Campers and Motorhomes

A Beginner’s Guide to Camping Etiquette

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Campers and Motorhomes

Setting Up Camp

This article originally appeared on

On a recent travel trip, my husband and I met a gracious gentleman by the name of Rick. He first approached us and asked about the logos on our RV. We discussed RV ownership and how we rent ours out to others. Rick has been tent camping on the road with his canine companions, writing articles about nature while on a path to self-discovery. He’s a kind and intriguing character. Our conversation led us to the topic of camping etiquette. We agreed that it’s wonderful to meet so many new campers on our travels. Each with their own unique story. But with so many new people discovering this lifestyle, it also brings forth some new issues for our beloved nature. Knowledge is key so here is a starting guide to proper camping etiquette for new campers and RVers.

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Maroon Bells trail direction sign for campground in Aspen, Colorado in July 2019 summer on path road closeup view

Follow the Rules

Every campground has a specific list of rules for the area. Before booking a reservation, or setting up camp, read the rules. They’re in place for the betterment of the area, and for the enjoyment of all campers. Rules may include items such as quiet hours, no generators, no campfires, pet rules, etc. Knowing the expectations ahead of time will help prepare you for your stay.

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Happy sleepy dog camping with family
Fly View Productions/istockphoto

Pets on a Leash

It’s both courteous and responsible to follow the rules by keeping your pet on a leash. Yes, your furry friend may be very well behaved, and you may have trained it well, but there are other factors to consider when camping. The demeanor of other pets may not align with the personality of your pet. Some pets may not be accustomed to other animals. There are many factors to consider, such as small children in the area, pet allergies, and wild animals. Keeping your furry friend on a leash helps to alleviate any potential issues. Also, it’s important to always clean up after your pet, and please do not leave pet baggies behind.

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RV Campsite in Mountains

Respect Others' Areas

Cutting through someone else’s campground is impolite and considered rude. Campers pay for their designated areas, the same as you did. Saving a few steps is not worth cutting through someone else’s rented property. Think of it as a hotel room. You can’t just barge into another person’s room. It’s personal space. The same should be said about leaving debris, or using trash facilities in other sites. Be respectful of someone else’s space.

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RV Park Camping Fire

Lights and Fires Out

When turning in for the night, or leaving your campsite, be mindful of your campfire and lights. It’s important to make sure your campfire is fully out before leaving it unattended. Dangers can arise from a small spark. The general rule is to make sure all coals, logs, and ashes are cold. Lanterns and porch lights should also be turned off. A lot of RV sites and campsites are in close proximity to others. It’s best to consider if your lights are shining on your neighbors’ sites or even in their RV windows. It also makes it difficult to enjoy the beautiful night sky when nearby lights are turned on.

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Woman washing dishes in bowl, capming outdoor

Washing Dishes

If you’re glamping in an RV, you get the added perk of your very own kitchen sink. This makes life so much easier. But remember, all dirty dishes should be properly scraped before washing. And no coffee grinds down the drains. If tent camping, please do not wash your dishes in bathroom sinks. Yes, this is a thing. Dirty dishes should be washed in designated areas only. Be on the lookout for posted signs. Also be mindful of harmful soaps for wild animals. This is their home, and we must respect their land and their health.

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Man Emptying RV Sewer After Camping

RV Dump Sites

When enjoying life on the road in an RV, you should also follow the rules of dump sites. Camping etiquette extends to fellow RVers. Unfortunately, we’ve noticed an increase of trash items left at numerous dumpsites. Debris such as used gloves, towels, napkins, hose accessories, masks, etc. These sites are there for your convenience, but may not be attended to as often as one may think. Leftover trash can be blown away, or consumed by passing critters. Not to mention these items are unsanitary and potentially dangerous.

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Clearing Up The Camping Rubbish

Clean Up

“Clean Up, Clean Up. Everybody do your share.” Extra points if you sang this little ditty out loud. Most of us have been taught this since we were babies, but this lesson is even more important when out in the wild. Maintain a clean campsite during your stay, and be sure to pack everything up before going to bed. There are a lot of hungry animals out there, and your food may miraculously disappear by morning. More so, some animals cannot distinguish the difference between food and trash. The plastic wrapper or bottle you left behind may be consumed and make animals sick. Upon departure, take a few extra moments to make sure every last bit of trash is picked up from your site. 

Make sure campfires are cold. And return items such as picnic tables back to their original places. If your furry friend left any surprises, make sure to clean those up as well. If you have any leftover firewood, you may leave it behind in the campfire ring. It’s a nice little surprise for the next camper to find wood waiting for their first campfire roast.

Related: Why “Leave it as You Found It” Is More Important Than Ever

RV campsite

Keep Calm and Camp On

There are many other rules and tips to follow, but hopefully this starting guide will be helpful. It’s exciting to see so many new people exploring the outdoors. Nature is a gift to be enjoyed by all, and we must respect it, while respecting others. Thank you to our new friend, Rick, for the idea for this blog. Change begins with awareness. 

Shi is a content creator, business owner, wife, and mother of six. She left behind a career in the corporate world to enjoy more time with her family, and to explore the wondrous world of RV ownership. Shi spends additional time renovating RVs, while enjoying adventures on the open road.

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