RV Parks are Great (until they aren’t)
Experienced RVers know that not all RV parks are created equal. These ten truths about RV parks can prepare you for the unexpected and sometimes disappointing surprises of finding a place to park your home on wheels.
One of the best things about RV living is that it’s always an adventure when you turn the key and head onto the open road. But sometimes this lifestyle throws curveballs at you, especially when it comes to the range of quality among privately-owned parks. But you can still make the most of the adventurous life.
Prepare for these hard truths about RV parks
1. Sewer hookups aren’t always easy to access.
Sometimes you have to wonder what RV park architects are thinking when they decide on utility hookup locations. Many RV park sewer drain locations are in awkward locations on a campsite.
In a perfect world, RV park sewer drain locations should accommodate all size rigs, and multiple sewer drain locations would be a dream come true. Carrying an extra sewer hose comes in handy when your RV dump valve is too far from the sewer hookup.
2. You might get to know the neighbors really well.
Everyone has different ideas about the ideal RV campsite size. Many privately-owned RV parks maximize every square foot of space by packing it full of campsites. This can make for an uncomfortable time when you walk out your front door and right into your neighbor’s steps. In our pandemic era when social distancing could save your life, it’s wise to carefully check campground reviews and customer experiences before deciding on a place to stay.
3. Size matters when it comes to RV park sites.
Too many RV park layouts assume that one-size fits all when it comes to the parking apron. Many RV parks unknowingly squeeze big rigs into small sites, making parking more stressful than necessary. A 40-foot Class A owner will see RV park layouts very differently than a Tab Trailer owner, so if you’re at all uncertain about how an RV park can accommodate your RV, plan your RV trip ahead of time.
4. What smoking section?
If you don’t smoke, odds are pretty good that you don’t want to camp next to chainsmoker Charlie. But non-smoking RV parks are rare. I also don’t know of a single RVer who has ever been asked “Smoking or non-smoking?” when checking into a park. If you are trapped in the path of secondhand smoke from your neighbor, don’t get mad. Just ask if you can move sites.
5. Shady campsites are nice, but big trees can spell disaster.
In the heat of summer, a giant shade tree hanging over your RV can help keep it cool. Sometimes, however, those big leafy trees cause rooftop RV damage when tree trimming is delayed. Pay careful attention when pulling into a shady campground. If the trees look too low for safe maneuvering, scout your assigned site before pulling in. You just might avoid a collision with your air conditioning unit.
6. Pretty RV park landscaping comes at a cost.
Anyone who goes RVing during spring or fall knows about the constant din of lawnmowers and leaf blowers at RV parks. Nice, lush lawns and debris-free campsites are terrific, but during certain seasons you’ll pay dearly for those niceties with constant racket.
Ideally, RV parks would keep noise to a minimum during scheduled and predictable hours, but in 14 years of RVing we’ve never seen that happen. A good set of noise-cancelling headphones goes a long way in these parks.
7. RV backup skills come in handy.
Take time to get comfortable with backing up your RV in open, safe locations. You’ll be glad you did on the day you arrive at an RV park with giant decorative boulders and lamp posts placed in-between campsites. Apparently many RV park architects have never tried backing into a campsite with these obtrusive obstacles.
8. Dogs are part of the family.
Dog parents like me are grateful for campgrounds that welcome canine co-pilots. Unfortunately, some dog parents are less responsible about dog parenting than others, which causes animosity among dog-free guests.
Many RV parks try to promote goodwill between the two factions by enforcing leash laws, providing plenty of potty bags and waste receptacles, and not tolerating guests who leave their dogs home alone all day. But some don’t seem to care. If you are averse to having a canine neighbor, research pet policies of your potential RV park.
9. Amenities exaggeration happens.
Have you ever checked into an RV park and discovered the advertised “laundromat” was nothing more than one washer and one dryer? Or that the park WiFi didn’t work? These are just a couple of common examples of amenities exaggeration encountered by RVers. If the availability of a certain amenity is a deal-breaker for you, call the park for specifics before reserving a site.
10. Prepare for the realities of living in RV parks and campgrounds
The best times start with a laid-back attitude.
Overall, the RV lifestyle is fun and full of great surprises. You can make the best of the bad ones by rolling with the punches and keeping a laid-back attitude when you travel. The most common hard truths about RV parks often lead to some of the best campfire stories!
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Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.