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Bad RV Neighbors: Don’t Be One – Avoid Doing These 15 Things

Bad RV Neighbors: Don’t Be One – Avoid Doing These 15 Things

Anyone who’s spent much time in campgrounds and RV parks has probably encountered bad RV neighbors. Some of us may even have inadvertently been a bad RV neighbor without realizing it.

Many campgrounds find us living in closer proximity to one another than might be comfortable. But there are ways to make the whole experience nicer for everyone.

In this post, we’ll cover the things we should all avoid doing so we can be good RV neighbors, which makes the camping experience far more pleasant for everyone.

How to Avoid Being a Bad RV Neighbor

Bad camping neighbors can easily ruin an RV trip. The best way to avoid being a bad neighbor in the close confines of a campsite is to avoid doing certain things. Here, in no particular order, are 15 of the main things not to do when you’re sharing a campground area with neighbors.

Don’t Be Loud

It may seem obvious, but this basic bit of camping etiquette is so important, and so often ignored. Many RVers enjoy camping for the relaxing experience and the exposure to nature. No one wants to listen to other people’s music, outdoor TVs, kids screaming, dogs barking, or fellow campers being loud around the campfire late into the night. This includes noisy generators, and let’s face it, all generators are noisy to some degree.

While many parks have set quiet hours, that shouldn’t be considered an invitation to create havoc during other times of the day. Campers who feel the need to be loud or who enjoy camping with noisy amenities are encouraged to boondock far away from others.

If you’re not accustomed to boondocking and are a little nervous about cutting the cord, we encourage you to check out our video on an easy way to break your cord addiction:

Be a Responsible Pet Owner

Many RVers love to travel with their pets. However, it’s also important to keep your dogs quiet and leashed or contained at all times. Leashes should be short enough to keep your dog under your control at all times. Dogs shouldn’t be able to reach someone else’s campsite and they should never be allowed to roam free off-leash.

Keeping your dog from barking, picking up after them, and keeping them leashed or contained (see our post on RV pet fences) are all part of being a good RV neighbor. Remember that nobody loves your pet as much as you do. Most RV parks and campgrounds have written pet policies. To be a good neighbor, follow them.

Don’t Interfere With Others During Parking, Set-up, or Departure

We all appreciate helpful people — just not all the time. During arrival, parking, setting up in a campsite, and then breaking camp at the end of a stay are all times when we should let our fellow RVers do their thing without interference.

Yes, we’ve all seen RVers have some trouble getting their rig into their site. We’ve probably all had similar challenges of our own at some point. But the stress of having people watch you struggle is usually made worse when someone tries to step in. In 20+ years of full-timing, we’re not sure we can remember seeing anyone ever being very receptive to someone trying to help without being asked first.

Interfering with other campers as they get set up is bad campground etiquette

Whether they’re having trouble getting parked or not, nobody wants an audience. That’s especially true for seasoned campers like our dear friends Tom & Cait, who sure don’t need any help getting set up.

Even when we’ve seen people really struggling to get a large RV backed into a tight space, and the very few times (like maybe twice ever) we’ve finally, politely asked if they might like a little assistance, most people aren’t interested.

Keep in mind that Peter spent a decade teaching professional bus drivers in New York City, so he’s about as qualified to help as anyone. But let other people handle their own RVs unless they specifically ask for your help. Honestly, we don’t want unsolicited help either.

If someone asks for assistance and you feel qualified enough to take on that responsibility, go for it. Otherwise, let people manage their own rigs. They’ll appreciate it, and so will you when they leave you alone to work out your own challenges.

Don’t Use Picnic Tables for Unsanitary Purposes

Most campers use picnic tables for dining, working, or maybe playing board games. Campground picnic tables are not there for you to set your sewer hose on while you work on it, or to set hiking shoes or other dirty items on.

Just as you (hopefully) wouldn’t put those sorts of things on your kitchen table, don’t use your campground picnic table in ways that would make guests in your home uncomfortable sharing a meal with you. Remember that other campers will be preparing food and eating at that table.

A man preparing food on a picnic table. Using a campground picnic table for unsanitary purposes might make people bad RV neighbors.

Picnic tables are primarily used for preparing food and dining. They’re not a place to work on dirty projects or to lay items like sewer hoses.

Of course, a picnic table will get dirty just from being outdoors. But leaving it cleaner than you found it is a courtesy for the next campers arriving at the site.

Don’t Keep or Leave a Messy Campsite

Speaking of cleaning, another way to be a good neighbor (or at least to avoid being a bad one) is to keep a tidy campsite. That’s especially true when you depart, but even while you’re staying at the campground, try not to clutter it up too badly. That goes double for garbage, which should be disposed of properly.

When sharing a campground or RV park with others, leaving garbage around your campsite not only forces everyone around you to live with your mess, but can attract bugs, rodents, and other unwelcome critters.

Keeping a messy campsite not only degrades your camping experience but that of everyone else around you as well.

Don’t Leave Bright Lights On All Night

Leaving bright lights on all night can annoy your neighbors and possibly prevent them from sleeping well.

Some people use exterior lights at night for safety, but there’s rarely a reason for bright lights to remain on all night. If an overnight safety light is important to you, consider using a motion light instead. There are many inexpensive options available, whether you prefer battery-operated or solar-powered models.

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Don’t Let Your Children Have Free Reign

It’s great to see kids enjoying the outdoors, and a camping trip is a wonderful way to expose them to nature. But children are learning and growing, and as part of the process, they need to be taught to respect their surroundings and others who share it with them.

Teaching children not to scream or run through other people’s campsites will help them become good RV neighbors throughout their lives.

Don’t Bring Firewood in From Other Places

Firewood can carry bugs into a campground or RV park. It can also kill trees by infesting them with diseases that can spread throughout campgrounds, state and national parks and forests. Many campgrounds have wood available for purchase. Don’t bring your own firewood into a campground or RV park. Many have signs warning that outside firewood is prohibited. Follow the rules and help protect the environment.

PRO TIP: Consider using a propane firepit or other smoke-free campfire option. They’re usually smokeless, many require no wood products of any kind, and they can be super easy to turn on and off. One of the fastest ways to ruin a camping trip is by having your rig fill with smoke from the campsite next door.

Don’t Leave Your Campfire Unattended

Lots of RVers love a campfire experience. A favorite memory of many camping trips is sitting around the campfire enjoying good conversation and drinks or snacks. But it’s important to respect fire. Never leave your campfire unattended, and extinguish it completely when you’re done.

Also, don’t burn trash that can’t be completely turned to ash. Never burn plastics or other potentially toxic substances, aluminum foil or anything else that will be left sitting in the fire pit the next morning.

It should go without saying that respecting and obeying all campfire bans is imperative.

We all love a blazing campfire. Good RV campground neighbors put their fires out before leaving the site or hitting the sack.

Never leave a campfire unattended and always fully extinguish your fire before retiring for the night.

Try To Avoid Taking a Large or Pull-Through Site If You Don’t Need One

Of course, we’re talking here about places where you’re able to choose your own site, such as first-come, first-served National Park or National Forest campgrounds.

Extra-long sites allow those with larger rigs to enjoy the campground, too. Pull-throughs are great for anyone staying only a night or two who would prefer to avoid disconnecting their toad car or trailer. Pull-throughs are also helpful for newer RVers with less confidence driving their rigs (we were all new at one point, so being thoughtful to others getting started is a nice courtesy to extend).

If you’re in a small RV and you arrive at a campground to find that there are ONLY large and/or pull-through sites left, of course, you should take one. However, if you drive into a first-come, first-served campground and you’re traveling in a Class B campervan or any other rig that doesn’t require a large pull-through site, try to avoid taking one if there are other sites available for your size RV.

Whenever reasonably possible, these sites should be left for your fellow RVers who need them because they can’t fit anywhere else. Having full-timed in a diesel pusher for over 20 years, we can tell you first-hand how disappointing it can be to find the few large sites in an otherwise sparsely occupied campground filled with small pop-up trailers.

We know that everyone has the right to take whatever campsite they want. We’re simply talking about courtesy toward fellow RVers. Now that we’ve downsized to a small Outdoors RV Creekside 19MKS Titanium Series, travel trailer, we’ll surely avoid using the Big Rig sites, too.

Don’t Use Leaky Sewer Hoses, Gate Valves, or Holding Tanks

RVs require maintaining equipment in proper working order and the wastewater system is no exception. Leaky sewer hoses, gate valves, or holding tanks can ruin a nice campsite and the entire experience for both you and your neighbors. Repair or replace them as needed.

Not sure how to replace a sewer drain valve? Our video will show you how easy it is:

Don’t Leave Behind Food Scraps or Anything That Might Attract Animals

We mentioned earlier about keeping your campsite tidy, but food is an important consideration worthy of special attention, especially in wild areas where animals roam. If bears live in the area, strict rules about food handling and storage will likely be in place to keep everyone safe, including the bears.

When you leave a campsite after having enjoyed your stay, don’t leave food scraps behind at your site. Check around the fire pit and the picnic table in particular, and properly dispose of food scraps and any other garbage. These attract critters that could ruin the experience of the next camper to arrive at your site, and the campers in the sites nearby.

A man and a child preparing food at a campsite

Leaving food scraps behind at your campsite can attract animals, which can be dangerous for both other campers and the animals themselves.

Don’t Cut Through Someone Else’s Campsite

This is one of the biggest signs that someone is new to RVing since anyone who’s been out here very long knows better. Except in an emergency, walking through someone else’s campsite is virtually never okay.

It’s important to respect every RVer’s campsite as their personal space – one they’ve essentially rented temporarily. That site belongs to them and is their private patch of land, just as your campsite is your private space during your stay.

Don’t Smoke Where It Will Bother Other Campers

While your campsite may be your private spot of land during your stay, we’re all sharing the wider space, including the air. When camping in close proximity to other campers, it’s not okay to force all the campers in the vicinity to endure secondhand smoke. It’s neither pleasant nor healthy. People have the right to smoke, of course. But here again, boondocking may be a better option for those who want to smoke outside and around their rig.

If You Arrive Late, Don’t Set Up Camp Until the Next Morning

If you happen to arrive at your campsite very late at night (which we should all do our best to avoid), try to avoid setting up your campsite immediately. Making noise and shining lights are likely to disrupt sleeping campers nearby.

If you have no other choice than to arrive late, pull safely into your campsite, and then get some shut-eye until morning. Then you’ll have plenty of time to arrange your campsite in the light of day.

The best way to avoid being bad RV neighbors is to focus on one concept: respect. If we prioritize respect for fellow RVers, we’ll all find greater enjoyment in our camping experiences.

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Tuesday 30th of April 2024

Would love it if the people who need this list would read it :):) Someday.


Wednesday 1st of May 2024

So would we, @postiecat! Hope springs eternal! 😉

Gay Tacoma (Washington) Travel Enthusiast

Wednesday 1st of May 2024

@postiecat, I agree. Although not very often, I have camped out at campgrounds. Thankfully, my experiences have been positive.

Gay Tacoma (Washington) Travel Enthusiast

Tuesday 30th of April 2024

All good points to consider while camping. You don't want to be a nasty neighbour when camping. You can listen to music without being too loud and obnoxious. You can play music around the campground without being loud and obnoxious.

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