Over a year ago when we started this process of RV living, I had to Google the word “boondocking”. After hitting the road in an RV full time, this word kept coming up and I finally had to see what all the fuss was about. Essentially Boondocking, also referred to as “dry camping” or “dispersed camping”, is when hookups are not available.
Yes, you read that right. No Hookups! After reading the definition I think what came to my mind was, “Why in the world would anyone want to do that?”
Camping without a water, electric, or sewer hookup did not sound like my idea of fun at the time. Now, over a a year later, I have became very familiar with this word and I’ve actually grown to like Boondocking. Why you might ask? If you are not limited to needing hookups, you can stay in some really cool areas. Not only does this allow you to camp off the beaten path at times, but it is also a great way to save money for other things such as activities and donuts to name a few.
All joking aside, although I am somewhat serious about donuts, saving money is one of the best features of RVing. We get the question a lot if we spend more or less money living full time in an RV and traveling verses a house. All that depends on what style of camping you are partaking in and boondocking is a great way to save some serious money.
Boondocking is also a great way to camp in nature and in some areas gain privacy if that is something you are looking for. Some campgrounds in State and National Parks and Forests do not offer hookups, so this is what first attracted us to this type of camping. We wanted to be a part of these parks and immerse ourselves in the landscape and save on driving time in and out of the parks we were exploring.
Another advantage of boondocking is camping in BLM land which is free government land. This is by far the cheapest option, but having to find places to dump and refill your tanks which is usually not provided, can get time consuming and frustrating at times.
Aside from these obstacles and a few others, we enjoy boondocking and is a great option for camping or fulltime living. We like to mix in full hookup campgrounds to “recharge” and do some laundry. Our washer dryer combo unit is putting in overtime when we get hookups. I refer to full hookups as a luxury hotel. It is a very nice option and a good change of pace after our time boondocking.
Here are a few tips for dry camping we have learned along the way, and what we have found to be helpful as we boondock.
Follow the weather. Camping in extreme hot or cold weather can make boondocking difficult. Without an electric hookup, we use our generator that is on board our motorhome to provide us power. Although a generator is extremely helpful, as well as the advantage of having solar, which is an option we are looking into, you do not want your generator running 24/7. This can be expensive, annoying to neighbors, and a lot of wear and tear on the generator itself. Camping in mild weather makes for comfortable days and nights and a much better experience all around.
Fill Up. While dry camping you are using your on-board water tank as well as your grey and black tanks for other “nastier” water. We don’t like to talk about those tanks, but we all know they are a part of camping life.
If you are planning on dry camping always stock up on plenty of fresh water and empty your collecting tanks for a more pleasant experience. Probably the most difficult part of dry camping for me, is conserving water. This means short and to the point showers with not much time for relaxation in the water. Washing dishes uses a tiny stream of water and using our washer for washing clothes is a no-no. Any ways of saving water are a bonus to keep going longer without refilling.
Stock Up. One of the main requirements of boondocking is being prepared. Being off the grid in some situations can mean you are far away from any civilization including a grocery store. Make sure to stock up on food and supplies that you may need.
When planning meals I’ve found it helpful to plan on what requires little to no power such as grilling meat and veggies and s’mores over the fire for dessert. Sandwiches are great for lunch and any foods you can make ahead of time such as pasta and potato salads are convenient to keep in the fridge.
Speaking of salads, they also make great boondocking meals that require no electricity. I am not saying you can not cook meals that require power to cook. The generator can power our microwave/convection oven when needed, but keep in mind cooking in the oven or convection microwave also produces heat in the RV and if is a hot day you may not want more heat baking in the RV. Baking also typically dirties larger dishes that require more water to clean afterwards.
Clean Up. So after your tanks and fridge are full it is time to clean and prepare. This has been a step I find to be helpful and saves on the water. Wash up all laundry, dishes, and well…..yourself. If I wash my hair and with the help of dry shampoo, I can get by and save water during the process.
If you are hard-core they also make body wipes that are the equivalent of a 10 gallon shower and you can do this step in lieu of a shower. I am not at this point because I LOVE my shower. Although, I can say that we have them and have been used by the hubbie when water is getting low. He has no complaints.
If you’ve made it this far in the article and I haven’t scared you away, these are some great steps to having an amazing adventure. Boondocking, dry camping, dispersed camping, no matter what you call it is a fun adventure, a great money saver, and can take you to some amazing camping spots only available for the tradeoff of no hookups. So get out there and get your boondock on for some incredible family memories!