Wanna stop spending all your “rent money” on campsites? Then learn how to Boondock!
“Boondocking” basically refers to camping long-term completely off the grid without external power, gas, waste, and water hookups.
Thousands of people everywhere are boondocking right now. Many are far out of your sight, enjoying the wilderness, like a pioneer. Others are doing it right under your nose, living quiet lives in and out of their tiny-home vehicles, driving off whenever they see fit.
While urban boondocking seems to be a decaying art form as cities crack down on “overnighting” (even making a dent on Walmart’s long-time encouragement of 24-hr RV parking), the American West still has thousands of square miles of scarcely explored public wilderness that can be camped absolutely freely, as your public right.
If you have an RV or vehicle suitable for conversion, you too can be a boondocker, and finally stop paying “double rent” on both your stationary home and your mobile one.
To make it work, you’ll likely need to upgrade your systems — (I highly recommend solar power) — And believe it or not, it’s possible to do the upgrade for about the same as a month’s “rent” at a campsite — and after that… years of “free” power!
Of course, the other task is to adjust your lifestyle towards conserving more electricity, water, and other forms of energy that we take for granted in our first-world lifestyles… but I’ll just assume that you found this website precisely because that’s what you’re interested in! 🙂
At the end of this article, I’d like to point you to a number of articles from long-time experienced boondockers, which I’ve found most helpful. If you have a background in survivalism, off-grid living, and you have a bit of “street smarts,” boondocking will be right up your alley. If you’re more coming from the perspective of a vacationer looking to save some money, there are plenty of good sites with helpful tips for managing your resources and staying safe.
Boondocking introduces a lot of concerns that we’re usually not used to thinking about. Many of them naturally revolve around issues of safety and survival. Besides scaling back on our first-world “conveniences” offered by unlimited electricity and water, we also have new security issues of having our entire lifestyle packaged into a tiny moving room on wheels with frequent chances to be stranded in questionable areas or in the middle of nowhere. An advantage is that as long as we’re in it, we can always just drive our little house away. But it’s more complicated.
It’s very weird to be faced with the issue of “I may not be allowed to park my house here overnight.” Trying to “stealth camp” in urban areas always runs the risk that a copper will come knocking on your window at 4am. So a lot of the advice you’ll find on the web is about finding good places to get some sleep. Walmart used to be a good standby, but that’s less the case now, as some no longer allow it. Casinos are still pretty friendly to RVers staying from 1 to 3 nights, but you should check in advance.
But once you’re equipped, the real joy is to get out of town, into some National Forest land, and enjoy being able to just pull over anywhere and sleep under the stars. Under dispersed camping rules, you can typically camp up to 14 days in one place before moving on. Is your RV equipped to spend two weeks completely off the grid?
Some nice sites about Boondocking:
Boondocking.org – Public database of GPS coordinates to boondocking locations.
CheapRVLiving – Great articles on the boondocking lifestyle.
Camping and Boondocking on Public Lands – A whole blog dedicated to boondocking.