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43 Dumbest RV Camping Mistakes: DON’T DO THIS!

| Updated Mar 12, 2024

Have you made a really dumb RVing mistake? You're not alone! Here are the dumbest RV camping mistakes our fellow RVers see often…

Recently, an RV Lifestyle member asked a question in our Facebook group: 

“What are the dumbest RV camping mistakes you see all the time? (I don’t want to be one of THOSE guys!).” 

Her question elicited more than 440 comments! Like I said, we have all made mistakes. 

The good news is that we can laugh about some of the dumb things we have done. The bad news is that some mistakes may cost you time or money, or both!

10 Unwritten Rules for Campsite Etiquette

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You'll see in the following list that many of the dumbest mistakes have to do with disregarding campground etiquette. That's why we highly recommend watching the above video.

Or, you can read 5 Campsite Etiquette Tips – Parking, Privacy, Patience, Pets, and Poop and 10 Best Campground Laundry Etiquette Tips & Tricks.

The Dumbest RV Camping Mistakes: DON'T DO THIS!

The following are some dumb mistakes that our RV Lifestyle members have made or witnessed. Read on so that you can be sure NOT to make the same mistakes!

1. Leaving the gray and black water tank valves open. 

2. Bringing dogs that will bark constantly. 

3. Walk through other people’s campsites. 

4. Placing dog poop bags on the picnic table. 

5. Forgeting to bring bug spray on your trip.

6. Thinking that your vehicle is strong enough to pull your trailer when it is not. (Always make sure you account for extra weight, like water, clothing, and other items.)

7. Driving out of camp with the antenna up. One RV Lifestyle member did just that, and when it hit a tree it was ripped right off of the RV!

8. Pulling out without realizing the windows are still open. 

9. Forgetting to close a storage hatch door. 

10. Failing to realize the handrail is still in the down position. 

11. Forgetting to put the power cord away. Dragging that is a hazard!

12. Forgetting to put down your stabilizers! Otherwise your trailer may just tip and cause you to go flying!

MORE Dumbest RV Camping Mistakes

13. Forgetting to ensure that the trailer is level BEFORE unhooking. It is really annoying to have to rehook and reset your rig.

14.  Making noise too early in the morning. When outdoors before 8 am, be courteous to your neighbors and use a whispering voice if you have to communicate. 

15. Taking turns too fast and too soon. If you turn too soon, the tail swing from your rig may come dangerously close to things you wish to avoid!

16. Not locking up your food appropriately. Even if you’re not camping in bear country, you might attract other unwanted visitors. 

17. Not double-checking your hitch and your jack or landing gear. 

18. Driving too fast! Being safe in your RV may just save a life and save you from getting caught in a speed trap.

19. Not retracting the steps!

20. Not setting a timer when doing a black tank wash out. Otherwise, you might forget and flood your bathroom!

21. Forgetting camper walls are not soundproof. Be careful with your words and noises!

22. Window coverings are not always opaque. Be careful not to expose yourself to others. 

23. Forgetting to close roof vent covers when packing up. 

24. Not putting away any camping gear that you don’t want stolen. One RV Lifestyle member had his camp stove, firewood, and other smaller camping gear stolen while sightseeing. 

25. Forgetting to check if your tailgate will hit the trailer hitch before opening it.

26. Forgetting to turn off the outdoor sink faucet when turning on the water inside the rig. Otherwise, you can have a flood!

27. Not retracting your awning at night. Many awnings are not made for inclement weather, and rain or wind can damage them. They are very expensive to replace if you’re not careful!

One RV lifestyle member, Laura, had great awning advice to follow. She said that if it is just raining, you can leave the awning open. But if the weather report uses the words “wind” or “storm,” then you’ll want to close your awning. 

Weather can change quickly, though, so we always say to close it at night or whenever you leave your RV for prolonged periods of time.

28. Not cleaning up after your dog!

29. Not using a surge protector on the electric box. Otherwise, you can damage your RV electrical panel since many camp electrical boxes are unstable. 

30. Not wearing gloves when draining the holding tank. 

31. Do not forget that you put your black hose in the back of the truck to dry, and then speed up on the freeway. You will no longer have a black hose, and other drivers might not appreciate it. 

43 Dumbest RV Camping Mistakes: DON'T DO THIS!

32. Forgetting to remove the chocks before driving off. (This happens A LOT! Have you ever seen one of my favorite road trip movies, RV?!)

33. Forgetting to turn off your outside lights when you go to bed. 

34. Using the freshwater tap to clean your sewer hose. Yuck!

35. Not checking that your RV is shorter than the basketball hoop when backing into the driveway! (The same is true for going under overpasses!)

36. Not being courteous to other campers and staff. It makes for a much more pleasant experience for everyone!

Even MORE Dumbest RV Camping Mistakes

37. Not understanding your RV’s tail swing! It can be an expensive and unsafe mistake!

38. Not having several sets of keys and keeping one outside of the trailer in a lockbox. If you lose one during hiking or another adventure, you don’t want to have to break into the trailer. 

One RV Lifestyle member, Jody, had to do just that. They were forced to use a chainsaw to cut a hole under the bed to pass through. She now has six sets of keys!

39. Not blocking your trailer’s wheels before unhitching. 

One member, named Curt, witnessed someone forget to do that once while camping. The trailer rolled down the hill and tore off the front receiver. Talk about an expensive mistake!

40. Not making an RV checklist and following it every time. 

41. Listening to music or the television too loudly, especially outdoors.

42. Not packing enough water. People tend to drink more when camping than when in the comfort of their home.

43. Not keeping your batteries and tires in good condition!

While you want to avoid making as many mistakes as possible, just know that you are bound to make a few along the way. 

Yes, they may cost you some time and money. But like RV lifestyle member, Jonathan, says, “Most will end up being funny campfire stories.”

Want to read more? Check out the Craziest Campground Stories!

43 Dumbest RV Camping Mistakes: DON'T DO THIS! 1

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-03-08

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

5 Responses to “43 Dumbest RV Camping Mistakes: DON’T DO THIS!”

March 09, 2024at4:56 pm, Dennis Strong said:

#30: it is a holding tank but a septic tank.


March 09, 2024at9:16 am, Ray Halpin said:

Here’s number 44, leaving your slide out open. We were driving down the highway one time and saw a partially smashed bumpout in the upper bedroom of a fifth wheel wondering how that possibly could have happened… they must have hit something because they hadn’t closed their bump out all the way before they departed. I can probably say this wasn’t me, I have never owned a fifth wheel, just a trailer and a camper van, but it was definitely a remarkable thing to see on the road and I’m surprised it didn’t make the list!


March 10, 2024at7:49 am, Gina Grote said:

That likely was a damage slide that would not retract in. Or one that worked its way out. We own a 5th wheel, it’s pretty hard to forget to retract a slide!


March 09, 2024at7:41 am, Carrie Wilson said:

I often have forgot to turn off the fridge after locking up after my outdoor walk around. We do not drive with our propane on, so now that’s a double check on my list. I once also forgot to close a bunk window/had a window not fully locked shut! No damage but now we are vigilant on the checks. And the vents getting closed go along with my fridge double double check as well, we have vent covers so they can be easier to kiss if I don’t do the interior checks a second time right before we lock up. Love the content thank you!


March 12, 2024at12:26 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

What a great idea to make sure all are the check list — and thank you for the encouragement! Team RV Lifestyle


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