boondocking by the ocean

What Is Boondocking?

If you’ve been hanging around the RV world, you may have heard the term boondocking thrown around. 

It sounds exotic… but what exactly does it mean to go boondocking?

Let’s take a look…

Boondocking vs Dry Camping

Many people confuse boondocking with dry camping, which is camping without hookups for water, sewage, etc. Simply put, boondocking is camping (RV or otherwise) in a completely undeveloped area.

Despite your opinion of a WalMart parking lot (civilized or not), staying overnight is not boondocking. Instead, think of something more exotic, like pulling out into the desert with nothing but the stars to keep you company.

The Appeal of Boondocking

While many people prefer to camp in a more modernized area, with water and electricity perks, boondocking has one main advantage.

It’s free!

Boondocking in an undeveloped area means no one owns the property to charge for its use. This is also means you get to view nature in all of its glory, untouched by man.


Boondocking Basics

There are a few things to consider if you want to try camping in the wild.

1. Finding a Site

Finding a good location for your RV is dependent on several factors, including the size of your RV and how far away from civilization you would like to be. Most boondockers keep their favorite campsites a secret, but you can still find good ones by word of mouth. If you have friends who love camping, ask them where they most enjoy going.

Another good way to find boondocking sites is to call the local public lands office. They will give you a list of possible campsites, as well as any rules or regulations regarding your stay.

2. Staying Clean

How you will stay clean is definitely something to consider if you are someone who has to shower every day. Boondocking doesn’t allow for water hookups, which means the main cleaning method is either “sponge bathing” or washing yourself in any nearby rivers or lakes.

Your body does get used to a lack of standard showers; however, it takes some time to “train it.”

3. Staying Hydrated

Practicing good water conservation is important when on the road. Filling your RV water tank, as well as keeping a few extra jugs on hand, should ensure that you’re good to go. Remember to fill up whenever you can. Top your water reserve off at every fountain and spigot you come across.

4. Taking Care of Business

Most campgrounds have dumps for you to get rid of your sewage. Even if you’re boondocking, it is fairly easy to find nearby places to “unload.”

5. Making Meals

A good propane system cooks meat every bit as well as an electric stove. Camping on undeveloped land does not mean you have to sacrifice good eating. Now, if you want to catch your own fish and cook them over an open fire, go for it. Just know that it’s every bit as easy to make mac and cheese on the RV stove.

6. Safety Precautions

While you should make a habit of locking your RV and keeping valuable things inside, most thieves are not wandering around in the wilderness looking for campers to rob. In fact, camping in the wilderness could very well be safer than camping in the city.

dry camping

Too Rustic? Try Dry Camping

Dry camping in the city is typically a temporary thing but it can be an adventure all its own.

Many destination campers will park their RVs in store parking lots to cut down on rental costs if they are headed to a site with hookups.

Of course, not every store opens up their parking lot to overnight campers. It’s important that you do your research ahead of time and plan out stops at places that allow RVs to park overnight.

Dry Camping Etiquette

Thank the store by giving them your business.

Since you aren’t paying official rent, purchasing supplies from the store is a good way to thank and support them. Walmart and Cabela’s are both known for being RV-friendly and are great places to get camping supplies.

Try not to stay more than one night.

Since dry camping is often just a stepping stone to another campsite, this isn’t a common problem. Nevertheless, try not to take up space in the parking lot for more than a night, maximum two.

Avoid taking up space during store hours.

This isn’t always avoidable; however, restaurants especially have prime rushes, and they need all the space they can get. Park your RV in the lot as late in the day as possible, and leave as early as possible.

Park in the back of the lot.

Again, don’t take up their prime parking spaces. Go to the very back or side of the lot so that regular customers can access the front spots more easily.

Make yourself small.

Take up as few spaces as possible. Do not break out all of your extra features. Keep your RV tight and tiny.

dry camping

Camping in an RV, whether you’re boondocking or not, is a great way to make lifelong memories. Make sure you do your research so that you can have the adventure of a lifetime.

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