Many people are under the impression that RV camping can be dangerous. In all reality, there are certain petty crimes that you’re susceptible to, but major crime rates are very low.
We have traveled on the road for over 5 years full-time RV living with our two kids and we have never had an issue. We have boondocked in awesome places and met the nicest people. We have never been victim of any kind of crime. But you do hear stories…
So, are campgrounds safe in reality?
The truth behind this will depend the most on where you go and the precautions you take. If you tend to travel without a care in the world and don’t bother keeping an eye on things, you are more susceptible to petty crimes (much like living in a house.)
Here’s everything you should know:
Different Places to Take Your RV Safely
Believe it or not, you have more options than you think when it comes to RV camping. You can go to RV parks if that’s what you’re most comfortable with. However, there are other, less crowded options as well.
That includes other types of parks and something called boondocking.
What you choose will likely depend more on the type of trip you are taking. If you’re taking a long trip, or even living out of your RV, you should know about all the options. If you’re just taking the RV out for a week or weekend and only going to one place, an RV park is a great idea.
RV parks vary dramatically. They can be very nice, have plenty of amenities like surveillance cameras, and make RV life simple. Others can be run down and less than ideal for a week long getaway with the kids. There is a difference between full time RVers and full time campgrounds. If a majority of the sites are being permanently lived in, you should probably look elsewhere.
Also, some parks can be crowded, especially during holiday weeks in the summer which can be a concern with COVID transmissibility. You may find your fellow campers to be unruly or noisy.
The most important thing to do is look into the reviews of a campground before you go (trip advisor is great for this, as are facebook groups). That will help you find a safe campground and avoid any unfortunate surprises.
We have stayed at campgrounds where they stated having certain facilities, only to find out this was not the case! Not good when you have kids. We included that in our review of the campground when we left……quickly!
You can also learn more about their level of security and exactly what they have to offer by contacting their office on the phone during business hours.
We highly recommend getting on the phone when booking a campground and get all your questions answered.
Keep in mind that RV parks and campgrounds with hookups are usually more expensive. So, if you don’t need the hookup for your RV, a state or county campground with limited hookups may actually be more affordable.
Boondocking is a form of camping where you aren’t in a campsite; you’re off the grid. It is free camping, but these free campsites come with absolutely no hookups or amenities like security.
Boondocking in the United States usually happens on Federal Lands, but sometimes it involves truck stops and large parking lots. Walmart and large shopping centers are a popular option when this allowed. Boondocking just means camping without hookups. It is also called dry camping.
Before you choose to stop somewhere, it’s a good idea to double check and make sure that you are allowed to stay there for the night. It isn’t a great option on a daily basis, but when you’re on a long road trip, it’s a great option while you get some sleep.
Boondocking on public lands allows you to find less used spaces where you can keep your distance from others and have a little more “elbow room.” However we always feel more comfortable if there are some other parked RVs in the area.
When you’re boondocking, you should be extra aware of your personal safety. Don’t answer the front door for anyone without a badge, don’t overstay your welcome, and don’t stay in sketchy areas. Always know how to contact a park ranger.
State and National Lands
National parks, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Services are another fantastic option. They are less crowded and less expensive. It’s a wonderful option if you have an interest in enjoying nature while you’re camping.
Regular RV sites usually have a lot of people, campers are packed together, and the atmosphere can be noisy. People usually have TVs and radios, kids running around, and may have yearly residents. Overall, it can be fun, but if you’re more focused on the actual camping than “glamping,” government lands are a great way to get some peace and quiet.
These sites will depend on the area and can range from extremely primitive to more developed. In other words, some may have nothing but a camping spot, and others will have a fire ring and shop where you can buy firewood and other necessities.
What are the Dangers of RV Parks?
While it can be difficult to pin down RV park crime statistics, stats about national parks from 2018 show that 57% of the crimes committed were against another person. This doesn’t mean that RV parks are completely unsafe, but crime can happen.
RV theft is very infrequent, but smaller crimes do happen.
How to Pick a Safe RV Campground
The reviews are the first thing you should look at with any camping site. We live in the digital age, and there are plenty of resources to ensure you’re picking a good spot. When you’re looking at the reviews, pay attention to the reviewer’s complaints. Reviews will give you a really good idea of what is happening.
Is theft a common complaint? Is the park well maintained? Is there security that monitors the park, or are you on your own?
Security is the main thing you should pay attention to when picking a safe campsite. If they have gates, cameras, and patrol, you’re less likely to have issues. Many RV parks use off duty police at night, or have local police drive through the park at regular intervals. If their security seems relaxed, you have a higher possibility of dealing with unruly campers.
Most RV parks will be happy to discuss their security precautions with you. Feel free to ask on the phone. Also, read the reviews from other campers.
Safety Tips To Eliminate Temptations
When you’re traveling and camping in an RV, there are a few important things you can do to protect yourself and your belongings. Here are a few tips for basic safety. .
- Close your blinds or shades so no one can see what valuables you have
- Don’t leave valuables out. Secure outside storage spaces.
- Lock everything when you aren’t there (trailer hitch lock, travel trailer, camper door, truck bed, generator, etc.)
- Take advantage of roadside assistance
- Carry traveler’s checks as opposed to cash
- Consider extra security systems(alarms, sensor lights, better locks, etc.)
- Always keep your RV inspected and maintained
- Get a cell booster to ensure you always have phone service
- Keep the gas tanks full
These are just some of the basic things RV owners can do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. Some will cost a few bucks, but whether you’re taking long trips and camping full time, or shorter family trips, every little bit of security will help.
Make simple precautions part of your every day RV lifestyle. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are of being a sad story.
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RV Camping Shouldn't be Dangerous — But You Should Be Cautious
Overall, when people ask, “How safe are RV parks?” They’re already taking a step in the right direction.
By learning about the dangers and possibilities, you are on alert and less susceptible to crime. As long as you have a cautious state of mind, you should be just fine.
If you are an avid RV camper and take a lot of long trips, you should take extra steps for safety. If you only take the camper out once or twice a year in a semi-local area, you may not need to worry so much.
In the end, RV camping is as safe as you make it out to be. As long as you take precautions, you’ll be just fine.
RV Camping During The Pandemic
The recent pandemic has caused a number of new safety concerns in the RVing world. Since RVing has become seen as a “safer” alternative to hotels and restaurants, there are scores of new RVers on the road who do not have experience with those world and it has caused some problems.
Many places that traditionally have allowed parking lot stays, are stopping the practice. Some Federal lands have also closed to boondocking, and many campgrounds have been closed. Others are overcrowded.
An extra layer of research is necessary to ensure that you have an enjoyable camping trip. Here are some factors to consider:
- Get an RV with a bathroom. Cut down on exposure to public restrooms by bringing your own.
- Make Plans: This is not the time to let the wind blow you. Many campgrounds are closed, and many that are open are booked full. Call ahead and make sure you have a space.
- Pack in all of your own supplies. Cooking at the campsite is a great way to fully enjoy the wonders of nature. Just make sure you clean up your mess. Carry plenty of wipes and toilet paper so you stay self contained.
- Maintain distance. Even in nature some places get crowded. There are 419 National Parks and sites alone. Let the Smoky Mountains slide this year and hit one of the lesser visited spots. You’ll stay safe AND discover an awesome spot that no one else is talking about.
- Be Respectful! Wear masks when in local communities. If trails or parks are closed, leave them be.