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What Is the 10-Year Rule at Campgrounds?

You’re proud of your vintage camper. You feel like it has a unique style that makes you stand out from the new cookie-cutter rigs hitting the road these days.

However, the downsides of your old school ride may show themselves the first time you try to make a reservation at certain campgrounds. You find yourself denied simply because of your RV’s age!

It’s known as the “10-year rule,” and we’re breaking down what you need to know about it. 

What Is the 10-Year Rule at Campgrounds?

The 10-year rule is pretty simple – no RVs or trailers older than 10 years are allowed. The idea is to prevent older, poorly maintained rigs from taking up spaces next to families or other campers.

They might not want to see a beat-up RV out their window. Owners will typically ask for details about your rig during the booking process. It’s here where you may find the first signs of trouble. 

Do All Campgrounds Adhere to the 10-Year Rule?

Not by a long shot! Most campgrounds that strictly enforce a 10-year rule are among the highest-end RV parks and resorts. Many other campgrounds routinely grant exceptions or have no restrictions.

You’ll most likely avoid any issues with your camper’s age at public campgrounds like those operated by the local, state, or federal government. These tend to welcome all campers.

Does the 10-Year Rule Apply to Travel Trailers?

In places where the 10-year rule is enforced, it will almost always apply equally to all RVs, be they motorhomes, trailers, or vans. Again, the goal is to prevent poor-quality RVs from ruining the scene at the campground. Owners will likely feel the same whether your older rig can be driven on its own or needs towing. 

How Do You Get Around the 10-Year RV Rule? 

If you’re the owner of an aging rig or considering buying one close to a decade old or older, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to get around this sometimes bothersome rule. 

Maintain Your RV 

The first step happens long before you encounter a campground with a 10-year rule. You should be taking care of your rig regularly to make sure it stays in top shape. That means both cosmetic issues that are visible immediately and mechanical or systems problems that may not be.

Not only will this keep you on the road and out of the repair shop unexpectedly, but it’ll also make skirting 10-year restrictions much easier. 

Call to Ask for Permission and Send Photos of Your RV

If you’ve located an RV park or campground you’d like to visit, but your rig is too old, it’s time to get in touch. Reach out directly to the operators and explain the situation, including your knowledge of the rule and why they would put it in place.

Offer to send photos or videos of your RV to prove it still looks and runs well. In most cases, this will be enough if your rig is well maintained. If the campground still won’t budge, it’s time to move on to other plans. 

Boondock Instead

Boondocking is beloved by many RVers for the freedom it provides. When you’re dry camping in the middle of the wilderness, no one can tell you how old your RV can be or other arbitrary restrictions. Boondocking is also cheap or free, saving you money at the same time.

However, some campers may miss the closeness to town or the amenities of developed campgrounds. 

Buy a Newer RV

If none of these solutions work for you, there’s always one surefire way to avoid the 10-year rule – buy a rig that’s less than a decade old! With a newer RV, you’ll no longer be at the discretion of campground operators who’ll need to give you permission.

This can be expensive and complicated as far as solutions go, but it can be a long-lasting one, as long as your rig isn’t close to the 10-year mark. 

How Many Years Do RVs Last?

How long your rig will stay on the road will depend on a few factors. These include the quality of craftsmanship, materials, amount and nature of how you use it, maintenance records, and any damage you may encounter on the road. There are also some potential differences between motorhomes and trailers due to the reduced mechanical demands of towable RVs.

In some cases, a roughly used, lower-quality RV may not even last a decade, making the 10-year rule irrelevant. However, other rigs can last decades, like the vintage Airstreams that still grace RV parks a generation after they rolled off the line. 

Should I Buy a 10-Year-Old RV? 

Buying a 10-year-old RV can undoubtedly have downsides far beyond the 10-year rule. You’ll miss out on all sorts of modern features. That includes navigation systems and backup cameras to improve handling. You may also deal with more maintenance costs as mechanics work to keep your rig on the road. This is all on top of the additional work you’ll need to do in some cases to find a campground. 

However, it’s not all bad news! Buying an older RV also has its benefits. By spending less on your rig, you’ll have more cash for your travels! Plus, many of the oldest rigs still out there have a vintage style that can look amazing if well maintained. And at the end of the day, the 10-year rule shouldn’t be a big worry – especially now that you have all this knowledge on your side! 

Have you ever encountered the 10-year rule?

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