In the middle of a 3,500 mile road trip, we’ve had to sit back and reflect on where we stayed in our rig, and how. Let’s see, we spent a few nights “pavement parking,” in Walmart and other similar retailer lots. A three-night stint at a state park – without hookups. Some wonderful nights in the shadow of one of California’s high mountains with plenty of space to our nearest neighbor – again, no hookups. And while we’ve been “stationary” for a few weeks at a friend’s place, we do have a single utility – electricity.
Yes, we’ve spent a lot of time boondocking. Having done it for years, it’s almost unimaginable to think of any other way to go. Yes, once a year we have a convention we attend in San Diego. We don’t take the rig down into the big city, but stay at a campground a few miles out of town. There we have water and electrical, and yes, we’ve heard some mighty nasty fights by the next-door-neighbor.
So why would you NOT boondock? Here are some reasons some RVers choose not to.
“When I had my 4×4 truck camper I boondocked almost 100% of the time. One time I had a wheel drop into a hole filled with leaves and straw – luckily the 4×4 pulled right out. Now that I have a Class B Van, not so much. I worry that I’ll get stuck somewhere (without cell service) and won’t be able to get the van unstuck. If I dropped into that hole in it, there is no way I could get it out.”
Can surely understand the concern there. The older we get, the more we sense our own vulnerabilities. When we’re in an area where things feel a little ticklish, we check cell signal on the phone. If it looks like we may wind up in an area where things could get dicey, if there’s no signal, we just move along.
“We currently only have limited time to take a vacation away from work and normally have a specific destination in mind where we go to meet friends or family. We need to be at our ultimate destination and back in that limited amount of time (typically one week). To make sure things go smoothly, we always carefully plan out our trip beforehand and make reservations at RV parks along the way.
“About the closest we’ve come to boondocking is dry camping at a beautiful BLM campground in central Montana. While staying at RV parks now we enjoy our trips, but we’re definitely looking forward to boondocking someday once we’ve retired (hopefully in a couple of years) and have the time to slow down and explore good spots. We’ve already outfitted our travel trailer with a robust solar system, inverter, larger batteries, low current lighting, and regularly practice power and water saving techniques.”
Boondocking doesn’t mean you have to go way off the beaten track. As this couple observes, there are plenty of campgrounds that are on the map, but still not the pricey, full hookup campgrounds that so many seem to favor. In our travels, we’ve found that many National Forests have access roads within easy reach of freeways. We scuttle off the freeway and do “dispersed” camping. Of course, with time constraints, that can be a bit “iffy,” because sometimes there just aren’t suitable places to stay. Doing a bit of Internet research before you hit the road may help you fine great boondocking spots along your fast-paced route.
“So far we’ve never stayed in a campground, but we’ve only boondocked once in the woods. We tend to dry camp in marinas and by beaches on the west coast where there are walking paths, pretty views and sometimes restaurants and pubs. We’ve paid $10 a couple of times to spend a night, but that’s about it. A truck and camper is pretty easy.”
Sounds like a lot of boondocking to us!
“We want to boondock but I think the concern is safety. We have a Class-C with a Jeep Wrangler toad. We are very happy camping and now want to travel and not be around crazy party animals or kids screaming and RV parks where people are next to you like the local mall parking lot. Any ideas on how to get past the safety issue? I do not like carrying a gun but do not have a problem with wasp spray or other such items…or am I just being paranoid?”
Most seasoned boondockers agree, your greatest safety “weapon” while boondocking is being conscious of your surroundings and listening to that little inner voice. If it feels hinky, pack it up and move along. From our personal experience, we’ve boondocked for years and in a wide range coast-to-coast. We have never had a serious incident, and it’s a rare day when we’ve felt “spooked.” When we have, we’ve simply found another place to stay.
“My wife and I are green boondockers for sure. (Newbies at 57 years old.) In fact, I think the main reason RVers do not boondock is because they do not know how.
“I bought a few books about boondocking, as well as [researched Internet boondocking websites] to learn the ins and outs of boondocking. Now, we boondock all over the Western United States, and totally love it.
“I use my ‘used to be RV park campground fee money’ for gasoline now, and we can camp 10 times more, and see more country since we are not paying inflated prices at the crowded RV parks.”
Now there’s a boondocking success story! Don’t let the ‘lack of education’ cause you stay forever in crowded RV parks. Read up, ask questions on Internet RV forums, and get your feet wet. You’ll never regret it.