Mom Goes Camping

Camping Neighbors from Hell: These Are the Worst Things Campers Can Do

bad campers

It used to be that people went camping to get outdoors and connect with nature.  Now, camping is becoming increasingly popular, especially as a way to have a cheap vacation.  As a result, you’ll encounter a lot more bad camping etiquette at campgrounds.

Don’t get me wrong.  There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to camp. Who am I to judge you if you want to bring an AC unit, watch movies on an iPad or listen to music while camping?

However you want to camp is fine – but there is one catch: You MUST be respectful to your neighbors and nature!

This list of the most annoying things campers do was taken from comments in Reddit and various forums as well as my own experience.   Keep these etiquette rules in mind the next time you stay at a campground so you don’t become the camping neighbor from hell!!!


1. Playing Loud Music

This is by far the biggest complaint people have about camping neighbors.  People go camping to enjoy nature, not to listen to your obnoxious techno music (or rap, country, pop music…).

Most campgrounds have rules about quiet hours.  If you are playing music after these quiet hours, then you are a particularly large jerk.  But it’s also annoying to hear music during the daytime too.   If you must play music, the polite thing to do is keep the volume low enough so it can’t be heard beyond your campsite.


2. Walking through Other People’s Campsites

I don’t care how much shorter the trip is.  It is bad camping etiquette to take shortcuts through other people’s campsites!


3. Littering

In my experience, this is mostly a problem with college-age kids drinking beer.  A beer bottle will break and they will just leave the glass laying there (for someone else to get cut on or rip the bottom of someone’s tent).  But I’ve also heard stories of camping neighbors from hell who left trash all over their campsite.  Gross!


4. Letting Your Kids Wander to Other Campsites

As a mother, I know this is a tricky one.  On one hand, I want my daughters to learn how to interact politely with strangers and make new friends at camp.  But I also know that kids can be incredibly annoying.  Unfortunately, too many parents (whether they realize they are doing it or not) use other campers as free babysitters for their kids.

Try to make sure your kids know some boundaries before you let them wander around camp.  They generally should never go to campsites where there aren’t other kids.  Even then, your kids should ask if it’s okay for them to come over.  And, if they do go over, they should only stay long enough to make plans to play with the kids at your own campsite or a common area of the camp.


5. Letting Your Dog Have Free Range of the Campground

I’m not sure what’s more annoying: other people’s kids running around or their dogs.  While I am an animal lover, I am really starting to hate dog owners.  Just because they think their dog is cute and can do no harm, it doesn’t mean I want their dog slobbering all over me.  It’s particularly annoying when a dog runs up to you while you are cooking or eating.  So keep your dog at your own campsite or on a leash!!!  And don’t forget about the etiquette of hiking with a dog.


6. Running Generators ALL DAY LONG

Just because generators are allowed during certain times of the day, it doesn’t mean you should use them for the entire time.  It is incredibly annoying to listen to the loud humming of a generator.

Yes, I understand that this falls into the “no wrong way to camp” argument.  Some people want their laptops, TVs and game consoles while camping.  Fine.  Some people may have medical equipment and need to run a generator all day.  Obviously also fine.  But if you know that you’ll have a generator going all day, maybe you should choose a campground tailored to RVs and not tent campers.


7. Blindingly Bright Lights

Obviously it’s fine to use a flashlight when you need to walk around camp at night.  But you do NOT need a 10 billion candle lamp which will light up every campsite around you – and probably blind people with the sudden burst of light as you pass.  It’s rude and unnecessary.


8. Horn Beeping when Lock/Unlock

Here’s an annoying thing that a lot of campers do without even realizing it.  For starters, you don’t even need to lock your car if it is 10 feet away from you.  And why are you getting stuff from your car every 20 minutes anyway?   If you really need to get stuff from your car constantly and are in the habit of keeping it locked, then DISABLE THE HORN HONK FEATURE.


9. Harming Trees

I’m not even going to get started on all the jerks who carve their names into trees.  What also drives me crazy is campers who bring saws and axes to cut down tree branches for firewood.

Cutting branches off trees not only destroys nature, but cut branches don’t even make good firewood.  As I talk about here, there’s absolutely no reason to bring a saw camping.  And the only reason to bring an axe is to cut firewood that you purchased at the campground.  Read more about how to responsibly use an axe when camping.


10. Swearing and Bad Language

This one doesn’t get a lot of attention but is really annoying to some campers – especially to parents with little kids.  Be courteous and avoid cursing.  And, if I can hear you cursing, then you are probably talking too loud anyway.  Be quieter!


11. Loud Alerts on Phone

This is a personal pet peeve of mine.  If you must bring your phone, fine.  But make sure those annoying dings and buzzes are turned off (or low enough that I can’t hear them the next campsite over).  It really ruins my camping experience to be reminded of all the emails and messages that will be waiting for me when I get back.


12. Yelling

I know we are outside, but you still need to use your inside voice when camping.  Don’t shout across the campground for your partner to bring you something from the car or for your kids to stop doing xyz.  If you have something to say, then walk over to the person so you can say it in a voice that won’t reverberate across the entire campground.


What bad camping behavior irritates you the most? Let us know in the comments section below.


Image credit:”camping fail” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by brookpeterson

About the author /

Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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