Boondocking might not be for everyone. Staying off-grid with no hookups and being just surrounded by trees or the wilderness isn’t exactly convenient. However, having the right knowledge, preparation, and resources, boondocking just might be the adventure you never knew you needed. I am not saying that renting at RV parks is no good because they are too! What I’m trying to say is that boondocking is something worth trying out.
1. Have Extensive Planning: The Key to a Great Boondocking Experience
Plan, plan, and plan. I cannot emphasize this more but you have to plan out your boondocking experience. It sounds fun to just get up and go but the fun just ends there, especially when you have unexpected situations that may come up.
Without proper planning, you are bound to experience all the struggles there are when it comes to boondocking. From your location to the duration, to the meals to the water jug to bring, make sure that you plan it all out.
If you can, it is much better to do a dry run, especially if it’s your first time. Try boondocking for a night at your friends’ or at a Walmart. By doing this you can get a better feel of it and you will be better prepared since you’ll have an idea of what you are going to experience.
Also, having a dry run will let you know if everything in your rig works fine. You have to check your tanks, your wirings, power source, and all this technical stuff that might go wrong during your adventure.
2. Always Do Your Research: Both Online and Offline
Research is still part of your planning and it is important to take note of it. It is best to research boondocking locations and decide on places where you can go. There are plenty of websites and apps you can look up to help you with this decision-making.
Another helpful tip is to not hesitate to ask other RVers that you meet along the way. There’s no better way to learn it than learning from those who already experienced it.
3. Fuel Up: You Don’t Want to Be Stuck In the Middle of Nowhere
Before actually taking off on your boondocking adventure, regardless of your planned length of stay somewhere off-grid, make sure you’re all fueled up! You don’t want an experience where you suddenly have to leave an area quickly and you can’t just because you’re out of gas.
You can take advantage of the Gas Buddy app where you can find the cheapest gas possible in your area. If you want to know more about the different apps that you can use while you are on the road, here is an article that I have written for you.
4. Make Sure to Empty Your Tanks: Start Fresh in Boondocking
Before heading out to your destination, you have to empty your black and grey tanks first at a dump station. Boondocking means no hookups and oftentimes, no dump stations as well. Making sure you start on empty tanks won’t burden you with filled tanks as soon as you settle down in an area. This will mean packing up and going to the nearest dump station you can find, which can be tiresome and is not exactly fuel-friendly, either.
If you want to know more about finding free RV dumping stations, here is an article that I have written for you.
5. Use Water Only When You Need It: Save, Save, Save!
Aside from drinking, you will use water for washing dishes, showering, and flushing the toilet. You have to be wise in how you consume your water supply. For your dishes, you can choose to use paper plates and disposable wooden cutlery, which will not only lessen the dishes you have to wash later but will also give you instant fire starters.
As for showering, choose to have low-flow faucets and showerheads to help you save water. Also, you have to be open to the idea of possibly not showering every day. Most RVers recommend doing it every other day. This does not mean that you have to bear with being dirty or stinky. Some alternatives you can do is to do sponge baths and use disinfecting wipes.
For the times you will shower, you can keep a bucket under you so you have water that you can use for flushing your toilet later. Don’t forget to have plenty of hand sanitizers with you so you won’t have to wash your hands with water all the time.
6. Be Storage-Wise: Great for Organization
Most experienced boondockers recommend having separate containers for drinking and utility water. Aside from your main drinking water gallon, you can have smaller containers filled with potable water too. There are also collapsible water containers, usually called water bladders, available in various sizes, which you can fold when not using for better storage.
Another must-have for your water needs is a water filtration and treatment kit just in case you run out of potable water and you have to make do with the available water around.
7. Fill Up Your Propane: Get Enough for Your Cooking Needs
Naturally, since you’re out in the woods, you will have to do the cooking most of the time. So make sure you fill up your propane tanks if you use that for cooking or make sure your induction cooker works well if you use electricity.
You should also consider doing bulk cooking and it might easily get overlooked but you have to carefully plan out your meals as well. Bulk cooking and meal preparation is one way to save time, propane, and energy. Consider one-pot meals too so you won’t have much to wash after.
You can also stock up on ready-to-eat snacks to save on propane and more dishes to wash.
Think of cooking out often too! With some coal briquettes and portable grill stands, you can enjoy a fun barbecue night without having to worry about not having enough water to wash the dishes or not having enough propane to cook!
8. Avoid Contractor Generators: Be Cautious of Your Environment
Using generators will help you a lot in providing electricity for your entire rig. You can use it to power up your appliances and charge your phones and laptops. When boondocking though, you have to be cautious of your environment. Some generators can be too loud, so choose to stay with those contractor generators as much as possible.
9. Invest in Solar Power and Use Energy-Saving Appliances
If you can, you should invest in a solar power system for your rig. If this is too costly you can start smaller panels that can provide enough power for charging or heating your water, at least.
Consider investing also in electricity-efficient appliances and LED lights. This may cost a little more in the beginning but will help you save more in the future.
10. Keep an Offline Map: Don’t Get Lost Now
While there are many boondocking locations with good internet reception, make sure you keep an offline or better, a physical map of your area with you. You’ll never know when you will suddenly run out of data and lose access to your navigation apps.
11. Have a Plan and Keep Communication Lines Open
Before leaving, don’t forget to let your family, friends, or anyone you trust know about your boondocking plans. Let them know of your general routes to take and places to stay in.
I know that you might be going off-grid to stay away from physical and even digital noise, but it is still safe to have your communication lines open. Many people think that boondocking will completely cut you off from cellphone signal and data usage, while it can be true for some places, it is not the case in many others.
If you are working remotely and you need good internet access, you can check some reviews online on certain boondocking spots, whether the cell signal is good or poor, what carriers work best, and things like that.
12. Ensure to Have a Waste Management Plan: Important in Boondocking
You wouldn’t want bears or any wild animals scouring your area overnight just because you have some left-over food and trash scattered on by your rig. You can also reuse the bags you get from the groceries as trash bags so you can easily toss them in smaller batches in nearby trash bins on your way.
13. When Seasons Change: Use a Buddy Heater
This is especially if you are planning on a boondocking full time, you will most likely experience living in all four seasons. Winter can be the most difficult to adjust to so to avoid freezing overnight, invest in a good buddy heater, which is a propane-run portable heater that you can use to save on electricity.
You also want to take a look at a tankless water heater so that your showers will be as warm as possible. Here is an article that I have written listing out the best tankless water heater that you can purchase for your boondocking adventure.
14. Strategically Park Your Rig: Depending on the Season
Decide on parking your rig with the natural surroundings in mind. During the summer, opt to park in more shady areas with windows facing the side where most air can come in. On the other hand, face your windows on the side that gets the most sunlight during the colder seasons.
When you do this, you can rest comfortably inside your rig and you will get a chance to enjoy your boondocking experience.
15. Know the Rules and Basic Etiquette in Boondocking
Some choose to go boondocking because of the freedom you have in terms of camping. However, there are also some established rules and basic boondocking etiquette among the boondocking community that you must be aware of.
Most public lands and state forests allow you to boondock for free but only for up to 14 days, maximum. What fulltime boondockers do is transfer from one place to another to avoid overstaying. They also pay campground rent once in a while before staying in another area for two weeks.
Though the chances of having someone camp near you are small, you have to show respect to other boondockers in the area. For those with pets, pick up after them. If you have loud generators, take note of the reasonable time to turn them on in the morning and evening. Face the exhaust away from others to minimize the noise somehow.
Also be wary of your lights, especially as the night gets deeper. Keeping a bright light can be bothersome for others. Lastly, if you love listening to music on speakers make sure you are not making others uncomfortable.
This basically means that whatever you bring in your boondocking location, you also bring with you when you leave. This includes your trash, used coals, dirty water, etc. Leave zero traces as much as possible. This is to respect the next people planning to camp in your area and to respect your environment as well.
16. Emergencies: What You Should Do
Boondocking or not, emergencies are inevitable. Be ready with an accessible emergency kit with complete supplies for the treatment of basic wounds, insect bites, and allergic reactions. Prepare also a set of medicines for common illnesses such as flu, fever, and allergies.
Another emergency kit that you should have is a handy and compact tool kit with the basic repair and maintenance tools for quick fixes. It’s not easy to find someone to fix a loose tubing or pipe in the wilderness so learn also some quick utility fixes you can do yourself.
There are plenty of things to keep in mind when it comes to boondocking. You need to make sure that you follow all of the tips above so that you will have a comfortable and fun boondocking experience. When you have a well-thought-out plan, your adventures on the road will be smooth. Keep in mind that with every great adventure comes great responsibility! If you want to know about the best RV for boondocking, here is an article that I have written for you.