It always feels nice to live with no strings attached, isn’t it? Like when you are free to go anywhere you want, do whatever you feel like doing. Yes, that is the boondocking life for you. Boondocking is easier said than done. Especially for a beginner who needs to have the knowledge of how to live, survive and at the same time enjoy RV boondocking. In this guide, we will take you through some of the most important steps that you need to learn, adapt and improvise upon for a good experience with boondocking.
Before moving forward, let me tell you that boondocking is not something that will land you in jail. It is totally legal but is limited to certain areas. As a way of life boondocking may present you with some challenges and you need to figure your way around.
There are a few reasons why some people are gaining more interest in boondocking. The most important of them all is the freedom to work from anywhere. Youngsters today are more interested in the gig economy than finding a job where they have to glue themselves for hours altogether. And with this work style, they are more inclined to adapt to boondocking and live life freely without compromising on comfort and necessities.
But is Boondocking Safe?
Not if you are moochdocking, just kidding. Boondocking is safe unless you tread into places where you are not supposed to go. Area 51 is one of them, PS: if you find it, do tell me is it even real or not?
Other than this, boondocking is safe. I have come across more anti-social people in the cities than in the deserts or secluded places where I often boondock. Needless to say, it is always good to be prepared, because prevention is better than cure. Isn’t it?
It may happen that in such isolated places you come across some wild animals. Keeping louder horns or even bear sprays. Other than this, it is always good to follow the rules and regulations of the State in which you are travelling. Understand the scope of these rules and make sure that you are always under the limits.
Tips for Boondocking and how to do it best:
- Water Conservation:
Water is everything when it comes to boondocking. This is one element of mother nature without which a human will die in 7 days. That is how important water is for us. And not only for drinking all the chores like cooking is made possible with water only. So, I guess it is safe to say that boondocking without water is not at all possible. Whatever you do, at some point you will need water to either take a bath, wash utensils, clothes (these you can do without too). But the important thing is that you need to conserve water.
Most of the RVs will have a 20-gallon water tank and this is not enough if you want to go for a long term boondocking. So, first up you need to follow the 3-minute shower rule, plus, use disposable plates, use an instant pot for food (you will use water only on one utensil), do not wash your hair every day, go for a dry shampoo. Even bathing every day is not recommended. Instead, you can buy some good deodorants that are extra strong and will keep that smell away at all times.
- Electricity and Power:
There are many ways to get around this aspect of boondocking. A good power source is getting a solar power system installed on the RV. This system will charge up the batteries. You can use all the appliances inside the RV and electric trailer jack without any troubles.
But what if you are boondocking in areas where sunlight is redundant. Well, I wouldn’t suggest that, but if you are, then make sure carry along with a gas-powered generator. You can also bring along some solar-powered generators, but that again will require enough sunlight.
Now using power efficiently is not something that you need to be taught I guess. That is something which should come naturally to you when you are boondocking. And why even when boondocking, in our homes too, it is not at all smart to use electricity extensively.
You may have to spend a bit initially when installing such a system, but what you are going to spend now, you will save more than that on propane gas expenses.
- Trash Management:
I know that I had suggested using paper plates and glasses to eat your food. But when it comes to a fight between the two, there are a lot of ways to tackle garbage, but there simply is no way to get more water in the wilderness without seeking help from Bear Grylls.
Trash management is easier. As you can always buy some good air sealed trash bags which will keep the odour away and allow you to travel without compromising the ambiance of your RV interior. More than this, you can also buy trash cans which are specially made to keep the garbage smell at bay.
In no circumstances can you dump the trash out in the open. Not only it is a crime towards nature, but this habit may also threaten your safety. Some wild animals can catch strong smells from a distance. Therefore, if you do not want to deal with some uninvited guests in the middle of the night, I would suggest that you refrain from this habit.
- What will you need the most:
Well, if you are a beginner then you must think that everything is essential to carry along on your boondocking adventure. But no. You do not need everything possible for this part of your life. You need to carry just what is crucial and believe me, a hair-dryer is not a necessity. Who are you going to meet in the middle of the desert?
Here is a list of things that you are going to need the most:
- A flashlight which has good battery support and can emit a stronger light than most
- An instant pot, we have already talked about this.
- Additional fans or heaters (it may happen sometimes that the AC stops working, and that is when you will long for a good cooling fan)
- Water containers
Apart from this, there are a few other things like stocking the pantry with ready to eat meals, or with canned foods. Remember, how that sword used to show up just when Harry needed it. Likewise, these items will come in handy at times when you are not even looking for them or have forgotten about them altogether.
- Washroom and Toilet troubles:
Isn’t that the million-dollar question? Where will you dump the sanitary waste? Well, even with boondocking you will need to come to the city every now and then. More than that, there are various dumping stations near to the areas where boondocking is allowed. All you need to do is find them and make sure that you fix a schedule to visit here and dump the waste.
Or another way is not using the toilet to answer nature’s call altogether. Yes, you can do that and go out in the open. But for that, there are a few considerations. Always clear your bowel away from a water stream and it is a good practice to dig a small hole first and then cover it up later. I have a bidet with me whenever I go out. So, always keep a good-sized bidet with you and it will help you a lot in many other ways, especially in water conservation.
- Having the right sized RV:
Going on a normal RV vacation trip is indeed an amazing way to get closer to your family. But with boondocking, you will see the same faces for quite some time every morning and this can become an issue. I am not saying that boondocking is a love killer but, as the famous adage goes, excess of anything is not good. Hence, even if two people are going on a boondocking adventure, make sure to have a big enough RV where the two of you can have some alone time. And believe me when I say that solitude is the best partner that you can have sometimes.
And if you have kids, and pets boondocking along with you. First of all, it is a big challenge to keep everything in order. Adding kids and pets to it will only make things a bit messier and the scope for problems tends to increase.
So, if you are two people boondocking, a simple motorhome home or even a tow trailer will be enough. For families however, you will need a fifth wheel or a camper trailer that as enough space for everybody.
- Beware of the Weather:
It may happen sometimes that you are in a tussle with the weather and wherever you go, bad weather follows. It happened to me. Just when I thought that I have diverted from some heavy rain, just the next hour, there was a heavy downpour.
It may happen that sometimes you will come across an amazing spot for boondocking. But that same spot can be a catchment area or a wash. In that case, you can land into some trouble.
Boondocking near to the coast, especially during the night may bring in a swarm of waves that are higher than the usual. Although there is no reason to be alarmed in this situation but, keeping an eye will only help you maintain a proper distance from the water splashing. Although, I must say that boondocking near the coastlines is the best experience that I have had in all these years.
- Which Roads to take:
This isn’t a competition to take the less-travelled road and reach the destination before everybody else. You need to ascertain the fact that safe RV travelling is also a responsibility. And taking the roads where there is no proper signage and the travellers are also avoiding it can be a bit risky.
I know that going into the wilderness does have some thrill to it. But remember that you will be going into the unknown and travelling on roads which may cause some damage to the RV itself.
Plus, when you stick to the roads where other RVers have gone, then you will surely find a lot of parking spots, services and various other amenities along the way.
- Neighbour first:
Yours may not be the only RV boondocking on a particular site. There can be others who have located your secret spot. In that case, make sure that you are parked at an appropriate distance.
Not only is this a good etiquette but it is also beneficial for you, as you won’t get disturbed by your neighbors.
More than that, if you are using a propane or gas generator, never use it for the whole night. This will not only disturb you but also wreak havoc for others.
‘Love Thy Neighbor’, I have written on the back of my RV.
This is how you can find a good Boondocking site:
Good boondocking spots are not that hard to come by, provided you know where to look. Boondocking is always done on public land and if you are staying on private land, that is owned by a friend or a relative that is called moochdocking. I have no idea why people call it that, but apparently, they do.
Public lands are under the control of different authorities. Some are under forest management, others are the property of national parks and if not both of them, the land management authority will have a say on the left-out pieces of land.
And the rules for boondocking may differ in all of them. Some authorities allow boondocking on the gravel road and others allow it on one side of the road. So, it is always better to first look for signboards which say that boondocking or dispersed camping is allowed. Even better, you can also give a call to the authorities beforehand and confirm whether or not you can park here.
Under no circumstances park your RV where you are unsure. There is a reason why the authorities do not allow boondocking in some areas. Be smart and follow the road.
I hope this guide serves you well. Full time RVing is indeed a new lifestyle with its own challenges. But, if one thing that I have learned in all these years is that we as humans have a big tendency to take upon new challenges. Yes, there will be adjustments along the way. Somewhere you will have to compromise and in others, you may have to leave something behind. But the key to survival in boondocking is being patient, aware, and smart. I have written this guide from my experience and have listed out things that I had faced starting out. So, make sure that you follow them all and improvise upon them to make boondocking as much fun as it really is. Happy RVing.
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