When RV travel day goes sideways, here’s what to do.
Arriving at an RV park after dark is prohibited in some places and discouraged in others. Although plenty of RVers travel after dark, it’s always best to arrive at your destination during daylight hours. We’ve found it’s safer to arrive, park, and set up when you are alert and can see your surroundings.
Of course, at least once, my husband and I have talked ourselves into continuing on our trek, had a minor mishap because of it, and arrived at our destination after midnight. We didn’t try to back into a spot but ended up spending the night (a cold one) in a parking lot. These days we plan our travels where we will stop and we get along much better.
How to Handle Late Arrival At RV Parks
There are plenty of RV parks that allow late arrival, but it’s always better to take an extra day of travel, even if you are close to your destination, and come into the park early the next morning if you can.
If you have to arrive late, here are a few thoughts to keep you safe and sane and from annoying other campers.
1. Call the camp office and make sure you are aware of check-in times.
Each campground is a little different in what you can and can’t do after dark. The one we are currently staying in has no check-ins after 5 p.m. and absolutely nobody is checked in after dark. We also escort each rig to their site and help guests back in.
Please be courteous about being on time. Rules are there for a reason and we do everything we can to accommodate people when we can.
2. Communication is key.
Make sure you have the campground’s office number written down and you can also ask for an after-hours number in case you need help and the office is closed. At our office, we love people who keep us updated on their arrival time and will do all we can to provide them with the best experience at our RV park.
3. Make sure you can easily locate a flashlight and other tools.
A late arrival is not always planned but, in an RV, there shouldn’t be any reason not to have your set-up tools, hoses, and cords, in a specific place. The flashlight is the first tool you need to get your hands on. Leave one in your truck or motorhome within arm’s length and things will go much faster.
4. Make sure you have practiced set up in daylight.
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of people out there that have never owned an RV before. They come into our park every day. From my experience, there are also a lot of people renting RVs. They want to try it out before they make a big investment. I get that. Do your research first and then put yourself in the best possible situation for a successful stay. Arriving at night will not allow you to do that.
5. Have a physical copy of the park’s map
If you have planned your stay and you’re not just dropping by on your way to another destination, make sure you have a printed copy of the RV park map. You never know about internet strength and it will help you find where you are going.
6. When you arrive at night, be courteous of others around you.
If you are a late arrival, be courteous of your fellow campers. Choose a site away from others if you can. Avoid yelling commands when backing up. Use a phone or a walkie-talkie. If possible, just plug in your electricity and save the rest of the set-up, leveling, sewer and water, and possibly even detaching, until morning when you are rested and can see what you are doing.
If someone nearby offers help, take it. RVers are a friendly bunch and will usually bend over backwards to help or give advice.
Above all, know the park’s rules before you arrive. At the park where I am currently a work camper, we have check-in and checkout times for a reason. Guests choose their site prior to their stay so if you decide to come in the park at midnight and try to park somewhere, with or without a reservation, you will be asked to leave as soon as you are discovered.
If we have room to reserve you a site, you won’t be able to come back until the appropriate check-in time. We do occasionally offer overflow parking but you can’t always count on it being available.
If you plan your trip well, take into consideration setbacks on the road, and are courteous of others, you’ll have a great stay and will enjoy RVing for years to come. Make trip planning easier on yourself and find more great destinations along your route with the RV LIFE Pro tools.
Terri and her husband, Todd, are full time RVers and work campers. They have been living full time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Mini Aussie puppy Remi. They are currently wintering in Arizona with plans to continue their travels next summer. Writing is Terri’s passion but she also loves hiking, kayaking and anything she can do outside.