10 Commandments of RVing

Recently, Brent Peterson, author of the Complete Idiot Guide's to RVing, wrote "The RVing 10 Commandments" which the Good Sam Club posted on its Facebook page

These guidelines are all encompassing and very much worthwhile reading for anyone and everyone who camps. I wish they could be printed on a leaflet and handed out to every camper. I wish that same leaflet could be stapled to the forehead of certain campers.

The RVing 10 Commandments

While we are different, the core of the RVing community is very much the same. Whether we travel by way of a million dollar custom coach or a second–hand truck camper, enjoy epic Alaskan journeys or prefer simple jaunts to the local Good Sam Park, RVers all seek an enjoyable experience, embrace a pioneering spirit, and demand more from their travel and leisure. As such, it's only fitting that a unifying 10 principles of behavior be forged to govern our actions, our sensibilities, and our communal philosophies. Behold, the RVing 10 Commandments.

1.  I Shall Not Begrudge Nature.  A few crawly insects, campfire smoke that trails your every move, dirt on your shoes, and rain in your hair are a part – not a huge part, hopefully – but a part of the RVing lifestyle. Squirrels scurrying across the aluminum roof, humid southern nights, and softball–sized hail may also come along for the ride. Accept it. Embrace it. Indulge in it. Going outside means time-sharing with plants, animals, and the elements. The outdoors is wonderfully unpredictable. Weather may act as a jealous mistress or a guardian angel. Wildlife is sometimes up close and sort of personal. RV travel is not a cookie cutter proposition. And who would want it any other way? Want predictability? Hole up in the basement.
2.  I Shall Not Snicker at Other's Misfortune.  Is there anything funnier than a first–time RVer on their maiden voyage? Maybe Richard Pryor in his prime, but not much. Just look at what that novice packed – and didn't pack. It's enough to make you double–over. And that sloppy back–in. Very amusing, especially the part when I, err, I mean that poor sap ran over the picnic table and the child's big wheel. Most impressive. However, people please, expunge the urge to mock, giggle, and carry on from your lawn chairs. Resist the temptation to e–mail home about the buffoons across the way. Charity starts in the next campsite. Remember, you were no better once.
3.  I Will Hit the Road.  Unable to remember your last trip? Was it Cape Cod or grandma's house? Either way, it's been too long. Load up and get out of town, preferably some place new, warm, and memorable. Spice things up even further by launching one epic trip every other year. Here's some ideas. Alaska, Mexico, or every Major League baseball park within the season? Remember how recharged you feel after a getaway or how reconnected one gets with family after a week in the trenches? Think of it this way. Every trip taken with the RV further justifies the purchase. Therefore, the more miles you put on the home on wheels, the smarter the decision to join the fold becomes.
4. I Will Be Safe.  Safe living requires more than just desire. After all, we all think we're being careful. But are we really? How many of the following must–have accessories do you actually own? A nationwide roadside assistance plan, a cell phone with a generous roaming option, an emergency roadside kit with all the goodies, non–skid materials on steps and ladders, a polarity tester, and a water purifier? Is the RV properly childproofed? Do you know CPR and the dutiful Heimlich? Are you careful to always pack vital medications, the number of your doctor, and a first aid kit? How are your driving habits? Leave the lead foot at home. And a few more tips. Stay off the roof, don't feed the animals, and whatever you do, be careful where you pullover for the night.
5. I Shall be Quiet – Shhhhh.  People are trying to sleep and you're yelling at the hookups, slamming doors, and revving the engine. Don't you know that sound carries? Always try to remember one little truism when setting up and departing the campsite – if people wanted noise, they would have stayed in the city. I can't stress this enough. Loud talking, hollering about who missed the off–ramp, and imitating "American Idol" with that built–in karaoke machine will win you zero friends at the campground. Yes, your dog is cute, but if she can't stop barking then it's time for a crash course at Behavior School. Give proper thought and respect to those around you. By day, most anything goes. However, early and late hours merit turning down the volume on the children, appliances, and electric guitar.
6. Work Stayeth at Home.  Unless one actually works on the road, there's really no reason for that briefcase along on family trips, is there? I mean, who are you foolin' with that? One may bring the laptop to check scores, stocks, and news. However, I draw the line at working on that PowerPoint presentation, redrafting that company memo, paying bills, and outlining strategies for the family business to sack the competition. Leave that 9 to 5–type stuff at home. We both know it's only to assuage the guilt of taking a vacation. Come on, the kids need a push on the swings. The fish are biting down at the creek. Mom wants a taste–test on the macaroni salad. Get the heart and mind involved in the trip or don't take one at all. Of course, then that would violate the almighty Third Commandment, which we can't have.
7. Will Not Benefit at the Expense of Others.  It's called the "Social Contract." No, there were no lawyers present nor a notary to verify the proceedings, but as far as I'm concerned, we are all obliged to it. In a nutshell, we must all adhere to the binding agreement that says that we will not take liberties. Some Class I examples: driving on the shoulder in stop–dead traffic; short–cutting through campsites to shorten bathroom trips; and emptying holding tanks in inappropriate areas. There are a million more infractions where that comes from, with each transgression seemingly paving the way for others to follow. You don't these kinds of smart–allicky things, right, so don't you start. I think that's why it's called the Golden Rule.
8. Behold, Fire.  Frankenstein was totally off–base with that whole "Fire Bad" thing. It's just the opposite, and no act is a more glaring signal of one's leisure–time spirit building a campfire. You absolutely must "Flame–On," provided the campground owner agrees. But fire–building requires a commitment on our parts; it's not enough to just sit around the campfire, although this is one of the most underrated stress relievers and social conduits in existence. No, we are required – commanded even – to actually cook on fire periodically, at least one breakfast, lunch, and masterful dinner per trip. Don't argue, just cook. It was good enough for the caveman, and it's good enough for you. (Don't' worry, I'll help you eat it.) I don't need to tell you that nothing makes food test better than that subtle (or sometimes not–so–subtle) kiss of flame. And then, all together now, S'mores.
9. Wheneth in Rome (or Disney World)… Somewhere along the line the term "tourist" became a scarlet label, worthy of our contempt. Sounds like the underworkings of a jealous sourpuss to me. I say, booey. I also say hogwash, but I digress. Frankly, it has always been my understanding that to really learn about a place, one must submerge themselves fully in its cultures and practices. That may mean buying the $14 Mickey Mouse ears. It could also mean collecting more than one's fair share of T–Shirts from their travels, a compulsion to venture forth to the world's largest Ketchup bottle, or locking the brakes upon seeing even the dopiest of roadside attractions. I say, do it all. Soak it all in. Act a little frivolous, childish, and basically like someone on vacation does. Go clamming in Cape Cod. Look for stars in Hollywood. Eat a bratwurst in Sheboygan. Eat another one. Enjoy.
10.  I Shall Remember the "Other Ones".  And just who are these people? They're the lost souls stuck in an airport check–in, bedding down in an overpriced motel room, touring Yellowstone in wobbly rental car, or spending the night on Aunt Edna's lumpy pullout couch. The next time that the obstacles of travel grown strong and the thought creeps in that you have it bad, remember that there are those to whom "travel" is wrought with servitude, inconvenience, volatility, and ticket agents on loan from the Kremlin. Believe it, my brothers and sisters, RVing is the way to roll.
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My family (wife and three kids, sometimes the dog) and I have been RV campers since 2007. We own a 2000 Trail-Lite B22 Bantam hybrid, our tow vehicle is a 2006 Trailblazer LT EXT (5.3 V8 with 3.73 Rear Axle Ratio), and our setup includes the Equalizer sway controller. Looking to upgrade the camper in the near future, but until then we get out 2-3 times a month in season.