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Introduction: What is Boondocking?
Boondocking is the act of “dry” camping in a remote location or wild area. It usually means you are outside of any developed campground and free to explore where you please.
Some people think it’s just for RVers who don’t want to pay, but there are so many benefits that anyone can take advantage of boondocking – especially if they’re an outdoor enthusiast!
What is Boondocking?
Boondocking is camping in remote areas away from the hustle and bustle of a typical campground. There are no hookups, no site numbers, no picnic tables, you don’t have a swimming pool or a put-put golf course around the corner.
You won’t get the friendly camper wave as you pull your rig in to park. You also won’t have a bunch of looky-loos watching as you try to back into your narrow spot.
There are a lot of things that boondock camping is and a lot of things that it isn’t. It is not a packed resort with a ton of amenities and cable hookups for you to watch your favorite television show. On the flip side, you won’t have electrical outlets to run your air conditioner for those hot summer afternoons.
If you are an outdoor enthusiast ready to explore and hike, and you own a self-sustaining recreational vehicle that has a large water holding tank and a generator, boondocking may be the lifestyle you are looking for.
Where Can You Boondock?
If you know where to look, there are many places in the United States that you can camp for free with your RV. You just have to have the right app on your phone or know what to type into your search bar and you will be on your way to finding the perfect boondocking site for your next adventure.
Typing in the term “dispersed camping” will assist you in finding many locations where boondocking is legal and available.
Bureau of Land Management or BLM is another great place to search or look for boondocking opportunities.
Some National Parks allow boondocking. Do your homework prior to planning on dry camping in a national park.
** Paid Boondocking:
Boondocking has become so popular (RVing has become so popular it is no surprise that boondocking has as well) that there are annual membership programs for boondocking.
Harvest Hosts is an annual membership program that charges $99 per year and has over 2005 (always adding more hosts) wineries, breweries and farms to camp at across the country.
You are allowed to stay one night per visit in any of the places for free after you pay the annual fee. There is always a sign-up special running. It is a fantastic deal. For a review of Harvest Hosts check out this article.
Boondockers Welcome, like Harvest Hosts, is a membership program that allows you to stay at a specific location after paying the annual membership fee. Boondockers Welcome charges an annual fee of just $50 and has over 2900 locations to stay at.
Moochdocking is the RV version of couch surfing. It is technically when you are using a space and not paying for it. It is similar to boondocking in that it is “dry camping.” There are no hookups.
You can moochdock at many places for free including in a friend’s driveway (if it isn’t against their HOA..ha ha). Or in any of the places listed below. Be aware of posted signs and city ordinances before moochdocking. Also be sure to contact business management before overnight moochdocking!!
Some truck stops have RV parking. If there is RV parking DO NOT park in trucker parking. Some truck stops charge for overnight parking.
Some Walmarts allow overnight parking. Be sure to follow all rules and ask permission prior to parking. Only park where you are told to. See this article for more information.
Some Lowes or Home Depot managers allow RV parking.
Most Cracker Barrel restaurants have designated RV parking. It is customary to stay only one night. Ask management prior to an overnight stay. Stay only one night. Be sure to purchase a meal.
Many rest stops have designated RV parking, like truck stops, do not park in truck-only parking if there is RV parking. Be sure to check the signs before parking overnight. Some don’t allow this.
Is Boondocking Safe?
Boondocking is very safe. Some people consider it to be safer than staying in many campgrounds. There is less theft due to fewer people. Most people report that it is very safe. If you are worried about it there are many precautions that you can take.
Make sure to lock everything up. Lock your doors, outside compartments, and tow vehicle. Always let someone know where you are.
It is very important to stay connected. Have a great wireless cellular plan and maybe even a backup. Check out this article for more information on that.
Read reviews on the area before you go. And most importantly, trust your gut. If you feel unsafe in the area once you arrive, you are in an RV, pack up and go.
Is Boondocking Legal?
Boondocking is legal as long as you are in a place that is legal for you to park at and you follow all of the rules. It is very important to do your research on the area that you plan to camp at before you leave.
Make sure to research campfire laws and regulations, how long you are allowed to stay, pet leash laws, firearms laws, and more.
It is up to you to know all of the legalities of the area that you plan to visit. Leave no trace. Do not damage the land. Clean up after yourself. Do not dump your waste tanks!! Do not leave trash. Do not cut down plants or trample any on your drive!
Boondocking Tips and Tricks: Things to Consider
Be sure to bring enough water to drink, brush your teeth and bathe. You will be surprised at how fast you can go through it. You will also need water for flushing the toilet.
Do NOT dump your black tank in any place other than a designated dump station.
Be aware of how much water you are putting down the gray tank. Maybe save some in a bucket to use to flush the toilet. Be inventive.
Be kind to the land and local animals.
Know the area and local legalities.
Lock up and keep safe. Bring a first aid kit and extra tools in case of emergency.
Have a way to contact people in case of emergency. Have a roadside assistance plan in place.
A generator is a great tool for hot or cold temperatures or general electrical needs.
Have sanitary wipes and learn quick showering techniques in order to conserve water.
Helpful Apps for boondocking
There are tons of free apps available to assist in finding places to boondock. There are also apps for finding places to dump black and gray water tanks.
Campendium: With the Campendium app, you can search for free available campsites by area and see reviews. The app, itself is free to add. It has a subscription fee of $20 per year to use all of its features.
ioverlander: Has all of the information that you need for boondocking. It has boondocking areas, dump stations, comfort station information, reviews, and more. It is organized and run by volunteers so it is free. They ask that if you like the app that you contribute by donation.
Thedyrt: The dyrt app contains information about all free and paid camping options in the United States. It contains information about camping, boondocking, and RV parks to stay at for a fee. This app covers public lands and county parks.
It is free to upload but can be upgraded to the pro version for $30.
RVDumpStations: This app will assist you in finding RV dump stations near you. This is very important in keeping up with your boondocking lifestyle. This is a highly rated app that costs $0.99.
Pros and Cons of Boondocking
The boondocking lifestyle comes with a lot of pros and cons. Let’s take a look at a few of the positives and a few of the negatives to assist in helping you decide if it is the correct way to travel for you and your family.
There are so many benefits of boondocking in an RV. Here are a few
*You can travel to remote places that you would never be able to get to otherwise. This is a great opportunity for those who love the outdoors and exploring new areas.
*It’s cheaper than RV parks or other accommodations, which allows more money in your pocket.
*The experience of boondocking will allow you to get away from the noise of the typical RV parks and campgrounds.
There are fewer people and you get to really appreciate and enjoy the outdoor experience.
There may be some deterrents to boondocking in a recreational vehicle. Here are a few. :
- It is possible to run out of supplies such as fuel for electricity or become stranded in an emergency.
- It may be difficult for roadside service to locate you in an emergency.
- The lack of amenities and hookups make boondocking more inconvenient than standard RV camping.
Conclusion: What is Boondocking?
Boondocking is the practice of camping in an RV without hookups. It’s a great way to save money and enjoy the outdoors, but it can be hard for beginners who don’t know where or how to start. We hope this guide has helped you get started with boondocking by giving you some basics on what dry camping entails.
We have introduced some helpful boondocking tips and tricks. If you have any more questions about dry camping or boondocking, feel free to ask us below or contact us at [email protected]!
What are your favorite things about boondocking? Tell us your best tip for newbies looking to give dry camping a try!
if you are looking for a great place to hike in a national park, while boondocking, check out this article.
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Hello! My name is Cortney. I am 45 years old. I live full time in a 33 foot airstream trailer with my husband of 21 years. I run my own business out of my tin can and love living small. I have two grown kids and three pets. I have worn many hats including mental health counselor and truck driver. My husband is prepping for retiring from the Navy in the next five years. He has been serving for over 22 years faithfully.