Over the years, we’ve encountered a small number of bad RV neighbors. You know the types – the ones who let their kids run around with no supervision, they cut through your site, tamper with your equipment, barking dogs whenever someone walks by, they play music loudly during the day, watch TV outside with the volume cranked up, etc. Today we’ll help you find out if you’re a bad RV neighbor, so that you can modify your behavior and have positive vibes during your stay.
We actually have a blog series of posts on RV etiquette that you might want to check out, if you want to become pros at RV life and be a good RV neighbor. We’ve been RVing for over 3 years full-time, and over the years we’ve learned some things and have seen some pretty bad behavior from fellow RVers who simply don’t know protocol or courtesy. So check those posts out, as well, so you know what’s expected of you.
Parking, Driving Safely, Car Alarms, Don’t Honk Your Horn
Every RV site has designated parking areas, and a place to park your vehicle at your site (note-don’t park on patio concrete, it’s not designed for that kind of weight). If you not able to fit properly in that space because your truck is too long or is too wide, use any overflow parking provided or ask the campground where you should park. Do not park in the grass unless it’s customary at that RV park, and permitted by management. Also, do not block other sites with your vehicle, or park your vehicle in a way where your headlights point into the patio or living space of your neighbor.
Being a good RV neighbor means adhering to set speed limits. They’re there for a reason: to keep everyone safe. If you plan on ordering in food or are having supplies delivered, be sure to mention to the service what the speed limit is, so they too, can approach your site safely. We’ve had some bad RV neighbors go as fast as 40 mph, and not even bothering to stop at designated stop signs with cross traffic. Scary!
Drive like there’s little kids in the road. Drive like it’s YOUR kids in the road.
Speed limits are posted and disclosed in practically every campground policy, to keep everyone safe especially those who are walking and children who may not be paying attention. Kids sometimes run out into the street to get a ball or a frisbee, a loose toy or something that the wind has carried. If you’re going 30, 40 miles per hour, how do you plan to stop and not kill a child or dog?
These are residential areas, where the living space is SO much closer to a designated driving path than a typical housing residence community. Where you are driving, there’s someone sitting or moving around within 1-10 feet of your moving car or truck. That means there’s an increased potential for someone to get hit by a vehicle. If you are going above 5-10 miles per hour, you’re going to have issues with parents, people walking their pets, and even management. It becomes a liability issue for their insurance company if they knowingly allow you to blaze through their roads. Be a good RV neighbor and follow the posted speed limits.
Things to think about: what if you lose control of your car? Are you able to brake safely without hitting someone at that speed? If you’re speeding in a campsite zone…
- Expect to be yelled at by moms and dads for speeding past their site.
- Expect people you speed by to raise their arms up like angry Italians.
- Expect to get a speeding citation from management.
- Expect the angry old guy down the block to yell out ‘Slow down, asshole!’.
- Expect to be kicked out of the campground if you don’t knock it off.
Other campers take speeding pretty seriously. There’s already so much that can go wrong with towing rigs, safety chains, sway bars, and goose necks, and hitches. Don’t add speed to make things extra dicey for everyone. If you can’t come to a full stop within 1 second, you’re going too fast at the campground.
Don’t let your car alarm go off. You can also safely lock your vehicle without making it honk, beep or hurt the ears of everyone around you. Stop using your car remote for everything. Open your door, and lock your doors. Then shut your door. Easy. No honking or beeping noise to bug everyone.
Finally, you don’t need to honk as you leave, honk as you arrive to pick up your friends at another site, or do any honking, period. It’s annoying. Don’t do it. Honking is reserved for notifying people while in traffic that something is amiss. To get their attention. You don’t need to “get the attention” of all the surrounding neighbors with your honking.
Big rigs with backup beeping: either turn it off, or use a full pull-through site. No one likes that beeping noise. At all.
Pulling in after dark, impact wrenches and headlights ablaze
While many RVers have long days of travel and need to pull in late, it’s advisable to get your camp set up prior to sundown. The reason is simple – when it’s dark, people are winding down for the day. The last thing they want to hear while relaxing in the evening is an impact wrench, beeping from a class A rig going in reverse, loud banging of doors and panels, and headlights shining in their eyes while enjoying the sunset or darkness on their patio.
If you absolutely must pull in after dark, even though quiet hours haven’t taken effect yet, wait to work your impact wrenches and other setting up until after 9 a.m. It’s simply a basic courtesy to extend to your neighbors.
Be sure to turn off your headlights while pulling in. You can see just fine with parking lights or even your fog lamps on dim. If your lights are shining on other people or other rigs, they’re too bright, and need to be shut off.
Dusk is a generally respected quiet time, and many people are relaxing by their fire pit, enjoying dinner quietly, and some even follow the circadian sleep schedule and go to be when the sun goes down.
It’s not a time to let your kids loose, and have them running around your site yelling and screaming, and going into others’s sites. That’s a huge no-no. It’s also not a good time to be running loud equipment.
So don’t be a bad RV neighbor and disturb the quiet time of dusk. If you’re unsure, we recommend you to ‘read the room’. If things are quiet, keep it that way. If everyone seems to be out and about and are also making noise, then you’re probably ok. But generally speaking, dusk time is sacred to many RVers, who enjoy the sunsets, quiet conversations on the patio, and fire pits.
Letting your dogs bark incessantly – an RV neighbor nightmare
There are a ton of people starting to RV full-time, and that means a lot of people are also working out of their rigs. There’s also families with young children who still need naps, and employees who still report in via Zoom meetings. So letting your dogs bark incessantly is a huge RV neighbor no-no. Don’t be bad RV neighbors.
We had an instance in Tucson with a woman named “Patti” from Texas. She and her husband pulled into a covered site (sound bounces and echos off of solar panels), and left one morning on their motorcycle for several hours.
They have these yippie dogs who bark non-stop. They left their windows open, so the dogs were up on the seat or some platform, barking at anything and everything that walked by. We dealt with this for four hours before contacting the front office about it. They eventually got a hold of the people, who unfortunately learn their lesson, because they repeated the same behavior again 4 days later. Some people just don’t get it.
They did end up moving sites (thank god), and it’s only a matter of time before someone else complains about their dogs again. The general rule is this: don’t leave your dogs unattended, but if you have to, make sure you’ve trained them to be at home in the RV and are not barking. This takes time and smaller to bigger increments of time, but if you don’t want to be ‘that guy’ or ‘that lady’ with the noisy dogs, you’re going to have to put in the time.
Or, management can ask you to leave. Pretty simple! Bottom line, no one likes incessantly barking dogs. There are laws against it. If you wouldn’t let your dogs bark at home, don’t let them do it on the road, either. Be a good RV neighbor and attend to your dogs.
Cutting through someone else’s site – RV neighbor absolute NO!
The general rule to follow is simple: if you’re not renting it, you don’t walk through it. There are roads and pathways on campgrounds for a reason – to walk on. Do not cut through empty sites or occupied sites. Period.
Our neighbor, the “Patti” had a husband who one morning decided it was perfectly ok to trespass through our site. In doing so, he steps over our satellite gear. Now, most people without satellite systems don’t realize that RVers generally have over $500 invested in their satellite equipment. So if you’re cutting through their site, blocking their signal, potentially tripping over their wires, yeah, you’re going to get yelled at.
It’s basic RV etiquette 101. Don’t cut through someone else’s site. They pay for that site and the privacy that comes with it; not you.
Now, we know you might not agree with cutting through unoccupied sites, but here’s a few good reasons why you shouldn’t do that. 1) You’re not renting it, and it’s not a designated walking path 2) The people next to it could have dogs, and surprising them can cause the dogs to react aggressively, because there’s not supposed to be people there and 3) it’s pretty annoying, having a slew of human traffic coming by your site on three sides, so be courteous and stick to the roads to limit distractions to someone else’s camping experience. Think of it as someone walking through your living room. There’s no door or barrier there, so it can feel intrusive to the campers there.
If you’ve been cutting through sites, please stop this right away. It’s incredibly rude and you’ll see this general rule on practically every RV life website you encounter.
Hooking up septic or draining tanks while neighbors are eating
Listen, we know the job of hooking up your septic hose and draining tanks is a nasty one. But imagine how nasty it is for your neighbor to have to smell your grey and black tanks while they’re outside eating their dinner, 6-8 feet away from your tank hoses. Yeah…
This is NOT the time to do those types of tasks. Wait until your neighbors have finished their meal and have gone inside. It’s basic courtesy and also a health issue, as well. Tanks can build up fumes which leak into the air, and in the event you accidentally have a spill, the stink of your tanks will likely repulse even those with the strongest of stomachs. In addition, you’ll have a blank tank spill on your hands that is incredibly gross and you’ll look like a newbie. Commence the RV neighbor eyeroll!
Quick story – at the Tucson KOA there was a guy across the street from us, and he was planning on packing up to go. He grabbed his septic hose on one end, took it out to the street, and was whipping it around in circles, flinging whatever poop residue was still inside his hose all over the road. We couldn’t believe our eyes. It happened so fast and we were just so in shock we didn’t think to grab our phones to videotape it. Just, no, don’t be that guy.
The proper way to deal with your tanks is in private. Wait until dark or early morning after or before people are out and about having breakfast or dinner, and hook up your hoses and deal with your tanks at that time. Not while people are actively eating or having quiet time outside.
Don’t trespass into your neighbor’s area, even when setting up. Your site begins at the electrical panel, typically on the left side of your rig, and ends at the other electrical panel next to you on your right.
Your site boundary does not include space to go into your neighbor’s space to wash your rig, chain up your dog, put your hoses and electrical cables, your satellite dish, your bins of stuff, or your slides or window A/C units. Everything you are hauling with you needs to be in line with your site boundary.
Not overhanging or creeping into the space of your neighbor. Be respectful. Don’t crowd your neighbor.
If you need to wash your rig, it’s respectful to inform your neighbor of what you’ll be doing, and ASK permission if they can ‘borrow’ some of your space to reach those spots that need scrubbing. Otherwise, if you don’t have permission, you’ll need to make sure the team you hire or if you do it yourself, keeps within the confines of your site boundary. Don’t expect your neighbor to bend over backward and move their gear that is in their site just so you can wash your rig. THAT is rude. Perhaps it’s just not a good spot to wash your rig, and you can take it to another location to do that job.
Spraying water with your hoses or using a pressure washer? Don’t spray your neighbor’s rig, their patio area, or them, period. It’s common sense, I know, but we’ve actually witnessed RV owners wash their rigs without any regard for their neighbors. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
The creepy RV neighbor
Don’t be a creep. We had an instance with a couple from Texas (what is UP with Texas, BTW?) where the guy thought it was cool to point his phone camera at our site and snap pictures. They claimed to be taking selfies, but I’m pretty sure you don’t hold a phone straight at chest level for a selfie. Pretty sure that’s what you do when you want people to think you’re just using your phone and not surreptitiously be snapping photos.
This guy kept doing it. And we have kids, so you can bet we’re going to take exception to anyone snapping photos of our kids. Joe even yelled at the guy and asked him ‘How do we know you’re not a human trafficker?’ and completely embarrassed the guy. He did the same thing to a guy that got so close to my oldest child at Costco where his crotch was behind my son’s head. It’s way creepy. Stay away from peoples’ kids.
Listen. Snapping photos of kids with their parents or even of someone’s RV site with them in the photo without their consent is pretty creepy, and intrusive. Don’t be ‘that guy’. Just don’t. Consent is everything these days, and you should have it prior to taking pictures of people. There is a certain expectation of privacy, and I’m sure neighbors at home wouldn’t appreciate you taking pictures of them and posting them online, so don’t do it at an RV site, either.
New technology is not good or evil in and of itself. It’s all about how people choose to use it.David Wong
For RVers without kids, you should know that we as parents are going to be super protective our kids. You should always ask the parents if it’s ok to talk with the kids, pet their animals, etc. These are boundaries that need to be respected otherwise you’re going to get the ugly side of a parent’s protective nature.
Do you know where your kids are at all times or are letting them run free? Do you know how they’re interacting with other guests? Let me tell you – how your angels act at home may not be how they act in public, especially if they’re with a group of kids, which always seems to bring out the worst behaviors in even the best of kids.
If you’re a good parent, you sometimes need to spy on your kid. See how they behave at the office, a community room, at the pool if they’re of appropriate age, etc. It’s not about you not trusting your kid, it’s just you being a good parent and making sure they’re behaving appropriately around other guests and staff.
Wouldn’t you be absolutely embarrassed if night security shows up with your kid on a golf cart saying they can’t be at the community room anymore because they’re a bully or are running around screaming in the building with other kids? I’d be mortified, frankly, if that ever happened to us. (It hasn’t, thank God).
There was a time when we had bad RV neighbors with a ‘trash heap’ of vehicles, trash all around their site, which floated occasionally into ours, and the two little girls ran around in dirty clothes and no shoes on. In the Tucson sun. The mom was nowhere to be found, often had to check several sites to find her girls, and meanwhile, they’re out and about throwing oranges at trucks from the citrus trees.
Months later, we find out they fled their site because Child Protective Services wanted to have a meeting with them.
These days, kids are being homeschooled from an RV full-time. It’s a new thing. So please don’t automatically assume parents are doing something wrong because the kids aren’t at a physical school. Times have changed dramatically over the years, and often times homeschooling can get done throughout the day or in the morning/evening. Don’t make any assumptions about school with kids, because you don’t know the situation.
But do talk to management if you suspect the kids are malnourished, hungry, are neglected in some sort of way, or are being abused (visible signs of bruises, etc.). Otherwise, just mind your business and everyone will get along great.
We have 6 boys, so we know first-hand what RVing with kids in the RV life community is all about. The ups, the downs, and everything in-between.
We have taught our kids to be respectful of others’ spaces. To keep the noise level down. To not scream, yell, shout, or run around like crazy people. We do encourage them to ride bikes, scooters, skateboards; everything kids should be doing outside.
But, if you have kids, and they’re screaming, yelling, throwing balls and hitting rigs and vehicles, or generally annoying the neighbors, you need to shut that crap down immediately. RVing includes tight spaces, where you can practically touch the neighbor’s rig next to you while you sit on your patio chair. So mindfulness of those around you, particularly those who are relaxing and resting, is essential.
Outdoor TVs, music, etc.
I love TV and music, too. But certainly, I don’t want my neighbor to be offended by my music choices or the Fifty Shades of Grey movies I tend to work in tandem with.
If you are going to play your TV or music outside, do a noise check. Walk around your rig and out to the street and see if you can hear it. If you can hear it from the street, it’s probably too loud for your neighbors, as well. We understand that outside TVs are super cool and so is jamming out to your music while you shuck corn for dinner, but remember that not everybody has the same taste and they may not want to hear your show.
(On another note, I could seriously strangle the person who came up with the idea of outside speakers and outdoor TVs).
The rig that lights the whole campground
Ugh. Don’t be the guy whose RV lights are on after sundown that shine on the road and bounce off of every other rig in the area.
There are some pretty obnoxious lighting fixtures on the outside of fifth wheels, A-classes, and trailers now that light up the whole campground. Trust me, your neighbors are not impressed, and would like you to shut them off.
It doesn’t matter how ‘cool’ they look or if they were intended to be left on all night long. The rule is simple: if the light beams onto the road or anyone else’s rig, it’s too bright. Be a good RV neighbor and embrace the darkness like the rest of us!
Opt for less intrusive lighting with some torches from Amazon, or these cool disk lights to light your driveway.
Conclusion: Be a Good RV neighbor
Be a good RV neighbor and stick to the casual wave and hello, and respect the site boundaries. Keep the kids confined to your site, and make sure they know the rules. Ensure your pets feel safe and secure, and keep their barking and aggressive responses to a minimum. Be mindful of site boundaries, and don’t tamper with the electrical, water, or septic equipment of your neighbors. Don’t pull in with your headlines blazing and blind the RV population in the process.
We will do the same, and we’ll all get along just great. Just be a good RV neighbor!