At home we’re surrounded by neighbours, and we’re used to etiquette of an unspoken kind so that everyone gets along – at least most of the time. We might not even realise we’re observing any kind of rules, but they’re definitely there.
When we go on holiday, especially around other people, we can’t just leave all those rules at home. Many still apply, and there are others we need to observe, too. Think of it as camping etiquette, and it’s really as important as a tent.
Etiquette in the Campground
In any campground there are going to be other people around, quite possibly a lot of them in the summer. They’ll be closer than your neighbours at home (and there are no thick walls between you), which means you need to be extra careful. Don’t walk through other people’s space to reach your own area, for instance, and you shouldn’t be too noisy, especially at night.
If a group of you are on holiday together, try and find an area away from the other tents, so you won’t disturb campers. If your children are with you, keep them under control, and the same for pets (make sure you’re scrupulous about cleaning up any mess they make).
It goes without saying that you should obey all the rules of the campground, from quiet hours to speed limits, and make sure you don’t leave rubbish lying around – there are always plenty of bins around. Check beforehand, too, to see if the site accepts pets. If it doesn’t, either find a different place or leave your dog at home.
When you’re tearing down your tent, make sure you don’t leave any litter. Always perform a final check and dispose of any rubbish you see, even if it’s not yours. These are all basic good manners, of course, but they apply everywhere.
Etiquette in the Open
Of course, when you camp out in the open – wild camping – then there won’t be other campers around you. But that doesn’t give you a licence to behave however you want. You still need to remember the Countryside Code.
If you’re making a campfire, make sure you know how to do it properly and keep it safe, and certainly ensure it’s out before you leave and carefully cleaned away. When you go, there should be no sign that you’d ever been there, not even any cigarette butts. Take your litter, and bury ashes. Don’t take woods from the trees for your fire – only use fallen branches. If there’s a fire ban in the area, don’t break it. Either do without a campfire or use other methods to heat your food (such as a solid fuel stove).
You shouldn’t try and feed any animals you see – remember, they’re called wildlife for a reason. If you have a dog with you, keep it under close control so it doesn’t worry any farm or wild animals.
If you’re in the wild, you won’t have built-in toilet facilities. So you’ll need to make your own. But make sure they’re well away from any water to avoid possible contamination, and take the time to bury your waste.
Most of these things are common sense, things people do without thinking about them. But sometimes a reiteration of these unspoken rules can be a good thing. Remember, whether it’s a campground or in the wild, you’re in someone’s home.