Have you been offered a driveway camping spot for an RV after the fire? Lucky you!
This can be a rewarding experience for the host and guest, but it can also be a potential hassle if you don’t do your homework ahead of time. Driveways are not campgrounds, and as such require a bit of extra planning and knowledge to create a successful experience for everyone.
PLANNING WITH THE NEIGHBORS
Always check FIRST with the municipal ordinances dictated by the county or city BEFORE before you get there. You must abide by those or the situation will not be allowed to last.
Know the rules of the neighborhood. Sometimes rules posed by home owners associations (HOA) can be unfriendly to RVs. We can hope the neighbors understand that if the county is in a state of emergency, that they understand the ECONOMIC RECOVERY PROBLEM APPLIES TO EVERYONE, including those whose homes weren’t destroyed.
Never assume that just because you see other RVs in driveways and yards that this practice is allowed. The owner of that RV may have already arranged for permission. It would be wise to make friends with that person and this will create a better experience for everyone.
ARRIVAL PLANNING WITH YOUR HOST
Aside from not breaking the community rules, the number one consideration when driveway camping is will you fit? RVs come in a wide range of sizes and shapes.
Therefore, it goes without saying that a camper van is going to fit in a lot more driveways than a 45-foot motor home. While your host might assure you that there’s plenty of room, you should still ask them to measure. (Non-RVers don’t have a good grasp on how much room RVs need.) While they’re measuring for size also ask them to take note of any low hanging trees or power lines on the site and to look for the same on the driving approach to their home.
Not only do RVs take up lots of space, but they also weigh a ton (actually, most weigh several tons). Since the last thing you want is to leave unsightly marks behind, make sure your parking spot can handle the weight of the RV. This is especially critical if you plan to park in the yard or on the grass. Chances are you won’t be invited to continue staying if you tear up the lawn or crack the driveway.
Ask about the configuration of the driveway or yard. Are there any sharp turns? What about steep grades? Does the driveway have a significant dip or bump where it meets the street? Access is VERY important.
Arrive with plenty of daylight for adequate light while siting and leveling the RV. If you have to back up a hill and make a 90 degree turn, you will need lots of light and patience. Study the satellite view of the surrounding area on Google. Don’t hesitate asking for help backing in. Remember to “stop, park, get out, look, and then go.
Have a look around the site before pulling in to get a good feeling for how you want to be positioned. You RV should have the door side pointing toward the available space where you can have tables and chairs.
Show up with empty waste tanks, a full water tank, and the ability to be flexible with power usage. sometimes it can be a few days before the hook-ups are completely available.
OVERVIEW ON UTILITIES AND SET UP
Once parked, start leveling your RV. Use the built in system if you have one, otherwise you will need leveling blocks.
- Fresh water is the easiest utility to acquire when driveway camping. All you need is a hose long enough to reach your RV.
- A water pressure regulator is recommended when connecting to a hose, since RV plumbing is less sturdy than house plumbing.
- RVs typically use what a standard household 15 amp outlet provides, but occasionally a little more when running an A/C or a microwave. This means that if you plug in, you’re going to need to be mindful of your usage and the circuit box will need to do it’s job of shutting you down until you adapt your usage.
- You will need an adapter for a household outlet. Keep in mind that an adapter allows power to flow through the cord, but it won’t convert 15A into 30A. Therefore, conserving power and being mindful of how much power you’re using at one time is crucial, until you upgrade the electrical options. (In other words don’t expect to run the AC while blow drying your hair or running the microwave. I guarantee if you do that, your host won’t be happy.)
SEWER: This is the holy grail of RV driveway camping.
- Unless this is a sewer outlet that is used often, check it first by dumping a small amount of clean water.
- Make sure your connections are tight!
- If the sewer outlet is far away, consider a product like the Sewer Solution that allows you to pump the sewage over long distances and up slight grades.
- We think that connection to public sewer requires using a backflow device and we are looking into that now.
- Ideally there will be no low spots and have a sloping grade to the sewer connection. You can use sewer hose supports to make that process simpler. Do NOT leave your black water tank open. This creates a problem called pyramiding and will clog your tank.
ETIQUETTE AFTER ARRIVAL WITH YOUR HOST
- You may have brought your own house with you, but you’re still a house guest. Try to be a good guest by being considerate, communicating about expectations, and leaving your hosts a small token of appreciation.
- Don’t overstay your welcome. (Remember that while parking in their driveway, you are most likely disrupting their normal routine.) Set expectations regarding the limit of your stay ahead of time. If you’re staying with relatives or good friends they might offer an open-ended invitation.
- If a water hose has to stretch 50 feet across the lawn and driveway and then drape over the porch railing, get a longer hose to route it better, so it is neither a trip hazard or a visible nuisance.
- Depending on what amenities you use, it is prudent to chip in money to cover utility costs or offer something kind in return.
- Give thank you gifts. Their kindness toward you at this time is an immeasurable gift of comfort and security in a very difficult housing market post-fire. Aside from monetary gifts, here are a few ideas for how to thank your hosts.
- A home cooked meal. Everyone likes to eat.
- A trinket that makes their living experience easier or more enjoyable.
- Offer to do some household chores. Things like mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, or cleaning the inside of their house.
ETIQUETTE WITH THE NEIGHBORS
Remember the neighbors. Keep in mind that driveway camping is not the same as staying in a campground. Chances are the neighbors are within sight and who may or may not be thrilled about the presence of an RV in their neighborhood.
How they feel about presence of the RV depends on the guest’s behavior, most of the time. Sometimes they are just grumpy neighbors. If so, this is an exercise in being nice when they aren’t. They might work out whatever their issue is, and it might not even have anything to do with you.
Try to keep the peace by being considerate.
- Keep noise to a minimum.
- Do not use your generator, EVER, if they can hear it. (They stink anyhow! Try solar!)
- Keep music and other noise to a reasonable level so everyone can enjoy the serenity of their own personal space.
- Between 8pm and 8am, don’t many any noise. Keep voices, music, and laughter to a level that won’t disturb others.
- Don’t leave outside lights on that could shine in the neighbor’s windows, ever.
- Keep your pets under control. That means no barking, keep pets confined to your space or on leash, and no pooping on anyone’s space without immediate cleanup.
- Unleashed dogs often create anxiety among others dogs, small kids, or people who simply don’t like dogs. Please don’t assume because you love your dog, everyone else will.
- Don’t leave your dog home alone in your RV, especially in the summer. It can kill them without A/C.
- Campfires are NOT RECOMMENDED. People are very disturbed by fire right now. Even a candle. Please respect that.
- Keep your space around you clean and tidy. Never leave trash or food scraps outside at night where it could attract animals. If possible leave it even better than when you arrived.
- Smile. Be friendly. While you don’t need to make life long friends with everyone you encounter, make an effort to greet people with a smile when you pass by and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. Part of the fun of living in different environments is meeting people from all walks of life and sharing a moment.
If that all sounds helpful, reasonable and you are ready to invest yourself into this unique housing option, then please move on to the next phase of getting your new home set up.
Best wishes to you in your recovery!