Are You Making These Embarrassing Mistakes at the Campground?

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When you take your first trip or two out to the campground, you may have glorious plans of roasting marshmallows with the kids, finishing the latest mystery novel by the lake, or enjoying the serenity of fishing.

But while you’re living it up at the campsite, you might be breaking a few faux pas of campground etiquette. As with any new camper, you’ll probably make some embarrassing campground mistakes. 

Let’s take a look and see if you’ve been the laughing stock of your campground neighbors!

There’s a Learning Curve to Camping

One of the hardest parts of camping is the learning curve. It’s not hard because the lifestyle is particularly difficult but rather because much of the learning comes on the fly and through trial and error. You just have to start, and you’ll learn along the way. 

This means you’re going to do some things wrong. Although there are numerous YouTube videos you can watch and blogs you can read about how to properly set up your site or how to hook up your hoses correctly, you still have to just figure some things out.

Skills like backing a 35 ft trailer into a narrow campsite aren’t inherited. Knowing how to pack your items for the trip so you don’t open the door to broken dishes and spaghetti all over the floor isn’t genetic.

So although these upcoming mistakes are embarrassing, most new campers go through the same growing pains.

A Super C RV set up in a campground on a sunny day

Embarrassing Campground Mistakes You Could Be Making

Hopefully, if you’ve been camping a few times, you’ve started to learn new skills and habits. For RVers who have years of experience, it’s comical to look back on the early days and chuckle at all of the embarrassing campground mistakes.

Let’s look at a few!

Using the Wrong Equipment at the Dump Station

Sometimes you won’t have full hookups. For new campers, it’s recommended that you stay in campgrounds where you have electric, water, and sewer the first couple of times you camp. It just makes your experience better and easier.

However, once you start staying at state parks or dry camping, you’ll have to learn how to properly empty your tanks at a dump station.

When emptying your tanks, it’s critical to use the right equipment because of sanitation. You can spread disease if you ignore the rules or just don’t know how to do it.

A few quick tips include to never use the portable drinking hose to clean out your tanks. It’s for drinking water only. Always dump the black tank first and then flush everything out with the gray tank waste.

Make sure to put a rock or someone’s foot on top of the hose adapter and the sewer hole. Should it pop out, you’ll have a disastrous mess to deal with.

Lastly, always use gloves. This is one of the grossest parts of RVing. Don’t make it worse by using your bare hands to mess with waste!

Pro Tip: If it’s your first time using a public dump station, you’ll want to read Don’t Break These Unspoken RV Dump Station Rules first!

A wooden sign that says "dump station" with an RV connected to it in the background

Not Paying Attention to Height and Width of Campsites

This embarrassing campground mistake can be costly. Usually, new campers pay close attention to the back of their campsite when backing in. Someone is outside, motioning to you to keep coming back until you reach the end.

However, a huge mistake people make is not paying attention to the height and width.

Campgrounds are often in forested areas. This means low-lying tree limbs. If you’re only paying attention to the rear of the campsite, you risk damaging your roof or your air conditioning unit. Repairing damage is not what you want to spend your weekend doing.

The same is true for the width. You’ve just parked at your campsite and have given yourself a pat on the back because it only took three tries. You go to open the door, and the stairs won’t come out because you’ve parked the entry door right next to a tree.

Or you go to put out the slides, and you crush the pedestal because you didn’t pay attention to how much room you’d need once the slides were out. This is quite common even for seasoned RVers.

Why is this embarrassing? Because then you’re loading back into the motorhome or tow vehicle to reposition your RV while the rest of your neighbors are chuckling at your mistake.

Even though they may be laughing, they remember doing the same thing at some point (but they’re still laughing at you).

Continue Learning: If you need even more reasons Why You Need To Know Your Total RV Height Clearance, check out this article!

Arriving After Dark

Many RVers follow the 2/2/2 rule or 3/3/3 rule of traveling, so they don’t arrive later than 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. Arriving when it’s dark in an unfamiliar place makes getting to your campsite and setting up very difficult. It adds stress to an already stressful day of travel.

Navigating tree limbs and tight curves in a campground with little light means possibly damaging your rig. Backing into a site when you can’t see is also dangerous.

Plan on always arriving during daylight hours. This also means the campground staff will still be around to assist you. The campground store may still be open if you need to grab a snack or a pack of toilet paper.

Pro Tip: To avoid even more embarrassment, make sure you know your campground etiquette. These are the 9 rudest things you can do in a campground!

Not Reading the Campground Map Upon Arrival

The campground map is handed to you at check-in for a reason. If you just throw it in the passenger seat and drive off, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Pause a minute and look at the route to your campsite. 

If you have a larger rig, you always want to note turns. Know your route so you can pay attention to your surroundings – like low-lying tree limbs – as you drive.

You’ll hear the laughter of your neighbor as you circle their spot for the third time. So know the best direct route to your site to avoid those smirks.

A campground map open on a wooden table with a pencil next to it

Leaving Your Blinds Open at Night

Most RVs have tinted windows, but they aren’t blacked out. Newbies often forget to pull down the shades at night. This is a highly embarrassing campground mistake.

Your neighbors can see into your rig, so they’ll be privy to whatever you’re doing inside if your blinds are up. Don’t make this mistake, or your cheeks will burn red every time your neighbor waves during the weekend.

Leaving Your Awning Out on a Windy Day

Even seasoned RVers will forget to put in the awning sometimes. What’s more embarrassing than a gust of wind blowing through and your awning getting ripped off just because you ignored the weather?

Don’t rely on tie-downs. Always check the weather before you leave for the day.

In fact, it’s a good rule of thumb to put in your awning if you’re going to be gone hiking all day. You don’t need shade or protection if you’re not going to be there. This just prevents coming back to any catastrophes.

Keep in Mind: Should you be driving your RV when it’s windy? Is it safe? Read this before driving on a windy day!

A fifth wheel RV with the awning ripped off and on the ground due to wind
Source: Facebook

Not Walking Around Your Rig Before Leaving 

Avoiding embarrassing mistakes means always paying attention. After you’ve put everything away and are ready to head back home, do a final walk-around of your rig before leaving. It would be highly embarrassing to leave your sewer hose connected, drive off, rip the hose out of the ground, and watch disgusting waste flow all over the road.

It could also be costly. If you leave your power cord plugged in and rip it out of the pedestal or damage the pedestal, you’re going to be paying for a new cord or paying for repairs.

Always walk around your RV and look up, down, and around to make sure you pack everything away.

Walking Through Other Peoples’ Sites  

There are unwritten rules of camping. These are things campers should know and follow to create an enjoyable camping experience for everyone. Not traipsing through other campsites is one of those rules.

For seasoned campers, this will irritate them to no end. Often they’ll see kids walking to the playground or someone walking the dog, and in order to take a shortcut, they walk through someone’s campsite.

This is not okay, and it’s beyond embarrassing and rude. You’ll make enemies quickly if you ignore camping etiquette.

Leaving Your Outside Speakers on While Watching TV Inside 

Another way to make enemies with your neighbors is by leaving your outside speakers on. Although this can easily be unintentional, it can also be embarrassing when your neighbor comes over at 11:00 p.m. knocking on your door.

Anytime you turn on the radio or watch TV, step outside to make sure your speakers aren’t blaring music or the nightly news.

Lifting Your RV Tires Off the Ground With Your Leveling System

Before you head out on your first camping trip, watch a few YouTube videos about how to level your camper properly. The stabilizing jacks are not to hold the weight of your rig. They just keep your RV from rocking too much.

Therefore, your tires should never be off the ground. If you have to raise one side, always use blocks of some kind to drive up onto so your tires remain on something solid.

Campers walk around a lot. You’ll definitely hear the gasps and giggles as your fellow campers pass your site if you don’t level your rig correctly.

Although it’s a bit comical, it’s also dangerous. You could damage your rig and be dealing with repairs instead of enjoying a relaxing weekend with your family.

Pro Tip: Be sure to read The Art of Leveling Your RV Properly before heading out on your first trip!

A A RV in a campground with its front two tires off the ground because its jacks are too high

Go Camping With Confidence

Yes, there are lots of embarrassing moments when camping. Everyone has experienced burning cheeks at one point or another. However, you want to limit those mistakes as much as possible.

No one wants to be the laughing stock of the campground, but no one wants to be paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs resulting from some of these mistakes, either.

Do a little bit of research before heading out on your first camping trip. It’s exciting and adventurous, but you want it to be adventurous for the right reasons. Go camping with confidence, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everyone at the campground had to start somewhere. 

Have you made any of these embarrassing campground mistakes? Are there others you’d add to the list?

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