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Camping Etiquette: 5 Ways to Be a Better Campsite Neighbor

Photo by DieterMeryl via iStock

Camping etiquette is part of how we respect fellow campers, giving others the peace, serenity, and quiet that many expect when they come to a campground. 

Of course, people use a campground because it has some amenities, as opposed to extreme camping, so we need to accept a certain level of non-private living. Here are five ways to be a good neighbor when camping, a brief rundown of camping do’s and don’ts.

Table of Contents:

Camping Etiquette Do: Respect Nature

traveller sleep in tent with yosemite national park view, yosemite valley, USA

Photo by NeoPhoto via iStock

Why do people come camping? For most of us, it’s a chance to get out of the city or the suburbs and be closer to nature. 

Admittedly, sometimes camping is used as a less expensive place to stay for a special event such as sporting contests or festivals or as inexpensive lodging while traveling. If that’s the reason for your camping out, there are some different ideas of campground etiquette. 

For this list of camping do’s and don’ts, we’ll assume the first reason is why you’re considering camping etiquette.

Respecting nature can mean many things to different people, but I like to look at this one well-known saying: Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories (or photos!) A campsite likely has spots already cleared out, sometimes even numbered, so that they can be assigned and paid for, but once you leave the campsite area, you’re in the wild.

Many state and national parks or wilderness areas have specific regulations or general rules covering how much impact you can have on the area. For instance, in Yellowstone, you aren’t supposed to be in or right at the edge of certain thermal features. You’re also informed of the danger concerning wild animals.

A large part of my enjoyment of the many areas for camping, hiking, and nature photography is that I get to be like Lewis and Clarke or Ansel Adams for a weekend. I’m near enough to civilization but not in it. If you love nature, let it love you back.

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Camping Etiquette Don’t: Don’t Be Trashy

A brown bear trashing a campground and eating all of the food!

Photo by roundhill via iStock

This “don’t” camping etiquette could be retitled: Don’t Feed the Bears! Not only is leaving trash around rude and unsightly for fellow campers, but it’s also quite dangerous. This rule of camping etiquette applies both when we’re at the campsite and when we pack up to leave.

Having trash strewn everywhere detracts from the reason most of us are at that campground in the first place; see point number one. It hides nature, creates odors, and makes walking around a chore. 

Avoiding being trashy also means cleaning up after our pets, too, especially if they do any business inside the camping area. Yes, a bear may use nature as a toilet, but our dog’s waste doesn’t belong where people walk, cook, and play inside the campground area. Check campsite regulations ahead of time if you want to bring a pet.

When we leave the area, a huge part of camping etiquette is to clean up our space. A lot of campgrounds will have their expectations listed. More rural or rugged campgrounds also deserve this treatment. If there isn’t a place set up for trash disposal, we may have to carry it out or dispose of it according to local regulations.

Camping Etiquette Do: Be Safe and Courteous

Girls wearing hats hiking on vacation. Beautiful Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park.

Photo by MargaretW via iStock

Avoiding trashiness as a don’t naturally brings us to this do of camping etiquette, being safe, and showing common courtesy. 

Two huge concerns of camping etiquette related to safety are vehicles and firearms. Some places will have specific regulations and laws covering having or using firearms in the campground or the area it serves. Know what they are and abide by them.

We must be careful when operating vehicles in wilderness or semi-wilderness areas. There may be lots of blind spots for both drivers and hikers. This includes driving our primary vehicle as we enter and leave the camping area and operating any ATV or other motorized small vehicle during our stay.

As a photographer, I must also point out that safety and courtesy also apply to us when taking photos. Don’t stand right on the edge of a dangerous area for a picture. If the area is popular for photography, don’t hog all of the screen time; let others take their pictures, too. Also, if someone doesn’t want to be in a photo for privacy’s sake, just point your camera elsewhere.

Camping Etiquette Don’t: Noise Is for the City

inergy flex 1500 power station with tent

Unless you’re camping in a completely unimproved area, you’re going to have some noise, both from you and from others around you. Camping etiquette says to keep it minimized as much as possible.

Kids will get excited, and dogs will bark, but it’s a courtesy to make sure that we’re not a 24/7 noise source. Hey, I’ve been known to laugh loudly myself sometimes! Noise just happens with groups; accepting the little bit of noise encountered by others and avoiding causing complaints ourselves is a basic tenet of camping etiquette.  

FLEX 1500 Power Station from Inergy on a picnic table

One thing that used to bother me was generators. At times, I needed power for something, but I hated breaking the area’s silence, or at least the peacefulness, by firing up that noisy beast. Even the generator I had designed for lower noise sometimes became very noticeable. Many campgrounds also have clearly posted operating times for generators.

inergy power station

I’ve switched to what I think is among the best ideas for modern camping: rechargeable power stations. The one I’m using now is the FLEX 1500 Portable Power Station from Inergy

The FLEX 1500 Portable Power Station is versatile and silent in operation. It’s modular, too; I can expand it with more batteries and use it for various needs with the various inputs and outputs.

inergy flex 1500 power station with solar

One of the best things about it is that I can hook it up to a solar panel for recharging. So, I can stay for a long time at my campsite, with the power station enabling me to use my laptop to edit videos and images and to recharge my cameras. I can also use cooking appliances I wouldn’t have ever considered using while camping.

Here’s my review of the FLEX 1500 Power Station I made after a few uses. It really does fit this camping etiquette “don’t” with its silent operation and minimal environmental impact.

Camping Etiquette Do: Relax!

Family on summer or autumn vacation camping in forest.

Photo by fstop123 via iStock

My final tip on camping etiquette for being a better campsite neighbor is to relax. Just relax! 

Camping is a great way to recharge yourself, to get closer to your family and friends, and maybe even to make new friends. I love having a comfortable place to sit, cook, eat, work (as needed on a photo trek or as a self-employed person), sleep, and just have fun.

Using these camping Do’s and Don’ts and simply using common sense and courtesy as camping etiquette will enhance your camping trip and will be for everyone else around you. Enjoy the Great Outdoors!

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