Boondocking is a great way to save money while traveling. We recently took a trip from Wisconsin to North Carolina with just our Kia Sorento to visit Forest’s sister. She lives in the mountains and we didn’t want to haul a 34′ camper in the mountains.
The total trip only cost us $300 and that included gas and food. We saw great sites and had an awesome 1 1/2 week trip for not much money. This was all thanks to boondocking.
Boondocking, Wild camping, dry camping are all different names for it. Different places call it different things. Boondocking is the popular term used in the RV community. Government agencies like BLM, National Forest, etc. call it Dispersed Camping.
It’s the ultimate way to save on campground costs because lets face it, it can get expensive!
By now, your head is probably buzzing with different questions about it. Is it safe? Is it legal? Can you actually camp for free? Where do I find these spots? Where do you find water?
These are all very legit questions. We had these same questions when we started out. I will try and answer some of your questions.
Is it safe to boondock?
Yes, it is safe to boondock. If it wasn’t, then places wouldn’t allow it. If you think about it, most crime happens in big cities. I’m not saying that it is completely crime-free. However, your chances of being a victim of crime are higher in a city than out in the boondocks.
If something does happen, here are some things that can help you out:
- RVs have wheels so you can leave at any time a place makes you uneasy.
- Carry a good solid tactical flashlight. You can blind them with it or hit them if need be.
- Keep bear spray with you. People with asthma may have issues with pepper spray so keep that in mind. Also, in some states, it is illegal to use bear spray on humans since it is intended for animals.
- If you are comfortable with guns, then keep one with you. This is not for everyone and if you do go this route, please get the proper training to use it.
Is it legal and how do you find spots?
Yes, it is completely legal as long as you stay in the designated areas. As far as finding these places. There are many sources like freecampsites.net, allstays, and other campground locators. Please keep in mind when using these that they sometimes have incorrect info which can be frustrating.
Always do research ahead of time to make sure the place actually has areas for you.
If you are working out of your RV, then electricity is a must. You will need a good solar setup to accomplish this.
If you’re not ready to bite the bullet yet and invest in a big system, a small portable solar set is a great start. There are many out there so please do your research on one before buying one. I have found that Amazon is typically the best place to buy one.
A good RV solar power set up is expensive but totally worth it. Definitely do your research on this because most RV solar installers don’t actually know what they are doing even though they claim that they do.
Gone with the Wynns have a great youtube video on their set up. For their setup, this is what is needed:
It really is a matter of doing your research and finding the system that works best for you.
When boondocking, you do have to conserve water usage. This does not mean that you can’t take showers and such. You may want to make some adjustments to help you use less water though.
Simple things like switching out your shower head to one that uses less water and stuff like that can make a huge difference.
While hiking, we use the Grayl Geopress. I love being able to use water from any stream or pond and turn it into drinkable water. I made a Youtube video on this for another site of mine.
If you have any favorite boondocking places or tips you would like to share below, we would love to hear from you. In conclusion, boondocking is a great way to save money while traveling, but it may not be for everyone. It is by far our favorite way to camp.