So, you are tired of paying an insane amount of money for overcrowded campsites, bad amenities, and bad service. The freedom of happy camping is not happening on overfilled parking lots. This is why you are researching boondocking as an option for you.
Yes, good choice, but make sure you know the basic tips before you go on your first adventure. Boondocking – everything you need to know and 8 must-haves.
Where is it allowed to boondock?
Boondocking means camping without any hook-ups, no electricity, no water, and no sewage. You can boondock on truck stops, Walmarts, Lowes, and Cracker Barrel parking lots if you just need a night to stay somewhere quickly. Often you need to get permission to stay overnight.
Camping on parking lots is not really great, but it serves the purpose of a quick overnight before you go back on the road again.
If you are searching for nice spots somewhere in the mountains or on the beach, check through the following sites:
- Harvest Hosts harvesthosts.com
- Boondockers welcome boondockerswelcome.com
- Hipcamp hipcamp.com
- BLM land blm.gov
There are also a lot of Apps that help you find a cool destination, you just have to download the app onto your phone, some of them charge a fee for using their service. Find these apps on the app store.
Now that you know where to look for nice boondocking sites, let’s check out some basics you need to know before you actually go boondocking:
Choose your location wisely. Look for a spot that is level and well-drained, and that offers some natural shade. Avoid low-lying areas where water might collect, and stay away from potential hazards like dead trees or steep slopes.
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Basic tips you need to know when boondocking for the first time
Don’t decide to go boondocking in the desert in August where it is over 100 Degrees hot, or vice versa going to a region where it is freezing cold. That’s no fun because your resources will not last very long. Make sure you know the following information about your RV:
1. Check your tank sizes:
Freshwater tank, grey- and black tank.
Now you will know how much water you can use during your stay and how much grey and black water your tanks are holding. That means for you:
The water that is in your freshwater tank is what you will have available for cooking, drinking, showering, and flushing the toilet. Most of the tanks hold around 30 gallons, which is not a lot of water, especially for a family. This is why you should know a couple of tips on water saving:
Practice water conservation, for example:
- wash your dishes in a bowl/container and use the water also for flushing the toilet
- exchange your kitchen and bathroom faucets to a model with efficient sprayers; the Oxygenics bathroom faucet is designed to achieve maximum performance with tank size and pressure limits
- Don’t shower every day, use body wipes to freshen yourself up. If you shower, then catch your shower water and use it to flush the toilet.
- Bring portable water jugs to refill your tank in case you run out of water. A good thing to have is a water jug with a spout to make filling up the water tank easier.
2. Bring one or two spare propane tanks when boondocking
Fill up your propane tanks and use them for cooking, cooling your fridge, and heating your water. Try to use as little as possible on your battery. We always bring a cooler and fill it up with enough ice, so we don’t need to stuff the fridge to the limit which could cause it to ice up.
The YETI cooler actually keeps everything cool for days.
3. Boondocking and food preparation
Plan your meals in advance. I prep a lot of my meals, and wash all the vegetables and fruits before we go on our trip. Make it easy for yourself and prepare one-pot meals.
That means you will only need one pot to heat up your prepared food. Use paper dishes, this will reduce the number of dishes you have to clean. Use them sparingly, often you can use plates at least twice for sandwiches or dry foods.
Without access to a refrigerator, you’ll need to be strategic about the food you bring on your trip. Pack non-perishable items like canned goods, dried fruit, and nuts, and consider using a cooler with ice packs to keep perishable items fresh.
But we also try to produce as little waste as possible, which isn’t that hard if you use reusable dishes. You can actually practice making one-pot meals and using just a few dishes at home.
We also love to cook on our Blackstone griddle. The griddle is cleaned very fast without using any water at all.
4. Solar devices are your friend when boondocking
I use the LUCI lamp at night and also to recharge my phone. This light is very lightweight and really lights up the place. You can also use it to recharge your devices.
We also use solar lights around the camper. The indoor light bulbs were all changed to LED. LED’s produce less heat and use less electricity.
A solar trickle charger can also help you through your boondocking adventure. This product is a solar battery charger and maintainer. It can safely charge and maintain 12V batteries and is suitable for any car, motorcycle, ship, tractor, RV, Powersports, and more.
5. Bring a generator for longer boondocking trips
Both of them are recommended by many of my Camper friends because they are so quiet and very efficient.
This is what Predator says about their generator: “Using advanced inverter technology this generator produces more power, with a clean power curve & low fuel consumption. With 11 hours of run time at 25% load, this powerful inverter generator is ideal for powering RVs, camping, supplying household emergency power & tailgating. Super-quiet power output (57 dB) makes this generator ideal for campsites. Parallel capable to double your output. 30 amp RV adapter included for easy hookup to your RV.”
6. An Outdoor Shower reduces grey water when boondocking
If you love the idea of an outdoor shower, here is a great tip that is easy to make and doesn’t need a lot of storage space in your outside compartment.
Using an outdoor shower reduces the need to dump so often.
The bag fits over 5 gallons of water, the hose is 6.6 feet long. The black material easily absorbs sunlight. In addition, it heats water to 127°F / 53°C) in 3 hours with direct sunlight. The camping shower bag has a temperature indicator (C / ° F) on the front to monitor the water temperature at any time to ensure a comfortable and perfect shower temperature.
The solar shower bag can hang for a pressurized shower or lay flat on the ground but then you would need the foot pump for use. Or have somebody foot pump for you 🙂 while you enjoy your shower.
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7. Cooking essentials
We love to use our Blackstone griddle for outside cooking. We use an adapter for our propane tank so we don’t need to buy the small and pretty expensive gas bottles. Also, the outdoor table is fantastic to use for cooking because it is very sturdy, lightweight, and doesn’t need a lot of storage space.
We bought the 17″ for just the two of us. If you want, you can also get a cover for the small griddle.
A coffee maker that doesn’t require electricity and also makes great coffee is an absolute must-have:
Also, a fan with batteries when you are in a hot region helps you to stay cool:
Bring plenty of supplies. Boondocking means you’ll be on your own, without access to stores or other amenities. Make sure you bring enough of everything you’ll need, including water, food, toilet paper, and any medications or first-aid supplies you might need.
Add reflection covers on all of your windows and doors to keep your Camper cool on the inside.
Put your awning out as often as possible to have shade in front of your RV. In addition to your awning, it is also nice to have an additional pop-up tent for eating outside.
You can bring the pop-up tent to the beach and have a shady spot for the pets and/or kids.
Here are more very useful tips for staying cool in summer and also how to stay warm in your RV.
Boondocking – everything you need to know and 8 must-haves
8. Before you head home empty your tanks.
Before you head home you have to dump. If you don’t know where to find a dump station, check out KOA’s, they often let you dump for a small fee. Check out truck stops, FlyingJ or check cities if they have free dump stations near you.
Also, this website sanidumps.com helps to find dump stations or use their app to locate dump stations near you.
Leave no trace when you boondock
Leave no trace. When you’re boondocking, it’s important to leave the area as you found it. Dispose of your trash properly, don’t damage the environment, and follow all local regulations and laws. By being a responsible boondocker, you can help ensure that others can enjoy the experience as well.
Last and best tip for staying cool in your RV
If you have access to water and it is just getting really hot inside your camper, water the top of your RV. This will bring the inside temperature at least 10 – 15 degrees down. So try it out if you have some water to spare.
But how about if you want to boondock in colder temperatures?
There are a lot of tips on how to keep your RV warm on the inside during winter. The best tip is to cover your windows with reflectix. Also, hang a curtain in front of the door. Use rugs everywhere to keep the floor warm. Here is everything you need to know on how to keep your RV warm.
Summary of Boondocking – everything you need to know and must-haves to get started
I always like to try things out before I actually do it. Therefore, boondocking in your own backyard or close to your home is a good idea to try out everything. Test how long you can go without emptying your tanks or needing to fill up the freshwater tank.
How much propane do you use, does your generator work or is there something you totally forgot to bring? Do you feel comfortable without hookups? Test it out first and then enjoy the time off the grid.
See you on the road,
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