Vanlife & Camping Courtesies – the unspoken rules on the road

When travelling around, your neighbours can differ on a daily basis – here are our tips to keep the peace and not ruin anyone’s holiday!

  1. If you arrive late to camp – do so as quietly as possible!
Starry skies over the Southern Grampian ranges near Hamilton, Victoria AUS.

There is nothing worse than being camped out in a remote part of the country to enjoy the scenery, serenity, and nature only to have someone literally disturb the peace. Leave the music off or for on your headphones only.

2. When you arrive to camp if there is plenty of sites available, do not camp right next to other people unless they invite you to do so.

If you give your neighbours plenty of space – there’s more room to spot the local wildlife from the comforts of camp! Find this spot at Hat Head National Park in New South Wales, AUS.

A lot of people go camping to get away from the compact living of suburbia and rolling right up to someone when there is plenty of room is pretty rude. Always try to explore around when arriving because often individual campgrounds are all connected by a road and you only need keep going to find a private paradise!

3. If you must play music – keep it within your camp and try to play it when other people are away from camp.

Early mornings are particularly sacred for peace and serenity in campgrounds to avoid lots of loud music!

Music has to be one of the top complaints of bad neighbours when camping. We don’t all enjoy the same genre. The worst possible time you can play music is after 10 pm until 10 am since some people do sleep and children are typically in bed earlier. Of course if you’re alone it’s alright but also consider if there are houses in the vicinity or it is a warm night. In the summer heat, people need to cool down and open their windows but without the musical interruptions.

4. Don’t litter and leave mess around camp.

Always be thoughtful and considerate of responsibly disposing waste not only for your neighbours, future travellers and the community but native wildlife too.

This should go without saying but firstly it looks terrible, it attracts animals into camp (for all the wrong reasons), other people have to now clean up your mess and it damages a facility for the public and the environment. By trashing these camp spots – locals complain and begin to request closing campsites. There are now even charities that make a point of cleaning up after travellers – please ensure they do not need to follow you! Free and low cost campgrounds are a privilege not a right so respect volunteers and communities hospitable & willing enough to provide them!

5. If you bring pets camping have them under control at all times.

Many bird species use coastline sand dunes to nest and are easily disturbed if signs are not observed to keep dogs on leash at particular seasons of the year in Australia.

We know you love your dog. We may not love your dog as much, especially if it decides to take off with our lunch though. We have seen dogs wander into other people’s camping areas and it’s a quick way to annoy neighbours. Some campgrounds will have no mercy and fine you if your dog is spotted away or off leash. If you know your dog isn’t well behaved, always have it on a leash or check it into a kennel for it’s own holiday please. Also relentless barking is has a very similar effect to obnoxiously loud music. National Parks are also strictly off limits to fido! These rules are not without reason. Dogs are the biggest spreaders of pest species and cinnamon fungus which wipes out entire populations of grass trees.

6. Respect public facilities.

It may look like carpet but this is not your living room! Moss carpeting the pathway at McKenzie River Rainforest Walk, Victoria, AUS.

Facilities available to you when camping ANYWHERE are a privilege and not a right. Use them as intended, keep them tidy and do not abuse them (like stealing all the toilet paper from cubicles). This is another point that will deter councils, volunteer groups and private landowners from providing camps both free and paid. While public facilities are useful travelling on the road do not abuse them. The water fountains are for a quick rehydration, maybe filling a water bottle at best – not topping up your entire water supply or brushing your teeth in them.

7. Listen to and respect local knowledge, authorities and staff.

Australia is no stranger to natural disasters like bushfires – always listen to advice of emergency services and follow alternate directions if given. Check out our How to find a campsite in Australia article for all the state road websites for recent traffic updates.

These people usually come into contact with campers/travellers to keep them safe, look after the facilities for everyone, protect and conserve the local environment and give visitors the best experience on offer. Every place will have different rules and if you cannot abide by those rules please move on without complaint. Australia is not only variable council to council for local laws but also in it’s cultures and while you may not always understand the rules & requests – there is usually a good reason behind them.

8. Be mindful on the road of who is sharing it with you. The bigger the vehicle, the more allowance they need to brake and avoid hazards

Busy, narrow roads like Victoria’s Great Ocean Road demand full attention when driving them for your safety!

While you might be on holiday it’s a good courtesy to let other people in a hurry or less agile past when a safe place to pull over is available. Travel on the road will 100% be the most dangerous activity you do the entire time and we highly recommend educating yourselves if you are travelling in a bigger vehicle than you typically would drive. Such education could save your lives and others. This includes stopping regularly for breaks with fatigue.

9. People camp for all different reasons. It’s ok to say hello but don’t impose on other travellers’ plans.

Whatever reason you travel for – don’t impede on others plans unless you’ve been invited to!

Respect the reasons people may be camping and don’t assume that you know. While 20 campers may be off to a music festival close by – the other 3 may really be trying to appreciate the bird life in an area. A little consideration goes a long way and friendly connections will ensure fellow travellers are willing to help if you find yourself in mechanical issues or needing tips for the road ahead.

10. If a sign has any indications of “no camping” either illustrated or written – do not attempt to camp there.

Different campgrounds will rule what mode of camping is permitted but if a blanket “no camping” is signed respect the request and move on. Tasmania is well known for it’s numerous low cost & free campgrounds widespread across the state!

If signs have been put in place, it’s because you are not welcome there and you should expect to risk a penalty of some kind for camping. If you arrive at night, you will need to be extra vigilant not to miss a sign because there are some heavy fines in Australia. Locals are probably pretty alert to who is around in their street if “no camping” signs have been put up and will not accept arriving at night as an excuse for missing a sign. Don’t even attempt Byron Bay 🙂

Published by Kiri Borgas

Curiosity has guided me, travel has grown my dreams and the natural world has inspired and excited me. This is how I've become a tiny home lover and van dweller - learning all I can with my fiancé to share a passion for the world around us.

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