Follow the rules: Individual parks usually hand you a copy of their rules when you register. Adhering to these rules is one of the basics of campground etiquette. It makes things easier for everyone involved – you, your neighbors and the park operators. Typical guidelines include reduced speed limits on campground roads for the safety of all involved. You are typically expected to unhook a dinghy before driving to your site. There are usually defined quiet hours when you should keep the noise down, turn off outdoor lights, generators - basically, the party is over.
Eliminate pet peeves: Literally. Pick up after your pets. Stop excessive or extended barking. Don’t leave a howling dog unattended to bother the neighbors. Use a leash. Even if Spot is friendly, not everyone is an animal lover. Good pet-etiquette on your part helps ensure that the many RVers with pets are welcome at campgrounds.
Parking the rig: Sometimes it is very clear how to orient the rig on a site – you may even have a cement pad. But in many cases, the only guidepost will be the hookup for electric and sewer. General campground etiquette is to stay on your side of that hook-up, and not have awnings or slide-outs encroaching on the site next door. Look at the campground map for a clue about preferred orientation. Or, look around you to see how other rigs are angled, if they are centered on sites or close to the utility hook up. You will get the most out of the space you have (and so will your neighbors) if you are all situated the same way. There are bound to be exceptions – we have been in many campgrounds with no uniformity in the size, shape or orientation of sites. The main objective in these cases is to just “guess the site” and fit the RV into it. But even then, the idea is to park in a way that gets everyone their fair share of privacy and room under their respective awnings. Common sense and campground etiquette go hand in hand.
Late arrivals: If you are arriving at a park after normal quiet hours, attempt some degree of stealth behavior. Not that it is easy to be unobtrusive pulling in an RV. But keep the set-up to the minimum required for the night. Your neighbors will understand that you need to pull in and hook up. They have probably been in the same situation. But they will lose patience if they spend an hour listening to loud conversation, slamming doors and arguments over how to level the rig. Do what is essential and remember that tomorrow is another day. The same sort of courtesy should be used if you are making an early morning departure. Don’t keep the engine idling for an hour before you leave. Tidy up your campsite the night before.
Sewer connections: Do them right. Make them secure. No torn hoses. In most places, your sewer connection faces the side where you neighbor has their “patio” area. Another time where being discreet and careful is part of good campground etiquette.
Washing the RV: Most campgrounds will not allow washing to avoid wasting water, high water bills, muddy sites, etc. Read the rules. You usually have to get by with a small bucket and rag and/or waterless cleaner to just do minimal spot cleaning. If you are lucky enough to find a place where you can really wash the RV, use common sense. Don’t have the water flowing when you aren’t actually using it. Watch the spray – your neighbor may not be interested in having their rig washed. In fact, it makes for friendly campground etiquette if you let you neighbor know ahead of time that you plan to wash your rig. That way, they can close any windows or put away articles that might inadvertently get wet.
No trespassing: When we first started out, a fellow RVer came over and asked if he could look around on “our property” for something he had lost, a paper that had blown out of his car the night before. We appreciated his asking first, and were somewhat amused by the term “our property”. But in fact, one of the unspoken rules of campground etiquette is that you stay off occupied sites. For the time a camper is on a site, it is their space and their privacy should be respected. If you are taking a stroll around the campground, the operative word is “around”. Stay on roads and pathways – don’t cut through your neighbors’ turf.
Around the campfire: Before you light it, make sure it is permitted, and follow any rules the campground may have. Do not use your firepot as a garbage can. There is sure to be a trash can available in your rig or on the park premises. No one likes to pull into a site with a firepot full of beer cans or the remains from someone else’s dinner the night before.
Keeping up the neighborhood: In general, be tidy. RVing is an outdoor pastime and RVers are generally an easy going lot. But there is a point where too much stuff laying around outside the RV starts to look sloppy. Trash or anything loose that can blow around is a definite no-no.
Do unto others: When in doubt, follow the golden rule. If you aren’t sure of the proper campground etiquette for something, think about how you would like to be treated. If you are concerned that something might bother your neighbor, your best bet is just to ask them. If you find yourself in a situation where your neighbors or park operators are doing something that you find intolerable, politely address the subject with them. If that doesn’t work, consider moving to another site or another campground. You are in an RV after all.