Caravan and camping etiquette

caravan going down the coast

Joanne Brookfield

Posted December 20, 2021

Cruising the country and visiting caravan parks and campsites can be a great family vacation – just as long as you respect these unspoken rules around you.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the tourism industry, with travel restrictions and border closures. Now that Australians are free to roam once again, a countless number of locals are packing the caravan and hitting the road.

Australia's great outdoors has never looked so appealing, and though many are eager to give caravanning a go, experienced travellers know there are some unwritten rules about the camp site. Make sure you know these unwritten rules before you unknowingly neighbour some very unhappy campers.

10 tips for camping and caravaning

Leave no trace

The golden rule of hiking, caravanning, camping and van life is to 'leave no trace'. Whether you’re in a forest, up a mountain, or by a river, lake, or sea, you must leave the space as you found it. The idea is that your enjoyment of the natural world should have minimum impact on it, so take all of your rubbish with you. And that’s all of it. Right down to the cigarette butts and bottle tops and other tiny items you may litter elsewhere with; all your food scraps and yes, maybe even your own human waste. 

Respect the facilities

'Leave no trace' also includes showing respect for the environment you’re in. So don’t feed wildlife and don’t cut down trees for firewood. Be mindful with campfires because not all sites allow them and fines can apply, too.

Where you can have fires, check for total fire ban days and ensure you are up to date with weather warnings in your local area.

Make sure there are no sneaky embers hiding by throwing sufficient dirt or sand to make sure it has been properly extinguished.

Also, respect other campers by cleaning the facilities you have used and share - especially relevant when using pit toilets, put the seat down. This is not some age-old battle of the sexes argument; camp toilets attract flies, so put the seat down. 

Outta site

You wouldn’t go walking through the lounge room of a total stranger's home, so don’t go walking through someone else’s campsite. A campsite is effectively a home away from home. Treat it as such and respect people’s individual boundaries by not waltzing through their personal space. 

Campingwith the family

A campsite is effectively a home away from home so treat it as such and respect people’s individual boundaries by not waltzing through their personal space. 


Social distance

Long before the world had ever heard of COVID-19, campers have been practising the concept of social distancing since two people with tents simultaneously showed up at the same spot. The whole point of being in the great outdoors is all that space – and tents have super thin walls - so allow sufficient distance between you and your neighbours so everyone can enjoy their time away.

Volume down

Being away from the city allows you to say things like, “how’s the serenity?” without The Castle-inspired irony. Those still and starry nights are a wonderful thing, and sitting around a campfire is what memories are made of, but sound travels further in these conditions. Not everyone wants to hear your loud music, terrible acoustic guitar playing, dirty jokes, swearing, and idle gossip. So after 9 pm, it’s generally considered time to start quietening things down.

The same applies at the other end of the day. Just because you’re up before the dawn, no one wants to hear you clanging saucepans about, either. Generators also pose a sound nuisance. They’re noisy and not allowed in most national parks but if you are somewhere where they are permitted, try using them in short bursts during daylight only. 

Follow the rules

Rules when holidaying in this way aren’t about stopping you from having fun but ensuring everyone can enjoy themselves and the location, so be a decent, community-minded camper and follow the rules. Campgrounds will usually have their rules prominently displayed and, in the absence of a sign, a quick Google will update you on any rules you need to follow while in national parks.

Apollo motorhome

Camping and caravaning can be fun for the whole family - just make sure your fun isn't ruining anyone else's.


Kids and pets are not exempt

No one is doubting the love you have for your child or fur-baby, but there’s also no doubt that others won’t be loving the fact you showed up with either or both. All the rules and etiquette about respecting boundaries, keeping the noise down, mess contained, etc all equally apply to your children and pets. Other campers, even if they also have children, are not free baby-sitters so don’t let the kids go totally free-range and keep your animals on an actual leash.

Read the room

It can be great meeting new people while away and socialising is definitely all part of the camping experience. Always be friendly and polite but also understand a quick hello isn’t necessarily an invitation to dinner, either. An invitation to dinner, just to be clear, will usually be phrased as “would you like to join us for dinner?” It’s unambiguous, so don’t make things awkward by hovering about where maybe you’re not as welcome as you’d like to think. 

Make sure your location is caravan and camping friendly

While caravanning and camping is lovely, the residents at a hotel in the city may not appreciate your RV blocking their view. Make sure the place you choose to holiday is made for your type of adventures, such as the RACV Inverloch Resort or RACV Combram Resort, with ample room for all your caravan and camping needs. 

Have fun

We live in a spectacularly beautiful country and are spoilt for choice with our options for getting out into nature to enjoy some time off. So whether you’re in a caravan, motorhome or tent, do a little bit of research about your destination, pack accordingly and make sure the phone and camera batteries are charged so you can capture all your memories. 

Ready for your next camping or caravanning adventure? 

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