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What is Boondocking?
Boondocking is a term that means camping in your RV in a place that doesn’t have hookups – water, sewage or electrical. So you are strictly relying on what you have in your RV (water in your freshwater tanks, electricity in batteries or solar capabilities), and how much your RV waste tanks can hold before dumping.
Boondocking can mean remote, backwoods camping away from civilization, or it can mean a WalMart parking lot or highway rest stop. Boondocking is sometimes called dry camping.
- Boondocking is when you are camping or staying in your RV in a spot that doesn’t have any hookups
- Thus boondocking requires a greater amount of self-reliance because you can’t depend on a hookup to provide for you
- Boondocking ranges from remote wilderness camping to overnighting in an urban parking lot
For some RV’ers, boondocking can be a camping trip into the wilderness far from civilization. Or for other RV’ers boondocking can mean staying in a WalMart parking lot or roadside pullover for the night.
Either which way, boondocking – or RV camping without hookups – requires you to be self-reliant, more observant of your needs and may require rationing. But of course, your vigilance of rationing will depend upon how long you are going to stay boondocking.
Making Due Without Electrical hookups while boondocking
If you are boondocking and thus have no electrical hookups (also called no shore power) you will have to depend upon the electricity stored in your RV batteries and/or how much electricity your solar panels or generator can generate.
How much electricity rationing you have to do will depend upon how long you will be away from an electrical outlet. If you are boondocking in a remote wilderness spot and the weather report is calling for days of clouds, then you’ll want to cut down your energy use if you depend on solar.
If you’re using a gas generator to create electricity you’ll need to be observant of how much gas you have with you.
You’ll want to avoid excess electrical usage if possible. An air-conditioner is usually the largest electricity draw in your RV so can you get by without using it? (Check out these ways to keep your RV cool in the summer.)
Making Due without Sewer Hookups
If you are boondocking this means you don’t have a sani-dump (or dump station) to empty out your blackwater tanks or graywater tanks.
To minimize waste in your tanks you could try going to the bathrooms outdoors if you’re wilderness camping, or go to public washrooms (like inside a Walmart) if you’re sleeping in a parking lot or roadside stop.
To avoid the greywater tank from filling up you could try showering outdoors if you’re in the woods (check out these 9 camping shower options), try conserving water when doing dishes and rinse them off outside, or hold off doing dishes until you have water hookups and access to a dump station if possible.
Making Due without Water hookups
If there is no water hookup for your RV, is there a clean water source nearby where you could fill up some jugs of water? With no water hookups while boondocking you’ll have to be careful not to waste water and ration appropriately based on how long you’ll be without water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you boondock at WalMart?
Some WalMarts may allow RV’s to park in their parking lot overnight, but don’t assume each one will – call ahead first – and don’t treat it as an actual camping spot. Don’t set up your stabilization jacks, set up your awning, or make it look like you’re “setting up camp.” This will draw negative attention and could jeopardize it for others who use these spots to get some rest on a long journey.
If you want to know more about if boondocking is legal, this article from Boondocking Bible has some good information.
These camping sites are the opposite of boondocking because they have water, sewer and electrical hookups.
The holding tank in an RV that collects and holds “grey water” from sinks and showers.
The holding tank in an RV that holds sewage waste from the toilet (solid and liquid waste…feces and urine).
A sani-dump or dump station is a location where you can safely empty out your RV’s greywater and blackwater tanks.
This is an external electrical source that you plug your RV into. It could be at a campsite or someone’s house.
A campsite that allows you to pull your RV in one side of the site and drive out the other side: no backing up required.
Back in campsite definition