Photo © Laura Martone.

Photo © Laura Martone.

Yesterday, as a supplement to my recent list of road trip essentials, I offered an additional assortment of items for road-tripping RVers in the United States. After all, RV travel requires specialized supplies, such as propane tanks and sewer hoses, that regular road trippers probably won’t need.

But packing isn’t the only thing for RV travelers to consider. Proper camping etiquette is just as critical.

No matter where you park your RV for the night, you’re bound to encounter some inconsiderate neighbors at times. Try not to be one of them. Although some of America’s campgrounds and RV parks (especially the more organized and better staffed ones) have rules regarding issues like fireworks, noise, trash disposal, pet behavior, and the like, some managers are too ill-equipped or too reluctant to enforce them. So, whether you’re staying in a primitive campground or a full-service resort, be considerate of other campers and respect their right to peace and safety.

That said, here are some etiquette guidelines to keep in mind:


  • Keep your campsite tidy—do not tie unsightly items to trees, shrubs, or boulders; avoid the use of clotheslines; bring in towels and swimsuits once they’ve dried; and store toys and tools when not in use.
  • Never, under any circumstances, litter. Dispose of all garbage in proper trash bins. If the campground has no such bins, pack out all of your trash and dispose of it when you next encounter a trash receptacle. Do not leave your trash outside the RV, where it will attract insects and wild animals. When you’re packing up to leave the campground, double-check to ensure that you’ve left no trash behind.
  • Always clean up your pet’s droppings and dispose of them in a proper trash bin.
  • If a dump station is available, use it as often as needed. Take care not to spill any gray water (such as dishwater) or black water (raw sewage) on the ground.
  • Where fires are permitted, use existing fire rings or barbecue grills. When leaving the area, put out the fire completely, disperse the cool ashes, and clean all debris from the space.


  • Do not disturb or feed wildlife in the area. Feeding wild animals will only make them less wary of humans, which can lead to dangerous consequences.
  • Where campfires are permitted, use only purchased firewood or charcoal. Do not use wood from the surrounding area, without management’s permission.
  • Water (especially hot water) is often a premium commodity, so practice conservation by avoiding long showers, using as little water as necessary for washing dishes and clothes, and shutting off any running faucets.


  • Keep your radio and television at an unobtrusive volume. Not everyone will appreciate your programming tastes.
  • Do not disturb your neighbors with the use of excessively noisy generators, air conditioners, and the like, especially in cramped campgrounds.
  • Avoid practices that are forbidden by most campgrounds, such as the use of fireworks and loud all-terrain vehicles.
  • Observe standard quiet hours (9 p.m.-9 a.m.), and advise your visitors to stifle unnecessary noise, especially at night.
  • Supervise your children at all times—for their safety as well as for the comfort of others.
  • Always keep your pets on a leash, and walk them only where it’s allowed. Never tie up your pets alongside your vehicle while you’re away; either bring them with you or leave them inside the RV. Be aware that barking or aggressive dogs are usually forbidden—and cause for eviction in most places.
  • Do not take shortcuts (whether via foot or vehicle) across occupied campsites.
  • If alcohol is allowed in the campground, do not use it to excess in public.
  • Check the park rules before doing mechanical repairs, oil changes, and the like.
  • If there’s a laundry on the premises, do not leave your clothes in the washer or dryer after the cycle ends. Remove your clothes promptly and fold them in the designated area (which, depending on the available space, might be back at your RV).
  • If there are bathrooms on-site, try not to track in mud or sand from the outside. Inform the management when supplies (such as paper towels and toilet paper) are running low.
  • Many primitive campgrounds have little more than pit toilets or flush toilets with marginal plumbing. In such rural areas, it’s not acceptable to put used toilet tissue in the toilet bowl; rather, you must dispose of the tissue in available wastebaskets or, if no such wastebaskets exist, pack the used tissue with your own trash.
  • Wash dishes in the appropriate place—which is often not inside the restrooms.
  • Park boats and extra vehicles in designated areas.

I hope that these guidelines will enhance your next RV trip, and naturally, if I’ve forgotten any, please feel free to comment below. In the meantime, I wish you plenty of luck in planning and executing your next RV adventure, wherever that might be. Of course, if you’re looking for possible destinations, consider the varied road trip routes that I described a couple weeks ago.