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Going Camping in a RV, Tiny Home, Park Model or Camper

travel trailer with picnic table on a shady, sandy site in Florida
RV, Camper, Tiny Home, Park Model Camping

RVing has always been a popular pastime for those who love to travel, but the past few years have seen a tremendous uptick in the number of new RV owners. Naturally, RV parks have been filling up quickly as more and more people have begun to take note of all of the perks associated with the RV lifestyle, such as the unparalleled freedom, unique flexibility, and incredible sense of adventure.

Part of fully enjoying an RV trek comes down to securing a campsite that fits the rig and suits the RVers’ unique needs. Whether you’re a seasoned RVer or a brand new enthusiast, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when it comes to making RV park reservations.

Reserve Your Campsite in Advance

As mentioned above, campgrounds are getting booked up rapidly, and many RVers are finding that available campsites are increasingly difficult to find. Because of this, it’s best to try and reserve campsites in advance if you are planning a trip down the line, especially if that trip is intended to be at a popular location during popular travel times. It may seem overly cautious to reserve a campsite months ahead of time, but doing so will ensure you don’t have to adjust your trip because you can’t find a place to park your rig. Many privately owned RV parks accept reservations well in advance, but some public campgrounds only offer short-notice reservations or operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Know What Size of Campsite Will Best Accommodate Your RV

The last thing you want is to think you secured the ideal campsite only to discover upon arrival that the site can’t accommodate the size of your RV. This is why it’s important to compare the dimensions of your RV against the dimensions of the campsite-in-question to ensure you have adequate space to properly set up your campsite. Remember to also consider whether you will be able to comfortably expand any slide-outs or retract your RV awning without bumping into branches or infringing on a neighbor’s campsite.

Research Campground Environment

It’s not just the size of the campsite you’ll want to research in order to ensure an enjoyable experience. It’s also a good idea to ensure the environment as a whole is conducive to your idea of a comfortable trip. Here are a few helpful things you may want to inquire about:

  • Pull-through/back-in. If you’re not yet 100% comfortable backing up your RV, you may want to ask for a pull-through site. These sites allow you to pull into the campsite and then drive out of it the same way you entered. Back-in sites, just as the name implies, require you to back into (or back out of) the campsite, which can be difficult for those new to driving RVs or pulling trailers and/or those driving big rigs. However, back-in sites tend to be more secluded, so there are a few pros and cons you may want to weigh.

  • Shade. If the temperatures are scorching, the last thing you want is to be stuck in direct sunlight without any relief from the blistering UV rays. If you don’t want to be stuck inside your RV blasting the AC, you may want to ensure the campsite-in-question has adequate shade. If that’s not an option, try to ensure that there will be adequate space for you to set up a comfortable area where you can stay cool and relax underneath your RV awning.

  • Privacy from other RVers. If part of the reason you want to get away is because you’re overdue for some calming solitude in nature, you’ll benefit from inquiring about how secluded the campsite is from other RVers. After all, if relaxation is what you seek, you most likely don't want to be situated next to a rambunctious family where you can hear everything that they do and say.

  • Proximity to common areas. Some people like to choose a campsite close to the campground’s common areas, such as bathrooms, clubhouses, or playgrounds, for convenience purposes. Others feel disturbed by the foot traffic and commotion of other RVers that comes with being next to these areas. If you feel strongly either way, it doesn’t hurt to ask about where a campsite is located before making your reservation final.

  • Distance from main roads. If you want to soak up the tranquil sounds of nature, you most likely don’t want to find yourself in a campsite where you can hear and see the traffic from the main roads. Similarly, it’s also a good idea to choose a campsite away from a campsite’s entrance/exit, as the sounds of vehicles coming and going may be hard to tune out.

  • Wildlife. Knowing the type of wildlife present in the area you’ll be RVing can help you take necessary safety measures. For example, if your campground is located in an area where bears roam around, you will know it’s best to avoid leaving food, used dishes, or garbage out on your picnic table when you turn in for the night.

  • Hook-ups. If you want to utilize all of your RV’s convenient features, you most likely want to find a campsite where you will have access to full-hookups, meaning hook-ups for electricity, water, and sewer purposes. Some campsites only offer partial hook-ups, and some may not be able to accommodate the hook-up needs of larger classes of RVs. To avoid any headaches, make sure the campground you’re interested in offers all the hook-ups you hope to access and can accommodate your RV’s specific requirements.

  • Amenities. RV parks can vary quite dramatically when it comes to the amenities offered. If you’re looking for a simple, traditional getaway, amenities may not matter much to you. However, if you’re looking for a more specific or elaborate type of experience, you may be interested in whether or not the campground offers clubhouses, laundry facilities, WiFi, dog parks, hiking/biking trails, or boating opportunities.

Take Time to Understand Campground Policies

Not all campgrounds operate identically, so it’s important to understand a campground’s specific policies in order to evaluate whether or not a location is the right option for you. Items to consider include:

  • Pets. If you plan on bringing your four-legged friend along, it’s important to fully understand the RV park’s pet policy ahead of time to prevent any headaches. Does the RV park allow pets? Do they charge an extra fee or enforce breed/weight restrictions? Do they require pets to be leashed at all times, or do they offer any off-leash areas?

  • Fires. If your perfect trip can’t be complete without time spent around the campfire, it’s a good idea to research the campground’s fire policy. Keep in mind, however, that even campgrounds that permit fires may be bound by a regional ban if the risk of wildfires in that area is high.

  • Alcohol policy. Some campgrounds have alcohol bans in place. This may be a pro or con, depending on your personal preference and/or the type of experience you want to have. Regardless, knowing the campground’s policy in advance can help ensure it doesn’t put a dampener on your trip.

  • Quiet hours. Similar to the alcohol policy, you will benefit from understanding a campground’s designated quiet hours or lack thereof. If you’re someone who wants to let loose with friends once you get your campsite set up, you most likely don’t want to book a stay at a place that strictly enforces quiet hours after 10 p.m. Inversely, if you like to both rise and bed down early, you will probably have a better time if you know that partying neighbors won’t be keeping you awake.

  • Extended stays. If you’re hoping to save money and enjoy a lengthier stay, it pays to inquire whether or not a campground offers discounts for extended reservations.

  • Cancellation/refund policy. Before booking a campsite, take time to familiarize yourself with the campsite’s cancellation/refund policy. Life can be unpredictable, especially when you’re booking a reservation months in advance, so it’s always a good idea to be well-versed in what your options are if you must cancel or reschedule your trip.

Confirm the Reservation

If you made a reservation online, especially if you used a third-party booking website, it’s always a good idea to make a quick phone call to the RV park (if possible) to confirm the reservation. Online errors happen, and sometimes there can be glitches in listings of available campsites, especially if you are making your reservation at the last minute. Taking a few minutes to verify your reservation is an easy way to ensure you don’t run into any unfortunate mix-ups once you arrive at your destination.

Happy Trails!

Hopefully this information helps clarify how you can ensure that you end up with an RV park reservation that fits your unique needs and preferences. By planning ahead, doing your research, and confirming your reservation, you should be well on your way to enjoying an RV experience that is full of relaxation and low on stress. Happy trails!

Article courtesy of Darla Preston


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