Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life. He shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.
Learn to Operate Your RV Yourself!
Understand the things you must already know how to do when you rent an RV campsite.
Campgrounds are commercial businesses, and they are basically only responsible for providing you with a clean campsite that your RV will fit on (and provide certain hookups). It is your responsibility, on the other hand, to connect and manage your utilities.
Let’s make this clear: campgrounds do not provide some type of concierge service where they will send someone down to your campsite and hook everything up for
Neither are they there to troubleshoot what went wrong with your RV.
Campground Responsibilities: Who Does What?
The dividing line between what the campground is responsible for and what you, the camper, are responsible for is actually right at those service connections you see on each campsite.
Full Hookup or Not?
When making your camping reservation, the first thing you must do is make sure that you will have “full hookup” at your campsite. Most campgrounds today do have a full hookup, meaning they are providing you with a connection to electricity, water and sewage. But as you travel around the country, you may occasionally end up needing to stay at an older campground that doesn’t have all of the hookups you wanted.
It’s up to you to ask the reservationist for what you want at the site where you will be camping. And at times, you must decide for yourself if you are only going to stay at one of those limited sites for one or two nights and whether you can accept camping at their limited service campsite for that short period of time.
Make sure your reservation is for a site that has the electrical service you need. Some may not have any electrical service at all; most of the nicer and larger ones will now have 50-amp service; and some will have the older 30-Amp service connections on at least some of their sites.
Because of this, every smart camper purchases a standard 50-amp to 30-amp adapter cable. With one of these adapters, you can quickly hookup to their 30-amp electrical service and at least have most of your electrical devices in your RV functioning.
Campsites will have a water faucet that you can hook to and fill your water tank, or they may have water service you may operate off of.
Older campground water supplies are notoriously problematic for campers, especially when the campground is full and they are operating right at the limit of the water usage they can support. So the smart camper should;
- Keep a couple of cheap water filters that can be hooked in series with your water hoses. These can catch the silt, gravel and even pieces of strange plants that can be sucked into your water supply.
- Always use water hoses that are a different color than the hoses you use to flush your sewage tank or for washing the RV. I suggest that you use white water hoses for your fresh water supply.
- It is best if you have at least two 25-foot water hoses to make those long connections to a faraway campsite water source once you have parked your RV. Again I suggest that you use white water hoses.
- Always store your fresh water hoses in a separate tote that has a top, to keep them clean and uncontaminated.
Some older campgrounds, and many state and National Park campsites, will only provide limited utilities for their campers. Most of these campgrounds do not provide sewage service, only a common “dump site” for campers to use. You should always ask when you make your reservations so that you can be prepared to move in and out of your site and dump your tanks as necessary.
For efficient sewage management, every RV owner should;
- Always carry at least two 15-foot long sewage hoses with the appropriate connectors on each end so that they can be connected together when the hookup is too far away from your RV connections using just one hose.
- Always carry a spare unused sewage hose for when one of your hoses has burst or torn, or you need even more hose length.
- Do not allow your sewage to constantly flow through your sewage hose. The solid debris from your tank will settle in the low spots along the hose as it sits there, and eventually block the hose. You must keep an eye on your RV’s tank levels daily, and then open the valve and dump the tank when it is full.
- Once you have dumped your black water tank, use your gray water to flush out your sewage hose before you disconnect it.
- Also, before you disconnect the sewage hose, you should run clean water into your gray water tank and use this to keep flushing your sewage line until you only see clear water going through the hose. Then, disconnect the hose.
- To control any odor, always store all of your used sewage hoses, adapters, gloves, slip-on boots and any other tools you may use when you handle your RV's sewage in a separate tote that has a sealable top.
Cable and Internet Service
Some campgrounds have a cable connection for limited TV service. When this is the case, you will appreciate that you remembered to bring a satellite antenna and service, or even a manually adjustable TV antenna.
Some campgrounds may provide access to the Internet as well as Wi-Fi service for their customers (at a price), either via their cable service or often by requiring that you have a compatible modem in your RV. But even a “Full Service” site won't necessarily provide these connections; in fact, many campgrounds only have Wi-Fi access in their community room or in a certain building.
This reality means that before you make your reservations, you need to get the specifics from each campground on what cable or internet service they do or do not provide.
Did You Reserve a Particular Campsite?
When you reserve a campsite, sometimes you can get the reservationist to tell you what site will be yours. Well, if you didn’t pay extra to LOCK that site, campgrounds today reserve their right to move people around so that they can get the most people in their campground,
If, for instance, your 32-foot camper was initially placed in a 40-foot site, as the campsites fill up the campground may move you to a 36-foot site, so that they can sell a reservation to the guy who makes a reservation for his 38-foot or 40-foot camper.
There are any number of reasons other campers might want the site you initially reserved. Some campers like sunshine and some like shade; some need to point east for local TV reception and some don’t care because they have satellite service; some have medical restrictions and must be near the bathhouse or the office; or some may just want to be near the playground.
The reasons are almost limitless. The one who pays that extra money to lock in their reserved campsite will be the one who is guaranteed to not be moved, and not you, with your standard reservation.
Want Help From the Campground?
Experienced campers also understand that a campsite does not get the same service as a hotel room. As I have mentioned already, campgrounds are not responsible for your side of those campsite connections.
- If you actually do not know how to hook up or disconnect or dump your sewage, that’s your problem and you should not embarrass yourself by calling the campground office for help.
- Then again, if you make a mess at the campsite, the campground has your name, address, and more importantly, your credit card number, so clean up your mess or risk an addition to your bill.
- If your electrical devices in your camper start to operate differently, or if your interior lights start to dim, then you should have a multimeter to measure the voltage at your receptacles. If you complain, the campground will only send a maintenance person to check that the voltage at the campsite power box is at the right level. It is not their job to troubleshoot your RV's electrical systems.
- If your external water pressure drops, then turn on your internal water pump. Again, if you call the office they will check what pressure you have at their faucet. It is up to you to check all of your water filters for blockages.
- If your neighbor is partying with a few friends, then check if it is "Quiet Time" or not. If it is, you can have the office ask them to “hold it down”; if not, the office may tell you that everyone camps to have fun and during normal hours you cannot ask others to live to your standards.
- If your neighboring camper has a barking dog, but the dog owner doesn't respond to management complaints, and the dog is at least quiet during Quiet Time, there is very little the campground management can do, short of evicting the camper, and that’s a rare occurrence.
- Some campgrounds have security people that work at night to control loud parties, disruptive campers and generally bad or even illegal behavior. But if the security people can't solve the problem, they will simply call the local police to take control of the situation. So be prepared to explain what you have seen or heard not only to the campground security people, but to the local police as well.
These are just a few of the things that some new campers do not understand about how things are managed in a campground. The reality is that the campground is not responsible for yours or anyone else’s RV skills. And they are definitely not responsible for campers' social skills, or how considerate some campers are to their neighbors, until the problem gets to extremes that might be dangerous for you and others, if continued.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.