I’ve had three e-mails in the last two days from RVers writing about campground problems that make me wonder how so many people never learned basic manners as children. So today, let’s talk about how to be a good neighbor.
Most RVers are pretty laid back, but living in a campground is much like living in an apartment; sometimes the neighbors can be very close, and the walls are pretty thin. There are times when this can magnify little irritations people might otherwise ignore.
Being a good neighbor is easy, whether you live in a house, a condominium, a motorhome, or a fifth wheel trailer. All it takes is common sense. Of course, we all know how rare that can be. So let’s review some basic campground etiquette.
We have had to close our motorhome’s windows more than once because a neighbor is sitting outside smoking and it’s coming right inside our rig. They don’t want their RV to smell like smoke, but it’s apparently okay to make your neighbors’ smell like an ashtray? If you must smoke, and don’t want to do it inside your RV, go stand by the dump station.
A lot of RVers feel the same way about campfire smoke. Weekend campers just love their fires, and it seems like the smokier, the better. And all that smoke is usually going in somebody’s windows. I always wonder how those campfire lovers would feel if I sent my smoking neighbor to light up under their windows. If having a campfire is an important part of your camping experience, use dry wood and learn to build a fire that doesn’t smoke so much, or better yet, get a Campfire In A Can. They’re convenient, you don’t have to buy firewood, there’s no smoke, and no worry about making sure your fire is completely out before you call it a night.
Loud music, loud TVs, and loud conversations can quickly make you unpopular around the campground. Again, many RV sites are in close quarters, and sound carries. You may love Hank Williams or Gloria Gaynor’s music, but the folks next door may not be fans. Likewise with your favorite television shows. If you have hearing difficulties, don’t crank the volume up, get a set of headphones!
Terry and I are night owls and it’s not uncommon for me to write late into the night. We usually have the TV on, but we are careful to keep the volume low so as not to bother our neighbors. While RV parks have quiet hours, noise pollution is not appreciated any time of the day. That includes having loud conversations with somebody you meet up with during your invigorating early morning walk, especially while you are standing in one place next to someone’s bedroom window! Not everyone is up with the sunrise.
It’s no secret that while I love dogs, I hate yappy little dogs. Keep your mutt quiet. It’s just that simple! Because you choose to have an excitable dog that barks at everything it sees or hears does not mean your campground neighbors should have to listen to it. At our current site at the Orlando Thousand Trails, every morning about 7 AM a fellow rides his bike past with a noisy little dog in the basket. And he stops to chat with one of our neighbors, who also has a yappy little dog. So everybody has to listen to the noise in stereo. Neither owner attempts to quiet their dogs down, they just ignore them and talk louder. What clods! I recently had the owner of two noisy dogs tell me that he had just learned to ignore them. Well, this old dog doesn’t want to learn any new tricks, including turning a deaf ear to incessant barking.
Kids are like dogs; just because you love yours doesn’t mean everybody does. We’ve met a lot of RVers who travel with children or grandchildren, and most of those youngsters have been very well mannered. But we’ve had a few occasions when kids have been left to run wild with no adult supervision. Somebody told me once that in the case of dogs or children, it all comes down to how they were raised. At the risk of offending my friends who travel with children, I had to admit that there’s some truth to that statement.
Another real concern with kids in campgrounds is safety. I’ve seen little ones riding bikes and even tricycles down campground roads, unsupervised, while huge RVs with many blind spots are coming and going. It scares me to death. Years ago, at Kentucky Horse Park, Terry was guiding me as I backed into a campsite when two kids on bikes rode right between her and our bus conversion. Terry didn’t see them coming until they were there, and I never saw them at all!
We all have to dump our black tanks, but if you’re on a full hookup RV site, show your neighbors some consideration. If they are sitting outside eating or reading, wait to dump your tanks until they go back inside. You may think your poop don’t stink, but trust me, it does.
A pet peeve of many RVers is the folks who start their diesel rigs up and let them idle for prolonged periods of time to allow them to properly “warm up.” Most seem to be the same people who feel the need to leave the campground before dawn. No modern diesel engine needs to warm up for long periods of time, nor does it need a prolonged cool down time when you pull into an RV park. By the time you have gotten off the highway and made your way to the campground it’s cooled down.
We see it all the time. We are going out to run an errand and somebody is sitting in the road blocking traffic while they talk to somebody. Campground interior roads are usually narrow and there may not be room to get around a stopped vehicle. Pull off the road if you’re going to chat.
When somebody rents a campsite, that’s their property until it’s time to leave. Cutting across campsites is rude. Would you want somebody trespassing across your yard?
We have a washer/dryer combo unit in our Winnebago, but a lot of RVs don’t. Campground laundries are usually very clean, but they’re not as big as the commercial places in town and there may be several people using them at once. If you have clothes in the machine(s) stay with them. Don’t go back to your rig to make a quick snack, or call your sister back home. And if you do, don’t be surprised to come back and find the next person unhappy that they had to wait to use the machines when your clothes were done. Or, don’t be surprised to find your clothes sitting on a table (or the floor).
So there you have it, a basic primer on how to be a good campground neighbor. Like I said, common sense.