There’s something special about the return to fall. Not only the cooler temperatures and beautiful colors, but the return of sports – namely, football. One of the most beloved and most watched sports in the country, football seems to get everybody’s blood going with excitement and intensity. Tailgating parties, whether at home, at the campground, or on campus, are events to look forward to. To make your tailgating party with your RV as sweet as a caught Hail Mary touchdown pass, follow these tips.
SCOPE OUT YOUR SITE
Scouting can pay off. First, you need to know if there are any rules or regulations at the school you’re planning to visit. Some examples are restrictions on RV size, whether music or alcohol is allowed, and if you have access to any hookups. You may need to compare locations to make the best call for your intended party crowd. These rules and regulations vary by campus, but campgrounds often have guidelines as well. Noise level, for instance, before and after a certain hour of the day. As many campgrounds fill up far in advance, try to scout out and book a site well in advance of game day. This will require picking the game (and its associated date) well ahead of time. You’ll be better able to have your choice of spots. Maybe choose one that’s at the end of a row or backs up to an open area so that you can have plenty of space for mingling and yard games.
ARRIVE EARLY TO FIND PARKING
Many colleges and universities have passes that you can purchase in advance; however, many also have first come, first serve parking – and you buy the pass when you arrive. There are typically designated parking areas for RVs, and you get a designated spot. You can only reserve a spot for your RV, so if you want to tailgate with other RV owners, then purchase passes at the same time or arrive together to try to keep your spots adjacent. Keep in mind that a parking lot full of RVs, and then the vehicles of other game-goers, is compact. It’s important to keep to your designated spot(s) and not encroach on the spaces of others. Pulling out may be a trick of its own as well. Also, for RV tailgating on college campuses, there is generally no sewer, electrical, or water hookup, so you’ll need to make sure your house batteries are full, your propane tank(s) is full, the freshwater tank is full, and the holding tanks are empty (if your RV has a bathroom and you’re planning to make it available to everyone at the tailgate party).
BRING THE APPROPRIATE GEAR & SUPPLIES
In Michigan, especially in the fall, you need to be prepared for whatever the weather throws at you. It could be very warm, or it could be snowing depending on where game day lands on the schedule. Be sure to have sunscreen, ponchos, towels, umbrellas, fan attire, and an extra layer of clothing. A radio is also helpful, both for listening to the game and to stay apprised of any incoming inclement weather. Bring along folding chairs and small folding tables (think cocktail style to optimize space), a portable propane grill (open flames aren’t allowed at many public places, but this is a different story if you’re at home or at the campsite), trash bags, paper towels (napkins can blow away), and disposable utensils, drinkware, and serving ware. Since tailgating often begins early in the day and way before game time, a lot of people like to bring games along to help pass the time. A flying projectile is generally not a good idea, such as a Frisbee or football, as it could land in another tailgate party. If you do decide to bring or use one of these items, find a very clear spot far away from all the tailgating action. Some RVers like to set up a sanitation station outside the RV, to minimize water usage. A portable water jug, soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and a five-gallon bucket can do the trick, just so people can rinse off excess or messy food, or sanitize their hands after a trip to the bathroom.
PLAN THE MENU ACCORDINGLY
Choose menu items that aren’t fussy. Chips, salsas, fresh fruit, and crackers all make good options. If you want to serve sausage or cheese, pack them neatly in a cooler with plenty of ice, take them out only when needed, and put them away fairly quickly. This is not the case if you’re using battery power or fully hooked up; just use the fridge as best you can for your party food and beverages. If you’re planning on grilling, hot dogs, burgers, and pre-assembled kabobs are sure to satisfy a crowd of hungry football fans. You can choose to serve everything on your own or make it potluck style, with guests bringing along their favorite game day dish.
RESPECT THE RULES & BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS
Keep in mind that most campuses have a policy regarding departure and that parking lots need to be empty within a certain timeframe following the conclusion of a game. At campgrounds and at home, you don’t need to worry about those time restrictions; however, if a game is going later than expected and encroaching on “quiet time,” be mindful and respectful of other campers around you by following the policies put in place by the campground. Make sure to clean up after the game is over and dispose of trash appropriately. Simply putting full trash bags in the RV can be an option until you find a suitable place.