And be safe – please stay safe!

Have fun RVing, y’all! Don’t forget to share your adventures and pictures with us so we can live vicariously through you! We really do enjoy hearing about your excursions.