avatar Andrew Burgess May 23, 2022

What are the rules and etiquette for campervan campsites?

Discover the dos, don’ts, inside tips and unwritten rules you should know before you get there.

More and more people are buying their first ever campervan and discovering the joy of campervanning. For those who might not have stayed on many campsites before, or recently, we thought we’d give a lowdown on campsite etiquette, dos and don’ts.

Follow these tips to make sure your campervan trips are as enjoyable as possible for you and everyone else on the campsite.

Do campsites have rules to follow?

Yes they do. It might sound onerous that campsites have rules to comply with, but that’s life. They’re essential and usually common-sense, to ensure everyone stays safe and is considerate of those around them. Campsite owners have lots of experience, so know what boundaries are required to keep a campsite harmonious for all.

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Do different campsites have different rules?

Campsites and the campers that visit them vary enormously: from singles to families, young and older, and a multitude of different units – tents, campervans, motorhomes and caravans – and from regulated pitches to camp anywhere styles of campsite.

However, there have to be some basic rules and behaviours that most campsites want campers to be aware of, such as if fire pits or BBQs are allowed, the hours when everyone is expected to keep noise down and where waste water and toilets can be emptied.

Some people want to get away from it all and chill out, while others like to socialise, so campsites have to try to cater to everyone’s needs, or make it very clear what type of holiday they’re offering.

That’s why campsites range from holiday parks with bars and entertainment, to simple sites that are only licenced for up to five units and only provide water and toilet emptying facilities, to ‘adult only’ sites without noisy children about.

What are the unwritten rules of campervan campsites?

But some of the correct campsite etiquette isn’t listed as part of the rules. You’re just meant to know, and just in case you don’t, we can help you.

When it comes to the right and wrong ways to behave on campsites, all you need to do is read some motorhome or club magazines regularly or join some Facebook groups and you’ll soon find out the types of things and behaviours that annoy people the most.

Some of the most common things that can wind people up are: unruly dogs, children getting out of control, noisy neighbours, driving too fast on site, and a pet hate of many – walking across someone else’s pitch and invading their privacy. Don’t worry, it’s quite easy to avoid these faux pas. We’ll help you by going into a bit more detail.

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Arriving at the campsite

But first, let’s start at the beginning. When you arrive at a campsite, you usually need to go to reception to check in and, if you haven’t already, pay in advance for your stay. During the covid pandemic, many sites switched to making the checking in process online, but this still varies.

You may need the site managers to give you some local and on-site information (such as locations of bins, recycling, play areas, showers, etc), sometimes you need a key to access the facilities if it’s in a busy area, and if there are entry or exit barriers you’ll need a code and know the opening and closing times. While you’re there, check if it is OK to put up an awning or pup tent and if there’s any extra charge for this.

Some campsites choose a pitch for you, while others let you go and choose for yourself and wait for you to come back and let them know. You’ll probably want a pitch with an electric hook-up (if not, those without it are usually cheaper) and you may have the choice of a grass or hardstanding pitch.

Canine friends

Dogs are great, but remember that not everybody likes them, the noise they can make if they’re left in a campervan or motorhome on their own, and any mess they deposit. If you have a dog (or two), always adhere to any campsite rules on the subject, such as keeping it on a lead (if that’s the policy), so you don’t make yourself or your dog unpopular.

Pitch wars

Walking across someone else’s pitch or too close to their tent, campervan, motorhome or caravan is seen as rude and an invasion of their space. Respect people’s privacy for a harmonious campervan neighbourhood.

Avoid tripping the power supply

If you’re connected to the mains electricity, find out what the maximum number of amps available are (which can be quite low, particularly on some Continental sites) and how much electricity your gadgets and appliances use. If you keep on tripping the electric supply to all your neighbours, things could get awkward.

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Try to keep the noise down

Similarly, does your campervan turn its lights on automatically when you unlock it or beep when you open the side door? Both of these can be annoying after dark or when people are sleeping nearby (particularly in tents or awnings). Try to keep all noise to a minimum if you get up and go to the facilities for a night toilet trip.

Even during the daytime, if music is being played too loud or the volume on a TV is too high, noise travels and easily irritates people, particularly if they don’t share your taste in music. If you want to have a party or stay up late chatting, choose a campsite that’s more informal or may have areas for groups to camp together away from those who may want peace and quiet.

If you’ve done some laundry while you’re away, check if there’s an area for drying it rather than putting up a washing line across your pitch as it’s something that some campsites may not allow.

Be safe and there’s no need for speed

Many families love taking their bikes on holiday with them to get out and enjoy the countryside. If you let your children ride them around the site then please make sure they are careful, are aware of any one-way systems or speed limits and watch out for cars and large vehicles that could be moving about or reversing.

That brings us onto speed limits on campsites. They’re there for a reason – safety and avoiding unnecessary noise. Also, going too fast means you might not spot an overhanging branch or other obstacle that could damage your campervan.

Check-in and check-out

Most campsites need to manage people coming and going by having specific times that you can arrive or leave by. That makes sense really, particularly on larger campsites with lots of people to check in, especially at peak times. They need to ensure your pitch is free again well ahead of the next person arriving and also have site maintenance to do, such as cutting grass for example If you want to stay longer on the day you’re leaving, it’s always worth asking if that’s OK (don’t just assume) or you may need to pay for an extended stay or another night.

Enjoy your time on the campsite

If you’re new to this wonderful way of holidaying, we’re sure you’ll agree that most of these campsite etiquette tips make a lot of sense. We’re equally confident you’ll soon suss out what type of campsites you like more than others. And the beauty of having your own campervan is that if you don’t like somewhere, you can easily pack up and go somewhere new.
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