Campgrounds differ wildly, but the list of campground reservations do’s and don’t tend to be universal. Generally speaking, each place is slightly different in how they handle things. This is especially true when you might be boondocking for one night versus staying for a month at a campground. Or, staying two weeks in a beautiful national park campground.
But still, there are several things that all campground rule lists have in common. It helps if you have a regular process you follow. Here’s what I do to book campsite reservations that secure us a spot.
Checklist of Campground Reservations Do’s and Don’ts
Even if it is just a mental list – you should have a set process you go through each time you complete a reservation. A lot of my list has been through trial and error. Hopefully this information about campground reservations do’s and don’ts will give you a head start. This what to have on your list.
Provide All Your Details
Give all the details about:
- the size and type of RV you have
- number of people you are traveling with
- any pets
- and how long you want to stay
All these features will affect what type of reservations are available to you. Don’t leave anything out as you may find yourself turned away on arrival. This happens if your rig is too large or too old or it is a 55 or older park and no kids are allowed.
Give all your contact information.
We were going to stay at a park one night. They didn’t ask for our information – said it would be fine to just show up. I happened to call them the night before to confirm only to find out they were closed because of staff illness. So we scrambled to find another place to stay the next day. I realized because I didn’t leave my contact information. There was no way for them to reach out to me and let me know they would be closed.
Always leave your contact information even if they don’t think it is necessary.
Confirm Campground Services
A good campground reservations do’s and don’ts list includes reviewing amenities. Some amenities may not be important to you, but others will be critical. Be sure you confirm what is available, when, and how much it costs or if there are extra fees for it.
Here are some things you may want to ask about:
- Is electric included or extra and if not, how much per kw charge
- Number of vehicles you can park
- Do you have toys – ask if there is space to park bikes, motorcycles, boats, trailers, tows, etc.
- Back-in or pull through sites (additional costs?)
- Does it cost extra for additional family members or visitors
- Wi-Fi included
- Are pets welcome or are there restrictions, dog parks
- Age limits on RVs
- Discounts for weekly or monthly stays
- Are you assigned a spot or can you pick a site
- Quiet hours
- Amenities available: Firepits, picnic tables, swimming pool
- Receiving packages
- Refund policies and deposits
Bonus Campground Reservations Do’s and Don’ts Tip
Review the rules before booking. Most campgrounds have their rules posted. Read through them! This is where you may learn things you can and can’t do. Most will not be important to you, but some will.
Rules will also give you an idea of problem areas in a campground because they will have a lot of rules around one issue. There may also be warnings posted. If you really want a campfire but they have fire ban warnings posted, you may want a different campground option.
Do a Google Satellite View
We always check out the campgrounds via satellite. This let’s us see if there are dangerous areas around the campground. We can see if our large rig will fit by seeing other large campers in the campground. And we can look at the entrance and exit to the campground to see if there are potential issues. You can also see how far certain resources are like gas, water, groceries, etc.
Depending on what is important for your RV stay, a satellite view tells a lot about a campground area.
Confirm Check-in and Check-out Dates are Correct
One time we booked a campground and told them the check-in and check-out dates and they quoted us the price. We paid the invoice but failed to notice they had shorted us one day. Then they were knocking on our door asking when we were going to check out. We figured out it was their mistake. It also cost us because they charged us full-price for the day they didn’t include. We had no choice but to pay it due to our schedule.
Check the dates!
Make Sure You Get a Booking Confirmation
We booked and confirmed reservations over the phone with a campground. When we were about an hour away, we called to see what we needed to do on arrival and were told we had no reservation. Turns out there were several snafus on the campgrounds part with writing down wrong addresses, staff not following protocols, etc.
They were able to get us in and admitted to their mistake. Later they found our reservation written down but not completed. We never even thought about a written confirmation via email once we gave our card information over the phone.
Always look for a written confirmation!
Make Sure Your Booking Confirmation Includes All the Details
We were quoted a price over the phone. In our confirmation, it only listed the dates of our confirmed stay. When we arrived at the campground, they told us it would be $100 more. I looked through all my email but unfortunately it was only verbal.
When we turned to walk away the owner said, ‘oh, we do have one in the price range you are talking about, but it is a back-in and has no views’. Which is exactly the spot I had booked with them over the phone. They saw us pull up in a big toy hauler and tried to push the more expensive spot on us.
If I get an incomplete confirmation now, I call them back immediately and request they send a new invoice with the missing details while it is still fresh on their minds.
Make sure your confirmation has the dates, prices, deposit paid, balance due and the amenities that are included (like electric or Wi-Fi).
Call to Confirm Your Arrival the Day Before and One Hour Before
As you can tell from our list of campground reservations do’s and don’ts experiences, calling the day before and one hour before arrival has been critical in helping us sidestep more serious issues. We do this whether we are staying one night or one month.
When calling the hour before we have also been notified that someone is still in our site, so they are going to need to move us to a different spot. It is better to know this before you arrive. That way you aren’t trying to back up in a difficult area or so you can stall a little longer. Hopefully they are gone before you get there.
Calling the day before let’s you avoid stress when you know what you are dealing with up front.
RVing Means Learning from Your List
No matter what, I still learn something new to add to my list of campground reservations do’s and don’ts as we RV across the United States. Always plan your RV trips in detail. Be prepared for the unknown and to adjust your processes as necessary. This will always be a part of the RVing lifestyle.
Even if you don’t follow every step on a campground reservations do’s and don’ts list, the changes and the unexpected might bring you great adventures you never would have had!