There are two types of RVers- those who are content with spending their time in campgrounds and RV parks as if they are in tiny vacation cottages and those who want to hit the open road spending nights under the stars but enjoy some of the comforts an RV affords.
This latter group, the boondockers, may not be what you envisioned when purchasing your RV but it is a growing trend and can be a lot of fun – IF YOU PLAN ACCORDINGLY.
Boondocking, also known as dry camping or going off the grid, appeals to manufacturers RV owners for many different reasons, but regardless of why you are doing it, there are some shared concerns when doing so.
If done correctly boondocking can be the best of both worlds – the adventure of camping with the niceties of RVing.
If done incorrectly it can be your worst nightmare. Let us help you do it correctly.
Hitting the open road and stopping wherever and whenever the mood strikes has a certain appeal, but it is recommended you save this for later on once you’ve gained a little experience. When first starting out it is best to plan ahead.
Know where you want to go, how you will get there and where you will stay along the way. This allows you to also preplan grocery runs, water resupply, waste dumping and a host of other chores that need to be addressed regularly. It also helps ensure that the site you plan on stopping at after a day of driving is actually a viable option – i.e. the correct size for your unit and a legal overnight location.
Keep it short, at least in the beginning
Just like pre-planning allows you to learn the ropes early on. taking short trips will allow you to test not only your equipment but yourself as well.
While there are plenty of RVers who spend the entire season boondocking in remote locations and do so successfully, the beginner is faced with a bit of a learning curve which is best addressed in short spurts.
As your experience and confidence grow so can the length of your trips.
Learning to conserve
Two of the advantages of RV boondocking vs. tent camping is the ability to have ready access to water and power. However, both of these items come in a limited supply so you need to learn how to function within a water or electricity budget.
Water is as much a necessity as a nicety so it is important that you always maintain an adequate supply of drinking water. Many boondockers will carry separate jugs for just this purpose, leaving the onboard tanks for chores such as dishes and showers.
When it comes to your onboard water supply fill up prior to reaching your destination (allows for a worry-free start), conserve by shutting off when not needed (brushing teeth, scrubbing dishes etc.) and refill when a reliable source is available.
Power is your second concern, although this is a nicety what is the point of buying an RV if you are going to live like you are in a tent?
Enjoy the lights, refrigerator, music and even your laptop but do so in a manner which also allows you to extend this possibility. Even without an external power source such as solar or a generator, it is possible to extend your battery supply for several days.
First, act as if you are paying for the power (like at home) and shut items off when not needed. You should also unplug appliances if possible between use as many drain power without actually being on.
Second, as with your water supply start you stay with maximum power available. Have a fully charged battery bank and pre-charge all electronics. Run as many items as you can such as phones, laptops and small appliances off their own battery power rather than plugging them in. Recharge whenever an external source is available.
Finally, take advantage of nature to heat and cool your unit – two functions notorious for sucking up large amounts of energy. If it’s hot park in the shade for daytime comfort and open windows for evening breeze; If it’s cold park with windows toward the sun and use RV a wind block to enjoy more time in the patio area.
These are but some of the tips to help get you started, for more information on boondocking or RVing off the grid check out this YouTube video.