I asked my camping community about their biggest challenges. An overwhelming majority said dealing with rude people at nearby campsites was their principal predicament during camp trips. So, I crowd-sourced solutions and found enormous differences in how people manage the issue. Here’s what our camping community recommended when asked how to handle rude camping neighbors.
We all go camping to relax and quietly enjoy nature, right? Apparently, that is not the case! Loud neighbors usually exhibit additional unwanted behaviors. Hopefully, these camping tips will help you the next time you find yourself camped next to disrespectful neighbors.
Assess The Situation
Start with a clear mind and gather as much information as possible before taking any action.
- Identify what behaviors are disturbing you. Common issues are caused by:
- Blaring music
- Arguing adults
- Screaming kids
- Barking dogs
- Rowdy parties
- People cutting through your campsite (on bikes, motorized vehicles or hiking)
- Noisy vehicles (motorcycles, 4x4s)
- Loud equipment (generators, chainsaws)
- Unsafe activities (target shooting, reckless campfires)
- What local authority has jurisdiction over the area?
- Ranger, camp host, campground management, RV park owner, local law enforcement
- What people are involved?
- Are they breaking posted camping rules or local laws?
- Is the situation dangerous with the ability to harm nearby visitors or just annoying?
Direct Contact vs Passive Hints
I received a wide range of ideas from campers on how they deal with their bad-mannered campsite neighbors, from doing nothing to aggressive confrontation. Direct communication can be helpful but if it is passive-aggressive the situation can quickly escalate and become threatening. Personally, I don’t recommend responding with an argumentative posture, that is how you become a bad neighbor yourself.
5 Options Your Fellow Campers Have Used
- Ignore it & leave (temporarily or permanently)
- Address the situation, not the camper
- Ask authorities to deal with it
- Politely communicate with the neighbor directly
- Sarcastically communicate directly with the neighbor
Tip 1: Ignore it & leave (temporarily or permanently)
The logic the polite camper uses:
- Sadly I ignore it or try to leave. I kinda figure if folks have not learned how to behave by the time they are old enough to be camping then I am not going to be successful with their education. You can Not fix stupid. My experience is that park rangers tend to be daytime employees. Most camp hosts seem to do a great job at greeting people and trying to enforce rules, but they are usually not particularly successful. We have learned over the years to be very selective and very early in picking our campsites, so that we can be as isolated as possible.
- I go do something somewhere else for a while or leave early.
- Mind your own business. You signed up for it, move on with your own happy.
- You get to choose what you will get upset over. I’d suggest getting over this one.
- Listen to loud music, get earplugs for sleeping. If they are drinking they may be too drunk to notice how loud they are and there is no sense in talking to them in that state.
- People with that much ME attitude are not likely to be reasoned with and not worth the risk of “setting off”. I’m scared of vandalism of my car or something too.
- I ask park management if I can move to another spot.
Tip 2: Address the situation, not the camper
The logic the polite camper uses:
- We had a neighbor parking his vehicle on our campsite behind our rig, when he left we moved our vehicle to that location. The problem was solved without talking to him.
- When we have neighbors that physically take a shortcut through our campsite we set up “barriers” around our campsite by placing traffic cones, trash cans and camp chairs along our site’s boundaries. It’s a non-verbal way to say “this is our space, please respect our privacy”.
- Air horn! Every time they complain, push it again! lol! Bonus is No Bears!
- Be louder than them.
Tip 3: Ask authorities to deal with it
The logic the polite camper uses:
- I speak discreetly to whoever is in charge at the campground and make a point of knowing the after-hours phone numbers to use.
- GO TO MANAGEMENT!!!! They take care of the problem!! If they don’t I go to RV Parks Review!!!
- Call park management. Take them a video of what I am listening to/seeing. Ask if they can move me or my neighbor.
- Try to relocate in the park or at least inquire when a spot might open. Otherwise put the key in the ignition and leave a negative survey for others to be on notice. Maybe then the park will take action to avoid bad publicity.
- We had a guy park parallel within two feet of our coach slide out so we called security and they made him move it.
Tip 4: Politely communicate with the neighbor directly
The logic the polite camper uses:
- I will ask nicely for them to lower the volume. If that doesn’t work I would go to the Office people. If not taken care of it would be the last time I stayed there and I would definitely put up a review for future RVers. I am a big fan of TripAdviser and leave reviews there or on the campground website. Normally I just choose one place to leave a review.
- I simply go talk to them about their offending behavior and ask them nicely if they could please stop doing it.
- We casually mention the leash rules “so they don’t get in trouble”.
- If you can strike up a friendship you have a better chance of also getting the negative conduct to stop by asking nicely.
- I’m a dog owner, we have 2 in our RV, my biggest fear is that they bark when we are gone. So far I have had no complaints. If you are camped next to barking dogs, I suggest that you record the barking when the owners are away. Bring it to the attention of the owners and park managers. See if you can come to a suitable solution. If the owners are not willing to control the dogs behavior then they should be the ones to move to a different site.
- I had someone parking over the line between our adjoining campsites. I very politely went over and asked him to please move the vehicle away from being so close to mine. If he didn’t comply with my request I was going to talk to the management and ask them to please have him move his vehicle. But, at all times I would be pleasant. I’ve always felt that two wrongs do not make a right and politeness goes a long way. Luckily, he moved his vehicle and I did not have to discuss the situation further.
- Turn the noise into a positive situation. Go introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. Might turn out to be a new camping friend.
- When we have noisy neighbors, we politely approach them, express our concern, mention campground quiet hours and try to find a compromise, such as lowering the volume or moving activities away from our sleeping areas. This is usually enough to remedy the situation. I think people don’t realize how their voices carry in the great outdoors, especially over bodies of water.
- We had the neighbor’s kids shining bright lights into our campsite late at night. We approached the parents with a friendly demeanor and explained how the situation was affecting us. We had open communication with an understanding tone. They told their kids where they could shine the flashlights and areas they should avoid (shining them in the direction of our site and other campsites nearby). It was a good ending for us and the other campers in the area.
- I check with the other neighboring campers and ask if the barking dogs are bothering them. Then I leave a polite note letting the owners know their dogs barked the whole time they were gone. If they don’t do anything about it, I go to the manager and let them deal with it. In my experience the dog owners will say “why didn’t you come to me instead of going to the manager?” so I avoid bringing in the manager 1st. That way, if the barking persists, I can say I tried warning them first.
Tip 5: Sarcastically communicate directly with the neighbor
The logic the polite camper uses:
- I made a tin foil hat I keep in the trailer. If we get obnoxious neighbors, I put on the hat and rubber gloves and go over and ask if they have a hat for when the space station flies over. Usually never see them outside their RV the rest of our stay.
- I’d be the cranky neighbor. I didn’t go camping to listen to excessive noise from your site. I don’t care what the noise is, loud music, arguing, dogs barking, kids screaming… I don’t care. If you’re interrupting my camping experience I’m going to be the cranky neighbor. It’s really not that hard to be respectful.
- Privately owned RV parks and campgrounds are different than public spaces. Business owners have a vested interest in ensuring their customers are happy. They are more likely to handle situations from disruptive guests, maintaining a good relationship with well-mannered guests and avoiding negative reviews.
- Giving offensive campers the benefit of the doubt is a valid approach. They often don’t realize they are doing something offensive and will quickly remedy the situation. This is especially true of first-time campers.
- Don’t assume anything. I’ve seen a group of young adults show up with a cooler full of beer and enough energy to skip sleeping for the entire weekend. My first thought put me in a bad mood as soon as I judged them upon their arrival. Boy was I surprised to find they honored their neighbor’s privacy and enjoyment of the great outdoors. They kept their campsite clean adhering to the leave no trace principles. They were wildlife enthusiasts who completely respected the ecosystem. They paid if forward and gave us their unused firewood. The icing on the cake was watching them clean other people’s campsites before they left the area. I felt like an absolute jerk for passing judgement and I will never do that again.
- RV owners with dogs have great success leaving the shades down and the TV on when their pups are alone in the RV. The idea is to maintain a calm environment and reduce the cause of anxiety. The TV drowns out the outside noise and the shades block outside activities from sight.
Try to prevent problems before you camp. Here are some things you can do to avoid getting into uncomfortable situations in the first place.
- Choose the right campground or RV park. Stay positive. The tighter the campground, the worse the problems. More space between sites is helpful. One camping friend said: We stayed at a place that was so close to our neighbors I nearly knocked him off his step when I opened our door. I commented “this is cozy”, we both laughed and vowed to never return.
- Choose the right spot. Check the campground map and look for a spot that is as isolated as possible. Stay away from high foot-traffic areas like trailheads and restrooms. Campsites that are on the outer ring roads tend to have a little extra space compared to interior sites.
- Go boondocking in the wilderness. Personally speaking, this is always our preference. We like camping in national forests and research them before planning our trips. We sacrifice services (like power, water, dump, garbage collection and paved roads) in exchange for dispersed campsites with large open spaces.
- Camp during less-busy times (weekdays or off-season). Avoiding camping crowds is one of the best ways to avoid undesirable neighbors.
- Mark your territory. Set up “barriers” around your campsite to designate your space. Traffic cones, trash cans, shade awnings, hammocks and camp chairs are the best gear to place along “your property line” at your campsite.
Walk up to their campsite announcing yourself while off in the distance by saying “Hello neighbor”. You don’t want to surprise them without letting them know you’re coming into their campsite. It is crucial to remain calm and use respectful language when seeking resolution through communication. Remember the old saying: You attract more bees with honey than vinegar.
Dog lovers say they wouldn’t know if their normally well-behaved dogs bark when they are gone (for a day hike, bike ride etc) so they would want the neighbor to tell them when they return to camp.
Just as in life, you should always be considerate of others. If everyone follows the posted camping rules, respect for your fellow campers and the environment comes naturally.
Generator noise is a common cause of struggles with neighbors. Consider getting one of the quiet generators for camping to make you and your neighbors happy.
Dry camping in the wilderness is a great way to have extra space and fewer neighbors. If you haven’t tried boondocking, you should!
If you’re struggling with your campsite neighbor, try to change your attitude. Don’t focus on the things that are bugging you, instead, focus on the positive things and remind yourself of the reasons you love to go camping.
What do you think?
Please leave a comment below and let me know if you have questions or suggestions about camping near unpleasant neighbors. I’d love to hear from you!
Sometimes it’s easier said than done when you’re trying to sleep and a wild group of young campers is throwing a party next door with loud music around a massive campfire. But, remember you can decide if the proverbial glass is half-full or half-empty. You can’t control them but you can control how you respond to them. Choosing to be positive in a difficult situation is the best thing you can do for your health, mind and body.
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