Boondocking

Boondocking is commonly defined as dry camping in an RV in remote or wilderness locations. Dry camping is being fully self contained with regard to operating its systems independent of the typical campground hookups. Basically, you carry your own water and power on board, and store your waste water in holding tanks. Most RV’s are setup for dry camping for a couple days, others can go for weeks before needing to take on more water, dump waste, and recharge its batteries.

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‘Boondocking’ at the Welcome Center in Virginia. A view out the roof skylight.

Another common definition of boondocking being used today includes dry camping in most any location, and not just the ‘boondocks’. This includes urban settings, truck stops, and roadside or street parking. I’ll be using the later definition much to the chagrin of the BDP (Boondocking Definition Police).

Most RV’s are setup quite well for boondocking carrying enough water, battery power, generator, propane, and holding tanks to run its system for several days without any outside hookups. Using those resources carefully, and augmenting with solar, batteries, and bottled water, dry camping can be extended even longer. When I travel solo in the van I can generally go a week and a few days. With careful use of my resources, I can even extend that to two weeks.

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Boondocking along the beach in North Carolina.

For the type of travel I do, boondocking is so much more convenient than using campgrounds or hotels. I am constantly on the move during my road trips, rather than arriving and staying in one place for multiple days. And when heading to a destination that will take multiple days driving, I don’t want or need the amenities of a campground or hotel, nor do I want to pay for them unused. I am just looking for a place to park, sleep, take a shower and have coffee in the morning, then move on. Boondocking in the van works perfectly satisfying that need, and at no extra cost.

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Van with trailer setup for RC events or extended trips

Being allowed to boondock or overnight park at a truck stop, rest stop, Walmart, or along the side of the road is just plain convenient. No reservations, no check-in/check-out times, you just arrive, park, sleep, and leave first thing in the morning. You aren’t camping, just sleeping, so you don’t drag out lawn chair, grills, and drop the awing and slide outs. And when I boondock at a store or truck stop, I will always buy supplies while there as a thank you. I see that as my ‘site fee’.

Personally I travel more than camp, and try to boondock on most trips when possible. I tend to push myself less, drive slower, and enjoy the journey more now that I have my micro apartment with me than I did when traveling by car and hotels. When driving from hotel to hotel, you have a reservation, and need to follow a schedule. While traveling in the van and boondocking, there is no schedule, no need to leave in order to get to the next hotel reservation. I may leave earlier if I don’t like the place I’m at, or stay longer if I want to explore the area more. Total flexibility.

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Spacious for one, very cozy for two. But threes definitely a crowd.

The added freedom is nice and I always know I have a place to stay no matter what decision I make. And the place I am staying is all my own. All my stuff packed and available as needed. I have the convenience of a small kitchen rather than a restaurant or vending machine at a hotel/motel. It has a fully stocked pantry and refrigerator, and a good selection of entertainment and hobby gear. But the best feature is the bed is my own, the pillows, sheets, blankets, firmness, all exactly how I like them.

It’s nice to be ‘home’ every night even while on the road, and not checking into temporary housing. So I don’t mind the long road trips. In fact, now I look for more reasons to take another road trip 🙂

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Flat screen TV fed by DVD player and streaming  Hulu and Netflix.

As long as we respect the privilege, be good ‘boondocking citizens’, and limit ourselves to parking and not camping, I hope the privilege will continue to be extended to us. Unfortunately, there are those abusing the privilege which may turn that tide against us.

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