How much space is enough between neighbours when camping?

One of the reasons I love to free camp is that, we generally have a bit more room between neighbours than one does in a commercial RV or caravan park. Every now and again you come across selfish or plain inconsiderate people that do not think of anyone but themselves. What might seem perfectly acceptable and reasonable to you may have the person next to you going off the deep end in righteous fury.

Experience #1

We had one such experience recently. A very selfish motorhome/bus neighbour parked right along side our friend's rig. I like to believe he was just plain thoughtless rather than deliberately provocative, but he parked with one of his bins, the one with the generator in it, lined up less than 2m from our friend's caravan door. When questioned he states that he parked here, “because he wanted to have the water on tap to do his washing." He then proceeded to have his gennie running for hours at a time. (BTW There were quite a few other taps in this park that were 'vacant' at the time but none of the taps are meant for exclusive use by any one!)

It was easy enough to 'fix' since our friends just partly packed up and moved away from them rather than put up with such rude neighbours. Actually this is how we met as they moved to an area a bit closer to us and we joined together for happy hour - our gain!

Experience #2

I recall another time when we were camped in a National Park on the banks of a lovely lake in Queensland. We were set up there for about 36 hours when a young family moved rather close. We thought it a little odd, but we just quietly put up with it. They spread out with a tent for themselves and the kids had a couple of smaller tents amongst themselves. They had a canoe which often was 'parked' right in front of us. The next day, they had friends or family join them and another lot of tents were set up plus a large marque. Some of the teenager's tents were so close to our slideout that you could hardly walk around our bus. One had to step over their guy ropes etc. Apparently it was the beginning of the local school holidays and they were going to stay there for a week.

The coup de grĂ¢ce for us was when their extra friends brought a jet ski and parked the trailer right across the front of us between our motorhome and the water's edge so that they didn't restrict the beach access for their family and friends from their own tent sites. We asked them to move the trailer but then they set up a tent almost in front of the motorhome. It was obvious that they were not going to be considerate of us. At this stage we just shut up and put up as we were moving on the next day any way.

Normally we don't leave until something like 10 or 11am as Rob likes to sleep in and relax over breakfast then get moving maybe around 10am or so. This time, we got up nice and early and then told them they had to move the tent in front of us, which wasn't used for sleeping, as it would likely get damaged as we drive out of our location. They were very unhappy to do as requested. There was a 1 metre high wall behind us so there was no way we could reverse. As we left I asked why they parked so close to us when there were plenty of room else where for their large group with water frontage too. Their answer was “This is our spot. We come here every year and we always camp right here!!!” I guess you can get bogans anywhere (I think the closest American slang would be rednecks).

Good neighbour space etiquette

Everyone has their own idea of personal space and this applies to camping too. So what is a good etiquette to adopt? ‘Too close’ will vary according to each camper, so it is best to err on the side of caution and set up as far away from your neighbour as room allows esp when there are no designated site markers. If space is tight and you’re in a position where you may need to camp closer than you think they’d like, a smile,  a chat with the neighbours before parking and an acknowledgment of the difficulty goes a long way. Similarly, if you think someone is pitched too close to you, a quick move or a polite chat should sort things out before you’re smouldering as much as your campfire.
Also be aware that if you’re camping with children and or pets, that not everyone loves them as you do, do your best to make sure they don’t disrupt or annoy other campers.

Someone at Lets Go Travel Australia wrote a brilliant piece about Camping Etiquette in general covering Generators, noise, alcohol consumption, disposal of rubbish, emptying the toilet etc.

So play nice, and lets ensure that it is happy camping for everyone.