Your Guide to RV Boondocking
Posted: July 20, 2022
Categories: Travel & Lifestyle
Tom and Cheri Kenemore, better known as Enjoy the Journey, are full-time RV travelers who love to share their adventures, challenges, advice and more from the road. As experienced boondockers, they have plenty of tips and tricks to help fellow RVers navigate the world of off-grid living. Read their guide to learn about the dos and don’ts of RV boondocking.
Your Guide to RV Boondocking
by Tom & Cheri Kenemore of Enjoy the Journey
First things first: What is boondocking? Boondocking is camping out in the wilderness or on public lands with little to no other campers around you. Most people don’t have to pay for boondocking sites, and they will usually have no hookups. Boondocking is both similar to and very different from dry camping. You can dry camp in an organized campground with lots of other camping, but we wouldn’t consider that boondocking. While boondocking in the wilderness you will usually be dry camping as well with no hookups.
The Pros & Cons of Boondocking
We love boondocking! We so much prefer it over RV parks and most campgrounds. We love the privacy, getting out in nature and the amazing views. This kind of camping was the reason we got into RV life.
One benefit of boondocking is that it’s usually free on public lands, so it is often very kind to your wallet. Additionally, if you enjoy getting out in nature, it is the best kind of camping. If you prefer a secluded campsite, boondocking is where you’ll find those. If you want amazing views of water, the mountains and more, boondocking is the way to go. We often joke about how most RV park and campground views are just looking at the camper right next to you, so it’s not much of a view. I also enjoy the photography and videography aspects of boondocking. There is so much more nature to film and spectacular views!
More pros of boondocking include:
- It’s FREE to stay (usually).
- There’s no check out time.
- It’s typically quieter, but that depends on the location.
- There’s less to set up which means no hoses or electrical cables unless you’re running portable solar panels.
- The view is usually better.
- There are usually less rules compared to a campground or RV park.
- You get more privacy because there are fewer people around, and you get to be out in nature! That's where we like it!
While boondocking, you’ll have to learn how to conserve water and electricity. Since you are limited to the water in your RV water tank, you need to find creative ways to stretch it out as long as possible. You have to take very quick showers and wash dishes differently. Depending on what kind of power your RV has, you will be limited by what appliances you can use and for how long. You also may not be able to run your air conditioning, so hopefully you picked a boondocking spot that cools off enough at night to simply open the windows and let the fresh air in.
The most challenging parts of boondocking are:
- Limited water supply. A fresh water source could be far away, so you have to conserve water, take shorter showers, etc.
- You can only stay a certain number of days.
- There’s no place to dump your garbage, and a dump station could be miles away.
- You could be limited on internet, cell signal and electricity, unless you have a spare generator or batteries.
- Grocery stores, supplies, law enforecment and medical care could be far away.
- It can be dirty, muddy and dusty, as well as difficulte to navigate.
Tips & Tricks from Boondocking Experts
How do you prepare yourself and your rig for boondocking in the wilderness? We recommend following the tips below to have a successful trip.
Do your research.
Check the rules governing the land you are using, whether it is state or federal land. You are generally limited to a maximum of 14 days in one spot, designated campsites, etc. Also, scout out the spot in advance if you can for safety and how you plan to park and position your RV. It’s also great to know what services are there or nearby, like fresh water, dump stations and trash receptacles.
Check the weather.
What is the weather going to be like during your stay? Dirt roads can turn to mud quickly and become impassable. You also need to consider the possibility of flash flooding.
Take care of your tanks.
Top off the fresh water in your tanks as close to your campsite as possible. That will save on fuel! Dump your grey and black water tanks at this time as well. Use the free Campendium app to find dump stations and potable water. Pack extra bottles of drinking water for extended boondocking trips.
To help save on tank space, you can capture grey water with a large bin in your kitchen sink or even in the shower. You can then use this to flush your toilet. Some states allow grey water to be dumped on the ground, but absolutely check for sure before doing that. It is illegal in most areas and can get you a ticket or fine.
Take quick showers.
Conserve water by taking quick or military style showers. Some boondockers will take a trip into town and shower at a local gym or fitness center.
Use disposable tableware.
Use paper bowls, plates and disposable utensils to cut down on having to wash dishes. You can then use the paper products to help start a fire and reduce your garbage. If you use regular dishes, wipe them down with a paper towel and wash them right away. Try simple cooking with less dishes and grill more outside. When it’s hot, move your pressure cooker, crock pot and/or air fryer outside to keep it cooler in your RV.
Limit your battery and generator usage.
Use portable batteries for computers and phones and turn off electronic items when running on batteries. Charge everything at once when running the generator. Don’t run your standard RV batteries less than 50%, that will kill them.
Leave no trace!
Pack up everything you brought in, as many boondocking spots do not have services of any kind available.
Stay cool in the summertime.
Especially since you may not be able to run your A/C while boondocking, it’s important to try and stay cool during the warmer months.
Follow these tips for a successful boondocking experience in the heat:
- Camp at higher elevations or in the mountains.
- If you can, park in a shady spot or at least in an area with shade in the mid to late part of the day. You should also try to position your RV so your living side, or side with the most windows, gets the most amount of shade.
- Park near a body of water! You will get natural air conditioning from the wind coming off the water. Plus, you can get in the water to cool off during the hottest part of the day.
- Extend your RV awning(s) and use Solera Super shade panels which are awesome! They keep the side of our RV with the most windows shaded but also more private.
- Keep your windows open and turn on vent fans when it’s cooler outside, then close the windows in the morning when the temperature gets hotter outside than it is in the RV. Also, try not to use heat to warm up in the morning.
- Keep your RV window shades pulled down, especially for the windows that are exposed to the most sun. You could also use some insulation to cover your windows.
- Use your RV refrigerator for more than food! We keep expensive makeup and insulin in there when it’s hot.
- Go adventure during the hottest part of the day or, if you have to work, go work at a local café or coffee shop with internet.
Must-Have Products, Gadgets & Supplies for Boondocking
We use a water storage tank to extend our fresh water capacity and a blue tote tank to extend our waste water capacity. A portable RV waste pump will help transfer your grey and black water into your blue tote if it’s in the back of your truck. We also highly recommend a solar and lithium battery set up if you plan to do lots of boondocking, otherwise a generator can help a lot with your power needs.
Follow Our Adventures!
We hope you enjoy your boondocking camping trip and hope to see you on the road! Be sure to check out our website and follow us on social media to keep up with our outdoor adventures.
Website: Tom & Cheri – Enjoy The Journey.Life