Aaahhhhh the freedom. Your house, your space, uprooted and placed ANYWHERE. Well, almost anywhere. I mean isn’t freedom at the roots of our nationwide fascination with RVing? And, isn’t being able to pickup and go anywhere an ultimate expression of freedom?
Whether you call it dry camping, disbursed camping, boondocking or something else it can be both an enriching camping experience and a nightmare. Think like a boy scout being prepared is key to having it go smoothly.
We have found our best boondocking spots by talking with people in real life and online. There are apps, tons of them. All of them have a few spots to offer up, most of them have good review systems so the data is reliable. Since I have not found an app that is broadly reliable I am not going to mention any on here. However, facebook groups have been the best resource when not on the road. Search for full time families, full time rv, rv traveling and similar to find groups you can search and ask questions in. People love to share their secret spots on those groups. When you are traveling for longer periods chat with others, people at a good stop on a popular hike, at the campground you are staying at or at a Harvest Host stop. You will find new friends, many that have been to the places you are headed. New friends, tips and tricks and a cold drink, what could be better?
Boondocking isn’t only for going deep into the wilderness or getting off grid. Being comfortable boondocking or dry camping is super useful and cuts costs but there are some rules you need to understand to be safe and avoid fines. You know those long stretches where you are packing on the miles over a couple of days just to get “there”? You have your house with you, you can boondock if you know how to pack and choose a spot. Yes you can park where semi trucks park over night and in most walmart parking lots. Joining Harvest Host is a great way to get almost free dry camping and really great experience.
Fill your fresh water before you roll out. I know, I know, it eats up gas to travel with full fresh tanks. Being able to use my own potty on the road, cook a quick meal along the way and dry camp anywhere its allowed has way more value than the small amount of gas that will be lost in lower gas mileage from the extra water weight.
Pack wet wipes, face wash wipes, paper plates and other convenience items. My grandmother used to say waste not want not. When I boondock I ask myself what commodity has more value, fresh water or paper products. I choose carefully based on circumstance.
A big plastic bin is super handy for washing people and dishes. Many boondocking spots have a good water source. You can wash people, dishes and clothing outside, not fill your grey tank and not deplete your onboard fresh tank.
There are lots of rules about where you can and cannot dry camp. Most of the wilderness dry camping is on public land, Bureau of Land Management, National Forest, National Grass Lands etc. Recreation.gov is a great resource for BLM info. It’s best to call the individual location to find out their dry camping rules and if there is a fee.
Once you have your destination chosen take a gander at a satellite map to get an understanding of the lay of the land. Plan your site and alternate options. The best pull through sites tend to be occupied so have a few plans. Best not to let Murphy stress you out. Use the scale on the map or info from the BLM employees to be sure there is a site appropriately sized for you. If you are in a small rig, leave the big spots for bigger rigs.
Once you have a little experience boon docking you can learn to push your families limits. How much water do you need for how many days? Do you really need to wash your hair? An external bladder you can strap to your roof, let the sun heat and use for showering and washing dishes can come in really handy for longer stays.
Spending time outside of campgrounds can be so rewarding. The quiet, the isolation, the adventure. Now make a plan, pack up and get those wheels rolling.
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