Especially if you want to avoid the typical RV parks. There are times when the convenience of an RV park with full hookup is just what you need, but reconnecting with nature is good for the soul.
Boondocking has become very popular in the past several years among people of all ages. A home away from home, where one can truly live with oneself, for some time, not only relaxes but also gives you those precious moments of retrospection and inner peace.
Below is the Checklist of the 12 Must Haves:
12 Must-Haves for Boondocking
- Battery Operated Fan
- Tire Covers
- Ice Cooler
- Propane Grill
- First Aid Kit
- Weather Alert Radio (battery operated)
- Heave Duty Storage Container for Trash
- Body Wipes (to conserve water)
- Charged Battery Pack for Cell Phone
However, to make the experience a memorable one, there are several things one must keep in mind.
These things although tiny, play a major role in keeping you away from all sorts of troubles and making your stay wonderful. Hopefully, this guide will help answer questions you might have about boondocking.
How to boondock in an RV?
Boondocking, in general, refers to pulling off of popular spots, to a secluded place to spend time without the availability of abundant running water, electricity or social media.
And if you are to go for it, there can be no better vehicle than in your RV, motorhome, travel trailer, camper or even a van! In the wilderness, you might not find any RV parks, but then the purpose of boondocking itself would be defeated.
The first thing to do is to upgrade the power system.
You will need a generator, or batteries with higher capacity, or better yet, solar panels(regarding which we will discuss later). Secondly, you can also try adding to the holding space of the RV.
Although this might not be very easy, depending on your RV, you can try putting up external water tanks, or shades, and even foldable chairs and desks outside the RV.
Finally, make sure you carry that extra fuel for your generator.
Practicing energy conservation would go a long way into saving that much-needed juice for your trip. Switch off gadgets and lights that are not in use.
And most importantly, try to find an even spot to park the RV, because considering the weight and size of the vehicle you would not want to be stuck with your brake lever while trying to escape a possible slide or tire failure.
Places to Boondock
Finding a place to boondock is not that difficult. But finding one in which you can truly enjoy, needs a bit of effort. Most people choose to go to the wilderness where they can find themselves surrounded by nature.
In this regard, boondocking is essentially dry camping, which has got designated camping grounds in places like;
- United States Forest Service (USFS)
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
- Corps of Engineers (COE) or in regional
- State and National parks.
These parks may charge you for utilizing their camping grounds, but in most situations, it isn’t much and often free.
Or you can always find a place you like, be it alongside a calm stream, or a seasonal waterfall, with a window, facing towards the dusk sun, making you cozy. Make sure you are not on private property.
Lastly, you would also want to check the weather of the place you have considered for boondocking before you embark on your journey. You would naturally not want to be stuck in a hurricane while boondocking, right? I strongly suggest investing in a battery operated Weather Alert Radio.
Popular places to boondock:
- Cook’s Chasm in Yachats, Oregon: An oceanside place
- BLM Land South of Joshua Tree National Park, California
- Pretty Flowering Meadow in Mount Hood
- National Forest, Oregon: For the ones, that want to find themselves amidst the colors of nature.
Boondocking sites are often fun when they are off the grid. But being off the grid also increases the risk factor at times.
As a measure of self-defense, it is suggested that you carry some element to defend yourself against any unfortunate circumstances. If you do not have any other means, at least carry pepper spray.
Further, if you have parked your RV in a remote location, which most likely you would, make sure you lock up things properly, as you doze off. Although unfortunate situations are pretty rare, it is better to prevent and prepare than to repent and repair.
Preparing to Boondock:
It is very important to be certain about things like drinking water supply, waste storage, and electrical supply.
How much water will I need?
The availability of drinkable and usable water can be scarce near your campsite. The first thing that you need to do is try to be economical with the supply you carry. Fill your fresh water tank before you proceed to the campsite and if possible attach a few additional water tanks to your RV. This can be extremely helpful, especially in the dry season.
During the rainy season, you can always arrange some means to collect rainwater in a bucket a for bathing or flushing toilet.
In almost all situations, you would find that you use most of the water showering, washing dishes and flushing.
It is often advisable that you do not waste water while doing any of these. While showering, do not leave the shower on, while you apply soap.
Rather, turn it on only to rinse yourself. You can also use pre-moistened body wipes for bathing to help conserve your water supply. Paper plates and plastic utensils are an option to minimize water consumption. The wastewater from both bathing and washing dishes can be used for flushing.
While camping, you might even want to skip on a few showers, letting that wild fragrance from the wilderness get into you. Just say’in?
How much power to pack in?
Sitting around a candle when the sun goes down can be fun at times, most of the time, you would want your RV lit, and your essential devices running. But, for that to happen, you need to understand how much power you want to pack in.
Most of your power would essentially come from the RV batteries, generator and or solar panels. However, these batteries you carry with you would eventually need charging. You can do it by the use of the generator or by simply using solar panels.
If you decide upon the generator, it is advantageous to carry a portable one. You can always use a low noise, fuel efficient, unlike the noisy ones which would otherwise take much away from a nice experience.
Solar power great for boondocking. The two most common ones are the roof mounted, and the portable. With the portable ones, you can adjust them so that you receive maximum power from the available sunlight in the area.
And of course, if you are concerned about leaving the minimum pollution footprint on nature, then solar panels are the way to go.
To save power, choose energy efficient devices/appliances on your RV, which includes LED bulbs and other devices with low power consumption.
How can I dispose of waste?
Waste disposal is very important, finding a dump station might be difficult. You would find plenty of them at campsites.
You are definitely going to find more of them near gas stations, truck stops, or resting areas, and most of these would allow you to dump your waste without charging you anything for it
You can even look up for possible dumping stations on apps like:
- rvdumps.com or sanidumps
A waste holding tank is essential when boondocking:
Whatever the season you will need to heat or cool your RV;
There are several things you can do to regulate the temperature and make your stay a pleasant one. In the warm season, it’s important to park your RV in the shade if at all possible, or away from direct sunlight. Most RVs do come with window shades that cut out most of the sunlight.
If you do not have one installed in your RV, make sure you do so, or get detachable shades that reflect the sunlight outside and keeps the interior cool.
Installing fans inside your RV also works wonders, provided you have space. Using a battery operated fan with low voltage can help keep the heat out.
During the cold season, you might have to turn up the heaters. However turning up the heaters would drain a lot of juice out of your RV batteries. Instead, you can go for one of those propane heaters.
A mid-size propane can, about half a liter be enough for these heaters and would keep you considerably cozy, but keep well ventilated when using propane heaters.
In addition, pack in a few good blankets as well and make sure you keep yourself warm. Mr. Buddy heaters are a popular option.
Cooking when Boondocking?
It is essential that you pack appropriately and prepare to cook your own meals unless you plan to thrive on readymade snacks or pre-cooked preserved meals. Most RV’s have propane/electric stoves.
If your RV isn’t equipped with one, a portable gas grill would be a good option. Planning your meals ahead that have a long shelf life for example – can goods and dried foods, rice, pasta, can vegetables, cereal require little energy to store and prepare.
On the trip
The fun of boondocking is when you get to be carefree at times, and just enjoy being away from the buzz of day to day life. If you prepare well ahead and have a plan, rest assured you will find boondocking your ultimate getaway.
Campfires and Cleanup
It is advisable to not move around rocks or logs, unless absolutely necessary. Some places allow you to make a campfire, just make sure you follow the rules and regulations are before doing so.
In such circumstances, make sure you do not leave a mess and always be sure you put the campfire out completely! It is considered a good practice to stick to established spots while boondocking. Also, make sure you do not dump your tanks in the camping area.
Wildfires are not a joke, small burning soot from a cigarette or a campfire that is not put out correctly can be just enough to cause a wild forest fire. Not only that, there is a serious fine and even jail time for people who start such fires. Therefore, you need to be extra careful in these matters.
Wildlife and Pets
The wildlife around these places adds to the beauty and awe of the experience. During your stay, make sure you do not get on the wrong footing of harming these animals or destroying their habitat.
It can even land you in jail or make you pay hefty fines, as per the Wildlife Conservation Acts.
You also need to keep an eye out for your pets, so that they do not come up against any unwanted encounter with a wild animal.
The regulations you need to follow varies from place to place in accordance with different ranger areas. It’s always better to check with the local ranger station, to be on the safer side. In general, there is also a limit on the maximum number of days you are allowed to stay, usually 14 days. Other regulations involve maintenance of pets, campfires, generator use and legally conserved areas with no permit to enter. These should be confirmed before camping in the site.
Living and letting live
Popular boondocking campsites can have a good number of people around. While staying, you need to be careful about the comfort of others as well. Things, like playing loud music, or parking your RV excessively close to another, would definitely hamper their experience and in return yours too.
However you can take this opportunity to make new friends, and who knows, you might just find the right setting for meeting with the most wonderful person you would have ever come across.
Also, try to be careful with when using the generator. Only minimal use, most sites have regulations when you can run your generator and for how long. Not usually a problem if you are the only camper. Not many people fancy the rattling sound especially when boondocking.
Most people like solitude in such an adventure, so it is good to be respectful of what they want. This would also make your trip pleasant.
Doing it your way!
Finding one’s rhythm amidst the calm of nature is something most of us want from a boondocking adventure. Be it the need to let go of the past, or to find a pleasant breakout of your day to day schedule, it is the most enticing of experiences.
With a lot of time to introspect, absorb such an experience is surely nothing less than nature’s own spa.
An adventure waits ahead of you, embrace it, pack those bags and show yourself, that yes, you can do it, whatever be it, whatever be your passion, whatever you are after, you can achieve it.
Apps for Boondocking
- Coverage – (collects all cell phone data coverage maps and combines together, to help you find campsites with good signal)
- Gas Buddy – (searches for cheapest fuel/gas near you) Around Me – (helpful when driving through new cities and towns to find a post office or grocery store)
- Allstays Camp & RV – I use this app all the time.
- Google Earth – Great for boondocking
Make this next boondocking escapade an awe-inspiring journey of self-discovery, and be the version of yourself that you were always meant to be.
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