RV Boondocking

Here are some tips on RV boondocking and/or dry camping. If you’re not familiar with these terms they mean discretely camping out in your RV without utility connections.

I prefer to use the term dry camping but boondocking has become a common way to talk about it. Some argue that you must be staying out in the woods and not at a parking lot, but for the purpose of this page we will put those differences aside.

The point of boondock RVing is to save money on traveling because most campsites cost so much. But your stay is not always free. If it’s hot you might use your generator and in places like Wal-Mart you’ll spend money on goods like food.

Parking Lots

Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Casinos, and Cracker Barrel are ideas for safe over night stays. You will have to check with them before hand because it’s not allowed in all locations. Most Wal-Marts now have “No Overnight Stay” signs although most are open 24 hours a day.

Some more ideas are highway rest stops, other parking lots, and the driveways of friends and family.

Rural RV Boondocking

Besides National and State Parks there are other places for parking like residential land, farms, commercial land, and absentee owner land caretaking. Look in the newspaper and craigslist for opportunities. Another way to find deals like these are to simply ask around in the neighborhood cafes, diners, and shops.

You can offer security and maintenance for people who are away from their land. Plus you are not using any of their stuff (house, bed, toilets, and showers) because you have your RV.

Using Electricity Efficiently

Efficient use of your electronics is essential when you’re not connected directly through power. Remember that everything you use will drain your battery unless you are fortunate enough to have solar panels.

Even with the help of solar power you will still have to watch what you use. Things like air conditioning will require the use of your generator and gasoline is not cheap.

Air Conditioning

If you’re in a spot where you can travel and stay at a higher altitude (the higher you go the cooler it gets) you can avoid using your air conditioner and generator by traveling upwards for your stay.

RV Boondocking Tips

  • Careful use of your water

  • Use wet clothes to keep clean (uses less water)

  • Be as discrete as possible wherever you stay

  • Keep your slide outs closed to avoid attention

  • Do not use your awning, chairs, or anything else outside

  • Select a spot that is close to the things you need the next day (ask yourself is saving a camping fee worth driving X miles—you might find it’s not cost effective)

  • Plan for meals that require minimal amount of dishes (this uses lots of water)

  • Prepare your meals ahead of time or eat out (five dollar foot long!)

  • Get a few books on boondocking ahead of time, below I list some recommended resources

  • Keep yourself clean and well groomed

  • Keep your RV clean and free of clutter

Books and Resources to Learn More

Marianne from Frugal RV Travel believes that anyone can travel if they do it the way she's been doing it. That's why she made her RV travel guides which are suitable for those with tents, too.

She'll show you where to find free RV dump stations and camping... and she knows what she's talking about with over 10 years of doing it herself.

Read more helpful information and other frugal RVing tips at Marianne's website. Plus you'll learn more about her e-books. This link opens in a new window.

The next handy thing to have is from RV bookstore, which has nearly everything you can imagine about RV living.

Get a Wal-Mart Atlas and Directory for RV boondocking/dry camping. Link opens in a new window.

Also take a look at The Complete Book of Boondock RVing. Link opens in a new window to RV bookstore.

Share Your RV Boondocking and Dry Camping Tips

Would you like to add your own tips about RV boondocking, dry camping, and/or frugal RV living? Share them here!

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