Our top five RV frustrations [2021]

 Our top five RV frustrations [2021]

Frustration level to maximum conceptual meter , 3d rendering

The RV Lifestyle is fulfilling and fun but it can also be extremely frustrating. We want to share our top five RV frustrations.

Don't get me wrong. We love the RV Lifestyle. In fact, we recently published this blog post about the benefits of RV Travel!

But the RV Lifestyle is a huge commitment, whether you are a part-timer or a fulltimer or anything in between. 

To read some bloggers, you'd think no one ever has a bad experience.

So for those considering an RV and embarking on this lifestyle, let me offer a reality check.

Our Top Five RV Frustrations:

crowded campgrounds are one of our top rv frustrations
Some places are just way, too crowded! That is our #1 on our list of RV frustrations

RV Frustrations #1: Deplorable campground conditions 

This, we believe, is one of the biggest scandals of the RV world. There are many campgrounds that could more accurately be described as overcrowded slums.

What amazes me is that they have good reviews in the big publications, which tells me that either the reviews are phony, the publication doesn't physically inspect the campgrounds or they are so out of date they are worthless.

We've stayed in campgrounds where the sewers are clogged, the bathroom toilets are clogged, the sites are dirty, the restrooms have bugs and broken windows, the water hookups leak, electric pedestals are dangerously loose and shorting out and the help is surly and indifferent.

We need to put pressure on campground associations, reviewing sources, and sometimes local health departments. Filthy, ill-kempt campgrounds really do damage to the entire RV industry and need to be exposed, run out of business, or forced to clean up.

RV Frustrations #2: Unscrupulous RV dealers

Yes, there are some of them, too.

I hear a lot from readers about RV dealers who do shoddy service, bill for work or parts they didn't install, price gouge, and promise a certain delivery to get a sale but then keep backing off the date after purchase.

Another complaint I've heard more than once is about salesmen who badmouth certain models (which they sell) only so they can move out inventory on models they haven't been able to sell.

I recommend that new buyers get at least two quotes from competing dealers and get everything in very detailed writing before buying.

RV Frustrations #3: RV Class Discrimination

There are too many RV parks and resorts that refuse to allow Class B or C motorhomes to stay there.

This often comes from communities that want upscale RVers but don't want pop-ups and tents and so they make zoning laws or regulations prohibiting overnight camping by units under a certain length.

So even though a Class B or Class C motorhome may have cost as much as the Class A behemoths, they are not allowed entry.

Others also ban RVs over a certain age, no matter how well they are maintained.

Personally, these places are not where I want to stay.

If we wanted a subdivision, we'd have bought a vacation home instead of an RV. But a lot of folks have written me over the past two years who resent being excluded from RV resorts and I see their point: Such RV class discrimination is just wrong.

RV Frustrations #4: People who burn trash in their campfire ring

Our top five RV frustrations [2021] 1
Burning garbage in campfires is not just one of our top RV frustrations it can be hazardous to your health

Burning your RV garbage in the campsite firepit is hazardous to your health and the health of those who are nearby and have to breathe it.

The typical household trash generated by RVers contains a lot of plastics and paper treated with chemicals, coatings, and inks.

Besides the smoke, the ashes that remain contain concentrated amounts of these toxic materials that can blow away or seep into the soil and groundwater.

Please, stop burning garbage!

RV Frustrations #5: Inconsiderate neighbors

We did a YouTube video that touches on this:

This a broad class and includes people who don't pick up after their pets, cigar smokers who stink up entire campgrounds, campers who insist on watching TV outside with the volume turned loud, those who arrive late at night after most people are asleep and proceed to shout directions and back up instructions as they set up camp, dogs left alone to bark and bark and bark, neighboring campers who use profanity in every other sentence and people who leave campground restrooms and showers filthy.

The simple way for us to avoid most of these frustrations has been to spend more and more time boondocking or alone by ourselves or with a few friends in state and national forests. That has been when we've most enjoyed RVing.

The more we RV, the more we are finding that big campgrounds are just not our thing.

How about you? What are your biggest RV frustrations and how do you get around them?

We have had conversations with lots of RVers about their top RV Lifestyle frustrations. CLICK HERE for many of their comments on this that we featured on one of our podcasts.

And to show you how these frustrations affect others, read this story about why so many RVers are calling it quits.

Again, don't get me wrong.

Jennifer and I have no plans to come in off the road. The benefits to the RV Lifestyle far outweigh the frustrations. We just want newcomers to know what they are getting into.

How about you? Use the comments below to post your RV Lifestyle frustrations and, more importantly, how you deal with them

Looking for your next RV destination? We can help!

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But please browse our selections of different RV adventures. We show you where to go, how to ge5 there, where to stay and what to see. We include maps, photos, and lots of resources. 

Happy trails!

Our top five RV frustrations [2021]

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

49 Comments

  • HI Mike, Another great article!
    I usually try to read reviews on campgrounds that were written by other campers. They tell how it really is, noisy, clean, etc… On the ALLSTAYS app, there is a button that will take me right to the reviews. And when the restrooms are bad, I am thankful to have my own that I know is clean. I, too, take my RV 200 miles away because my authorized dealer does a poor job on service.
    But I wouldn’t trade the RV for anything- I still love the RV life! 98% of the time, things are great!

  • i am SO happy i did the modifications necessary to be fully self-contained and can avoid the commercial campgrounds. having my own solar power plus the satellite TV and internet system frees me to stay away from that scene entirely. they have nothing i want, other than occasional use of their water and dump station.

  • Mike,

    A few years ago, we were camping at the Moraine Park Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park. We decided to grill our steaks on the grill provided using the wood provided. The bottom of the grill (earth) had been cleaned and the site raked by park employees. It was a gorgeous site. My wife had an allergic reaction to something. I wonder if it wasn’t residue from someone’s trash that adhered to the grill bars and had not been burned off by my fire?

    We “camped” in a KOA in Michigan one time and there was a group of Irish Travelers there too. We took the last space right in between too huge park model trailers occupied by two branches of the same family. Both branches were drinking and throwing the beer cans over our trailer to hit the other branch’s trailer. About 2:00am they passed out and we ll got some sleep. Drinking should only be allowed in designated CG areas away from others.

    We try to avoid large campgrounds even in National Parks and never stay in commercial campgrounds. We plan our trips around state and federal parks for stopping points.

    Campground snobbery….. We stopped while on a flying trip to check out a campground near the home of family in FL. We wanted to check pricing for a future stay. We had o RV at the time but were seriously in the market for a truck camper. We were told: no truck campers, Class B, B+, or C were allowed. In fact, only Class A or fifth wheels were welcome. They should have, in their snobbery, put an age limit on the RVs they’d accept. We saw a 1980s (Or maybe 1970s) vintage Winnebago going through the gate with a gate pass. It was in really bad shape with lots of dented and missing aluminum siding. It had obviously beend in a hail storm or two and had been rode hard and put away wet.

    Boondocking is the only way to go. The BLM dispersed camping areas and the out-of-the-way NSFS campgrounds are a close second.

    Happy Boondocking!

    Bill

    • Same hates and dislikes as us. We found “BIG” publications are pretty much worthless when it comes to rating the facilities, that’s one of the main reasons we stay away from commercial campgrounds unless we’re at a rally or something like that. We’ve found that numbers can make a difference on complaints.
      Ask me about our experience at the South Padre Island KOA last spring at a class B rally.
      Also, unless you know your RV dealer well, it’s buyer beware for the most part. Their worse than unscrupulous car dealers. There’s a lot more money involved!

  • Excellent article Mike! Our family is saving up for our first Roadtrek (a 190 Simplicity hopefully) and so I’ve been paying attention to the “RV side” of campgrounds over the last several months. I’ve noticed some ‘national-chain’ campgrounds have great RV spots, but sometimes it is a parking lot with a few trees along the property border and a laundry/bathroom… just a hair better than a Walmart & shopping plaza parking spot!
    Also, we’ve been the recipients of class snobbery too, as we have a tent & a minivan…. and were utterly ignored by staff; they only spoke with Class A folks. Really? I’ve had a yearly membership with this national campground chain but I REALLY look forward to having my own bathroom/shower and staying only in the fantastic National Parks.
    Your article has also informed me to ALWAYS brush the grills at the fire rings from now on. THANKS AGAIN MIKE!!! =D

  • Oh, one more thing. I always found my old reliable Rand McNally Camping Road Atlas to be pretty good. The NY phone book style “Guides” tend to be infomercials for the advertisers. I’ve heard good things about the Rand McNally RV GPS and their App for iPad. Any experience?

    I use Allstays pretty much for all of our motel stays and post my thoughts on motels. Some of my posts on TripAdvisor (a link from Allstays) have brought about change and most have been marked helpful. Use those review options often and review often. A respectful, well worded review will go a long way toward effecting our travel environment.

    Bill

  • I have the same complaints about commercial campgrounds, so I stick to state and national parks, or boondock. I travel alone so I need to be careful about where I boondock and that limits opportunities. I’ve stayed in a few KOAs and they were a mess, and the sites were very close together with non-functioning electrical pedestals. I’ve found state parks to be well managed, clean, and most have beautiful sites and usually a special attraction, like a beach or hikes, etc. No more commercial campgrounds for me! I will be going to the RT meet-up at Silver Falls State Park this month – Silver Falls is one of my favorite state parks!

  • Good article – we’ve found that campground reviews are essential for finding good campgrounds. I check Google reviews, Trip Advisor, RVParkReviews.com, and more before I’ll stay in a campground. So far we’ve had pretty good luck – but like most others here we prefer state and national parks and boondocking whenever possible.

  • I haven’t been doing this long enough to experience the above frustrations, but definitely know that all five are forces to be reckoned with. I believe the best defense against the “frustrations” of the RV world is an informed public, and thanks to Facebook groups and Blogs like yours, more and more RV owners are getting the knowledge needed to navigate these frustrations/pitfalls and come out on the sweet side. Thanks, Mike, for the heads up!

  • You hit my top 5! Seen it all and I’m glad to have my Artie!

  • I have seen that the commercial sites I stay at overall are in good shape, however the cost to stay at them are above what I’d like to pay for what they offer. My best stays have been at National Park campgrounds, clean facilities, helpful volunteers, and everything works. On the flipside, local lake RV sites are the worst. I don’t understand why, but the restrooms there are always coated with smeared feces from some idiot who thinks it’s funny to foul the restroom. And more interesting, it’s the women who are the worst. My wife complains about the nasty conditions of the women’s facilities each time we go to a local lake.

  • We are planning to begin fulltiming soon, and one thing that worries me is the so called “snobbery” at some parks. I have a 30′ 1991 Pace Arrow Class A, that apparently has been left outside most of it’s life. Faded paint, especially on the driver’s side. I don’t want to be told my coach is “too old” to park, but I cannot afford a 50K coach to drive. What’s great is that everything on the rig works great, and the interior is still nice.

  • As a National Forest campground host, we agree that a big peeve is trash burned in firerings. We find everything: cans, bottles, plastic, food including fish entails. Even more bothersome is the trash and garbage dumped unburned in the firering without being burned. We assume the campers could not be bothered to stop at the trash bin on their way out.

  • Only use wood/charcoal to cook your food,I thought everyone knew that.

  • Great post this is like my biggest pet piv

  • We’ve been doing it for ages in our camp fires.

  • This is something that has been a golden rule at my campsite. NEVER burn anything but wood in campfire.

  • Common sense, it’s a lost art.

  • if your stupid enough to burn that crap while u cook your dinner or sit around inhaling the smoke then u deserve what u get.

  • It amazes me people need to be told these kind of things,but I’m also reminded when I visit campsites that I went to when I was younger and it’s just trashed!! By ignorance and laziness!!! Common sense isn’t to common anymore. Sad….

  • So so true ,

  • We ate corn, and potatoes in tinfoil, from my great-grandmothers’ trash-burning barrel as kids, lol…..I’m not TOO NUTS now!!

  • Unfortunately i can believe people would be this stupid!

  • That’s why I burn all my trash just before I pack up to leave.

  • Who is so stupid to do that.

  • Clean my firepit twice a year. Standard rule in my camp “NO PAPER,NO GARBAGE, NO CIGARETTE BUTS.” Clean camp’

  • Most of us know this, thank goodness

  • I burn the paper and trash after everyone has eaten for the night

  • Camper’s Golden rules!!! Good stuff… 🙂

  • If you camp where there are bears, then you burn yr garbage. Umm and prob not at the same time as yr cooking the food. Camp much!!

    • pack out your garbage is what you should do. Why should I have to smell your burning garbage

  • Interesting post, JB.. Thanks for sharing it. We have a class C Triple E, older but still elegant!

  • Paper is great for starting a fire, but that’s about it

  • Larry Dillard

  • No one in their right mind would cool over burning garbage

  • Just ask the hundreds of soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq about burn pits. My son had cancer 2 years after he came home and the VA acknowledges that it is from burn pits. Be very careful.

    • Rita,
      I am so sorry to hear of your son’s diagnosis!

  • COOKING OVER TRASH ON WAY EVERY ONE SHOULD KNOW BETTER.

  • Sad that this needs to be pointed out. How stupid are people????

  • Come on CJ we have known this since we started our first camp fire. You don’t cook over garbage.

  • It gives it extra flavor

  • Hell…if you’re worried about health…maybe start with the hotdogs

  • Old topic but still very relevant. We almost exclusively boondock as that is our preference, usually in rural natural areas. Peaceful, therapeutic, and bonus free!

  • Abraham Lincoln’s father had an opinion that solves all campground selection problems, “When you can see the smoke from your neighbor’s chimney the neighborhood is too crowded. Move on.

  • Lighting is one of our pet peeves. We stayed at a beautiful state park in the Florida Keys when our evening of stargazing, while listening to the ocean waves, came to an abrupt halt. Suddenly we found ourselves sitting in the headlights of a late arriving camper.
    Their headlights were on while they strung lights all around their camper and site. That diminished the stargazing and the loud chatter and music drowned out the sound of the waves. The music wasn’t very loud but enough to drown out the sound of the waves. It was late enough that we just chose to head inside for the night and deal with it in the morning. Luck was on our side. They pulled out the next morning. We would have tried to educate them in a pleasant way but we all know you can’t fix stupid.
    Mike and Jennifer please keep the information coming.

  • I am planning to buy an RV, but this article is giving me second thoughts!

  • The rules and regulations and policies and guidelines at privately owned campgrounds seem to be getting increasingly longer and more restrictive and exhaustive and ………………..
    We are very careful to read them in full, especially the ones that have dog breed restrictions. If you are new to camping, you may be surprised how many breeds can appear on some of these lists.
    Our sweet, quiet, obedient pitbull mix is not permitted at most KOA campgrounds and numerous others.
    (They are missing out on her super power – she makes people smile – everywhere we go.)
    And fortunately she is welcome at most campgrounds, so we always find a place – it just takes a little research and planning.
    (We have never encountered this rule at county, state, or national park campgrounds. In fact, we’ve had rangers tell us that they wish all dogs were so well behaved.)
    So you can imagine my delight when we stayed at a Nova Scotia campground whose Rules section had only one line: “Use common sense.”
    Enough said 🙂

  • We are waiting on our TT to be built, hopefully coming in mid April. We have been reading, watching all of the youtube channels and trying to get up to speed with the whole experience before we embark on our 6 week adventure out west to hopefully see all of the great sights and parks. We are now realizing that we came to this idea a few years too late but at age 73 I decided we have to do it now as who knows what may keep us from doing this later. We are now living in Ga. but we were born and raised in Mi. before moving here in 1979. We did a little camping when we lived in Mi. but we had very young children then and only did it for two years when time would allow for short trips. So as we watch your adventures we now see that we missed so much of what Mi. has to offer. We will, hopefully be able to come back now, with our TT and see all the beautiful places that we missed while living there. We are so glad we found you and maybe we will have the pleasure of meeting you someday on the road to a great camping adventure.

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