5 Unwritten Rules Of The RV Lifestyle
With summer in full swing, you’ll likely pass by several motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and truck campers on the road. This radical influx of RVers includes solo RVers, couples, and family travelers, from millennials to baby boomers. Among those clusters are novice RVers, those who sought the RV lifestyle as a way to safely vacation during the pandemic, those transitioning from tent camping to glamping, and everyone in between.
And although we like to think that learning something new comes with a bit of research, there are certain things about the RV lifestyle that aren’t clear-cut, written in an “All About RVing” book, or listed among the rules of a campground brochure. These unwritten rules of RVing are learned behaviors after many RVing ventures or shared around the campfire with fellow nomads.
If you are new to RVing, then you should know that there are some lesser-known rules about the RV lifestyle. The following are just a handful of these rather sensical rules.
1. Refrain from knocking on another RVer’s door.
A dated but still very relevant thread on iRV2, the top online RV forum community, lists RVers’ thoughts regarding knocking on someone’s door. The RVing community is synonymous with friendly folks. Is it a faux pas to knock on another RVer’s door just to chit-chat, maybe borrow some flour, or let them know their car lights were left on? How about when to knock? Is there a good time and a wrong time to talk to your RV neighbors?
The responses varied slightly, but most participants said it’s not a good idea to knock on someone’s door, save for an emergency.
“The #1 rule I think is important is not to bother anyone unless it’s fairly important. If they are inside with the door shut, they probably don’t want to be bothered.”
“Once I open up my front curtains, I am usually dressed and ready to greet any visitors. If you come by and my curtains are closed, then I am probably still in my robe and on the computer (like now) and not ready to see anyone.”
It seems that RVers agree. If the shades are down and the door is closed, folks are busy or want some downtime. Knocking on the door for emergency situations or in a case where the RVer may have a water leak or left their vehicle lights on are some exceptions. Another exception would be if the knock was expected or invited. RVers do love to have get-togethers.
So where’s the best place to reach your RV neighbor?
“As others have said, I would not knock on anybody’s door but rather would wait until I catch them outside. Then I would go over, introduce myself…”
“From my perspective, I’d rather you’d approach me when you see me outside, maybe coming/going or just chilling out in the lawn chair, than knocking on my door.”
Also, catching your RV neighbors during daylight hours is more sensible.
RV lifestyle gripe: What’s the big deal with knocking on an RVer’s door?
Full-time RVer Liz from Liz Amazing said it best, “…when (RVers) open the door in the campground, you see their whole life…” She explains that, unlike a home or apartment where you may only see the front room, you can see pretty much every room, even the bathroom with some units, once you open the door to an RV. It feels like an intrusion of privacy.” she said.
Liz goes on to say that if you need to knock on someone’s door, “Knock on the door and then step back. Step so far away that there’s no way you can see inside their rig.”
2. Avoid distracting other RVers as they are setting up/departing.
RVers by nature are friendly and helpful. They enjoy meeting new people, sharing bits of advice, and lending a hand. And although this is a big part of the RV lifestyle, when it comes to setting up at a campsite or following through with departure procedures, Cortni Armstrong of The Flipping Nomad said that this is no time to socialize.
“There are several safety tasks, and you should not be distracted while performing them. If someone wants to chat, politely ask to continue the conversation once you are done. This includes digital distractions. Don’t talk on the phone, text, or browse social media while working through checklists.”
Setting up an RV at a campground requires a lot of focus and due diligence. Backing up and making sure you avoid any obstructions that could cause damage to your RV or campground equipment are initial tasks when parking in a campsite. Unless you have a trusty travel companion or another reliable individual to serve as the spotter, it may be the case where you will need to get in and out of the rig to double-check and readjust as needed.
Similarly, departure procedures require multiple tasks to be checked off to ensure a safe trip on the road. Simple tasks like securing the antenna, unplugging from the electrical post, or properly hooking up your tow vehicle can all be overlooked if you start a conversation.
3. Don’t spoil the RV lifestyle for others. Stay within your campsite.
Like hotel rooms, when RVers pay the fees for their campsites, they consider it their personal space for that particular length of time. Many RVers feel strongly about it being treated that way. So situations like other campers cutting through a site to get somewhere quicker and vehicles or lawn furniture crossing over into another site become intrusions or at least annoyances.
RVers deliberately or unintentionally “expanding” their campsite is a recipe for disaster. On the subject of inappropriate parking, a vehicle sticking out into the roadway is liable to get hit. Boxing another car in could slow down or even halt someone trying to leave in a possible emergency situation.
Keep camping experiences safe and fun by utilizing the site you purchased. Set up your RV, tow vehicle, and outdoor furniture within the area. Use designated paths or just walk the extra steps around an occupied campsite to get where you need to go. If you have guests visiting, make sure they park in designated parking spaces.
4. Arrive and depart at reasonable times.
RV parks have arrival and departure times for a reason. Departure times are typically a couple of hours before noon, and arrival times usually begin a few hours after noon. This allows the campground staff ample time to clean up campsites, including clearing out the firepit. Cabins need to be turned over and bathhouses sanitized. RVers that linger around their campsite after departure times not only minimize the amount of time the staff has to clean up but can also delay another RVer’s arrival.
It’s also a common courtesy to arrive with enough time to set up before sundown. You can see what you are doing and you’ll arrive before “quiet hours” (typically 10:00 PM to 8:00 AM). Setting up with little light is no fun and can be rather noisy to RVers wanting to get a good night’s sleep. If you happen to arrive after dark or after quiet hours, consider parking quickly and set up the following morning.
5. RV dealers and repair shops will not fix your RV issues quickly.
More RVs on the road means an increase in RV maintenance and repair appointments. Sadly, waiting for service at an RV dealership or repair shop is not a new phenomenon. Customers may wait days, weeks, even months at a time to have their RV serviced. Warranty classifications, insurance procedures, and access to the necessary parts are all possible causes for delays.
If you need faster service, Mike Wendland of RV Lifestyle suggests, “Mobile RV repair techs are more responsive and usually can fix anything wrong with most RVs. We’ve learned that the hard way, too, a couple of times…Most are ready to drop everything and tend to your problems. I have called them for help numerous times over the years and never been disappointed.”
More unwritten rules of the RV lifestyle
Mike and Jennifer Wendland of RV Lifestyle blog detail their “10 Unwritten Rules of Camping” in the video below.
Share your thoughts with the RV community
RVers looking for valuable how-to information have learned to go to the experts. Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.
Natalie Flores-Henley and her husband, Levi Henley, workamp around the
country in their 26-foot motorhome. Along with writing for RV magazines,
they recently published their first book together, Seasonal Workamping for
a Living: How We Did It. They share their experiences and RV-related tips
on their own blog henleyshappytrails.com as well as videos on their
YouTube Channel, also called Henley’s Happy Trails.