Sometimes bad camping neighbors put a wrench in your whole vacation. But there are some things you can do to improve the situation…
It’s happened to all of us. You get all settled into a campsite only to realize your camping neighbor is less than ideal. Or just downright terrible.
Your first thought is they’re going to ruin your enjoyment and spoil your fun. Their music is too loud. Their campsite is too messy. Their dog is barking nonstop when it's not pooping on your campsite.
Do you just have to suck it up and take it? Well, there is a chance that yes, you might have to put up with some of it. However! There are some things you can do to improve the situation.
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How to Deal with Bad Camping Neighbors
Have you ever read the self-help classic How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie? If so, its lessons can really come in handy when dealing with bad camping neighbors.
If you haven’t read it, I’ll give you the moral of the story really quickly. Basically, if you make people feel important or show that you care about them, they’re much more likely to listen to you and even help you out.
It’s essentially the “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” strategy.
I will save you from reading the whole book and trying to figure out how to apply it to camping. I will give you a few examples of how to positively influence these bad camping neighbors in the most common situations.
The Right Mindset
Before I jump into the examples, I first want to put you in the right mindset. I am a firm believer that most people are good. And a lot of people are more ignorant than bad-intentioned.
It’s best in these situations to give the person the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they’re new to camping and don't know camping etiquette. Maybe they don’t realize what time it is. Maybe they’re having a bad day.
If you go into it with a nice mindset, they’ll want to do as you ask rather than feel like they have to. That “want” vs “have to” will make all the difference.
Example #1: Noisy Camping Neighbors
Perhaps the most common complaint in a campground is noisy neighbors. Either they’re watching a movie outside, listening to music, or just talking really loud too late at night.
If it’s before quiet hours, try to be patient. Try to let them have their fun, and enjoy the fact that they’re having a good time. This may be the first vacation they’ve had in a long time and they just need to let loose for a bit. If it continues for too long, though, consider the following steps.
If it’s after quiet hours, I suggest a progressive approach.
The first thing I recommend is flashing your porch light or your interior lights that they can see through a window a few times. Most people will get the hint and quiet down.
If that doesn’t work, it’s time to nicely ask them to quiet down. The trick to this is to acknowledge how this might make them feel and then give a reason why it’s important to you.
For instance: “Hey all, I know you’re having a good time and I don’t want to spoil your fun, but we’re getting up early to go hiking in the morning. We’ve been looking forward to this hike for a long time and want to be well-rested. Would you mind bringing the noise down?”
This strategy can help you deal with a lot of problems, from noise complaints to overly bright lights to people’s stuff encroaching on your campsite.
That should do the trick the majority of the time. But, alas, there are always the remaining few that are either too inebriated or too inconsiderate to listen.
That takes you to the third step: telling on them. Call the campground manager and tell them of the noise. They have protocols for this.
Example #2: Inattentive Parents & Pet Owners
The second most common complaint is probably people who don’t supervise their kids or don’t properly care for their dogs.
Kids are maybe running through your campsite, disrespecting your things, and so on. Dogs are maybe chained up inappropriately (for too long, don’t have shade or water, etc.) or not on a leash at all. Or, in a lot of cases, the dog owner isn't cleaning up after their dog.
When it comes to kids, you might be able to address the kids directly. In most cases, the kids just don’t know any better. Nicely tell them to not run through your campsite or touch your things. Most of them will nod at you, all big-eyed and nervous, and steer clear from then on.
If the kids don’t listen, you could go to the parents and use a similar strategy as mentioned in example #1. Something like, “It’s really nice seeing kids having a good time out here in nature but could you please ask them to not run through my campsite? They’re just having fun, but it keeps making my dog bark.”
In a lot of these cases, though, it may be best to let the camp manager handle it. Like, for instance, the kids are purposely being disrespectful. There’s really no easy way to tell someone to correct some of this behavior without them hearing “you’re a bad parent” or “you’re a bad dog owner.”
That’s why it’s sometimes better to come from someone with authority in these cases. At least they can refer to camp regulations rather than a neighbor telling them they don’t like what they’re doing.
Example #3: They’re Downright Terrible
Alright, what do you do if your camping neighbors are downright terrible and you’ve done everything reasonably possible to improve the situation? You’ve politely talked to them and you alerted the manager, and they just refuse to be considerate of others.
Then, it’s time for a battle royale! NO, I’M JUST KIDDING! Sure, you’ll probably be fighting mad at this point but that is the surest way to completely spoil your trip. Even if you get them to acquiesce, there’s still going to be a lot of tension between you.
It's not worth it!
Sometimes, it really is best to turn the key and drive on. Not because it’s the right thing to do (the right thing is for them to behave or leave!). But it is the thing that’s most in your control.
At this point, meet with your campground manager and see if there are any campsites available far from those bad camping neighbors. If not, ask the campground manager to make arrangements for you at another campground.
If you were calm and polite with the campground managers all along, they will likely help in any way they can. Even if that way is helping you move elsewhere.
As soon as you drive away, do some breathing exercises and some mental resetting so you can enjoy the rest of your trip.
Have You Encountered Bad Camping Neighbors?
How have you dealt with bad camping neighbors? Were your tactics successful or did you learn how to handle it better next time? Please share your experiences and advice in the comments below.
Or just want to read more about this topic? Here are a few more posts for you to explore:
- 9 Super Important Boondocking Etiquette Tips for Better Camping
- Camping etiquette: Just a reminder
- Unwritten Rules of Camping: 10 Ways to Camp Better
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