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Tips for Surviving Weekends in Campgrounds

For those who work in a traditional Monday-Friday world, Friday is generally a day of celebration. The end of the workweek, the beginning of the weekend.

It might even be a casual day as folks prepare for whatever they have planned for the weekend. You might even take off work a bit early.

Weekends are when you live life – getting chores done around the house, kid’s sportsteam activities, time with friends, lounging around or even a little mini vacation.

Perhaps even a camping trip to a nearby park.

And then that changes…

Without our DayClock, we might never know what day of the week it is!

Without our DayClock, we might never know what day of the week it is!

Many lifestyle RVers we know are hard pressed to know what day of the week it is. It’s a very freeing thing to not necessarily be tied to traditional schedules anymore.

That is, until it comes to weekends.

We always know when it’s Friday and when it’s Sunday.

 

Friday afternoon is when trailer after trailer is pulled into the campground.  And Sunday is when the process is repeated in reverse.

Peaceful places now become full of camping noises. Air mattresses being blown up. Tent stakes being hammered into the ground. More food being put out than any human can consume in a month, let alone a weekend. Kids playing. Parents kicking back. Chatter around the campfire.

Weekends in public campgrounds.

Weekends in public campgrounds.

It’s especially worse during peak seasons around the country. When the weather is ripe for camping and everyone seems to be out enjoying the places we just want to chill at and enjoy the sounds of nature.

And hey we get it, we used to be those weekenders!

That’s how we thought campgrounds were all the time (thankfully, they’re not).

 

So just how does a full time RVer navigate a sea of booked up campgrounds over weekends and holidays?

Here’s a quick video we took to go along with this post:

Here’s some lessons learned over the years:

Tough it Out

We focus on doing our own thing.

We focus on doing our own thing.

Providing we can get a reservation or last minute spot in a campground, we put on our big-nomad pants and tough it out. It’s after all, just two nights.

We brace ourselves that there will be more noise than we like. There will be sounds of kids playing. There will be campfire smoke. There will be groups sharing in life long lasting memories. There will be more vehicles coming and going.

And hope with all our hope, that’s the worst of it and we have neighbors who appreciate general campground etiquette.

The weekend is after all made for weekenders. And many campgrounds are made for recreation.

Weekends are a great time to tackle bus projects.

Weekends are a great time to tackle bus projects.

We’ll sometimes just close up the windows, turn on the tunes and crank out some work if we can.

We’ll indulge in some movies or TV shows and try to ignore the increasing sounds next-door.

Or maybe we’ll find something to do outside the campground – go for a hike, bike rides, be tourists, go out for dinner or our latest escape, Pokemon hunting.

Or maybe we just decide to do as the natives… and indulge in a campfire ourselves. Sometimes we’ll even make new friends with our neighbors and join in the fun.

After all, life it too short to sit inside pouting.

Whatever we do, we know when Sunday morning rolls around, most our neighbors will be packing up to return home and our home surroundings are returned to relative peace and tranquility.

Sunday is when we celebrate the end of the weekend!

Seek Alternatives

If we’re just not up for searching for open availability or enduring crowded campgrounds, that’s when we seek out alternative parking options.

  • Scoring a first come first serve spot over a weekend.

    Scoring a first come first serve spot over a weekend.

    First Come First Serve Campgrounds: We love these. Campgrounds that either take no reservations or keep some sites available for drive-ins. Show up Sunday-Thursday, and you usually stand very high odds of snagging a great site you can keep through the weekend. Sometimes, showing up on Saturday morning works too, some weekenders just have a change of plans.

  • Boondocking: Dispersed camping on public lands can sometimes provide the peace and tranquility you crave, but sometimes they can be worse than campgrounds – as the locals know all the best recreational spots to head to when the weather is ideal. Sometimes ‘blacktop boondocking’ in retail lots like Walmart, Crackel Barrel and other places that allow it is heads and tails better than weekend campground chaos.
  • Relocate: Use weekends as your driving days to make miles, staying overnight either in non-destination RV parks (ie. those that weekenders are not going to tend to find appealing for vacations) or dry camping in parking lots along the way.
  • Boondocking on public lands.

    Boondocking on public lands.

    Harvest Hosts: Weekends are great times for seeking wineries, vineyards, farms and museums to park at. We’ll use our Harvest Hosts membership to find options nearby, and sometimes they even offer to put us up for the weekend.

  • Driveway Surfing: If we’ve had driveway surfing invitations, we love accepting those over weekends when campgrounds are not our ideal anyway. Another option is Boondockers Welcome, a site dedicated to matching up landowners to host RVers on their property.
  • Elks & Moose Lodges: If you’re a member of these nationwide clubs, some offer overnight RV parking for a donation or fee. These are great options for parking in cities anytime of the week.
  • For more tips: Finding Camping and RV Parking

However you choose to cope when Friday rolls around, always remembers – our weekender neighbors only get two nights to play.

When they pack up Sunday, we get five whole days with the campground mostly to ourselves.

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26 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. I understand the problems people have at parks during the weekend all to well. I have three methods that work out very well for me with loud unruly or uncontrollable persons.

    1. Try to make friends with them and use my quiet demeanor to slow down their actions and noise. If their children are the problem you can work this out with the kids themselves by creating a learning environment and sending them out on quiet missions to find bugs, animals, certain types of leaves or seeking out agates. When near the ocean or beaches finding ground glass is common and sending kids out to find it is fun. Got that one from the Adam Sandler movie Spanglish but be careful how much money you will pay for each piece of blue or red glass.

    2. Be nice always is my motto kill them with kindness when complaining even when you are talking straight to them. Which is something you should try before bringing in the Campground owners or placing a complaint with the office.

    3. Find a problem with their rig and suggest they take care if it fast which sometimes requires them to leave the park to make the repair. If you look hard enough all rigs have problems and some are serious but these weekenders do not know just how serious their problem is. Like smelling short bursts of propane or burnt electrical wires. Leaking hydraulics in levelers or slide outs are common. Bent axles or axles out of alignment are also common. Leaving the park to make the repair is mandatory in most cases as they do not allow repairs in the park most of the time.

    These are just a few ideas I have come up with to handle campground problems I do not guarantee they will work for you as they do for for me but its worth a try

  2. I enjoyed your article about the weekend crazies. We do keep in mind, as you do, they are just out enjoying the weekend and will be gone Sunday evening. We do enjoy the young children running around making noise and having fun in the outdoors. We were that way some 60-65 years ago. Their parents usually reign them in by about 9pm. Now the 20 somethings, playing loud music til late in the night, that is a different story. Fortunately that doesn’t happen very often.

    • We personally prefer peace and quiet.. no leaf blowers, no loud music, limited generators, no large gatherings, no kids playing/screaming, no dogs barking, etc. Ahhh… can’t wait for the weekend to be over again.

  3. I spent the summer boondocking FT and found weekends to be less than delightful, as well. I even had a solar panel stolen one weekend. I can easily see myself making reservations at NFS campgrounds or using the first come first served campgrounds on weekends next summer, unless I can score a boondocking spot that makes it impossible for others to share.

  4. Love this post, and so totally agree! We are full-timers, so we tend to dread weekends, especially in any campground with a lake. We often have to grit our teeth to get through until Sunday morning. I have asthma so don’t like the smoke from campfires, and we both love our peace and quiet. Fortunately, weekends are shorter than the mid-week time; and it’s so funny to us to live for the end of the weekend — just the opposite of our old workaday routine!

  5. Great post with great tips. We also just started full-timing and working from the road so figuring out things like weekends and holidays has been on our list (along with the thousand other things that come up). Your guys information has been helpful as we got ready to get on the road.
    Kim & Alan
    http://www.fivedogsandus.com

  6. Thanks for the great tips Cherie. We’re just starting full-time RV life. I usually wonder how we should plan our relocation/move. Your post helps a great deal.

  7. I’m pretty introverted, but I’ve always preferred having other occupants in the campground—and I guess the sound of children playing doesn’t bother me, especially since I have one, and the smell of a campfire just makes me hungry.

    We’ve camped during the week before, and it just seems creepier somehow; maybe too many viewings of Blair Witch….

    I will say, we’re nowhere near full-timers, so we’ve probably been lucky in not having annoying neighbors, and we’ve also only ever stayed at state campgrounds (so far), which might have a slightly different atmosphere anyway—and tend to have far fewer services during the week.

  8. Loved your post, and the timing is perfect… We spent last weekend at a busy State Park campground in MN. We commented on how empty and quiet it was on Monday morning. While working, we looked forward to Fridays. As RVers traveling through beautiful places, we look forward to Mondays! Finally, 5 weekdays and 2 weekend days works in our favor…

    Keep on enjoying your travels!

  9. Hey Cherie – awesome tips! Thanks for sharing them!

    Call me crazy, but I actually don’t mind the weekends living in an RV. I’m a pretty social person, so I enjoy being around people. Especially when they have interesting stories to tell (most people do!)

    That harvest host membership sounds interesting, I’m definitely going to check that out!

    Where are you traveling to next? I’d love to meet up with you guys some time and talk RVing and tech!

  10. Hey, nice Day Clock!!!! 🙂 Ironically the place we bought after getting off of the road is in an area of a lot of weekend cabins so we go thru the same thing…..people showing up on Friday evenings, noise and traffic until Sunday afternoon and then nice and quiet for the rest of the week. Ed

  11. I live next to a county park. It turns into a city on holiday weekends, and the driving back and forth is crazy! (I live on a gravel road). I decided to turn my lemons into lemonade and have my garage sales on Memorial Day weekend or Labor Day weekend. There are a lot of bored women who come over multiple times (fishing is big at the park). I had a huge stack of firewood sold on that weekend. During the week, it is peaceful and quiet. I guess I feel lucky I live where folks want to visit. Alas, I am selling this property after 30 years, downsizing and moving on.

      • Totally us! Sometimes I think the RV lifestyle isn’t so great for we introverts. But then Sunday comes, the weekenders leave, and we can breathe again. Then I think this lifestyle is just PERFECT. 🙂

  12. Thanks for continuing to share all your great experiences and advice!

    We often relocate on the weekends. If our next destination is 5-6 hours away. We’ll drive it over Fri n Sat and choose highway campsites as opposed to destination campgrounds where the weekend usually isn’t as hectic.

    DjsEpicAdventure.com

  13. Cherie & Chris –

    Great post! We call it the “Friday Tide.” The tide comes in Friday afternoon and goes out again Sunday afternoon.

    – Steve Prentice
    Full timer in 5th wheel

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