woman sitting in a chair at a fire pit outside of her winnebago motorhome

RV Etiquette: Tips for New RVers
Unsaid RVer rules for camping, boondocking, and travel days.
By: Kenny & Sabrina Phillips

woman sitting in a chair at a fire pit outside of her winnebago motorhome

With so many new RVers hitting the road, I thought it would be a great time to sit down and list some suggestions of ways we can all contribute to making RVing more relaxing and enjoyable for everyone. 

When you are the new person, sometimes it feels like there are unsaid rules everyone else is following. These tips for RV etiquette will help you be in the loop with what many RVers feel are the most respectful ways to set up camp, use facilities, and travel.

At the Campground

Don’t distract your neighbors when breaking down their campsite.

We all want to be friendly and greet our new neighbors when they arrive and bid them farewell as they pack up to get back on the road, but we should always give them the time and space to set up and pack up their RV and tow vehicles. 

There are so many safety steps to take when packing up an RV, it would be terrible to distract someone while going through these steps and cause them to forget to attach a safety chain or put their vehicle in the proper setting to be towed.

winnebago motorhome parked at a camp ground in san diego

Keep your noise levels to a respectable limit.

Take radios for an example, almost everyone is at the campground to have fun, and music is definitely a great way to get a party started, but be mindful of everyone around you. We don’t all like the same music, and if you turn up your radio it might cause your neighbor to do the same. 

Don’t cross through other people’s sites.

This is one bad habit that drives most RVers crazy. You might be thinking to yourself, what’s the harm in walking through a site when no one is outside of their RV? 

I can say for us, it drives our dog nuts when people walk through our site, which in turn drives us nuts when she will not stop barking to alert us. 

Completely extinguish campfires.

For everyone’s safety, we always make sure a fire is completely out before turning in for the night. It is easy to do and with just a little bit of water you can rest assured that no embers will spark a disaster. 

woman sitting on a chair by a fire pit outside of her winnabego motorhome

Clean up after yourself in the bathhouses.

Camp hosts and campground employees work very hard to keep facilities at their best; the least we can do is not make more work for them. 

By keeping toiletries off the floor and bringing all soaps and bottles back out of the shower stalls, we can all do our part to keep the facilities at their best. 

Leave your campsite as nice as you received it.

This is an easy one; basically we are just cleaning up after ourselves. Placing trash in the labeled receptacles or dumpsters, cleaning up after our dog and taking care not to damage equipment or outdoor furniture at the site.

Follow all campground rules.

Every campground is going to have their own set of rules and they are usually provided in a welcome packet. It is good to take the time and look over those rules. 

They will let you know about their pet policies (like leash rules), office hours, laundry facility hours, quiet hours, and what the speed limits are for the particular campground. 

Fun Fact: we once stayed at a campground that had written in red highlighted letters “No Nudity.” I asked the camp host if they had that much of a problem that it really needed to be spelled out like this and they said, “yes, absolutely!”

While Boondocking

Keep your distance.

Most people who boondock or dry camp are doing so because they are looking for more space and quiet, otherwise they would be at a campground or RV resort. 

winnebago motorhome parked in an open area

Keeping your distance doesn’t mean you have to be out of sight, and every location is going to be different depending on how much space is available. However, I would say if you get a wave hello while setting up you’re probably good, but if your neighbors seem irritated, you might want to move a little further away. 

Keep the generator use to a minimum.

We don’t all have super solar setups and, of course, there are going to be times that we need our generator to recharge our batteries. We should be mindful of when we are doing so and for how long. 

The best time to run your generator is during the day. If you must fire it up at night, consider using it to just top off your batteries and then shut it down for the night before going to bed.

Leave the area better than you found it.

Just like staying at a campground, we want to make sure we are packing up everything and leaving nothing behind. 

woman sitting on a chair outside of her winnabego motorhome

But I would like to also add: let’s be sure we are doing no harm to wildlife and the natural habitat around us, including not emptying our gray and black tanks onto the ground. Even gray water can harm plants due to the soaps we use to clean our bodies and dishware. 

Overnight Stays at Walmart and Other Retailers

Call ahead.

Places that allow us to park overnight are ever-changing and adjusting their rules. When you call ahead you can possibly save yourself a trip or the dreaded security knock in the middle of the night, as well as a ticket or tow. 

When you call and the location does allow you to stay, ask them where they would like you to park for the night as a courtesy.

Don’t make it look like you are camping.

Leave the camping chairs and grills in the cargo bays. When staying overnight at retailers, we are not actually camping. We are just there to rest and get an early start in the morning. 

We try our best to keep to ourselves and not cause anyone to complain to the store management, we feel this could lead to the removal of overnight privileges.

Don’t put your slides out.

Another good idea is to leave your slides in. Most of these parking lots are tight on space already and tractor trailers like to use these locations for rest as well, so we try not take up any more space than we need.

Protect the property.

If you put your jacks down to be more stable, put blocks down first to protect the property. These companies are nice enough to let us stay, so we want to avoid making indents in their ground or leave rust rings in their parking lot. 

Thank them for your stay.

Go in and buy something, this is not mandatory, but these places are nice enough to let us stay the night and we feel it is a nice gesture to go in the stores to purchase something as a thank you. So, hopefully, they continue to see value in letting us stay!

While on the Road

There are some easy ways to be courteous while driving, such as not tailgating, letting people merge, and staying at a safe speed, but I would like to add one more. 

winnebago motorhome parked at a gas station

When stopped at a gas station for fuel, we try to move our RV forward when done fueling up and not use the fueling lane as a parking space. Places like Flying J have RV lanes, but usually only two of them, and filling an 80- to 100-gallon tank already takes long enough. We don’t want the people behind us to have to wait for us while we are shopping in the quick mart. 

Safe Travels, Everyone!


User commented on April 21, 2022 9:42 PM
Another respectful rule…. Please turn outside lights off at night!