Who’d doesn’t want to get away from it all? If you’re thinking about leaving society behind, boondocking is the way to go! It can be an enjoyable experience for sure—hitching up your RV, heading off the grid, and enjoying some peace and quiet! If you’re fortunate enough to adopt a total boondocking lifestyle and want to do it full time, there are many things to consider! Follow these tips for long-term boondocking and you can head out already knowing all the ins and outs of living a life of freedom!
What Exactly Is Boondocking?
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, boondocking (also known as dry camping and dispersed camping) is simply camping without hookups, usually in a remote location! Most campers enjoy camping without the restrictions and close proximity to others you’d find in campgrounds, and many like to opt for boondocking because it is, in many cases, absolutely free or considerably inexpensive!
If you want to get into long-term boondocking but aren’t sure where to begin, that’s okay! There are a lot of things you should know before you ever decide that you’re going to delve into dry camping, so use these tips to start off on the right foot!
Choosing a Boondocking Location
Unfortunately, boondocking isn’t as easy as just setting up camp wherever it looks good. There are a lot of restrictions and laws in place that prevent RVers from just parking and camping out. Luckily, there is a lot of land at your disposal! There is plenty of public land available for dry camping, and land managed by various public agencies like the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and many others that offer spots for dry camping, but you’ll want to call ahead for any rules that apply to the specific agency’s land.
If you really don’t know where to start, there is a plethora of resources out there for you! Check out some RV blogs from actual RVers out there living the boondocking dream, look up some online forums or groups, and check for websites that list great spots to dry camp.
Really, the world is your oyster, and as long as camping is allowed in your desired destinations, you can go practically anywhere! Set up in some of America’s most beautiful forests, or head out to the desert for the most breathtaking mountain views. It’s all up to you—you’re in control!
Your first thoughts when learning about boondocking may have been something along the lines of, How can we live without power? Stop right there—you don’t have to! RVs, especially newer model RVs, come equipped for dry camping, and can easily be optimized to live life off the grid!
Almost every one of our RVs for sale in Grand Rapids has some sort of LP or propane setup to help power some of the RV’s systems when electricity isn’t available! It’s a great resource, and won’t cost you too much in the long run. Depending on how often you run certain appliances, you might only need to refill about every three weeks or so, more or less.
Since you won’t really be relying on electricity, and because propane won’t power everything, a generator can be of great use to you while dispersed camping! They’re similar to residential generators, but are obviously portable and just large enough to power your RV or motorhome. There are a variety out there, and your RV may even come standard with one!
One of the most sustainable ways to do dispersed camping is to install a solar power system on your RV! Several newer RVs come prepped for solar panels, so installation is considerably easier. This is the most sustainable, self-sufficient way to go boondocking!
Initial costs of adding a solar power system to your RV can be quit expensive, but in the long run, it will be well worth it! There is a lot of calculation to be done, and you’ll need to familiarize yourself with RV electrical systems in order to create the most beneficial solar power setup for your dry camping needs!
Efficient Water Usage
Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of dry camping is its lack of community bathroom. It’s super convenient to be able to run to the bathhouse when you want to save water by skipping a shower in the RV, of if you want to do some heavier business to try to keep your black tanks cleaner. Unless you plan on taking water bottle showers for the foreseeable future, now is the time to calculate water usage!
Once you know how much water you normally use, you can begin to cut back on water as much as possible! With that being said, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a second, portable fresh water holding tank that you can take along with you! Many use a 12 volt water pump to transfer the water to their RV.
Speaking of holding tanks, you’ll have to decide whether it’s most convenient for you to fill up your holding tanks as you leave one destination for another, or to fill up once you’re closer to your destination. On one hand, if you fill up before leaving, it’s one less thing you’ll have to do when you arrive to your new spot. On the other, the added weight of all that water can mess up your fuel economy, which can be super costly.
Weigh your options to see which works best for you! If you’re having trouble or are unsure where to find RV dump stations, websites like sanidumps.com and rvdumps.com can help you locate nearby dump stations!
What’s more, you’ll want a large supply of drinking water to bring along with you. You’ll want something that tastes fresh, so pick up some gallons or larger jugs of water so your thirst will never get out of control and you’ll end up having to take an unplanned trip into town for more water.
If you plan on traveling with more tech-friendly people, the thought of heading out to the middle of nowhere can sound like a downright scary venture. What about cell phone reception? What about an Internet connection? Oh, the humanity! It’ll be ok! It’s totally possible to still get strong Wi-Fi connections, even when boondocking!
If you get decent cell phone reception, you could simply use your phone for your day-to-day interactions. If you work while on the road, you’ll want something stronger, like your own dedicated hotspot, or even possibly a satellite dish. Do your homework and come up with your own pros and cons list to determine which option is best for you!
Rules and Regulations
Again, boondocking is not as easy as simply setting up camp. You’ll have to know all the rules and regulations of the area you’re staying in, as well as some proper boondocking etiquette so that you stay respectful of your neighbors.
It’s a great idea to call the proper agency ahead of time to find out any specific rules that may apply to your upcoming campsite. Don’t assume that the rules in one area will apply to another. Different areas of public land have starkly different rules and regulations, from where campsites can be established, if campfires are allowed, whether you can hunt, and even how long you are allowed to stay on the land. These are things you’ll definitely want to know before you set up camp and find out that you’re violating a rule, or worse, a law!
Even if you’re following all the rules, you’ll still want to ensure that you’re respecting your camping neighbors! Here is a list of unspoken rules you should observe to make the dry camping experience fun for all!
Park at least 1,000 feet away from your nearest neighbor (if the space allows for it). The point of boondocking is to get away from it all, so nobody wants someone parked right on top of them for no reason.
Always choose a campsite where someone else has previously camped. This helps preserve the environment while giving you advantages like already-level ground, possible fire pits, and more.
Observe quiet hours. Just because you’re in the wild doesn’t mean you should blast your generator all day, every day, or party like it’s the end of the world. Observe quiet hours so that you and your neighbors can enjoy a restful night’s sleep.
Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it. People really suck sometimes, but the, “Not my mess, not my problem” attitude helps no one. Pick up after yourself and be the bigger person when you see other people’s trash—clean up anything else that was left behind before you.
What do you think? Does the great outdoors sound like the place for you? Just follow these helpful tips for long-term boondocking and you’ll be living the life of adventure that others have only been dreaming of!
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Have any experience dry camping? Leave us a comment below to share with first-time boondockers!