RV Campground Etiquette: 11 Things to Never Do
Springs means camping. And camping also means RV campgrounds.
Unfortunately, not everyone is familiar with how campgrounds work. Or what some of the written and unwritten rules of RV campground etiquette are.
To help everyone out, here are some of the things to never do at an RV campground:
Never Fail to Read Campground Rules
Every RV campground will have rules about what you can and cannot do in the campground. For most campgrounds, you can read ahead before your arrival on their website. And they are also going to given to you when you check in or they are posted at the office for you to read.
Some common rules include quiet hours (when you need to stop running generators and turn down outside music), whether you can have pets in your RV, and whether you can wash your rig in your campsite.
It’s important that you follow the campground rules. Mostly because if you fail to follow the rules, the campground management can kick you out. And that would surely put a damper on your RV camping trip.
Many of the rest of these RV campground etiquette rules are probably covered in the campground rules you’ll find on their website or at check-in.
Never Spread Out Your Traveling Group
As RV tailgaters, we tend to travel in packs, to support our favorite teams or even vacation together.
Always work with the other RVers in your traveling group to reserve sites close together. Many RV campgrounds will even let you reserve a block of sites together and each pay for their own space.
It is important to get your group close together for a lot of reasons:
- You have more fun if you are all parked close together.
- It’s easier to coordinate cooking and meals when you are parked in a group.
- You are less likely to trip over obstacles the less you have to walk in the dark between campsites.
- When you are loud and obnoxious, you are less likely to disturb other people not in your group.
Sometimes, it is unavoidable and you can’t get everyone together. And that leads to the next tip.
Never “Cut Through” Occupied Campsites
Hang out in any Facebook group for more than a few days and you’ll see lots of complaints about people cutting through RV sites.
Don’t cut through other people’s campsites. In some places, this could even be considered trespassing.
Some people are just anti-social and there’s nothing you will do to change that. Other people have kids or dogs in the area that won’t react well to you cutting through (especially if you are cutting through with another dog).
In all cases, it’s just rude. That’s their space and they deserve privacy and seclusion as much as you do.
Even at tailgates, be mindful of your neighbors, especially if they are not part of your group. I know that we can all be more relaxed in our rules at the tailgate, but be mindful of each others’ spaces.
It is okay to cut through unoccupied spots though.
RV Campground Review: McKinney Campground at Lake Allatoona, Georgia
Never Overflow Your Space
Just as you need to be mindful of other people’s spaces by not cutting through their sites, you need to respect their space by not overflowing your own RV camping site and into theirs.
This means chairs, tents, dogs, kids, bikes, games, and any other outdoor gear.
It also means any tow or towed vehicles you may have. Or dollies to tow your vehicle.
Even at the tailgate lot, be mindful of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Again, we may be more relaxed when you have RV tailgated with the same people for years and have a community of sorts.
This is especially important on the road, when the home football tailgate rules don’t always apply.
And yes, it can be really hard sticking to your spots, especially in certain circumstances like the infield RV camping at Atlanta Motor Speedway where you barely have enough room for your RV.
Never Block the Roadway Longer Than Necessary
Many RV campgrounds have one way streets and with these large behemoths that we drive, we don’t have a lot of maneuverability on those roads.
So never block the roadway…. for longer than necessary.
Yes, we all know that you’ll block the roadway for a bit while you are setting up or hooking up before you leave. But do this as quickly as possible so you don’t block others coming and going.
But never leave the roadway blocked for long periods of time. Don’t park a car in the roadway and leave.
This is totally rude and could be a real danger in the case of a medical emergency or need to evacuate.
See Also: Must Have RV Safety Gear
Never Interfere With Others’ Peace and Quiet
Especially during quiet hours.
Yes, this means that you’ll have to turn down the music at night.
Also, be mindful when you are coming in late at night to keep things as quiet as possible. This might mean keeping your camping setup to a minimum until everyone wakes up in the morning.
Nevers for RV Camping with Dogs
We love to go RV camping with our four-legged family members. But they have their own set of RV Campground Etiquette Rules.
Never Let Your Dog Loose
Way back at the beginning, there was mention of reading the campground rules.
One of the biggest rules is to not let your dog run loose. They must always be on a leash and under your control.
This is for their safety as well as all the other dogs and people around.
Since we are all traveling so much, we are putting our dogs in a lot of new places, with new people, and possibly new triggers. They are animals and we never know what will set them off. So keep them under your control.
Many RV campgrounds require that the leash be no more than six feet long. If this is the rule at your campground, even the nice retractable leashes aren’t permitted.
This may be annoying when you say “not my dog” but it as much for their safety as it is other dogs’ safety. Your dog may not be aggressive but other dogs may be. Keeping your dog close lets you control the situation better.
RV Campground Review: Oak Mountain State Park, Birmingham, Alabama
Never Leave a Loud Barking Dog Behind
Many people are out camping because they want to get away from the city noise and bustle. And they don’t want their peace to be invaded by a barking dog.
The occasional bark is acceptable, particularly if someone is bothering your RV. But what people get angry with is the dog that never stops barking, especially when its owners are gone.
If your dog barks a lot, consider training them to not bark. It may take figuring out their triggers, like say seeing someone walking near the RV. In which case, perhaps it is best to keep the shades drawn so your dog can’t see out.
Or using a device like a barker collar. If you are against using a barker collar, another similar alternative is an ultrasonic anti-bark device. Both devices are intended to train dogs to not bark.
I used a barker collar on Burdell when he was young and now he typically doesn’t bark unnecessarily. In fact, I used to complain that he wouldn’t bark enough when Amazon was delivering packages to my front door.
Never Leave Dog Waste Behind
You know what’s worse than stepping in dog poop? Stepping in someone else’s dog’s poop.
It’s also the quickest way to get your RV neighbors really mad at you.
And also be a danger to area wildlife and other pets.
You’ll want to keep dog poop bags handy – I like to keep a dispenser clipped right next to the door so that it easy to remember to pick up when taking the dog out for a walk.
So just pick up your poop. Dispose of it properly.
See Also: 10 Tips for RV Tailgating With Dogs
Never Leave Waste in a Fire Pit
Speaking of waste, it’s always best to pick up your waste, whether it is the dog’s poop or your own trash.
Please don’t dispose of waste in the fire pit at the campsite.
If you burn plastic in a campfire, you are releasing some dangerous chemicals and fumes that can do immediate damage to you and long-term damage to the environment.
The Family Handyman has 10 things not to burn in camp fires, including plastic.
In addition, you shouldn’t treat a fire pit as a waste container, even if you aren’t burning anything. It’s an eyesore for everyone and if you leave it behind, someone else, either the next camper or a campground employee, will have to clean it up. And who wants to clean up someone else’s trash?
Seriously, just dispose of all your waste properly.
(This picture is from the fire pit at my recent stay at Lake Gunthersville State Park in Alabama. I don’t want to see your trash or have to clean up after you. And neither should the state park staff. Always leave your camp site in a better state than when you arrived.)
RV Campground Review: Oak Plantation RV Campground, Charleston, South Carolina
Never Fail to Secure the Sewer Hose
Have you ever been walking through an RV campground when you get a whiff of some horrible sewer smells?
There’s a good chance that an RVer failed to secure the sewer hose at the connection.
Most sewer hoses and connections are threaded nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that the hose will always fit perfectly. Extreme temperatures and lots of use can warp the pipes and strip the thread.
So if your hose does not securely fit into the RV connection, make sure that you are weighing down the connection with a saddlebag or RV sewer doughnut seal.
This will help you and your neighbors from suffering from horrible sewer gas smells while you should be enjoying your RV campground.
After all, it’s only good RV campground etiquette.
Any Other RV Campground Etiquette Rules?
Did I miss any RV campground etiquette rules? If so, comment below with your suggestions or comments.
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Great post. It seems like these things should be common knowledge but I’ve stayed in enough camp grounds to know its not. LOL. Thanks for sharing! – Katie from Travellers-Autobarn
One other thing, keep your kids under control and at/on your own campsite!!! It is not ok for them to be riding their bikes through our site or playing behind our camper. Some of us do not have children, and do not wish to be disturbed by other people’s kids. And if we ask you to get your children under control, don’t look at us like we have 3 heads and say “they are just kids playing….”
When we are sitting outside, we do not wish to be disturbed by kids riding bikes, squealing, or stopping and asking us questions. I can’t tell you how many campgrounds we’ve been in where there are groups that are “partying” together and the kids are running wild through campsites or riding 4-wheelers, tearing around corners and being completely disrespectful of people trying to take a walk.
It is definitely all about respect. Campers should respect their neighbors, both those with and without kids and pets. And definitely respect the rules, especially quiet hours.
At the same time, I would never expect a place like a campground to be free of interaction with others. A courtesy wave, nod, or hello as people walk by. Even a friendly conversation, especially if people have questions. I like to encourage kids to explore the outside than be cooped up inside playing video games. But there are limits to that interaction – I do not expect to babysit the neighbors kids.
Dang deb. Get a grip!!
How about never take your dog in the campground shower. Yep, we’ve camped a lot and seen it all. Even a lady who took her dog into the shower with her. That’s why you always wear your shower shoes! LOL!
Oh yuck! That’s definitely something that dog owners should never do. It’s usually within the campground rules – no dogs in buildings, including the bath houses.
Yes, I know that the dogs can get smelly and dirty, just like us humans. But that’s what you RV outdoor showers are for! And if your RV doesn’t have an outdoor shower, then get a RinseKit which should give you enough water and water pressure to wash the dog off outside.
Hi, my wife and i have not had the pleasure if using our Toyota Itasca M.H. yet, but we are planning our first two trips this summer. Thank you for the etuquite update/review. Something not mentioned is some camp sites don’t like your dump hose laying right on the ground, if it fails your $#!+ is all over. Instead get and use a hose leveler. They are like an accordion that the hose lays in. It’s also good practice while setting up your dump hose to wear latex or other non allergenic gloves. I know this is not a subject you want to hear but it’s important. Please make sure the out going end of the said hose is secure over the sewer hole, even if you have to put a rock on it. And also be sure the connection end is twisted on secure as well or you may not be allowed to come back lol lol. Thats my input, thank you. Al
Al, you are correct that many campsites require that you use an RV sewer hose support of some sort. I’d argue, however, that if the hose fails, even on a support, that the $#!+ is still all over the place.
The hose support will make it easier to drain and prevent backups though. And those backups are likely to lead to more “stuff” all over the ground. Also, by being up off the ground, it makes it easier for landscapers and others to see so that they don’t roll over the hoses and damage them.
In any case, I do recommend that you regularly inspect your hoses to make sure that they won’t spill their contents all over the campground or dump site.
I agree with wearing disposable gloves any time you are dealing with the waste tanks. Sure, you can wash your hands when you are done but the added protection is nice.
Man, who else other than RVers, and maybe the parents of newborns, spend so much time talking about poop? Oh and dog owners! (I’m good for two out of the three – RVer and dog owner, but not a parent of a newborn)
Thanks for reminding us about proper dumping etiquette Al!
Great post. I have been camping for 50 years and have seen manners deteriorate immensely. I would add to your list that parents controll their kids as well as their dogs. I do not want children running through my camp space nor do I want them constantly throwing their balls into my camp. Teach your children to respect others.
Thanks! I appreciate you stopping by. Manners have definitely gone downhill, and I say that as a Southerner raised on good manners. Parents should definitely teach children manners, and campground manners at that! Luckily, I’ve been around some great kids while camping and haven’t had horrible times with them. Hopefully, that continues.
That being said, I’ve heard lots of complaints about kids. But I don’t blame the kids – I blame the adults if they are misbehaved. Crazy kids usually means the parents are off drinking and not paying attention to the kids. And the adults let the kids get hopped up on sugar and caffeine. Happens a lot at college baseball games too.
Good comments, enjoyed reading all, but one that gets us, is when your neighbor makes a sticky smoky fire. With the wind blowing at us, it basically drives us away, ruins our evening, and there is nothing we can do about it. Any ideas what we could do?
Smokey fires are one of those things that RV campers either love or love to hate. Personally, I don’t like smelling like a campfire forever and a day later. With as thick as my hair is, it may take several washes before I get the smell out.
That being said, if the RV campground permits fires, there isn’t much you can do about it if your neighbors have a camp fire going. You can ask them, nicely, if they don’t mind not having one, especially if it bothers you medically. I find that if you can bring a propane fire pit to replace the smokey fire pit, that you are more likely to get a positive response. So get your propane fire pit out, and invite them to join you. You might even get some new friends. If you see that perhaps they are starting to build a fire or did the night before, be proactive and start your (propane) fire up first and invite them over. Even more likely that you’ll get a positive response if you already have yours going.
If the campground doesn’t permit fires, or the area is in a burn ban (usually due to drought), then get the campground host or ranger to ask them to put it out.
If there just isn’t any way to get them to stop, the best that you can do is to close up your RV windows and turn off the fan so that you minimize the smoke inside your RV or trailer.
Drink responsibly. Rv’ing is a good time to “let your hair down”, but over doing it is embarrassing for everyone. And a bad example for the kids.
Oh that’s a good one Elaine! There’s nothing like a loud drunk coming home when you are trying to sleep.
This reminds me of a time camping when I was younger. We kids slept through it, but my mom, and the mom of our site neighbor, drove to the nearest cell reception area and had to call the police on a group of loud (and dangerous) drunk people. They were pointing/brandishing firearms about and screaming “WHOS YOUR DADDY?!?!” in the middle of the night. The ridiculously sad part about that? Half that group was my parents’ age or older (mid-40s+!).
What the what? That’s a crazy story Sarah!
People definitely need to be responsible when it comes to drinking AND definitely when it comes to firearms! That is not proper gun safety and endangers everyone around, not just those that are participating in the shenanigans. Good for the moms for calling the cops on them. I hope that the police responded accordingly.
if you arrive at a campground with multiple empty sites you don’t set up right next to someone else Everyone likes their space and privacy there’s no need to be right next to someone if the campground has other options
Well placed solar lights a the camper steps and at pole locations is one thing but one of my camping pet peeves is excessive string/solar lights. Many campers don’t turn them off when they go to bed (yes, most solar string lights have an on/off switch). One of the campgrounds we camp at doesn’t allow them at all.
Yes, excessive light has long been a complaint of campers, especially if they want to do stargazing. Fortunately, most solar string lights put out relatively low amounts of light, definitely not something I can read by. But some of them, wow, I think they were trying to land a plane with all that light.
I think all the complaints really go back to respecting your fellow camper’s space. Music, pets, kids, trash, and yes, lights all impact your neighbor. No one wants to be the fun police but all of us should remember to not do anything that will infringe on someone else’s fun, even if that is a different idea than you have of fun (some people are early to bed, early to rise, while others like to howl with the moon – to each their own). So a little respect both ways goes so far and makes it fun for everyone. And you can come out of the trip with some great camping friends.
Thanks for stopping by Andrea! Hope you continue to enjoy the site!
Let’s also control our alcohol intake… An obnoxious drunk is a surefire way to ruin a great campout, especially if things get so out of hand that law enforecement has to intervene…
That should be WTGW? Autocorrect does not understand Jacket tradition…
Agree. When law enforcement has to get involved because you are too drunk, you’ve gone way too far. While we are never one to say you can’t drink, please do so responsibly, whether at the campground or tailgate.
Thanks for reminding me that I have to check the RV campground rules of the camp that I’m going to for our vacation trip. I think it’s wise to never spread out the traveling group unless it’s completely necessary. Since it’s wise to never overflow our space, I’ll try to find a campground that can suit our needs.
Here is one for the campground owners. We used to be seasonal campers at a nearby local campground. The owners sold it. The new owners came in, we liked them at first…. We soon found out they did not know how to run a campground. If you had a complaint about another camper breaking rules, too loud, messy site, loud car, whatever they would inform that camper of the complaint, but also tell them who complained. It caused a lot of problems among friends and campers who got a long well for many years. They lost many loyal, seasonal customers. We have since found another campground that we are very happy in. No tattling 🙂
Dee, oh, good point! Maybe I need to write a post on what campers wish RV campgrounds owners knew or remembered!
Thank you for posting. Wondering if having a designated smoking area is in the future. Cigarette smoke can be harmful in addition to just bothersome to many, including me.
Jo, I would be so in favor of not allowing smoking except in designated areas of RV campgrounds, especially the “resorts” where we are packed in like sardines. It’s one thing if there is a lot of room between spaces but when I can get a nicotine high from the second hand smoke while I am inside my RV and you are smoking outside yours, there’s a problem. So yes, I am in agreement.
Thanks for stopping by!
Other things NOT to do in a campsite:
– Go away and leave a fire burning. Yes, this should be common sense, but I’ve seen it happen. Related items: Keep a full bucket of water next to your fire at all times. When you put the fire out, don’t dump a bucket of water on the fire; instead, sprinkle it gently over the fire. This takes more time, but it eliminates the danger of a burning log being “swept away” and it prevents a cloud of smoke from popping up into your face.
– Assume you’ll be able to find fire wood at the campsite.
– Dispose of dishwashing water, etc. so that it rolls down into another camper’s space.
TP, on the firewood tip: remember that in many government parks (state, national, COE, etc) that it is illegal to pick up wood off the ground or from the trees (ie no cutting down branches, etc). It is also illegal in many places to transport firewood because of pests that are commonly found in the logs. You will need to purchase firewood at the campground or from nearby.
This plus the smoke is one reason that I really love the propane fire pits. Turn it on without having to worry about finding fire wood. And turn it off and not worry about embers. And no smoke in between.
Thanks for adding to the tips TP!
Thank you for posting this. As I read I was thinking of all the jackasses that ignore rules and hope someday they will.
But I was also thinking of those that are actually well meaning people who usually follow rules except for the one about keeping your dog on leash. I have a dog that gets nervous around big dogs and we hike a lot. I always see people with off leash dogs because, yes, your dog generally is good natured and listens to commands, but frankly there are on leash dogs that get anxious around other dogs and may bite. Please, for the safety of everyone enjoying the outdoors keep your dog on leash.
We bring a box fan with us to blow away bugs across the table while we eat and to redirect our fire pit smoke away from neighbors or theirs away from our site. Works like a charm!
Great idea! A fan also helps keep the flies and mosquitoes away from you. Makes for a much more enjoyable campground experience for everyone.
As you mentioned, if there are a group of you traveling together, it is a good idea to all get RV spots next to each other. My parents and my family are thinking of taking a RV trip later this summer. I will have to keep this in mind as we reserve our RV sites.
It’s a lot easier to keep the kids and pets corralled when you get the spots together! This means you are a lot less likely to annoy your neighbors in the campground with everyone cutting through other sites.
And if you are a late night or loud crowd, look for areas at the end or away from other campers.
My RV park is insane! The music, the drinking, kids without parental supervision for 10 to 12 hours a day or more (I mean the parents literally leave 7 and 8 years old alone while they are not home), the sites are filthy, neighbor feeds the alligators even though shes been fined by game and wild life, drunks guarding the entrance with AR15s, visitors just out of prison having sex in restrooms and threatening a 14 year old child while naked, pitbulls everywhere and I could go on and on. And we even live in a RESORT! And pay premium price for our lot! Management does nothing. Corporate does nothing. Dont ever sign a lease.
Woah Kelly! I would definitely try to get out of there ASAP. That does not seem like a safe environment for anyone.
Take care of yourself and your family!
You do not need an impact driver to put down your levelers or scissor jacks! A regular cordless drill is sufficient. We purchased our first toy hauler this year and i can not tell you how surprised we were the lack of common sense and just the lack of thought people have. Thise things are loud and when someone at 7 8 or 9am or late check ins go to crank up or down…there is no need to feel like youre in the NASCAR PITS!
once when I was camping with a small tent, I was sitting at the picnic table reading and a lady walked and plopped herself down at the table and started talking to me. at first I was polite but replied with short answers and kept trying to read. finally I had to ask her to leave.
Leave at or before check out time.
Yes! Be considerate of the campground hosts that need to verify your site before the next person arrives and be considerate of the next people to use your site. Leave on time. Especially important when you are at a popular campground or around holidays when they fill up.
I’d like to add something else. No fighting or arguing with your significant other!!! Leave your dirty laundry at home! Can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone camping and you can hear a couple arguing about something or other. Nobody wants to know your business. We’re there to have a good time, not to hear about your problems. Sounds harsh, but seriously, my 15 year old doesn’t need to hear that you were caught looking at the pretty girl two sites over.
Oh, that’s rough. No one needs to hear that. If one has a disagreement, they need to learn how to deal with that without making a scene.
Or at least give us a heads up so that we can livestream it and make you look a fool. 🙂
Hello everyone. I just had to go to the campground office and complain because a dog was loose and came after me and my 2 dogs that I was walking on a nature trail.
That’s horrible. Hope that they took care of the situation with the dog’s owner.
Some times you just can’t win.
I set up a cable run for my 122Lb Timber-Shepard. I will point out that I set up shade, a large water bowel and put stops on the cable to prevent him getting the cable wrapped around the posts. There is a large spring connecting the pulley to the drop-down lead to cushion him from sudden stops. I have a fenced in yard so this is a travel item only. A few hours later “Karen” shows up with a list of gripes. “Cable runs are cruel! You shouldn’t bring a dangerous animal with you!” All the while her lap dog is running around with no leash barking. Camp ground manager came and got her when I called him.
Go out later and find my “dangerous animal” is happily playing with a group of little kids someone(s) has let run wild at the camp ground. Give you one guess who shows up. Yep “Karen” has decided to find her 3 year old after letting her run loose for about 5 hours. Now she wants to screech about her kid playing with the “dangerous animal” wearing some kids sun hat. If he was dangerous I would have never taken him with me and he sure wouldn’t have been fetching a Frisbee wearing a sun hat.
Manager came and got her again and this time she packed up and left.
We were incredulous that parents were encouraging their very young children to use fireworks at their campsite at a state park. Specifically, these were very loud “bang-snaps” that are thrown onto the ground. Destroyed the peaceful nature of the campground.
Oh wow! I’m not sure what I would do if there were young kids using fireworks in an RV campground (or really anywhere). They are so dangerous if not used properly. I mean kids + fire = crazy. I can understand (a little) around Fourth of July and New Years Eve, but the rest of the time should be a no go. Especially in heavily wooded state parks.
If there is a burn ban, make sure that the campground host knows what is going on.