Boondocking: What Is It and How Do I Do It?

Hit the road with your RV and experience an absolute state of freedom!

What is Boondocking? 

Essentially, boondocking is free camping in a tent, van, or RV without the comforts of running water, electricity or toilets. You may hear it by other names such as dispersed camping, wild camping and/or dry camping. Boondocking can be done on public land outside of an already established campsite or campground as long as there are no signs posted otherwise. Obviously, we recommend an RV or campervan rental to try it out as it is much more comfortable than camping.

Boondocking is one of the most relaxing and peaceful experiences, it is total freedom. Imagine yourself in the most breath-taking of places, open night skies with the brightest of stars, pristine rivers and lakes with no people around. Boondocking gives you the chance to enjoy the open road and open spaces for free, or at least super cheap. You can see places most people don’t even know about and enjoy nature without the clutter and chaos of regular campsites. 

What are the Risks?Don't be afraid to take the risk

In general, boondocking is incredibly safe, especially from other people. However, as in any outdoor situation, you have to use common sense and if you feel unsafe in any area, you have the ability to move on. The biggest risk of boondocking is wild animals like bear and raccoons. You can avoid this by keeping garbage locked up inside your camper or tent. Just like the boy scouts, always be prepared. If you are planning on doing activities such as hiking, swimming or climbing, it's always a good idea to let someone know of your plans in case of an unforeseen injury.

  • Not bringing enough fresh water/food
  • Breaking down
  • Running out of power/gas
  • Can initially be expensive depending on what sort of setup you are looking for
  • Wild animals
  • Storms/ bad weather

What are the Benefits?

Enjoy the benefits of boondocking

Boondocking is good for more than just your wallet, it is good for your heart and soul too. Boondocking is a cleansing experience, possibly even spiritual. You will start to feel more connected to the earth and yourself.

  • Peace and quiet
  • Lower carbon footprint
  • Inexpensive or free campsites
  • Experience places most people won’t see
  • Not many other people around

Are Their Rules for Boondocking?

There are a few rules to boondocking and most of them are common sense. Some basic rules to follow are included below:

  • “Leave No Trace” - Don’t leave anything behind, especially rubbish or waste of any kind. 
  • Make sure you are not on private land or property
  • Study up on state-specific rules. For example, how long you can stay in one spot, if dogs or other pets are allowed, fire safety rules, etc.
  • Respect other campers space
  • Read up on hunting, fishing rules of the area
  • Always be prepared for an unexpected situation with fellow humans or animals
  • Let family or friends know a general area where you might be staying and/or when to expect you back
  • Check out some more

How Do I Know Where to Stay?

Stay in a safe and comfy place

Generally, public lands are all legal free campsites. Before you stay just anywhere, you can do a simple google search or phone call for all the necessary info and maybe even some secret tips. The Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Management and the National Forest and National Grasslands in any state can point you in the right direction, plus someone will know you are there in case anything were to go wrong.

Most places are fair game as long as there is no sign stating “no overnight parking”, “private land” etc. 

If you're really desperate, most Walmart’s, Kmart’s, truck stops or other big shopping sites and centers allow free parking overnight, especially for RVs. Of course, this doesn't offer the peace and serenity that comes with boondocking. However, it is a perfectly viable option for visiting otherwise expensive places like Las Vegas and Los Angeles

Useful Apps and Websites:

Use these apps and websites for the most up to date place to stay, tips from other boondockers and any other useful information to make your trip an epic as possible.

Boondocking Hacks:

  • Bring enough water and always carry a water filter
  • Use as much solar powered energy as possible i.e. solar powered fairy or Christmas lights, solar-powered lanterns/motion detecting lights
  • Carry a flashlight
  • Have a stocked first aid kit
  • Have an emergency roadside kit
  • Be clean and organized
  • Prepare some meals ahead of time
  • Practice water conservation
  • Keep trash stored inside so wild animals don't get to it
  • Have mace or pepper spray on hand for safety

Things to Know Before You Go:

Meet your fellow boondockers

As with most things, there are plenty of things to learn along the way. However, here are some top things to know that will make boondocking the best it can be.

  • Keep in mind that there will always be some sort of upkeep and maintenance. 
  • Have a budget or emergency fund in case something goes wrong
  • Make an effort to know other boondockers - even if it is just on social media so you can share tips and cool camping spots
  • Take your time to enjoy where you are staying, don't rush from spot to spot
  • Be flexible

Boondocking is one of the most freeing ways to travel. You learn so much about yourself and the world around you. It offers an intimate look at how truly beautiful the world can be.

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