Boondocking In An RV ( What Is It, What To Bring and Why Do It )

Camping in an RV brings you all the comforts of home while enjoying the great outdoors and getting away from the monotony of everyday life. Well, usually. While many RV campers prefer to go to an established RV campsite, some prefer to do what is called “boondocking.”

It’s a little known type of camping, but today, you are going to learn all about it! Let’s talk about what, exactly, boondocking is, the other names it goes by, and how you can make the most out of RV boondocking yourself.

So, what is boondocking in an RV?

Boondocking in an RV is finding a spot to camp in your RV that is away from other established campsites. Boondocking sites, wether established boondocking sites or just finding a place that is not designated, will not have accommodations such as a dump station, comfort stations, water supply or electric supply for you RV like an establish RV camping site would have.  You must be sure that it is legal wherever you choose to park and camp.

What are other names for boondocking?

RV campers who prefer to spend their vacation like this use a few different terms for boondocking, including “wild camping” and “dry camping.” If you hear another camper refer to these terms, you can expect that you will be roughing it in the wilderness.

Are there several types of boondocking?

Simply put, yes. There are three main types of boondocking trips you could choose to take. Some are pretty unorthodox, but they could be fun and unique nonetheless. Remember, though, that each has its own challenges that you should be mindful of.

Boondocking at a Developed Campsite

This is perhaps the most popular type of boondocking trip that RV campers take. It is the easiest step to take if you are not used to going totally off the grid because you are still in the presence of other people. You have a sense of safety while taking that first step to camp in a more natural way. (As natural as camping in a mobile home can possibly be, anyway.)

You still have the convenience of dumping stations and perhaps even a water spigot if you run out, too. Keep in mind, though, that you still have to pay for a spot to park your RV in. That factor alone can be a turn off for some.

Overnight Boondocking

Some campers only like to try boondocking for short periods of time. Most do this because they are on their way to a campsite and need to stop and rest before continuing on their journey! Of course, there are some funny ways that people go about doing it. These are:

  • A “mooch” is someone who lives off of what another person has. When it comes to overnight boondocking in your RV, it means that you park your vehicle at a friend or family member’s house. Most are generous enough to accommodate you, especially because you are only mooching for one night.
  • This unorthodox method of boondocking happens when RV campers set up their temporary home in a Walmart parking lot for the night. It works for any other store, too, but Walmarts generally have the most space. As an added bonus, you can stock up on supplies in the store before heading to your campsite the next day!

Off the Grid Boondocking

If you are going off the grid, you had better be prepared for any situation. This type of boondocking is only for the highly experienced and not for the faint of heart. When you set up your RV in the great unknown, you have no guarantee of safety or supplies when you need them. There may not even be any cell phone service!

However, boondocking at an undeveloped place is not all bad. You get to enjoy the raw beauty of nature without it being spoiled by cars on the highway and light pollution. At night, you get to see more stars than you thought were even possible before. It is something that every experienced boondocker should do at least once.

Why do people go boondocking?

People choose to go boondocking for several reasons, and some may interest you as well! While it seems that there may be no benefit to being without the comforts that you are used to, there are small things that may make the trip worth it.

  • It can be less expensive than paying to park at a campsite and paying for hookups. Some people want to camp frugally, and boondocking is a great way to knock some dollar signs off of your trip. If you are already paying for gas, food, water, and other essential supplies, the last thing you want to do is shell out even more.
  • You can get away from the irritating sounds of the city. When you live in a big city, you are constantly surrounded by other people and by noise. Sirens, screaming, cars honking – it’s all a part of living in a heavily populated area. It is good to get away from that and just enjoy the peace and quiet occasionally.
  • You get closer to nature. People rarely take the time to stop and enjoy what Mother Nature has given us. When you go boondocking, you will find that the stars are brighter, the air is sweeter, and the grass is greener than you ever remembered. Appreciating what we have is crucial, and nature is a free and beautiful gift to enjoy.
  • Boondocking is always an adventure. When you go boondocking in an RV, there is always a certain level of uncertainty, especially if you’re going off the grid. This uncertainty may be scary, but it is also exciting! When you come back, your experiences will make you more prepared the next time.
  • It becomes a time to unplug. The technology boom at the beginning of the 21st century has given us countless wonderful inventions, but it seems that we have become too obsessed with some of them. Cell phones, iPads, and computers should be enjoyed in moderation, but many stay on them all day. It is addictive, and it becomes unhealthy both physically and mentally in the long run. Boondocking gives you time to spend making memories with friends and family without just sharing the newest funny picture from Facebook.

What should I bring if I go boondocking?

This is the question that all newbies need to have answered. If you don’t know what you need, how can you be properly prepared for the days ahead? You can’t. That’s why you should get your packing list sorted out ahead of time.

  • You need lots and lots of water. The average human should be drinking at least a gallon per day. Fill up your water jugs before you leave home and keep them on you. Being hydrated is what keeps everyone alive and thriving. It is the single most important item on the list.
  • RVs use house batteries to power lights, water pumps, and other appliances. If you need them, you have to have the batteries to be able to use them! Even if you do not plan to use electricity during your stay, it is important to have them on hand for emergencies.
  • Solar panels/generator. Eventually, the batteries you bring will need to be recharged. Having either of these items will bring the juice back up to at least almost full power.
  • Portable chargers and phones. Again, you do not have to use these items when you go boondocking, but if you need your phone to call for help, you should have it charged and ready to go at all times.
  • First aid kit. You should have a properly stocked first aid kit for all situations. This is just basic camping etiquette. This could save your life if you are boondocking at an undeveloped site where help may take a while to get to you.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries. When it gets dark out and you do not have electricity to rely on outside, you need a flashlight. If you can’t see, you can’t avoid snakes, roots, rocks, cliffs, holes, etc. That is a surefire way to get yourself hurt. Avoid that whole fiasco and keep a flashlight on you at night.
  • Outdoor solar-powered lights/lanterns. This aids you at night when you just want to relax and hang out without having to constantly hold a flashlight. While it is important to have one, these lights can’t hurt.

These are just a few essential items that you need. For a more comprehensive list, click here and read up.

Now that you understand what boondocking is, would you be willing to try it? It isn’t accessible to all, but those who can should try it! Boondocking in an RV can be a fun and unique experience that you do not often get from tent camping. Everyone would benefit from a little self-reliance, and now you can do it in a way that brings you joy.

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Rickie Arms

Hi, I'm Rickie Arms, owner of Glampingorcamping.com. I am so invested in writing the best and most informative articles for you that I went out and bought a travel trailer just so I could write about it for you. I spend just about all of my off time both camping and glamping so I can share everything I have learned and will learn with you. I have spent my whole life camping and over the last 10 years, I have spent a large amount of time checking out glamping experiences with my wife and kids as well. Thank you for coming by and we hope to see you back here getting great information in the future. Rick Arms-

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