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Old 08-19-2014, 05:23 AM   #1
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Practical CG/RV Park Advice

I'm generally out and about 9 months out of the year, but I've never stayed at a "formal" campground/RV park before. I've been trying to read up, and there is a lot of info on etiquette, but not too many practical tips. I generally wilderness camp, but that also kind of limits the routes I generally follow. I would like to take a trip along the west coast so I know wilderness areas are very limited and RV parks are in my future.

What I was hoping for were some practical tips. Such as:

1. I've only ever hooked up to shore power at home or my genset. What can I expect at an RV park? Are all those adapters and surge protectors and such necessary or do most parks have pretty clean power and a standard amp plug? As long as I'm paying, I might as well save my propane but if it gets really spendy for all lot of extra gear I may not use much in the futue, am I better off to just stick to my BB and propane? Is cord theft a real issue?

2. With a lot of folks checking out around the same time, are there generally lines for the dump station? Is there a good time to try and get ahead of the crowd?

3. Is theft in general a concern? I mean, do you generally pull everything in at night? I understand I certainly wouldn't leave my tailgater or gen or the like out, but what about just general luxury camp items?

4. Would it be wise to invest in a good hitch lock for when I'll be out and about taking in the sights? Or for that matter, is it general practice to have everything locked up? (propane tanks, etc)

5. Any other pearls of wisdom? Like when is a good time of day to use the showerhouse, is it okay to plink people with a bb gun if they don't keep their kids under control , etc..

I might just be paranoid since most of what I read online are just the horror stories, but it's quite a different type of RV'ing than I'm used to.

Any advice is appreciated.

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Old 08-19-2014, 05:59 AM   #2
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Keep in mind my answers come from my own 25 years of experiences, and I'm sure you will get lots of different viewpoints. We camp mostly in state parks and rarely camp in Rv parks or private campgrounds:
1) We have never used a surge protector and have never had an issue. I am contemplating buying one based on others advice on various threads on this sight. I have never heard of anyone having their power cord stolen. Most modern campgrounds will accommodate15 and 30 amp plugs, and many also have 50 amp service.
2) It does happen, but theft generally isn't an issue. If we leave the campsite for a period of time we do lock our valuables inside our TT or take them with us. If you have expensive bikes I would lock those up at night or when leaving. Never used a hitch lock while camping and to my knowledge no one's camper was ever stolen. Keep your hitch components stored out of sight. We don't send out an invitation to steal our stuff but we're also not paranoid about it either. Use common sense.
3) The earlier the better for dumpstation and showers. Dumpstation peaks around the noon time, showers peak around dusk.

The most common annoyance is the group next door that parties until the wee hours of the morning. We usually just bear it, then get up and have an unusually boisterous breakfast as payback.

Just enjoy your trip and use good judgement based on the types of people around you. You will be fine.

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Old 08-19-2014, 06:25 AM   #3
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1. Yes I would buy a surge protector (we have been zapped)
2. Most sites have sewer, so not much need for a dump station
3. We have NEVER had a problem with theft, we leave chairs, grill, fire pit, etc.. but yes we do lock the door when we leave or go to bed.
4. We had a hitch lock, we used it when we stored it or we remembered. You canít drive down the road with slides out, so how will they get away with your camper . You canít lock up propane)
5. We donít use the shower house unless we are at the beach. I wish it was ok to use the BB gun on some of the parents.
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Old 08-19-2014, 06:46 AM   #4
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Since we got kids, most of my RV park experience is for places that cater to them (i.e. KOAs, Jellystones, etc...). If you're going to end up in one of those places here's a few tips:

1) Kids: They're everywhere. No, really, everywhere! You have to be on high alert when driving through the campground. I've had kids ride their bikes up beside me and cut me off by like a foot. You'll need to drive slower than you can walk.

2) Your site isn't your site. As much as you'd like to stake your claim, it's gonna happen, somebody will cut through your site. Most will just be skirting the perimeter though.

3) Unlike state parks, these places pack you in. Don't expect peace and quiet, you will hear your neighbours. The upside to being packed in though is that it's less likely to have anything stolen. Nobody wants to steal something that's in plain view of somebody else.

4) Don't worry about a hitch lock, nobodies going to hook up and take off with your rig. However, having a lock in general is probably a good idea. If you're used to wilderness camping I think that's a more likely spot for you to require one.

5) The lineups at the dump stations only occur on Sunday, unless it's a holiday weekend, then they occur on the holiday. If your plans are flexible, don't checkout on those days. Your other option is to go with a full hookup site. Price difference is generally only a few bucks more a night. If you have to checkout and there is a lineup, just take it with you and dump at the next campground.

6) Leave the generator put away since that is a kind item that might grow legs at 3am when nobodies watching. You'll be using the park's power so it's not like you'll need it anyways.

7) Speaking of the park's power, yes, you don't always need a surge protector, but the point of them is that you don't know when you might need one. I did my first year of camping without one and I was fine. My first trip out this year the park was experiencing brownouts during a storm and I was noticing it's affects. Scared me enough to go get one after that trip.

8) Adapters. They're cheap. Under $10 at Walmart. It'll cost your more to fill your propane than it will to get a set of them. While you can expect most parks to have 30A, you can't always expect the 30A to be in great shape. I've had to plug into the 50A sometimes. (once because somebody else was already using the 30A, it was a shared pedestal with the pull through as the end of the road. The other times the 30A was loose, didn't have power, didn't trust the CB with the screw driven in, melted, etc...)

9) Privacy: Don't expect any. If you're used to hoping out of your trailer in your roos to visit a tree, untangle the dog or whatnot, you might need to curb that behaviour.

10) Don't Worry, Be Happy! Just go and have fun. Most situations you can get over easily. The partiers up all night? Either join them, or shrug it off. You'll be gone soon anyways right? The screaming kids? Send your kids to play with them. Suddenly it doesn't seem as noisy. It's all about having a fun, relaxing time so if it seems like your getting stressed, just remember that stress is all in the eye of the beholder.

There's no use crying over spilt milk, unless it's on your keyboard.
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Old 08-19-2014, 07:02 AM   #5
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Yes, cord theft can be an issue. Any kind for that matter. RV owners in general are usually some of the nicest people. However, there are a few waywards out there. I have had my wheel chocks, tire cover and power cord cut and taken. we have a surge protector. I bought the one that is external to the coach and have a lock on it. It worked for us a few weeks ago at Myrtle Beach when a storm with lightening struck. The surge protector shut power down to the camper. The campers across from us didn't fare so well. A couple of mobile rv service trucks were there to fix their issues ($$$). I do have locks on my propane tanks and someone tried to take those. Guess theirs were empty and they maybe were going to swap them out????? BB thing would be funny. We watched a movie outdoors one night and was told to shut it off when quiet hours started but the beer drinking hootin' and hollering went on until after 2 am in the next site over without a word said. Then their kids were up at the crack of dawn while their parents slept off their buzz. We ended up feeding their kids breakfast.
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Old 08-19-2014, 07:50 AM   #6
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1 - Don't have a surge suppressor, but seriously would like to get one. If there are storms forecast I have flipped off the breakers on the way out.
2 - Check with the office if it really concerns you. I have only had to wait one time in the last year or so. A full hook-up site is usually worth the extra $5.
3 - I would not leave anything out when not around. 99% of your fellow campers are A-OK. That means there are a few bad eggs you may have to deal with. Motion sensor lights are not a bad idea.
4 - I use a hitch lock at home, but not at the CG. Most of the places I've stayed have security cameras. Get to know your neighbors. They will probably take note if a different TV hooks up to your rig.
5 - Kids will be kids and adults will be idiots. Just keep a sense of humor.
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If someone does something that is just wrong, let them know gently and try putting yourself in their shoes, even if it means subtracting a few IQ points. They may just be having a bad day.
Always wave hello. You may make a friend for life or at least dull the edge of an enemy.
Oh, and my biggest pet peeve - the campfire is for firewood, not everything that is laying around. Had a neighbor burning their trash nearly asphyxiate the family once.
You may want to have a lock on your battery as well as tanks.
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Old 08-20-2014, 02:26 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for the remarks! It's very helpful.
So... no BB gun, be friendly, but get a cable lock for my tanks. I didn't know that "full hookup" could mean sewer on site. I didn't know they had that.
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Old 08-20-2014, 04:54 AM   #8
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Yes theft is possible at a campground but very rare. We have been camping at campgrounds for 30 years & never had anything taken. Rarely lock anything but use common scene don't temp someone by leaving the phone on the picnic table & leave it. Although we have done that too. I have had more theft at home than at a campground.

If the campground has a dump station yes there can be a line at checkout but many campgrounds have full hookups so no need for a dump station. Some may not have one if they have full hookups.

A surge protector is a good idea. Depending on your camper a standard campground power pedestal have a 110V (regular) outlet, a 110V 30A outlet & often a 50 Amp outlet but not always.

I would lock up nice bikes at night as kids might decide they want to ride while you are not looking up as I mentioned just use common sense.

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Old 08-20-2014, 05:10 AM   #9
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Just a caution. If you have 'full' hook ups keep the dump valves closed until you are ready to dump. The pressure head you get from this helps keep the tank cleaner. You may know this.
Happy camping wherever it may be.

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Old 08-20-2014, 05:22 AM   #10
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I seldom have to wait at the dump station and the longest wait I ever had was about 15 minutes.

We also prefer state parks but most have water and electricity but not sewer hookups. That's okay for the way we travel. I get a site without sewer if there's a choice. We seldom stay long enough to fill the tanks so the extra $3 - $5 per day for 3 or 4 days isn't worth not having to stop at the dump station on the way out. The time to hook up and pack away is the same at the campsite or at the dump station. We have to hook up our toad so we're stopping on the way out anyway and the dump station is a good place to hook it up. I dump while the cook hooks up the toad.

Of course, if you are staying in a place for a long time, that's a different situation. Do what works best for you.

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