About Us
What's New
 From the Driver's Seat
Thoughts from Barb
Places 
 
Our House 
Links
Old What's New
Newsletters
Main Menu
Guest
 
Books
Recipes
Search
Message Board
E-Mail us
FAQs
 We thought that this was a good article and it is always timely. We met Mel a while ago via email and most recently we found them in our home Coast to Coast park in Alabama. It was Mel who told me what I needed to connect to the internet with my cell phone. He also told me where to order the cable and set up my dial up access.  Mel currently writes a technical column for RV Companion and maintains a web site about computers and computing.
RV Campground Etiquette
By Mel Chaney (Feb., 2000)
This time of the year we're usually just chilling out, touring lightly and waiting for old man winter to go away. Today is no exception to the rule; we're in the South to keep reasonably warm and are spending some quality time at our home park in southeast Alabama.  Staying in one place for a month or so allowed some friends to meet up with us.  We've enjoyed the company of Joe and Marcy Kahl as well as meeting again with Chuck & Cheryl Mercer.  Joe and Marcy are on their way to New Orleans and Mardi gras, then west; Chuck & Cheryl are slowly heading west to Northern Washington State for the summer. We're waiting for things to warm up and slowly head up the east coast for a summer in the Canadian Maritimes. A special treat presented itself when we noticed a red, American Dream motorhome, with a Toyota pick up truck having "Movin On' painted on its rear.  It's the RV home of Ron & Barb Hofmeister, who we have communicated with for a few years.  Finally, we had the opportunity to meet face to face with this great couple and authors.  I spent about an hour with them coordinating how they can use their cellular phone for e-mail with their PC. 
Something we've often said is:  "We can come and go as we please, change our atmosphere and climate as often as we want.  If we meet new friends in a campground, we can arrange to move our RV closer to them and if we find our neighbors to be unfriendly or distasteful we can move in short order to another campsite or campground."  In six years of living the RV lifestyle, two of them full-time, we had never before found it appropriate to move away from an unwanted neighbor.  Yesterday was the first time that happened.  Some campsites here are a bit narrow, but adequate. This couple pulled in on our awning side and parked their 5th wheel so close to us that their room slide-out protruded well beyond their utilities connection.  When they opened their slide out awnings, we barely had room to open our main awning.  To make matters worse they pulled straight into the site, rather than follow the pattern of angling about 20 degrees, like every other RV in the row did.  That almost put the front of their RV in front of ours. 
Susan tried to be friendly, but, while they were maneuvering their RV into position, mentioned they weren't angled like all the other RVs and were a bit close. The man said something I won't repeat herein and the woman said, "we always seem to find people like you and have trouble with them, and besides we need to be far over so we can get our main awning out."  I held in check the comment I wanted to make, which was, "it's no small wonder you're always meeting people who object your taking up of a campsite and half of your neighbors."  They even moved our lawn chairs out of their way.  That was the last straw; in unison we said to please leave our chairs alone.  When they walked around their slide outs, to hook up the utilities, they were only a few feet from our front door. 
I asked Susan to forget it and said we would move to another campsite. They being about three feet from our kitchen window overheard this and had some further comments. This couple arrived early in the morning and had pulled into the site without checking into the office.  The RV resort owner arrived a bit late at about 9:15 am.  I, and our new neighbors were waiting for him outside the office.  I was first and simply requested another site.  He asked if anything was wrong with it.  I said no but we had been there long enough and needed a change of scenery.  He asked that I wait until he made his rounds, so he could pick a good one for us.  When he drove around the park, and saw the situation we were facing, he stopped and stared at our neighbors RV.  He said nothing more than, "Mel, pick an unoccupied site, and then let me know where you're parked at."  He understood immediately. 
We pulled into the new site within 10 minutes. A half hour hadn't passed when this same couple walked to our RV and were pointing at the distance between our RV and our new neighbors.  They were talking loud and hand gesturing.  Like every other RVer here, we left approximately 3 feet between our rig and the utilities pole.  We also angled our RV to match the parking angle of our neighbors.  I could plainly hear them outside talking and pondering why people leave so much room between the driver's side of the RV and the utility pole.  It seems it's their practice to consume as much property as possible, without regard to the manner the rest of the population is parked.  I was beginning to think we'd have to leave the campground to get rid of this couple and their antics.  During the past 2 days we've walked past each other a number of times and we all pretended the other wasn't present.  Thankfully they appear not to want anymore to do with us than we do of them. 
Because of this unpleasant experience, I thought it might be appropriate to write a little about campground etiquette.  Possibly the most widely accepted one is you never, never walk through an "occupied" campsite.  Often that means walking around an entire block to get to the next row of RVs, payphones, showers, newspaper stands, trash dumpsters, etc.  Sometimes where we want to go is so far around we drive the tracker, others ride their bikes.  Few campgrounds have cut-through sidewalks in a row of RVs, because nobody wants to be next to a major trail, where people are walking and talking alongside their RV.  It simply breaks up the serenity, tranquility and privacy too much.  While few RVers seek absolute privacy, and it may be impossible to obtain given the usual closeness of neighbors, common sense prevails well. 

Many campgrounds have posted rules about payphone use.  Most request that calls be limited to 10 minutes if people are waiting to use the phone(s).  It's become such an accepted standard that often those requests/rules aren't posted.  Nobody wants to see an abundance of signs stating what not to do, when everyone's aware of it.  The problem is that not all RVers are aware of the informal etiquette that goes along with the RV lifestyle.  Still, sometimes it's all but impossible to conform.  If you're trying to settle and accident, medical claim or even some needed investment or banking problem, it often takes longer than 10 minutes to speak to a human representative.  Then there's citing vehicles, licenses, policy numbers, doctors and events, etc.  When that happens it's appropriate to let those waiting to use the phone know of your situation.  Most have been there-done-that, and understand there's little you can do about it.  It also lets them know you're not avoiding them or talking to a friend, while they might have equally important business to conduct. 

It's our observation about half of RVers have pets onboard, mostly dogs and cats.  Some RV parks have areas set aside for pets to do their thing, most don't.  Some assign pet owners campsites in a pet owner area, but those are rare.  For the most part, you're required to keep you pet on a short leash and under absolute control.  In all cases you're required to pick up after your pet.  Most people carry inexpensive sandwich bags for this purpose.  They're turned inside out and placed over your hand. Then the droppings are picked up and the bag reversed to contain the "stuff." That works fine for small dogs and cats. Yes, even cats are on a leash, it can be done if you're persistent in training and use a chest harness. For larger dogs, larger plastic bags are required. We've seen some RVers using poop and scoop shovels, but that's got to be an unpleasant experience and it normally has to be put into plastic for disposal anyway.  One fellow with a large dog uses a small shovel, removes his sewer connection and dumps it there.  Another places it in the toilet and sends it to his black water tank. Whatever works for you, it's absolutely necessary to pick up after pets. Luckily, our little Yorkshire terrier (Derringer), usually only does her business during the first walk of the morning. However, whenever we take her for a walk we always carry a plastic sandwich bag, just in case.  Costing about 79 cents for a box of 150, the cheapest ones are fine for this purpose. 

Nobody wants to be awakened early by a barking dog or for that matter to hear one barking at all.  It's one thing for a pet to bark when someone knocks on the door, somehow I don't think dogs can be trained not to do that.  It's quite another to hear one howling when their owners are away from the RV, or barking at anyone walking down the street.  Let's face it, pets onboard an RV aren't often there for protection, they're for companionship.  Even if you might have a larger one for protection when boondocking in isolated areas, it's necessary for them to be reasonably quiet when in an RV resort or campground.  Somehow, Derringer has learned she can growl lightly when another animal approaches the RV and never to bark or growl at people or dogs on the driver's side of the RV. After all, that's our neighbors front yard, not hers.  Unless she recognizes them, she does growl or bark lightly at people approaching our front door or passing through our front yard, which is fine with us. The bottom line is if you have an uncontrollable, barking or howling dog, you're not going to be a happy camper very long and will quickly develop some distressed neighbors.  If the condition persists, you can bet on campground management asking you to leave. You can also count on your name being in their computer, if in the future you call for reservations.  With camping organizations using a central reservations system, such as KOA and others, one could actually be " black balled" from future use of their facilities and never know it, but sites will always be full or unavailable to those RVers having noisy, barking dogs. 

Experienced RVers keep their voices low enough not to be heard next door. Most are aware of where their TV or radio speakers are located and either keep the volume low or close the windows having speakers directly over them. Try setting the volume as desired and walking around the RV.  If what you're listening to can be easily heard, consider relocating speakers, closing appropriate windows, or lowering the volume.  In nice weather most RVers, like to keep their windows and door open, thus airing out the rig and experiencing indoor fresh air.  Sometimes it can be a bit challenging to keep from interfering audibly with each other, but a little effort usually resolves this potential problem. In our case, I installed on/off switches on each speaker.  We turn on only those closest to where we are sitting. Since I'm a little hard of hearing, there's a speaker directly around where I'm likely to be seated.  I also love 50's and some Country Western music, played "very" loud.  For that purpose I had an infrared transmitter plugged into the line outlet of the VCR. A remote headset picked up the signal and amplified it in the volume-controlled earphones. Until the headset broke, it was wonderful.  If anyone knows where a similar unit can be purchased, I consider its weight to be worth that of gold and would appreciate knowing where to get another one.  Help!!! 

New campgrounds are being built to handle very large RVs. It's usually obvious where to park your RV on the site and at what angle it should be, because the parking pads and/or patio slab are an immediate indication.  Older parks are trying to accommodate large rigs by angling the parking, thus making the sites longer. It's kinda like diagonal parking downtown and similarly makes the best use of campsite space. Usually, these campsites don't have cement parking pads or patio slabs, so it's often not easy to determine where or at what angle rig should be parked.  Look closely at the campground map, provided when checking in.  From that you can usually determine the angle of parking desired.  If the row you're assigned to have little or no RVs, use the angle of the sites on the map and try to replicate it, otherwise take the angle other R Vs are parked at. 

It's getting to where at least half of the RVs are carrying satellite TV onboard. With it comes the profusion of satellite dishes, most mounted on tri-pods and poles. Sometimes it's necessary to intrude on your neighbor's site to set up the satellite dish; perhaps it's the only place you or your neighbor can get a signal from the satellites.  Before moving a dish antenna onto a neighbor's site, it's absolutely imperative that you gain his/her permission.  Potential problems then exist when the good neighbor leaves first and it's a two-fold problem.  First, if we're pulling into a site and see a satellite dish mounted on or very near to our site, we try hard not to interfere with our new neighbor's signal.  While we don't absolutely have to conform to the previous site occupant's arrangements or the agreement between the two parties, we will do anything reasonable to accommodate our new neighbors.  We've yet to interfere with their reception and haven't been hampered yet, by having to park in an unusual manner.  However, for us, it gets sticky when the tables are turned and a new neighbor is pulling into their site, with our satellite antenna there.  We feel guilty, because they can't possibly know of our agreement with the previous occupants and we have taken a portion of their site with our satellite antenna.  When this happens I profusely apologize, telling them why it's there and offer to move it if it gets in their way, or if they just want me to.  I've never had to move it and nobody has had to move theirs, in the reverse situation.  Unless we can use our roof mounted dish antenna, chances are if we're in an area with a hard to find hole-in-the-trees-situation, both my neighbor's and our antennas will end up side by side.  Usually, all I, or a new neighbor has to do is roam around a bit with the dish and tripod and we or a neighbor will offer his/her space, if there's already established satellite reception from there. 

Often it's a good idea to leave the porch and/or awning lights turned on, if you will be arriving back after dark. Fumbling for the door key in the dark isn't much fun. However, it's not proper to leave any outdoor lights on all night. While it provides lighting for your patio area and doesn't interfere with your sleep when "your" windows are open, it shines directly at your neighbor's windows. Most people don't appreciate that. It's fine to leave outdoor lights on during the evening, but turn them off before retiring for the night, or if it gets later than about 10:00.

When in an isolated area, or one where grocery shopping is distant, before departing to shop we ask our friends if there's something they would like us to get for them. The same applies if we're going to the post office. Usually, the favor is returned later so we don't have to drive 20 miles simply to pick up a loaf of bread or a dozen eggs. However, if you need more than a few items, it's probably best to thankfully decline and go shopping yourself. Otherwise, be prepared to do some major shopping for your friends in the near future. Handicapped RVers are especially appreciative of this offer, but one shouldn't expect or ask for the favor to be returned. Often they have enough trouble just getting around and burdening them further isn't something we'd ask for or accept.

When staying at parks allowing washing of RVs, most of us try to take advantage of this "unusual" situation. Washing with a bucket, rag and a waterless spray cleaner is definitely the norm at most parks, so when the opportunity to actually get out a hose and do the job right appears, most RVers take advantage of it. Especially if the RVs next door are close to your RV, let your neighbors know before getting started. This gives them a chance to put outside things away, move them back from their normal position or cover them, even to close appropriate windows. If water is likely to be running into their yard, make sure they know about it so they can put out an extra rubber mat to keep the soles of their shoes clean before entering their RV.  In this situation, you're not asking for your neighbors permission or blessing, but a little advance notice goes a long way to keeping a happy neighborhood. 

The above apply to things that are appropriate, in the campground. Northwest Washington State has an ordinance I think is good. I don't know if it's a Statewide law or not, but if not, perhaps it should be. On two lane highways, if more than 5 vehicles are following behind, you must give way and allow them to pass. It says nothing about the speed you're going. In theory you could be speeding and still are required to pull over or get a fine and ticket. The police don't appear to abuse enforcement of this law and they don't expect you to pull over into the first driveway; but where it's reasonable to pull over they expect you to do so. At times we've been one of those slow moving RVs, mostly during high wind situations. We think it's important to be extremely courteous on the highways. There are many of us on the road now and public perception of RVers can be from good to bad. Many other drivers are trying to get to or from work and truckers "are" at work. Again courtesy, even to the extreme, goes a long way toward giving a good perception of us, it's worth pulling over and letting others pass. We've many times seen drivers waving a "thank you" as they go around us. 

It's likely you "won't" find many of the above in written campground rules, at least we hope not. One RV park we stayed at had signs all over the campground, each was negative such as: don't do this; don't do that, management frowns upon, etc. Campground signs and rules, posting what's expected, are much easier to receive if they're in a positive manner, such as: Please pick up after your pet, Speed limit is 5 MPH when roads are dusty, this trash can is for aluminum cans only--thank you, quite hours are between 10:00 PM and 8:00 AM. One-way signs and arrows are well received, DO NOT ENTER, is quite another matter. A sign saying to "please close the gate behind you" is better than, don't leave this gate open. Still, if rules are written or "defacto", positive or negative, it behooves and helps all RVers to adhere to them.

The key is to consider your neighbors and treat them like you would like to be treated; the Golden Rule has worked for 2000 years now. Courtesy and concern for others go a long way to making life easier and more pleasant for everyone. We try to be helpful, and others seem to always be there, when we need some assistance or advice.  We can honestly say, in 6 years we've only met one RV couple we dislike. We talk to and greet each neighbor we have; sometimes they become friends, more often just friendly, good neighbors, like we try to be.