A Quick Guide to Labor Day Camping in Your RV

A Quick Guide to Labor Day Camping in Your RV

Happy Labor Day Sign

Labor Day, held this year on September 5th, is often regarded as the last weekend of summer; pools close after the holiday, school starts back up for many, and cooler temperatures are creeping in. While summer doesn’t officially end until the near end of the month, Labor Day is always celebrated on the first Monday of September to recognize the contributions of the American workforce. One of the most popular ways Americans choose to celebrate the holiday weekend is by taking a camping trip.

RV Park With Campers

Make Reservations Early

With Labor Day weekend only a few days away, it may be challenging to secure a reservation if you have not done so already, as they typically fill up fast for the holiday weekend. If you have a reservation at a campground, it is a good idea to call and verify your reservation a few days before leaving and bring along a hard copy of your reservation to have on hand. Even with a reservation, campers should expect campgrounds to be quite busy during the holiday weekend.

If you have not made a reservation yet, there are still ways you can try and secure a camping spot. Many private campgrounds will have a call list for last-minute cancellations that you can call ahead and get added to. Since you are banking on someone else canceling, this isn’t a guaranteed option, but if you live within a few hours of the campground, it may be worth considering.

No Reservation, No Problem!

Chairs Around A CampfireIf you do not have a reservation lined up or would like to bypass the crowded campgrounds, boondocking is always an option! Boondocking also referred to as dispersed camping, refers to RV camping outside of a designated campground without access to any utility hookups. Boondocking in your RV can mean anything from a night spent in the Wal-Mart parking lot to 2 weeks in a remote forest. The former requires little to no planning, unlike the latter, which requires extensive forethought and preparation. Places like Wal-Mart are great for RVers when you can’t quite reach your destination without a quick nap break, but for the full camping experience, nothing beats a venture out into the woods with no particular destination in mind.

Generally speaking, dispersed camping is allowed anywhere on federal public lands within a certain distance from established roads unless otherwise specified. The United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management monitor and regulate most dispersed camping areas, so you should rely on them for the most accurate and current information.

Prepare Your Vehicle

According to Murphy’s Law, what can go wrong, will go wrong and will often be at the worst possible time. If you are traveling with your family in an RV during a busy holiday weekend, the last thing you want is a broken-down rig on the side of the road. While some things can’t be avoided, you can be prepared to handle potential issues if they occur. You can also take steps ahead of time to reduce the likelihood of a breakdown. If you are pulling a trailer or other towable, be sure to inspect it ahead of time in addition to your vehicle.

PMIs, or preventative maintenance inspections, are a systematic check of your RV and equipment to identify potential problems before taking your trip. If you’re new to RVing, check out a few of the many resources that are available on what a routine PMI should look like and how to address common issues.

Plan/Prep Your Meals

Kebabs On FoilEveryone loves a Labor Day barbeque, but you don’t want to spend most of your camping trip in the kitchen getting meals ready! Try to prepare as much of your meals as possible before leaving for your trip, and check for fire advisories if you plan to grill over an open flame.

Start with non-perishable items that can be safely stored in your rig for a few days before leaving. Snacks are a camper’s best friend and will certainly be helpful during the drive. Check out Healthy Tips for RV Trips for breakfast, lunch, and snack options on the road. Perishable food items do not stay fresh as long, so prep has to be done closer to your trip date. Vacuum sealers are a great option that can extend the life of perishable items and may allow you to prep more ahead of time.

Regarding grilling, you will need to check that the area you are camping in does not have any advisories out against fires. Depending on the season and environmental conditions, fire bans may be in place due to a dangerously high potential of forest fires at any given time. Part of responsible camping is being aware of the restrictions in place and adhering to them. It may be wise to have a backup option if it’s possible that fires are not allowed during your trip.

Pack Accordingly

You can never fully trust a weather forecast, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to check when packing for your Labor Day camping trip. The transition between late summer and early fall is often accompanied by more drastic temperature changes throughout the day, with days that are still pretty warm but nighttime temperatures that are beginning to fall. Even if you need a light jacket in the morning, you may still be trying to escape the heat come afternoon. Layers are your best friend for late summer camping; keep that in mind!

Check Travel Route for Construction & Traffic Delays or Road Closures

Expect Delays Road SignOn a 3-day holiday weekend, traffic and road congestion is unavoidable. You can try to leave at off times for travel, but depending on your schedule, there may not be an off-time. You should still check for road closures and active construction routes.

If you are traveling to a new area, there may be local events scheduled that will impact your route. For example, the Mackinac Bridge is closed on Labor Day from 6:30 am until noon for the Annual Bridge Walk. The only option during this time for vehicles needing to cross is via ferry. It could majorly disrupt your travel plans if you were unaware of this and trying to head home after the weekend.

It’s always a good idea to update your navigation devices before a trip so that road closure information is the most up-to-date. 

What are your Labor Day plans? Do they include your RV? Let us know in the comments!

Aug 30th 2022 Molly Muhs

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