A growing number of Americans will pack up their recreational vehicles and hit the road this year. Ownership of RVs has reached record highs, with 8.9 million households owning an RV.
RV owners will trek across the U.S., visiting some of the 16,000 public and privately owned campgrounds that speckle the map. That’s sure to make a few places a little crowded, which is why a refresher on RV etiquette can benefit everyone.
No matter where an RV parks for the day, it’s important to be a good neighbor and consider those in nearby sites, says Dan Wulfman, the founder of Tracks & Trails, a Colorado-based company that plans camping trips for RV travelers.
“RV etiquette is really important and not everyone gets that memo,” he says. “How you behave can really make or break your vacation, and the vacation of those around you.”
Here’s a list of guidelines to ensure every RV traveler is a good neighbor:
1. Don’t hibernate
A campground or an RV park is like a temporary community, Wulfman says, so everyone should make an effort to be friendly to their neighbors.
“Say hello to your neighbors and learn a little about them,” he says. “You don’t have to spend your vacation with them, but being friendly goes a long way to make everyone feel more at home at a campground.” This way, if a problem arises both people feel comfortable talking about it.
2. Respect campsite boundaries
There aren’t any walls or fences that maintain a physical boundary for each RV party, but one does exist, Wulfman says.
“It’s important to respect everyone’s space,” he says. “In other words, don’t cut through someone’s outdoor living room to go to the bathroom. If you’re traveling with children, remind them of this rule, too.”
3. Mind your garbage
From paper plates to empty plastic bottles, garbage will collect. While it’s tempting to toss garbage into the nightly campfire, it breaks RV etiquette.
Burning garbage creates an awful smell that neighbors have to endure. Plastic in particular gives off a foul odor, and is unhealthy for anyone who inhales it. Rather than burning garbage, bag it and move it to approved receptacles. RV owners should also make sure wastewater is handled properly, Wulfman says. Check tanks and hoses to make sure nothing leaks on the ground and gives off a bad odor.
4. Keep it down
RVs make a lot of noise. From generators to outdoor entertainment centers, an RV can create a lot of racket. Be mindful of the noise, Wulfman says.
“Yes, you’re on vacation, but that doesn’t mean the family next to you wants to hear your generator running at 3 a.m. or a kid’s movie blaring on an outdoor television,” he explains. “Be aware of the noise you create, and try to keep it to a minimum.”
This quiet rule applies to people, too, Wulfman says. It’s okay to stay up late and enjoy a campfire with kids, just be respectful to the neighbors at the same time. Most places have “quiet hours” that you should respect.
5. Be selective in campground choices
Unfortunately, not every RV party follows common etiquette. To increase the likelihood of having respectful neighbors, campground selection is important, Wulfman says.
“Campgrounds that are in town are usually frequented by locals that are there to party, so it’s always best to travel a little outside of a city,” he says. “By putting in a few extra miles, you’ll probably be able to find a quieter site with fewer people.”
This is where proper planning comes into play, Wulfman says. It’s best to have a game plan for overnight stays rather than pulling into the first campground or RV park that’s on the way. As more people crisscross the nation in RVs, it’s increasingly important to respect the boundaries of others. Being a good RV neighbor isn’t difficult; it just requires consideration of others, which sometimes gets lost during the relaxed nature of vacations.
And, of course, not having everything you need during your RV travels can also make or break your vacation. Use this pre-travel RV checklist to make the process easier.