RV & Camping Advice & Etiquette – Things to do & not do.

Squaw lake campground
Squaw Lake Campground 30 miles north of Yuma, Arizona

Unfortunately, the human race seems to be short on common sense, some people do not realize when they are causing discomfort or irritation to other campers.

After more than 40 years of camping and RVing Lynda and I have come up with a bunch of do's and don'ts and helpful suggestions. Some are from our own experiences and some are from social media and others.

When I think of inconsiderate campers I am reminded of one of our not so great experiences. Several years back Lynda and I were on our annual early spring snowbird excursion to Arizona. We had set up camp in a dry camping area on the Colorado River, Squaw Lake. A great place to spend a couple of weeks.

The camping area is limited, basically a paved parking lot, complete with a curb to keep RVs contained. We parked next to a fellow Canadian. His spot was at the end of the camping area next to a green space. His spot was between us and the green space.

One late afternoon Lynda and I were sitting enjoying the beautiful warm winter weather and a glass of wine. As we sat sipping our wine our neighbor brought his generator around his RV and set it not 10 ft. from us and proceeded to try and start it.

I glanced at Lynda and from her look I understood that she was as bewildered as I was at our neighbor's gall. He was intending to run his generator almost next to our chairs without the slightest regard for us.

I proceeded to ask if he was intending to run the generator. His answer was yes, I asked if he would mind moving it somewhere farther from us. He replied, "this would be the quietest spot". I disagreed and asked him to move the generator.

He reluctantly complied, however, this was not the end of the frustration, every time Lynda and I returned to our RV after an excursion our neighbor's generator would be sitting between our rig and his, running. Each time I would track him down and ask him to move it.

I pointed out several areas where he could place his generator that would be quiet for both of us. To this day, I am still puzzled by this person's lack of consideration. As I said the human race seems to be short on common sense.

Camping & RVing Advice & Etiquette

1. Don't leave your black water valve open until its time to dump, retaining moisture in the tank keeps solids from hardening and sticking to the tank. Follow the black dump with the gray to wash out sewer pipe.

2. Level camper before deploying slides, an unlevel RV increases wear on the mechanical components and increases chances of the slide becoming jammed.

3. RV AC unit will only give you a 20 degree F. drop in temperature between intake and outlet. It takes a long time to remove heat from all the furnishings, walls etc so start cooling in the morning before the camper heats up and leave the AC on all day as heat load increases.

4. When it's cold outside operating a propane stove or heater and breathing will cause condensation on windows and sometimes walls, open a window and overhead vent for air exchange.

5. Awnings are for shade. Most won't withstand torrential downpours or heavy snow. Never go off and leave it up- sudden wind gusts have destroyed literally hundreds. Even if you are in the vicinity of your rig pay attention to the winds. I have seen many awnings folded like a cheap tent causing considerable damage. Anchoring your awning to the ground is a good way prevent disaster.

6. Keep dogs on a leash unless there is an off leash area. (Dog Park Locator and Bark Park apps are good for this) and pick up the poop.

7. Check with the RV park before walking your dog, find out if there is any dog free areas.

8. Don't walk through others camping space unless invited.

9. RVs have two electrical systems, 110 volt AC (same as your house) and 12volt DC (battery power). The AC runs your air conditioners, microwave, outlets,and usually TV etc. when your RV is plugged into electricity (AC). Also, AC charges your RV batteries through a converter (a converter changes AC to 12 volt DC), the batteries or converter sends 12 volt power to your other electrical devices such as control boards for fridge and hot water tank, water pump, furnace, stabilizing jacks, and ceiling vent fans, propane detector, bath fan, hood fan, etc. A converter charges the deep cycle RV batteries at a slow rate, it may take a day or more to completely recharge the RV batteries. Deep cycle batteries like a slow charge.

10. An RV fridge will run on propane or electric. If set on auto it will flip over to propane if disconnected from shore power. An RV fridge needs 12-volt power to run on propane.

11. After propane is turned on at the propane bottle the lines may be full of air. The air will need to be pushed through before the fridge or water heater will work. The easiest way to dispel air from the lines is to turn on the stove until you smell propane or the stove will light. Caution do not leave the stove unattended, propane is heavier than air and can explode.

12. Before you turn the water heater on be sure water is flowing through it by opening a hot water tap. Be sure bypass valve is closed so water is going through the heater tank.

13. Most stabilizing jacks on trailers are not for leveling they are designed to keep it stable unless the jacks are hydraulic.

14. If you extend leveling jacks or slides while stopped overnight in a Walmart parking lot you may be asked to leave.

15. Even though some Walmarts post signs prohibiting overnight camping a chat with a teller or the manager may provide a stop for the night. Some of the signs are meant to deter long-term squatting.

16. Try to use RV toilet paper or single ply toilet paper. Septic system safe toilet paper is good too. Although gross to some, but acceptable in many countries around the world, put toilet paper in the trash not in your RV toilet. Your holding tank will take longer to fill and your gauge will work better.

17. When placing your tv dish out keep it on your lot. If you need to be outside your lot ASK permission from your neighbor. Precludes a confrontation.

18. Respect quiet hours.

19. Don't shine lights into neighbors RV. Keep your neon/LED/ decorative lights off during quiet hours. DON'T leave on all night!

20. Do not park for the night by yourself, there is safety in groups.

22. Truck stops are a noisy place to spend the night.

23. Some states and provinces allow overnight stopping in rest areas.

24. Some rest areas have free RV dumps and potable (drinking) water.

25. Casinos are a great place to spend a free night or two, most have a dedicated RV lot and shuttles.

26. Many communities have cheap camping areas.

27. Shut off propane while traveling, if you shut off propane turn off propane appliances to prevent them from continuously cycling the ignitor.

28. There are many causes of RV fires, diesel pushers are the most vulnerable. Fires start in the engine compartment, it's usually too late to prevent extensive damage by the time the fire is discovered.

29. Most RV fires are started by engine overheating.

30. "Pack it in pack it out" this is the golden rule for camping, most people obey this rule but a few do not. TAKE YOUR GARBAGE WITH YOUR!

31. Our national forests in both the US and Canada are being burnt a terrific rate, especially in the west. If you light a campfire make sure it is completely out and the coals are cool to touch.

32. And last and certainly not least, when dry camping and the need arises to use your generator be considerate. Move it as far from your neighbors as possible, putting it in the back of a pickup or behind a tree or brush will help muffle the noise.

Most of these suggestions are obvious one would think. Feel free to pass these along to other campers.

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Thanks for supporting my website.

Gord B.


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