Now that spring is here and the chill is coming out of the air in more parts of the US, RV travel is picking up speed. Liz and I drove to Jacksonville, FL on Friday to pick up the Newmar from the dealer who had completed a few small warranty repairs and we could not believe the RV traffic. In the 60 mile trip, we were never out of sight of an RV either on our side of the interstate or the other, and many times there were three or more at the same time seemingly in a convoy. Of course now that we own a motor home, we tend to notice all RV’s more, but I truly don’t believe that I’ve seen such an exodus north. I guess it’s time for the snowbirds that have crammed that southern peninsula all winter to head home.
I’m sure folks will be heading from places like Texas, Arizona, Southern California and the like too, just like Florida. Of course, that means overnight stops in all the places people tend to stay when traveling including Wal-Mart, Cracker Barrrel, and other free camping spots. So, I thought that it might be a good time to write a little bit about the RV “Code of Conduct” that I think is a good practice to follow when staying at these types of locations. The businesses that allow this practice on their property are providing a valuable service that saves RV’ers countless dollars in camping expenses. We certainly don’t want to lose that perk, and I don’t want to be the one to abuse the privilege. So what do we need to do to help insure that we can continue to enjoy the hospitality of these places?
Fortunately, the Escapees RV Club has put together a list of eight industry sanctioned rules of conduct or as they also call it a “Good Neighbor Policy”. They publish it in their magazine and on their website. If you are unfamiliar with the Escapees organization, they are an association committed to sharing the RV lifestyle and a serve as a support group for all RV’ers. They started years ago as a network for full-time RV’ers and that is still their focus, but any RV’er can benefit from information and services provided by them. The Family Motorhome Coach Association also adopted this code of conduct.
Here is what they suggest:
- Stay one night only.
- Obtain permission from a qualified individual.
- Obey posted regulations.
- No awnings, chairs or barbecue grills.
- Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt).
- Always leave an area cleaner than you found it.
- Purchase gas, food. or supplies as a form of thank you, when feasible.
- Be safe! Always be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe.
If your plans include touring the area, staying for more than one night or necessitate conduct not within the code, please relocate to a local campground. It’s the right thing to do.
You can find the entire letter at: https://www.escapees.com/images/pdfs/boondocking-letter.pdf
One additional thing to keep in mind is that more and more communities are enacting ordinances to prohibit overnight parking at business locations. Evidently some residents find it unsightly to have all these RV’s parked in a store lot. Others have evidently had problems with “squatters”. That is a name I certainly don’t want to have this activity associated with. Another factor contributing to these ordinances, as reported by some, is the National RV Park Owners Association. This group is supporting these type of ordinances as a way to increase business at member campgrounds.
We follow these rules whenever we happen to stay at a business and have found them to have served us well. I hate to start talking about exceptions to the rule, but we have found that casinos who don’t have dedicated camping facilities, and allow overnight parking, generally are happy to have you stay longer than one night. The question is, can you afford to stay more than one night. : – )
I would like to add a couple more suggestions that really go to etiquette with my fellow RV’ers and not the business. These might be pet peeves of mine as much as anything.
When you have the whole d**n parking lot, please don’t pull within three feet of the side of my RV. I’m not sure why this seems to happen to me . Maybe folks think that I have the best spot and they want to get as close as possible. This used to happen a lot when I went fishing too. There was an entire ocean to fish in, but the only other fisherman out that day has to pull up within 50 feet of my boat. Must be my magnetism.
Don’t run your generator after a reasonable time at night – probably 10 pm., if you are close to other RV’ers. I know it can be hot in the summer without that AC on, but this is just being courteous, in my opinion.
In closing I want to stress that this is a benefit that we, as RV’ers, really need to preserve. The flexibility in our travel that this allows along with the money saved, make it a real camping jewel. We all know how a few bad apples can ruin the basket so let’s work hard not to be that apple.