12 Tips on Campground Etiquette

Some think that when they go camping or RV parking, it’s a no-bars-held party atmosphere.  Seemingly, etiquette and courtesy flies right out the window while neighbors grate in frustration and anger.  We all have to remember, we aren’t the only ones at the campground or park.

Pin it to your boards for later

We’ve learned what it is to be in ‘close confines’ while parking in RV parks and campgrounds.  Unlike living in S&B’s where we (collectively speaking)  could play our music a little louder, swear like sailors, or stink up your yard by cooking bad meat (not that ‘we’ve’ done those things…just being hypothetical), we have to mind our manners a bit more. Sometimes, we are parked in like sardines jam-packed in a tiny square can; awning to awning and so close that you can whisper ‘please pass the Grey Poupon’, hear the neighbor’s squabble or um…’other things’.
Since there’s no such thing as an Emily Post RV Etiquette book, we thought we would blog our own guide, Campground and RV park Etiquette, so you don’t become that guy who gets glares or haughty words whispered each time you walk your dog or to the bathhouse.  We hope you don’t mind us being candid.

Be friendly!

Don’t be a grouch! Nine times out of ten, RVers and Campers are there to have fun, be sociable and to meet others.  Smile, wave and make yourself approachable.  You’re smile or wave could be the only one your neighbor sees all day.

Scoop the poop and leash the beasts! 

We totally get that Fido and Fifi don’t ‘poop on demand’.  Always bring your puppy poop bags and clean up after your pets.  No excuses.  Not only is it unsanitary, it’s just nasty to have to clean up after your dog’s land mines or smelling it.  Don’t walk away from it thinking we (collectively speaking) don’t notice. Try to use specified pet areas or dog parks but if your pup can’t wait, scoop it!

Speaking of pets, please leash your pets and never leave them unattended outside.  Can you imagine if everyone didn’t leash their pet(s)? Oy!  Appreciate the fact that not everyone likes your dog or cat (or gerbil, bird, ferret, etc.).  Be a responsible pet owner.

Keep it down to a low roar!

Not everyone is going to like your favorite genre of music, yapping dogs, screaming kids or loud drunks, etc.  A good etiquette solution is to stand near your neighbor’s RV site while your travel companion tests your music volume and speaking voices. If you can hear it near their RV, you’re too loud.  Speaking of barking dogs, this goes for them inside too.

When you leave your RV, make certain your pup is happy and not going to bark his poor little fuzzy head off because he misses you. Close the shades, put some music on to drown out the outside noise so he can’t hear it and don’t be too long where he’s going to start making noise because he….just misses you.

Oh, and another thing. Just because they are called ‘slam latches’ doesn’t mean you should let them slam.  Close them as quietly as possible.

Lastly, please refrain from using your vehicle key fob button that the honks the horn.

Engine noise is a no-no!

If you have motorized adventure toys like us, we certainly appreciate needing to warm up your motorcycles, razors and ATV’s engines but only for just a couple minute.  Likewise, don’t allow your diesel engines (motorhomes and dually trucks) idle for more than a few minutes.  Not only is the sound nauseating but so are those exhaust fumes.

Good etiquette is to run them enough to get their engines warm and then take them outside of the RV park.

Stoke that smoke!

We’ve noticed recently that more RV parks and resorts are banning wood-burning campfires for several reasons; health, close proximity to other RV’s, sparks and smoke blowing over to other’s campers or RV’s, firewood infestations, etc.

Oh, and trust me, we get it.  Nothing tastes better than franks-on-a-stick, s’mores or mountain pies cooked over campfires, but to allow the fires to continually smolder releasing tons of gagging smoke is going to make your neighbors grumpy and sick.  Even paper plates give off toxic fumes if burned and never plastic.  Do not burn trash, period.

A good etiquette rule of thumb is only build a fire if you’re going to be out there to tend it properly.

Arrive and depart QUIETLY

Our own rule is that we check-out no earlier 9:00 am and check-in no later 4:00 pm.  Not only is that to satisfy our own travel limitations but also to be respectful of our neighbors.  We realize not everyone has the same schedule but that shouldn’t negate respecting our fellow RVers.

If you arrive or depart during quiet hours (usually 10:00pm-8:00am), try to do it quickly and quietly.  Your neighbors would be happy if you would curtail setting up until the morning after or packing up the night before.  Again, allowing your diesel engines running for more that a few minutes will surely score no points with your neighbors and handshakes will be nil.

Oh, and Campgrounds, RV Parks and Resorts have arrival and departure times for a reason.  Don’t make incoming RVers or Campers wait for their site because of your poor planning.  Likewise, do not arrive unannounced before check-in time unless you’ve made prior arrangements with the RV Park or Campground staff.  The staff and volunteers need time to clean and patrol the site before the next guest arrives.

Stow your gear!

Some say “it’s my site, I’ll do whatever I want with it”. Well yeah, we get that but seriously, this is a safety issue.  Stow and secure your outdoor gear; especially if you leave for the day or before turning in for the night. Storms can pop up leaving your gear a wind storm’s craving.

Canopies, and camp chairs become projectiles that can damage RV’s or injure fellow RVers.  Same bar different note, no one wants to live next to the site that looks like a Walmart toy aisle at Christmas.  Keep your site picked up or try to.

Wash your OWN RV!

These days there are few Campgrounds and RV parks that allow to wash your rig but if you’re permitted to bust out the hose, bucket and sponge, watch your spray.  On windy days, consider not washing because your water spray will no doubt blow over to your neighbor’s coach who probably had theirs washed the day prior or don’t need it blowing on them if they are sitting out at their own site or eating their meal.

Now, if you want to raise eyebrows and impress your friends, use Waterless Wash Wax All that only takes a spray bottle and microfiber towels.

This isn’t Vegas, people!

Look, this isn’t Las Vegas nor is it the Motel 6.  Most of your neighbors don’t take to lightly of bright lights beaming through their shades after hours. It’s okay to leave a small porch light on after hours in case you need to let Fido out or grab a smoke but geeze, don’t think lighting your site like a KISS concert or airplane runway is going to land you invitations for breakfast the next morning. You’re neighbors may want to stargaze so just be considerate and turn off the lights if you’re not out there.

Site cutting and encroachment 

Remember when our parents told us to stay on the sidewalk and not to cut between people’s yards? Well, the same manners apply to campground or park sites.  When RVers and Campers pay their site fees, they’re essentially paying for their own little yard.  Site cutting can be interpreted as intrusive, speculative and rude.  It’s disrupting to pet owners, meal times, etc.

Typically, the unspoken rule is a site is from utility box to utility box.  Do not park your vehicles in someone else’s site boxing them in.  Also, you and your guests should not park vehicles that will stick out into the roadway making it difficult for incoming or outgoing RV’s to navigate or park their way through the park or prevent emergency vehicles necessary passage.

Slow your roll!

See those speed limit signs?  Campgrounds and RV parks/resorts are busy with Campers walking their dogs, elderly strolling, children running or riding their bikes, and RV’s may be pulling in and out to park.  Way too many times have we’ve seen ‘almosts’ from people driving way too fast for conditions.  Please, just slow down.

Leave it better than you found it! 

Raise your hand if you’ve arrived at your site that’s been littered with cigarette butts, candy wrappers, bottle caps, or beer can pull tabs. Or maybe the previous campers left a whole bunch of nasty trash in the firepit?  Just because you may have been assigned a dirty site, doesn’t mean you should leave it the same way.  Be good stewards.  Clean and patrol your site before leaving. If you brought it, take it with you. And even if you didn’t leave it, still pick it up and dispose of it properly.

In closing, the main rule of thumb of RV park or campground etiquette is to treat others as you’d like to be treated.  Sometimes, people don’t know or may not be aware that their behavior or infractions affect others.  The point is, just be polite.  Respect thy neighbor!

And if you’re dispersed camping, take a look at this…

Boondocking and Camping Etiquette



7 Replies to “12 Tips on Campground Etiquette”

  1. Great article, should be handed out at every campground. We’ve been RVing for 4 years now and the courtesy most disregarded is picking up after pets. While campfire smoke doesn’t bother us cigarette smoke does would be nice if campgrounds offered nonsmoking areas so we can enjoy the fresh air.

    1. So happy we could help, Frank. Yes, we agree, that all campers should be respectful to not only other campers but the staff and volunteers also. No one wants to pick up after others or tell them to follow rules. It should be simple common sense to. Keep doing what you’re doing!! Thanks for following! -Lisa & Dan

  2. I agree with all that you have said!!
    But you forgot to mention generators! Where l camp, many people insist on running their loud generators all day & all night!! Even when asked nicely MANY TIMES (even @ 2:00 am) they refuse to shut them down. They have NO respect for quiet time (10:00 pm – 6:00 am) or the other campers around them. I run my generator long enough to watch the news at 9:00 pm, or when it’s time for another batch of Margaritas! If you are so spoiled you can’t live without your air conditioner, go to a lake that has electric hookups or stay your ass to home!!

    1. Angie, thank you so much for reading our informative blog. YES, we tend to agree with your opinion of generators or any noise between traditional sleeping hours. That said, not everyone is using them for comfort such as air conditioners. Some need them to power life support devices such as CPAP machines. All RVs don’t have the same energy management systems therefore, generators may be necessary. Disabilities shouldn’t hold anyone back from doing what they love to do or travel. Yes, sometimes they’re noisy but having been in this situation, ‘we understand’.

      Now, loud obnoxious and disrespectful people….LOL

      Do understand that the article we wrote was geared towards those staying in campgrounds or RV parks and not boondocking. We do have another blog for that subject.

      Safe travels and happy camping! -Dan & Lisa

    2. Angie, although I understand your concern I myself MUST use a generator to power medical equipment when there is no power box. I used to consider those with a camper as “not campers” and preferred to tent camp, but with medical problems due to combat operations I began to require power. Am I supposed to never enjoy camping because the sound offends you?

      I make an attempt to stay quiet and place the generator where is least offensive, but if I could run off of battery I would. I often camp alone and away from everyone, boondocking if possible in order to avoid others. To demand that I stay at home instead of camp, something I and my family enjoy, simply because I require power to stay alive is a bit selfish. I agree that those who live with the power and not have a medical need, or something else important, should be able to disconnect. I feel that you are failing to realize that sometimes it is a necessary evil even that camper wishes he did not have to use. Please do not “judge a book by it’s cover,” advances in medical technology have made it possible for someone like myself to enjoy time with his family in the country he fought for, at the cost of needing electricity.

      Please note, I am working towards upgrades that allow me to run all night off of battery, but I will need a bay of at least 8 (6 is needed ,2 for backup in the event of failure). This way I can charge during the day and be less intrusive to others, and possibly get some solar to offset the time needed to charge.

  3. Thank you for your article – great common sense info for all campers. Sometimes all of us can use a reminder of how to be courteous to our neighbors!
    Thank you for your service in the USCG – youngest son also a member of the Coast Guard- Semper Paratus!

    1. Hi Teri, thanks for following along! Sometimes it pains us to have to blog about common sense info but sometimes it needs to be said. We appreciate you reading our info and taking to heart of knowing our intentions (which are always good!). Tell your son best wishes and to stay safe! Semper Paratus!! Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook page too!! http://www.facebook.com/alwaysonliberty -Dan & Lisa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *