Many go camping to get away from people or to social distance. Especially in the backcountry or off grid, campers want space, privacy, peace and quiet and to enjoy nature. But nothing grates on another camper’s nerves more when another camper comes to set up camp really close to their site. But, why do people do that? And, how close is camping too close?
Now, we do understand when parked at a campground or RV park, you can’t help parking so close to another camper. It’s because of campground layouts are designed. However, when boondocking off the grid or camping in the back country, you get to enjoy a bit more space between you and other campers.
However, what happens when people seem to think this close-knit arrangement follows suit when they’re backcountry camping off the grid or RV boondocking?
When other campers camp too close to us, we call it “smoochdocking”. It’s a term we learned from another RV boondocking couple a few years ago when a motorhome parked so close to the back of our fifth wheel that we could literally hand them the Grey Poupon from our back window. So, we added it to our camping vocabulary because it seems, this type of camping behavior is becoming more prevalent. The very short video humorously explains that below.
This so-called smoochdocking usually happens when we’re either lotdocking in permissible parking lots or backcountry camping on BLM or other great boondocking locations. Most campers and RV Boondockers say it’s uncomfortable, invasive and downright rude! And, to be honest here, I tend to agree with them. As I mentioned as the first rule of camping etiquette, never assume others will want to camp with you; especially when they’ve been there first.
So, let’s find out why people may prefer camping close to other campers. And then, we’ll tell you why you shouldn’t do that thing called “smoochdocking”.
Why You Shouldn’t Camp So Close to Other Campers
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Why other people MAY WANT TO camp close to other campers
Afraid of the dark?
Perhaps the other campers wanting to park their RV or set up camp close to you because they’re afraid of the dark. Laugh all you want, but it’s true. For some campers, they may be new at backcountry camping off the grid. They may get a little skittish at what goes bump in the night. Or maybe they watched Friday the 13th or Blair Witch Project one too many times!
If you’re one of these scaredy cat campers, might I recommend getting some solar powered, motion-activated lights to place outside your RV (but pointed AT your RV). Or, you could hook up some rope lights to keep wildlife from getting under your camper. While they may not be popular to the stargazers, if you keep your distance (I mean FAR away) from other campers, most won’t mind as much if you camped really close to them.
Safety in numbers?
Some campers, especially newbies, feel strongly about safety in numbers. Even though they may not know their new neighbors, they feel more comfortable in earshot or eye view of other RVs or tent campers.
If you’re a camper who needs to feel safe by camping near others, perhaps you need to learn how to practice personal security. Or, if you’re that leery of being so far away from others, maybe off grid camping isn’t your forte.
There are people out there that tend to follow the crowd. It’s called herd mentality. That herd mentality has them believing that they must be with other people all of the time. This is especially common amongst city slickers who head for the hills to camp.
If you’re one of those herd mentality types, might I recommend starting off with short camping trips in a campground. Then, work your way to off grid camping until you feel comfortable being away from other campers. But never assume other’s follow the same herd mentality. In fact, most campers do not.
They want to borrow a cup of sugar?
I don’t know, I just threw that one out there. But, perhaps those campers who camp really close to you may not be well equipped with supplies, food and water. Perhaps they are dependent on others to help show them how to camp or expect you to share your supplies. While we should always practice good stewardship and help our neighbors, it’s best just to come prepared to camp.
Why you SHOULD NOT camp so close to other campers
Your Own Personal Safety
Unless you’re boondocking with a group of familiar campers, it’s wise to keep your distance when camping off grid. You don’t know the other campers. They very well may be people with devious intentions, convicts who are hiding out, registered (or un-registered) sex offenders, sexual predators, child predators or worse. Whatever and whomever they are, take this as your cue to be careful when camping so close to others.
Privacy; Theirs’ and Yours’!
Most RVers who go boondocking or tent campers who camp in the wild do so to enjoy their privacy. They may be on vacation, on a weekend reprieve or a full-time RVer needing to get away from those busy awning-to-awning RV parks or loud family campgrounds. This may be their place to regroup, meditate, or just get away from noise, chaos and trials of everyday life.
Another scenario is perhaps a couple is wanting to get some much needed privacy to strengthen their marriage or union. They certainly don’t wish for anyone to park their RV or camp to close to hear private conversations or….or….well, you know.
And lastly, some people may be trying to escape a dangerous situation. They may not want to be found out or be on witness protection. So, this is why campers should expect a reasonable yet comfortable level of privacy. While in passing, it’s okay to make eye contact and say hello, don’t assume that to be your invitation to get cozy by camping next to them. Respect their privacy.
Escape noise and chaos
Some RVers and campers simply want to get away from busy traffic, noise and chaos. The last thing they want is another camper parking their RV right next to them, firing up their generator, jamming with their beats or turning loose their barking dogs when all they want to do is sit out in the wild, listen to nature and enjoy the outdoors.
Case in point; each year after our son returned from his war deployments, he would set out to go camp with his dog on July 4th weekends. Backcountry camping a way of escaping the thunderous sounds of fireworks and loud noises that would trigger his PTSD. He found that camping in the backcountry helps him overcome his past without the terrible noisy reminders of war.
Respect Other Camper’s Space
This is an important reason not to camp so close to your neighbors. The typical rule of thumb when backcountry camping is whomever has their camp set up first sets the precedence of camping style. If you notice there is no generator or looks to be a quiet setup, that’s your cue to move on down the road; especially if you’re going to run your generator or be loud.
Also, be cognizant of campers with children. Wouldn’t it feel creepy if you are camping with your children and someone you didn’t know set up camp really close to your camp?
In other words, just as you wouldn’t walk into someone’s house or plop down in a friend or family’s home without invitation, the same applies to camping. You should never intrude or invade someone else’s space in the backcountry, or anywhere for that matter. While free range camping on public lands or BLM (Bureau of Land Management) locations doesn’t belong to any one person in particular, there is that unwritten rule of respect.
Again, reiterating if someone has already set up camp, you respect their space and move on down the road. There’s plenty of other places for you to set up your own little piece of paradise.
Final thoughts when camping too close to other campers is too close
Here’s the deal with camping and sharing the land. If you’re planning to go camping in the backcountry or off grid, kindly stay away from other RVs or tent campers. I guess if the area you want to camp in is a little congested, you could always ask others if they minded you camping nearby. But most may be polite and not say anything as to not portray themselves as being stuck up or unsocial. Just give them some grace and space.
And lastly, respect other campers’ space and privacy. As we’ve shared in our Boondocking Etiquette for Off Grid Camping, just follow the simple rules of boondocking or off grid camping.
- Keep your distance from other campers
- Don’t block other camper’s view
- Practice pet camping etiquette
- Honor quiet hours
- Turn off your lights
- No cutting or removing trees and brush
- Practice campfire safety
- Leave No Trace
- Respect your neighbors
- Adhere to camping term limits
But, if you’re that that ept on having neighbors to camp with or being social, might I suggest you head to the nearest campground or RV park instead.
Other boondocking and RV camping articles worth reading
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