Words and pics Tony and Denyse Allsop
A little courtesy and consideration makes holiday park life so much more pleasant.
Spending time in close contact with strangers can be difficult at times. Lack of consideration or thoughtlessness by people on holiday can spoil others' enjoyment of their time off. This can be quite unintentional.
We have prepared a list of 10 topics and made suggestions to ease the tensions that can arise when staying in holiday parks.
Keeping within the boundaries of your allocated site is basic to the smooth operation of any caravan park. Large RV's, particularly those with slide outs, can cause problems in the smaller sites seen in older parks. It is less than ideal to arrive to find your neighbour encroaching a couple of feet onto your site. This is particularly so if the RV involved is one of those with expanding canvas ends or a camper trailer as noise carries so much more through their non-insulated walls. It is also important to consider your neighbour with the placement of tent pegs. Where vehicle parking is on the road in front of the RV, it is helpful to offer to shift your vehicle if limited turning room is making access to a nearby site difficult.
If using open fires for cooking (where permitted), thoughtful placement to avoid smoking out your neighbour is always appreciated. Most people who smoke do so under their awning rather than inside their vans, and non-smokers prefer not to have smoke percolating in through their windows.
While most parks have quiet time after 9-10pm, constant loud noise at any time of day is unpleasant for those around. Clubs and large groups of friends away for a break are the usual offenders. Most people do not like being subjected to someone else's choice of music for hours either. It is more considerate to use communal areas away from other RV's for large get-togethers, eg. camp kitchen or barbecue area, and to check with neighbours before playing music outside the van.
The other type of annoying noise is that made by early 'departers' and late 'arrivers'. It is surprising how quiet some people can be, but astonishing just how many times vehicle doors can be slammed setting up camp, and whizz-banging is even more disruptive to sleep. The perennial complaint of squeaking corner steadies is easily remedied by frequent, small applications of lubricant.
The 'free hour' offered on some mobile phone plans, combined with our tendency to speak loudly on the phone, can also be intrusive to neighbours at night.
Usually, those of us who enjoy the caravan park lifestyle like to chat to those camped nearby. The travellers' grapevine is very active in parks because you are likely to meet folk who have just travelled the section you are about to tackle. They will have current advice about the best parks, where to buy fuel and places not to miss. Often, we invite people to join us for a coffee or happy hour, and sometimes people invite themselves. We are cool with that as long as they consider us and leave at an appropriate time.
Overstaying is not the worst thing though: many times, we have had a neighbour who seemed to want to keep to himself until he saw us hitching up. Then he would hurry over with a big smile and introduce himself and open a long conversation with a question like "How do you find the Territory?"
Although very inconsiderate, it is not all that uncommon. Please don't do this! In the ensuing frustration, it is very easy to miss items on your check list: we drove over and crushed a triangular wheel chock on one such occasion, and we have heard of others who have driven off with their electric cord plugged in or jockey wheel attached.
It is expected that the amenities, once cleaned, are kept in a hygienic and tidy condition throughout the day. It is surprising that notices to this effect are needed in so many parks. Being a wet area, suitable footwear is important and children require supervision. Smoking in the amenities is a real no-no, and less frequently encountered than in the past.
Particularly in dodgy weather, a fine day will put pressure on laundry facilities. While the timing on the machine is not necessarily exact, park courtesy requires that you be there to remove your clothes to allow others to use the machine. There is no basis to complain if the person waiting removes your load of washing and puts it on a bench. Filters should be cleaned just as you would at home.
It would be wonderful if people with dogs would shake their own clothes and mats before washing to minimise dander, and (of course) never wash dog coats or blankets in 'human' machines. In Esperance years ago, we had a fine day and washed our denim jeans and jackets only to have them covered in matted dog hair. Not happy!
Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park has a separate laundry with dog wash facility for washing dogs and their blankets, an idea that could be copied by dog parks.
With significant price increases in recent years, these items form a sizeable part of the cost base for a park, but one of the more controllable ones. We have spoken to several park managers who have put monitors on power boxes when considering charging separately for power. They found that over eight dollars per day is being used by some of the larger rigs, and this is more than most people would pay for power at home.
It is disappointing to see air conditioners turned on as part of setting up on site, and being left to run continuously, often with open windows and doors, regardless of whether the vanners are inside. Turning off the outside light on the van when retiring saves power and stops light shining in neighbours' windows.
A bit of thread-sealer tape on dripping tap connections can save many litres of water.
Only one 15A power cord should be used per site. Double adaptors and extension leads are illegal and dangerous, particularly in wet weather. Annual tagging and testing of power leads is a requirement in some parks.
Wasting power and water is not good for the planet and results in higher site fees.
Newer parks have individual sullage points, but others still have communal concrete drainage points with metal grates, and some have none at all. In these cases, food scraps and grease can cause odour and health issues and attract vermin and scavenging birds. It is never okay to allow your sullage water to run on to neighbouring sites: this needs careful attention by vanners who use their on-board showers and washing machines.
In drought affected areas, park operators commonly ask that grey water be run onto trees, if low-phosphate detergents are used. In other cases, it is best to use sullage points when available.
Fittings in caravan park amenities and camp kitchens wear out, and are deliberately damaged and stolen. Safety matters are usually addressed quickly by management. However, maintenance issues can go un-noticed because cleaning staff don't actually use the facilities. Alerting management can mean that the next person to use the shower has hooks to hang their clothes, or the door will lock, leaving a better impression of the park.
It is reasonable to assume that locks on amenities and laundries are there because they were being used by outsiders. The same applies to boom gates. Unfortunately, not everyone is honest, so keys and codes should not be shared. However, we do take a more pragmatic approach when an obviously stressed person cannot remember the code for the numeric keypad on the amenities door.
Coastal parks in particular are easily accessed by thieves. It is good practise to stow or secure items before retiring, and to remind neighbours to do so. Fridges, barbecues and fishing gear are commonly targeted.
Because of the shared roads, parks have low speed limits and often regulate the use of bikes, scooters and skate boards. Child safety is a joint responsibility of parents and the park.
It is very tempting, but resist feeding any wildlife in parks. The next campers on your site may not appreciate having birds land on their table when food is served. Apart from polluting your slab and becoming aggressive, some birds (particularly the parrot family) carry diseases that can be contracted from their droppings.
Hopefully a little more attention to the (written and unwritten) rules will make the caravanning lifestyle more appealing.
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