The do’s and don’ts of campsite etiquette

Adventure 4 min read

You’ve just booked your next camping trip at a campground or set your GPS for a quiet boondocking getaway, so there’s no better time to learn some campsite tips to ensure you’re a good neighbor! Here are a few of our favorite campsite etiquette do’s and don’ts!

How to be a good neighbor when camping

Stay informed and do your research! Knowing the basic campsite rules and regulations at a paid or free campsite is the start to being a good neighbor.

If you’re staying at a busy campground, don’t hesitate to ask your campground office or camp host questions about what rules they have in place. If you’re planning to forego the busy, paid campgrounds to boondock instead, research the area you plan to camp in to see what state, forest, or public lands regulations are in place.

Respect designated campsites 

Give each other a little space. If a campsite is occupied, don’t cut through or park too close where you block your neighbor in.

If you are boondocking, a designated campsite will typically have one fire ring, thus making it a single campsite for one person or one vehicle. Don’t encroach on someone else’s site unless invited.

Drown out your campfires!

Always, always, always drown out your campfires when you’re finished sitting by it or if you plan on leaving it unattended! This not only makes you a great camping neighbor, but a great neighbor to people living in the area.

Respect quiet hours

Campgrounds and RV parks almost always have quiet hours, intended to limit things like generator use or music playing from speakers. It’s neighborly to know and follow your campsite’s quiet hours.

There will be less rules while wild camping, but always respect the distance between you and your neighbor. Nobody appreciates camping next to a noisy generator humming all night. If you plan to run a generator for long periods of time, consider finding a more secluded campsite!

Clean up your campsite 

Leave each spot better than you found it. This is a staple rule in “leave no trace” efforts. Whether you’re at a paid or free campsite, you should always be cleaning up to leave campsites better than how you found them.

If you’re at a paid campsite, let the camp host or office know if you had any issues with campsite cleanliness. If you’re camping on public lands, take it upon yourself to keep these spaces clean and open to the public.

Store food away properly 

Around busier camping areas, animals can stumble upon food has been left out or stored improperly. If available, use bear boxes to store food. If you’re not in bear country, store all food away from the camping area and make sure it’s stored properly.

What not to do at a campsite

Ultimately, the main goal is to have fun and enjoy time spent outdoors, but there are some important campsite tips we should all learn to ensure we’re all being the best campsite neighbors we can be!

Don’t throw trash or bottles in fire pits 

This seems to be one of the more common “don’ts” that we see frequently. Trash, bottles, aluminum cans, etc., shouldn’t be disposed of in fire pits. Dispose of your trash properly in supplied waste areas, and if you’re boondocking/wild camping, pack it in and pack it out!

What does “pack it in and pack it out” mean? Simply put, if you brought something to your campsite to eat, drink, or use, you pack it back into your vehicle and dispose of it properly, away from your campsite.

Don’t shine bright lights at other campsites 

The idea of sitting around a campfire staring up at the stars can quickly be ruined with a flood of unnatural light from nearby campers. Whether it’s your RV’s or trailer’s exterior door light beaming all night or an area light illuminating an entire campsite, these can all obstruct your neighbor’s view. Try to be courteous if you notice your neighbors are trying to enjoy a night under the stars!

Fun fact: Some areas in the U.S. even enforce dark sky ordinances to preserve specific areas from light pollution!

Don’t feed the wildlife

Do not feed any wildlife that comes near your campsite. Keep a safe distance from any wildlife that may be around. This is a rule that should be followed when camping in free and paid campsites as well as on any adventures or hikes you take during your travels.

Don’t improperly use the bathroom in the wilderness 

Unfortunately, in the last two years we’ve noticed more waste and toilet paper left behind while camping and hiking. Although this tip mainly pertains to campsites that are not in paid campgrounds, it’s a useful tip for anyone that is recreating in the outdoors.

If you’re wild camping, know all of the rules for using the bathroom in the wilderness. Don’t leave toilet paper behind and learn the proper way to go “number 2” in the wilderness. Not all terrains are built to handle human waste, especially if it’s not properly buried, so it’s imperative to research how to properly dispose of waste.

This short list of campsite etiquette tips should be a helpful reminder to new and seasoned campers. More importantly, don’t forget to have fun and we do hope that you enjoy your next camping adventure! As always, be sure to keep everything you love protected with Progressive. To learn more about comprehensive RV insurance, click here.

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