Even veteran campers can get comfortable when they return to a campground year over year, sometimes letting good camping etiquette slip away. Since many modern campground and camping resorts put campers in close proximity to one another (especially in RV Resorts), it's important to remember not to ruin the experience of those around us.
Being a good steward, focusing on the fun of the camping trip (yours and others), and acting as an example of how people should behave while camping helps preserve the experience for everyone at the campground.
Here are some Do's and Don'ts to remember on your next camping trip
Every campground facility will have rules posted or available that need to be followed. Ignorance of the rules is never a fair excuse, nor is using the excuse that children are too young to follow them. If you don't follow the rules or do something that violates basic campground rules & etiquette you could be asked to leave from most facilities.
Definitely not fun to have to pack up and go late in the evening!
Being expelled from a campground typically results in lost deposit and - in some cases - an additional fine.
The old saying "good fences make good neighbors" can't apply to a campground - you're typically on open land. If you're lucky you've got a semi-secluded site. You don't necessarily have to socialize with everyone or become lifetime friends but having common courtesy to those around you can go along way toward everyone having a good vacation.
You also never know when you might forget a critical item at home, the stores are closed, and your neighbor might have something extra handy to share.
Being prepared means bringing enough food, supplies, utensils, toilet paper, food, water... did we mention food? While some campground have a convenience store on site, not all offer this amenity. It could be a long trip into town to find what you need. If you don't have access to a chain store you might find yourself paying almost double for simple items you left at home.
Do be prepared and make yourself a checklist for packing before you go. Treat it like any long-term vacation where you're far from home - even if you're not.
Every pet friendly campground has limited pet policies, with only a select few that have "no pet" policies. If you do travel with an animal, especially a dog, be considerate. Clean up after your pet. With a lot of foot traffic in campgrounds, especially barefoot kids, no one likes to step in it!
Remember to leash your pets and do your best to control barking. A vocal dog could result in you being asked to leave from some campgrounds, especially if there are a lot of complaints in the late evening hours.
A good campground offers updated public bathroom and shower facilities. During busy camping seasons there are a lot of folks who need access. If you need to bring extra accessories like hair dryers, curling irons, electric shavers and other toiletries then be considerate and make room for others that may need to use the sinks and bathroom facilities.
Since they're shared spaces, use the facilities in a hygienic manner that leaves them ready for the next person.
Remember the words "Leave it better than you found it". Before you drift off to sleep for the night, take some time to clean up your trash. Winds can blow trash around while you sleep and create dangers for wild life while also detracting from the cleanliness of the campground or resort.
Prices are lower for campgrounds because they typically don't employ cleaning crews to tend each site. Left behind trash encourages wild life to enter the campgrounds which can create a nuisance for everyone.
If you're at a campground with water hook ups or a public water pump that is well drawn (not city water lines) then avoid using these areas for washing, bathing, cleaning dishes or rinsing raw foods. These pumps are intended for drinking, filling solar showers, water for boiling, etc. and will come with a sign stating that it's potable water.
Doing these things at a potable water station can contaminate the water source and make people sick. Remember how often your characters died of Dysentery in Oregon Trail?
Some of us are night owls, and that's OK. Just remember that others have had a day full of activities that drained them. When the sun drops, they're ready to follow suit and nestle quietly into sleeping bags with their family for a full nights rest. That gives them the energy for the next day of activities.
Screaming children, loud laughter, arguments, barking animals, packing and unpacking late at night - these things sometimes happen and most campers understand that. If you control it quickly most people shrug it off.
When it goes on for hours, you could find yourself being ejected from a campground or getting hard stares and anti-social behavior from other families around your site for the remainder of your trip.
You're camping outdoors among wildlife. Because of this, you want to pack your food away securely at night. Dedicate a small pup-tent to your food storage or put it away in your vehicle. If you're camping in an area with larger animals like bears, then consider a bear locker or other secure device.
Check with the campground to find out if they have recommendations on how and where to store your food.
Note: toothpaste, canned goods, soaps and even hand lotions are equally tasty and appealing to some animals!