An RVers Guide to Campground Etiquette

Do you practice good RV campground etiquette?

Unless you are about to embark on your first RV road trip, you probably already practice the basic, common-sense rules of campground etiquette. They simply reflect the good manners that most of us observe in our everyday lives.

Creek Fire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Unfortunately, many of us have encountered that rare individual with rude or thoughtless behavior that spoils a camping experience for others. It all begins with the Golden Rule. If we expect our campgrounds to be friendly, well-mannered communities, we should make sure we are friendly and courteous campers.

Virtually every RV Park has posted speed limits usually in the range of 5-10 miles per hour. Courteous behavior and good manners begin with observing speed limits throughout the park. Obey one-way signs as well.

Terre Haute KOA, Terre Haute, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Every campground has its own set of rules and regulations usually included in a park brochure or handout sheet. Read them carefully as they serve as a guide to what you can and cannot do at that particular campground.

Avoid walking through someone else’s campsite. You wouldn’t walk through a stranger’s yard without asking—so be polite and go the extra distance around.

Most RV campgrounds are family-friendly and, yes, kids deserve to have fun too. However, the fun shouldn’t be at the expense of the neighbors in your campground. Make sure they’re supervised when roaming about and know the campground rules.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RVers love to take their pets camping—and they love it too—but irresponsible pet owners are one of the most common causes of campground etiquette complaints. Keep your dogs on a short leash when walking and make sure they are properly restrained at the campsite. Not even the most ardent of dog lovers can put up with incessant barking, so if your pooch is one of those non-stop yappers plan to leave it with a sitter when you go camping.

Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Finally, it goes without saying that you should be prepared to clean up after your pet. If you forget to bring your own, most campgrounds provide doggie bags to make the cleanup easy and convenient.

Keeping the noise down is another important campground courtesy. You might jam to heavy metal but chances are your neighbor prefers Tchaikovsky. So, it’s good to remember that your sounds shouldn’t travel beyond your own campsite.

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most campgrounds post quiet hours so be sure you know when they are and be doubly sure to keep things quiet during that period. Outside lighting can be an irritant to neighbors as well so turn off your awning and/or porch lights when you retire for the evening.

Emptying holding tanks is not a popular task—but dumping those tanks is a nasty fact of life for every camper and should be done courteously and with consideration of your neighbors. Don’t do it when they are relaxing with a drink or enjoying a meal.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Late arrivals and early departures can create a campground disturbance, so try to be as quiet as possible. If you’re planning an early getaway, stow your camping gear the evening before.

Some state parks and most federal campgrounds don’t have power outlets, so in those instances, you’ll need to rely on your batteries, solar, or a generator. You shouldn’t need to run the generator for long to maintain your RV batteries. Having a solar system and generator is the best of both worlds minimizing generator usage for a more peaceful campground experience.

Columbia River RV Park, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since your campsite is just on loan to you, it’s important to leave it as you found it. Don’t move fire rings or boundary stones and if you relocate the picnic table, return it to its original place when you leave. Never cut branches or pound nails into trees for clotheslines or hammocks. Before departing, take a look around the site for personal items or litter.

As a final thought, take time to make some new friends. We all spend too much time on our personal devices these days, so crank up your communications skills and go for some old fashion personal contact. Time on the road is precious—so relax, have fun, and enjoy the company of some newfound friends.

Worth Pondering…

Enjoy your days and love your life, because life is a journey to be savored.

Your RV Camping Checklist: 10 Essentials for RV Travel

What To Take RV Camping?

COVID continues to restrict many people’s travel plans but you still need to take time to unwind and relax on a summer vacation. You can still enjoy everything you love about getting away in the comfort of your RV as these vehicles provide the perfect place to socially distance and stay safe while you’re away from home.

Want to make the most of summer and enjoy a vacation this year? The following camping checklist is a starting point to help you pack your RV and start exploring the country.

Driving an RV on Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why Choose RV Travel

One of the greatest benefits of staying in the US (or Canada, for Canadians) is the money you save on your vacation. Going abroad can be very costly. You have to pay for flights, accommodation, airport transfers, food, and souvenirs. However, with RV travel you save the cost of flights and airport transfers. You save on the cost of accommodations too.

Driving an RV in Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another benefit of RV camping is convenience and ease. Many countries around the world currently have travel restrictions and quarantine restrictions and these are constantly in flux. At the best of times, security checks and transfers can be quite stressful but add on restrictions and your vacation will definitely start off stressful. Whereas, RV travel is easier and can reduce stress meaning you can start enjoying your vacation from the start-go.

Business Wire found that in 2017 over 10 million US households owned an RV and the numbers have increased substantially since then. If you’re one of the many that own an RV then you’re able to pack up your rig and go on vacation whenever you want. However, before you go, make sure you have everything you’ll need during your trip with our RV camping essentials checklist.

Essentials include heavy duty sewer hose and water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. RV Essentials

There are certain RV camping essentials you need to take with you such as your RV paperwork (insurance, registration details, roadside assistance documents, and road maps). You also need to make sure you pack other RV essentials such as electrical or battery equipment, a tool kit, and a first aid kit

Check for essentials for the kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Kitchen Essentials

If you plan to prepare meals in your RV (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll need to ensure you have all the equipment and supplies you need. For example, you’ll require bowls, plates, cutlery, cups, pots and pans, knives, chopping boards, and matches. You’ll also need to pack products to clean these items once you’ve used them, such as sponges, detergent, and trash bags.

Check for bedroom essentials © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Bedroom Essentials

The RV checklist for the bedroom includes linen and bedsheets, duvets and blankets, pillows, and laundry essentials. You might also want to pack towels in your bedroom because RVs usually lack space in the bathroom to keep them.

4. Bathroom Essentials

Fully stock your bathroom with your bathmat and toiletries. Toiletries could include a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, deodorant, razors, and a hairbrush. And don’t forget the toilet paper and bathroom cleaning products too.

Check for essentials for the living area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Clothing Essentials

Nobody wants to go away and realize they only have one pair of underwear and socks, so make sure you pack your clothes carefully. Work out the number of days you’ll be away and decide which clothes you want to take and how frequently you’ll do laundry. For example, if you’re going away for a week, you’ll need enough clothes to last for seven days. 

Your clothing pack list should also be influenced by the location or time of year. For example, if you’re going on vacation to the coast make sure you pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and your swimsuit. If you’re heading to the mountains be prepared for all four seasons.

Plan to attend an RV rally or other event? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Entertainment Essentials

You won’t always spend all your time outside and on the go, so you’ll need to pack some entertainment. The type of entertainment depends on you and how much space you have in your RV. Some examples of entertainment essentials include movies, laptops, games, puzzles, toys, and books. 

7. Personal Essentials

Personal essentials you’ll need during your RV travels include your smartphone and charger, credit card and cash, and campground and RV park confirmations. Another personal essential might be medication; make sure you pack enough to last you the whole vacation.

Plan time for relaxation! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. First Aid Essentials

Accidents can happen which is why it’s important to be prepared and ensure your first aid kit is fully stocked. Ensure that your kit includes bandages, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, disposal plastic gloves, a thermometer, and any other medications or creams you might need. You might want to pack some insect repellent and bite and sting ointment. 

9. Grocery Essentials

A major positive about RV travel is that you are self-sufficient meaning you can be off-grid and explore the backcountry. However, if you’re planning on going off-grid and away from stores make sure you think about the grocery packing list for RV camping. Since you’ll need sufficient food in your RV to last during your vacation, pack plenty of canned goods, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and cereals.

Plan to spend some time fishing? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Camping Essentials

Whether you plan to go off-grid or not, you’ll also need camping supplies. These may include flashlights, maps, pocket knives, a compass, water filters, and ropes. If you plan to do specific camping activities such as fishing or kayaking, you should also pack these items.

Plan to spend some tome canoeing or kayaking? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pack Everything You Need for an Incredible Adventure

Never forget or leave anything behind again with this RV camping checklist. Remember to pack everything you need and think about the time of year, weather, and the location where you’ll be going, so you can pack accordingly and be prepared.

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

How to Choose the Perfect RV Park and Campsite?

A guide to finding the perfect RV campsite

Are you a boater enthusiast and swimmer looking for a lakeside or oceanfront RV park? Prefer wide open spaces in the great outdoors with plenty of hiking trails? When deciding where to stay, whether for the night, the weekend, or the season, there are several things to consider.

Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley. Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Find the Right Site

Many RVers spend a lot of time searching for the perfect RV park while overlooking the fact that finding the perfect campsite can be just as important. Terrain, location, amenities, water sources, and traffic patterns—just to name a few—play a big part in selecting the perfect spot. Here are a few strategies to help you find the right site.

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Questions to ask:

  • What’s your budget? Having a clear budget will help you make your decision when looking at various campgrounds and resorts.
  • Are you staying in an RV? Is everyone in your group staying in an RV, or will some prefer tent or cabin?
  • What is your length of stay? Is this an overnight stop, several days, or a longer stay?
  • What is your camping style? Do you prefer numerous amenities or low-impact camping?
Palm Canyon Campground, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campgrounds are generally your most basic setup and are usually publicly owned and found in national, state, and county/regional parks. They tend to be more rustic, have ample room for tent camping, and cater to more outdoorsy types. They usually have greater emphasis on nature and scenic views than amenities and typical stays are shorter. It’s hit or miss as to the number of campgrounds that can accommodate big rigs so check the website or call the campground directly.

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV parks and resorts offer amenities and creature comforts, typically with full service sites. They are usually privately owned and offer both short and longer term stays. Most RV parks offer Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, showers, and dog parks.

Sea Breeze RV Park, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV resorts will be well manicured and in good condition. The roads in the park should be wide enough to allow RVs of all sizes to enter and leave sites easily. Some RV resorts are gated with manned gate houses and you might find that your RV must be of a certain caliber in order to gain entry.  There is no industry standard; you may notice more luxurious amenities and surroundings according to price. These amenities may include exercise rooms, Jacuzzis, lap pools, in-house restaurants and/or bars, or golf courses.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Is your campsite spacious enough for a comfortably stay? Is there room to extend slide-outs?

Is there enough space to back in your rig? Do you require a pull-through site?

Are you bringing your pet? Does the campground provide pet-friendly amenities?

Do you want to a park with a bustling social scene or are you seeking solitude?

Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Planning

Take the time to research not only the campground or RV resort but your route, when you’ll be arriving, and any current restrictions related to COVID-19 or weather. And with today’s travel challenges, it’s even more important than ever to stay safe and be prepared. The RV park website is a great place to start. Supplement this with online reviews and personal recommendations.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And when you do call for reservations, be sure to give them a detailed description of your RV (length, height, toad) and what your requirements are in the way of hook-ups and additional services.

Pala Casino RV Park, Pala, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make a reservation

Demand for RVs in the era of COVID-19 has surged across the country. Many Americans are skipping hotels and air travel for RV parks in this era of social distancing with the industry scrambling to keep up with the demand. With an increasing scarcity of available sites it is advisable to book a site well in advance. This maximizes the likelihood of securing your top choice site. Phone the park to make a reservation. Reserving online isn’t always a possibility. You’re also more likely to snag a great spot if you’re more flexible with your dates. Popular destinations occasionally have campsites available mid-week.

Golden Palms Village RV Park, Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pro tip

Discounts are typically given for longer stays. Are you able to escape for a week or even a month? Ask about specials and you’ll likely receive a lower price per night.

Creek Fire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RV parks post their campground maps online. You can even check out the satellite view on Google Earth for a bird’s-eye view of the campground.

If you’re traveling with children, you might prefer a spot near the pool or playground.

River Plantation RV Park, Seviereille, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When selecting the right campsite, you may face a trade-off and need to prioritize which factors are most important to you.

Worth Pondering…

It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning.

—Claude Bernard

No Regrets Camping: How NOT To Enjoy a Camping Trip

Numerous things can go wrong when you are camping and sometimes it’s completely out of your control, but other times it’s your own mistakes that can ruin your trip. Read along to learn some common camping mistakes and how to avoid them!

You don’t have to be the Born Survivor to enjoy a camping trip; there are options for every camping skill level and travel taste. Camping choices range from RV parks and resorts to the bare basics often found at national forest campgrounds or BLM (Bureau of Land Management) dispersed camping areas.

Whatever your preferences, here are 15 bad moves make while camping. 

Camping at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Ignore fire bans. As awesome as smores are, adhere to campground rules regarding fires. If the authorities in charge of the campground or national forest say no fires, they mean no fires. It is your responsibility to be fire safe when camping. Before you go, check to see if there are fire bans in place where you plan to visit, and act accordingly.

Camping at Tom Sawyer RV Park, West Memphis, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Gather wood without checking. Even when fires are allowed, gathering of wood may not be. Ask first, and then gather only down and dead wood in designated areas. Never cut live trees or branches from live trees.

3. Start a fire with gasoline. Assuming that there is no burn ban, you should be prepared to start your fire with appropriate fuel. If not, then we hope you remembered your first aid kit.

Camping at Gulf State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Burn wood that does not fit in the fire pit. So you found an awesome log that will burn for hours, only it doesn’t fit in the designated fire ring. And you forgot your hatchet. Your plan is to just lay it across the fire or stick in one end. It will only burn the part in the fire, right?  Wrong! Keep your fire to a manageable size. Make sure children and pets are supervised when near the fire. Never leave your campfire unattended

Camping at Fort McDowell Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Miss the stars. How you could you ignore this amazing view?! It’s easy when you live in the city to forget that stars even exist. Look up at night when you camp. It’s life-changing. 

6. Feed the wildlife. As much as your social media page would be enhanced by photos of chipmunks eating potato chips, nothing about it is good for the animal. And then there are the campers that occupy your site next who will not be able to enjoy a sandwich without being harassed by begging critters.

Camping at Creekfire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Play loud music. Camping is about enjoying the natural world. Try listening to the wind in the trees, the gurgling of the stream, or the chattering of the birds. Besides, your music is annoying to the neighbors.

Camping at Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Don’t give your kids camp chores to do. Camping is filled with life lessons for children. From setup to cleanup, there are confidence-building tasks that your kids should be doing. 

9. Stay glued to your devices. And don’t let your kids do it either. Camping is the perfect time for a digital detox. 

Camping at Columbia River RV Park, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Watch TV. Stars > Netflix anyhow. Every moment of a camping trip that you spend watching TV is a moment when you could have been enjoying your companions, your surroundings, and the simple serenity of doing nothing.

Camping at Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Overestimate your vehicle. Don’t take a two-wheel drive SUV off-roading. Don’t take chances with bald tires or faulty gas gauges. Know what your vehicle can and cannot do and camp somewhere within that range of ability.

Camping at Hilltop RV Park, Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Overestimate your outdoor skills. Rock climbing on a cruise ship does not qualify you to climb the face of a mountain. Nor does watching two seasons of Naked and Afraid make you a survival expert. Be honest with yourself about your skills and plan accordingly.  

Camping at Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Underestimate the wildlife. That ain’t no teddy! Bears, raccoons, and other wildlife can make your camping trip miserable if you underestimate their survival skills. They can unzip, unlock, and chew through things with astonishing efficiency. Learn how to critter proof your trip before you ever leave home.

Camping at SeaWind RV Park, Riviera Beach, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Leave anything behind. “Leave no trace” is the campers’ creed, and it applies even in organized campgrounds. It means that when you pull out of your campsite, there should not be any sign that you and your group were ever there. 

Camping at Texas Lakeside RV Park, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

15. Disrespect the campground. Respecting the facility goes beyond simply cleaning up after yourself; it means not carving initials into picnic tables, parking only on designated hard surfaces, and finding a way to leave it better for the next guy, not worse.

Worth Pondering…

Take time to listen to the voices of the earth and what they mean…the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of flowing streams. And the voices of living things: the dawn chorus of the birds, the insects that play little fiddles in the grass.

—Rachel Carson

15 Bad Camping Decisions

You don’t have to be Bear Grylls to enjoy a camping trip; there are options for every camping skill level and travel taste

Campground and RV park camping is distinguished from wilderness camping by the presence of facilities and designated campsites. Campground choices range from RV parks and resorts to the bare basics often found at national forest campgrounds or BLM (Bureau of Land Management) dispersed camping areas.

Whatever your camping preferences, here are the 15 worst moves you can make at a campground

Camping at White Tank Mountains, a Maricopa County Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Fail to give someone your camping itinerary. Before you set out on your adventure, be sure to let someone know your plans. What may seem like a silly precaution could actually save your life.

2. Forget to bring insect repellant. It does not matter where you camp, there will be insects and you need to arm yourself appropriately.

Camping at Jekyll Campground, Jekyll Island, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Assume there will be toilet paper. Pack your own roll. It’s the first rule of camping. Paper towels and Kleenex are also necessities.

4. Assume that there will be running water. Depending on the season and the camping area or facility you choose, you may need to bring your own water. You do need to stay hydrated and brush you teeth.

Camping at My Old Kentucky Home State Park Campground, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Take more stuff than you need. Whether you will be sleeping in a tent or in a luxury RV, there is no reason to take things that are not essential for your journey and destination.

6. Forget your first aid kit. Consider the first aid kit your failsafe in the event that you make all the wrong decisions while camping. Your first aid kit should include Tylenol or Advil to ease a headache or fever, Cortizone 10 cream to soothe an itchy insect bite, antibiotic ointment like Neosporin or Bacitracin to prevent infection from minor cuts or scrapes, Band-Aids of varying sizes to cover those minor cuts and scrapes, and Benadryl to relieve allergies.

Camping at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Assume that your GPS is always correct. It isn’t. Learn to read a map…a paper one! And make sure you have clear directions for your destination before you leave home, preferably from more than one source.

8. Set up camp in the dark. Unless you are very familiar with the campground and all of your equipment, plan to arrive before dark. Setting up in the dark is not only a logistical challenge; it’s annoying to other campers trying to enjoy a peaceful evening that does not include all the ruckus of you fighting with your gear.

Camping in Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Invade other people’s space. Space invaders are the worst campers in any campground. Do not walk through other people’s camps, even if you think they aren’t there. It’s rude and creepy. Don’t let your children do it either.

10. Expand beyond your assigned camping site. Second worst camper is the space hog. It doesn’t matter if you are in a luxury RV resort or a rustic forest campground; don’t take up more than your designated space. It creates problems for the park management and is rude to other campers.

Camping at Bird Island Basin Campground, Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Picnic in an empty campsite. Campsites are for camping, not picnicking. This is a subtler way of hogging space, but still a bad decision. Do you want to be the guy who misses a prime campsite because somebody was using it for an afternoon snack when you arrived?  

12. Leave open food containers outside. Never, ever, leave food outside especially in bear country. Unless you like ants, flies, feral cats, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, bears, or irate neighbors. Worse yet, don’t leave them in your tent overnight.

Camping at Seawind RV Resort, Riviera Beach, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Leave garbage near your camp. See the previous bad decision. Garbage belongs away from your campsite, inside cans or dumpsters, if they are provided.  

14. Leave things in public spaces. There is a distinct yuk factor involved in finding someone else’s toiletries in a campground bathhouse. The same applies to buckets, hoses, dishpans, or dishcloths left at communal water faucets.  

Camping at Fort McDowell Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

15. Underestimate the weather. You did check the forecast before you left home, right? Just know that it will likely be hotter, colder, windier, or wetter than you expect. And you do have a NOAA Weather Radio!

Worth Pondering…

You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.

—Yogi Berra

Vacationing by RV this Summer? Here’s what you need to Know

Parks, scenic drives, and hiking trails all wait—all on your own terms

The wide open spaces never seemed more inviting than now. Fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and a healthy dose of freedom—it’s all waiting for you along the highways and byways of America. If you’re ready for a getaway with both wide-open spaces and a lot of autonomy, consider an RV road trip around America.

Motor coaches along Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you’re in your RV, or camping, you’re in control of your environment. You can spend as much or as little time as you want in any one place. You can go off on a hike all day and come back and never see a soul. Such trips literally and figuratively “put you in the driver’s seat”.

Camping at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As communities re-open after their COVID-19-related closures, keep in mind that some parks, businesses, and attractions may still be closed or have new protocols in place. Before traveling, familiarize yourself with local guidelines and regulations for the destinations you plan to visit.

Camping in a Class B motorhome at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pick Your Wheels

There are vehicles for every style of trip from the converted minivan–style Jucy vans that sleep four and have a kitchen to full-size RVs with a bathroom. If you’re new to RVing, start by getting acquainted with the various types of RVs available. Options range from pop-up, teardrop, travel, and fifth-wheel trailers to motorized RVs that range in size from vans (Class B motorhomes) and cab-over morothomes (Class C) to long, bus-style motor coaches.

Camping in a travel trailer at Whispering Hills RV Park near Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rent or buy something that works best work for you and your family. Think about the activities you plan to do. If your plans involve regularly traversing hairpin mountain passes or embarking on day-long hikes, a campervan or truck camper would best fit the bill. Conversely, 45-foot motor homes equipped with cooking appliances and large wastewater holding tanks work well for large family get-togethers or cross-country trips.

Camping at Bellingham RV Park, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose a vehicle that’s compatible with the area you plan to explore and within your budget. You’ll love having the extra space of a motorized RV if you’re exploring the desert or mostly traveling along major highways. That said, a smaller camper van might be better suited for the scenic drive along California Highway 1, Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone, and other winding roadways.  

Camping at Colorado River Thousand Trails Preserve near Columbus, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most rentals do not require a special driver’s license. Ahead of booking make sure to ask about rental insurance and roadside assistance plans. Take advantage of a quick RV training session before revving up. If you plan on bringing along a furry friend, check the pet policies specific to your rental. Perhaps most important is to book early.

On the road to Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose Your Scenery

There are hundreds—if not thousands—of amazing places to visit across the country. Do you want to do a coastal or mountain drive or go off the grid for a bit? State highways and county roads tend to feature scenic drives filled with more beauty than interstates, so stop and take some photos, smell the flowers, or just marvel at nature when venturing off the beaten path. Taking the scenic route can reveal some unexpected locally owned gems that get overlooked. Pecan pralines in Louisiana, BBQ in Texas, green chile cheeseburger in New Mexico.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Want the journey to be just as meaningful as the destination? Check out these scenic byways. Looking to do an epic cross-country road trip along a beloved American roadway? Check out our guides to Route 66, Gold Rush Trail, or the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Fort Davis National Historic Site, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Maybe you’re a history buff or a foodie? You could plan your camping trip around either of those themes—and many more, to boot. Here are some of our best road trip ideas for patriots, wildlife lovers, and haunted house enthusiasts.

Jekyll Island, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

California dreaming? Got Georgia on your mind? No matter what part of the country, there’s a road that can take you there—so go for it. And be sure to stop at neat little towns and roadside attractions along the way.

Camping at Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Start Browsing Campgrounds to Create Your Itinerary

Almost any destination can be made better—or significantly worse—by choice of campground. It’s hard to relax if you don’t have access to clean showers or if your neighbors keep you up all night with noise.

Camping at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Finally, don’t forget that we’re a great resource! Whether you’re camping out at a national park or just looking for the best RV park near your chosen national park, always turn to RVing with Rex for quality content to help you make your vacation great.

Worth Pondering…

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…

— John Muir

7 Tips for Newbies to Know BEFORE the First Trip

Vacationing by RV this summer? Here’s what you need to know.

When you first heard the words “black water” in conversation, you may have assumed the speaker was discussing an obscure movie, perhaps an Australian film created by 3D models or a 2017 Jean-Claude Van Damme flick.

Camping at Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But, if you’re one of the many people who decides to take a summer road trip in an RV you would know that the first definition of black water is solid and liquid waste that must be dumped from your RV holding tank.

Here are seven helpful tips to know before embarking on your first RV road trip.

Sewer hose connected and ready to dump © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Don’t get poop on yourself

If there’s a toilet in your rig—and there most likely is—you’re going to need to dump the waste—the aforementioned black water—at some point (likely sooner rather than later). When you go to open the storage compartment on the side of the vehicle to remove the cap and connect the sewer hose in order to dump, remember this: Make sure the dump valves are closed! Trust me on this! Read the page in your RV owner’s manual about the holding tanks. Make sure you close those latches! Otherwise, you might gag while your sneakers become “poop shoes” you can never wear again.

Sewer hose connection up-close © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Remember your toolkit

It’s hard to anticipate something like having your side view mirror get so loose that it no longer provides any help with attempting lane changes. But these things happen, and you should prepare for them, instead of relying on your copilot to turn or finding a man on the road who has a wrench you can borrow to tighten said mirror.

Sewer dump station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bring a toolkit. And store it on the curb side. Again, trust me on this. Bring Allen wrenches or Hex Key set. Bring duct tape and Rhino tape. Bring variety of screwdrivers including Phillips and Robertson. Bring hammer. Bring scissors. Bring a variety of wrenches. Bring plenty of rags. Be ready to fix the unanticipated.

Read carefully before pulling lever © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Pack sufficient cookware

If you’re renting an RV that comes stocked with kitchen tools, check that it also has pots and pans, cutting boards, and silverware. And if it has knives, make sure they’re sharp enough to cut effectively. Will the rental company reimburse you for replacing any missing or faulty cookware? It may be wise to take complete inventory of your cookware at time of rental.

Camping at Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Use leveling blocks

Like Legos? Stackable leveling blocks can be placed under your vehicle’s wheels in order to level out your parking spot. If you arrive at your camping site when it is dark or too tired to use leveling blocks, be prepared to face the consequences.  The fridge may stop running (because it relies on gravity to cool properly and only works when the vehicle is level). That brings us to the next tip.

Camping at Monahans Sands State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Arrive at your campground before dark

Plan your trip so that you get to your overnight parking spot before dark. Whether you’re driving into a campground, an RV park, or—especially—a place in the desert or woods where you’ll be boondocking (RV-speak for spending the night somewhere for free, without electric or water hookups), it’s important to be able to see your surroundings.

Camping at Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s very challenging to see camping site numbers and even harder to determine whether you’ve parked safely (and level) in the dark. Also: You want to wake up the next morning and be able to recognize your surroundings. Not knowing where you are can have a rather disturbing feel!

Camping at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Use RV toilet essentials

Sorry to bring up the poop thing again, but it’s important. Without it, traveling during a pandemic would be more dangerous. And if you don’t pack certain RV bathroom essentials, you’ll find yourself up a certain creek without a paddle.

Camping at Poches RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Knowing what your black water tank holds, the next logical question to ask is: how the heck do you keep it clean and odor-free? Fortunately, the availability of commercial chemicals and deodorizers makes it pretty simple to maintain your black tank on a regular basis.

Camping in Sequoia National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At the start of your camping trip, add a dose of RV black water tank treatment, which may come in liquid form or in Tide-Pod-like packets. Be sure to add in about a gallon of water, as well, which helps the chemicals do their job. Along with keeping tank odors down, these chemicals also have the ability to break down solid waste and toilet paper. That makes for a much smoother process when it comes time to dump your tanks.

Even if you use those things properly, there is a rare possibility you might end up with a clog in your toilet—and that is not a pretty picture.

Hiking Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Wake up early and enjoy the sunrise

Driving your bathroom and kitchen around with you makes life super convenient. You can eat, nap, and relieve yourself whenever you’d like! With that in mind, here are several suggestions on structuring your days when you visit national or state parks: Wake up early. Make coffee. Drive inside the park to a place with a gorgeous view. Enjoy the sunrise and wildlife with few other humans around. Go on a hike

Enjoying camping on Lake Pleasant, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you return to your camping site, take some time to appreciate the RV lifestyle. Bask in the nature around you before retiring to your big sleeping box. And promise yourself you’ll go on another road trip real soon!

Worth Pondering…

Wherever we go, we’re always at home.

6 Essential Tips for the First Time RVer

6 Essential Tips for the First Time RVer

There are many people out there who love to commune with nature and take every opportunity to grab their camping gear and head out into the great outdoors. Then, there are those people who decide to take camping to the next level and become RV campers instead. 

Touring Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, whether you’re headed across the country to tour a Kentucky bourbon distillery or to the mountains to take a hike, there are a few tips you need to follow as a beginning RVer

Heading to the mountains for a hike at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be Thorough 

Even seasoned RVers leave things behind when it’s time to move on, so as a beginner it’s important to be thorough when packing up to move to the next location. You have to pack up your RV and make sure that its road ready when it’s time to move on. Develop a checklist to follow so you don’t forget to secure a latch or close a drawer. 

Slow down and enjoy nature at Padre Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take Your Time on the Road 

This tip applies to how much time you plan to spend on the road each day and even how long you intend to stay in one spot. It’s important not to try and cover too many miles in a day. Not only is that dangerous, but you’re failing to enjoy the beauty of the area you’re in at the same time.

Taking time to relax and enjoy your camping site along the Mississippi River at Tom Sawyer RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the best parts of becoming an RVer is taking the time to enjoy the views you would have easily passed by without seeing before. A good rule of thumb to follow is 300 miles or 3 pm as your cut-off point for traveling each day. If you reach either, it’s time to call it a day, set up camp, and just enjoy the area. 

Take time to enjoy the journey along the Colorado River near Moab, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once you reach your destination, don’t just head back out the next morning. Spend a few days relaxing and getting to know and appreciate the area. In this way, you’ll be fresh to get back on the road and have a relaxing time as well. There are many places to see when you’re an RV camper, take your time and enjoy them all. 

Enjoying the sunset at Sea Breeze RV Park near Corpus Christi, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ask a Ton of Questions 

One of the best things about being an RVer is that the community is so big you can easily get answers to the questions you have, and you should have a ton when you are first starting out. Talk to RVers along your route and ask questions. You can pretty much guarantee that if they don’t know the answer, they will find someone that does. 

Colorado River Thousand Trails Preserve at Columbus, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pack Tools and Spare Parts

Pack a well-stocked tool kit and store on the curb side of your RV. Include basic tools and items that may need to be replaced including LCD flashlights, spare fuses, LED lights, jumper cables, nuts and bolts, WD-40, silicon spray, duct and gorilla tape, rags, and cleaning supplies. Be sure to bring spare parts that are unique to your rig.

Camping amid the beauty of Badlands National Park in South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be Flexible 

RVing is about taking it easy and enjoying the experience. A lot of things can happen on the road, from bad weather to someone getting sick. You need to be flexible with your plans. If weather or sickness puts you behind a day so be it! Enjoy where you’re at and then ride towards a sunnier spot when everyone is on the mend. 

Castle Valley Gourd Festival was a pleasant surprise on a day trip from Moab, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Becoming an RVer is all about the journey and the adventure that awaits you from town to town and state to state. Plan your trip, pack well, ask questions, and get to know your fellow RV community members. RV camping is fun and relaxing and you shouldn’t make it anything but that for you and your family. 

Settling into Harvest Moon RV Park in Historic Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t Wing It

The urge to be spontaneous is tempting when your home is on wheels. There’s a certain pleasure in going where you want, when you want. However, it does help to have a solid plan in place especially if it’s your first RV trip. When planning your RV trip, consider:

  • Your budget
  • Your food supplies
  • Your travel route
  • Attractions to see along the way
  • Fuel stops
  • Campgrounds/RV parks
Enjoying the beauty at Columbia River RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Our wish to you is this: drive a little slower, take the backroads sometimes, and stay a little longer. Enjoy, learn, relax, and then…plan your next RV journey.

Camping Etiquette: Getting Away From Each Other & Doing It Together

Be smart. Be kind. Be considerate.

Since I am writing this article during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ll start with the caveat that camping etiquette now includes respecting the health of others by maintaining social distancing and sanitary protocols. Much as we crave our former levels of interaction, this is a time when it’s absolutely okay to politely decline an invitation to a potluck or other gathering—unless you know your neighbors well and/or are comfortable with the level of safety precautions that will be taken.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With the arrival of summer, one thing is certain. Americans and Canadians will flee the cities by the thousands in search of open space and a chance to get away from the rest of us. The situation is akin to the hippie movement of the ’60s when everyone was being different but doing it all together.

Jack’s Landing RV Resort, Grants Pass, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That means that virtually every campground and outdoor recreation venue within four hours of every major cities will be full each and every weekend—full of people getting away from it all and doing it together.

Eagles Landing RV Park, Auburn, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan ahead and take care of last-minute errands sooner rather than later since a brief stop on the way out of town Friday afternoon could cost you that last available camping spot.

Campground courtesy (the unwritten rules of etiquette) is an easy way to ensure that a group of people living in close proximity together where sounds travel and light can be a disturbance continue to camp together in harmony.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spending time in a campground requires a certain level of community patience and a willingness to live and let live, there are some basic rules of camping etiquette that will help create a friendly atmosphere and make the camping experience more enjoyable for everyone.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be friendly and greet other campers. Again, this is part of being within the camping community and even though you may not know the other people, you all have a common goal of enjoying the camping experience.

Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep in mind that I may be in the campground to get away from it all and wish to hear the wind blowing through the aspens, the chatter of squirrels, or perhaps the call of a jay. While I recognize your right to enjoy a little music, I don’t necessarily share your musical taste unless, of course, it’s Willie’s “On the road again…“. That is why they make headphones.

Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In that same vein, remember not all generators are created equal. Some are designed to run very quietly, and others are not. Quiet hours are there for a reason.

Follow the campground rules and regulations. These rules usually include speed limits, fire regulations, quiet times, and so on. Adhering to these rules is one of the basics of campground etiquette. Be sure to review and enforce the rules with your children, as well.

Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be considerate when arriving late or leaving early. If you arrive at the campsite after dark or leave before dawn, remember that others may be sleeping. Be as unobtrusive as possible. If setting up, do the least amount you need to get through the night and keep voices quiet and lights dim. If you are leaving early, pack up the bulk of your items the day before so you can make a quick get away with the least amount of disturbance possible.

Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contain yourself and your camping gear and supplies within your campsite area. When you set up your RV, don’t allow slideouts or awnings to extend beyond your site and into the neighboring  area. Keep all belongings, chairs, mats, toys, etc. within your campsite. If you need to place your satellite dish in another campsite in order to receive a signal, ask for permission from the people occupying the site.

Custer State Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another common misstep is that of walking through another person’s camp without being invited. Treat other campsites as private property. A campsite is a person’s home away from home. When someone is set up in a campsite, that site becomes their property for the duration of their stay. It is their personal space, and it should be treated that way. Never cut across another occupied site without permission. If the washrooms or beach access are on the other side of a site, walk around.

Lockhart State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be a responsible pet owner. If you are traveling with pets, make sure they are well taken care of. Keep dogs on leashes whenever they are outside so they are not bothering your neighbors and discourage them from barking. Never leave a dog that barks or howls unattended. Clean up after your pet—always.

Deadhorse Point State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clean up after yourself. When you prepare to exit the campsite, be sure to remove all trash regardless of its origin. Always leave the campsite as clean, or cleaner, than it was when you arrived. The camp host and the next camper will appreciate it.

The bottom line is that camping requires us to respect the land and one another. When it comes down to it, continued success of this ongoing social experiment requires it.

Monahans Sandhill State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Have an enjoyable and safe camping summer.

Worth Pondering…

When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

National Park Campgrounds by the Numbers

How limited are your choices for camping in the National Parks?

As the world comes to a standstill as we try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we encourage all of you to hunker down right now, too. In the meantime, we’ll keep posting articles to help you navigate the state of RV travel as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it’s safe to get back on the road again.

How many front-country campgrounds are in the National Park System? How many are needed? If you’ve struggled with making a campsite reservation on recreation.gov, these questions might have come to mind. Here are some answers.

Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the National Park Service, at the end of 2018 there were 1,421 campgrounds in the park system with 27,513 campsites. Filter that done a bit more and there are 502 front-country campgrounds with 16,648 sites, according to the Park Service. 

Sequoia National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That 16,648 number might explain why it is such a struggle to reserve a campsite. After all, Yellowstone National Park has more than 2,000 front-country campsites alone, Yosemite National Park has nearly 1,500, Glacier National Park has more than 1,000, Grand Teton National Park has more than 1,100, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon have just a bit more than 1,200 sites. Do the math and you’ll see that those six parks alone hold 40 percent of those 16,648 campsites.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many other parks that are highly desirable with campers have considerably fewer sites. Canyonlands National Park has fewer than 40, Arches National Park has 50, Rocky Mountain National Park has around 571, Acadia National Park has a few more than 600, and Shenandoah National Park has 472.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And, if you’re looking for an RV campsite you’re choices are even more limited.

And some parks don’t have any front-country campsites: Saguaro, Petrified Forest, Carlsbad Caverns, and Cuyahoga Valley national parks all fall in that category.  

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the Park Service, the variety of available campground facilities and amenities is extremely broad from primitive, unstaffed backcountry campsites to campgrounds that provide hot showers or can accommodate 25-foot recreational vehicles. Campgrounds are also managed through multiple models; some campgrounds are operated by the Park Service, some by concessioners, and a few by other partners.

Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Amenities at campgrounds in the National Park System include:

  • 1,015 comfort stations at 346 campgrounds
  • 12,730 tent pads at 485 campgrounds
  • 8,585 RV pads
  • 426 campgrounds with water stations
  • 130 campgrounds with year-round hot showers
  • 1,889 campsites at 36 campgrounds with electrical hook ups
  • 130 campgrounds with dumping stations
  • 33 campgrounds with Wi-Fi
  • 60 amphitheaters at 55 campgrounds
  • 3,534 fire rings at 556 campgrounds
  • 14 camp stores at 11 parks
Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of the 1,421 campgrounds in the park system, 1,340 were managed by Park Service and 81 were managed through concessions contracts.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the Park Service, these were the top 10 campgrounds in terms of occupancy:

1. Mather Campground, Grand Canyon National Park: 154,069 campers

2. Upper Pines, Yosemite National Park: 128,113 campers

3. Watchman Campground, Zion National Park: 92,231 campers.

4. Moraine Park Campground, Rocky Mountain National Park: 53,795 campers

5. Assateague Island National Seashore Campground: 51,035 campers

6. Fort Pickens Campground, Gulf Islands National Seashore: 47,708 campers

7. Pinnacles Campground, Pinnacles National Park: 44,382 campers

8. Blackwoods Campground, Acadia National Park: 44,289 campers

9. Point Reyes National Seashore Campground: 43,918 campers

10. Hodgdon Meadow Campground, Yosemite National Park: 43,440 campers

Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Knowing all those numbers, how would you manage the parks and their front-country campgrounds? Would you call for more campgrounds/campsites to be carved into the parks? Would you add more campgrounds/sites to the busiest parks, or would you put campgrounds in those parks that don’t have any campgrounds? Would you leave things as they are and suggest those who can’t land a reservation look to nearby national forests or other public lands’ campgrounds?

Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.

—Rachel Carson