Van Boondocking Tips for Beginners

What is boondocking

Boondocking is the act of pulling off the highway to find and stay at free locations in your conversion van, campervan, RV or motorhome, in parking spots that have limited or no facilities (no bathrooms or showers). For this reason, it is known as ‘dry camping’.

Boondock technically means camping in rural areas of the countryside with dense brush, some of the more popular spots in include Walmart, Home Depot, shopping malls, car parks, and truck stops. Experienced boondockers suggest discretion when staying in these locations: stay only a night or two and conduct yourself in a discreet manner to avoid being thrown out. Some also say that rules restricting overnight parking often aren’t enforced. “Most of these places are cracking down due to boondockers leaving trash everywhere and being loud and standing out” You should avoid downtown areas, particularly streets near nightclubs or high traffic areas of where you might be hassled.

Away from the city, instead of paying to set up a tent in a National Park, boondockers often prefer National Forest land or BLM land, away from the cities, where they can camp for free. Some Farmers may allow you park on their land, as their presence provides some security, particularly if they are willing to pay a few dollars for water or electricity. Boondocking is a long-term lifestyle choice.

Is Boondocking legal

Is Boondocking legal? Yes and No, Boondocking is legal in California. A lot of municipalities are cracking down on boondocking. It just depends on where and what city you are in. It’s totally legal on federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Reclamation. … Boondocking is also legal in some California State Parks

Boondocking is very safe

Yes, boondocking is very safe. It is more safe to boondock in your RV than it is to stay at RV parks. Reports of boondockers being attacked or murdered by violent criminals are often associated with camping in places where questionable people often frequent. Trust your gut when looking for a spot to boondock.

Without Bound – Perspectives on Mobile Living

I really enjoy this video without bound. It maid me feel like rushing out and living in a van full time. I wish I would have seen this video when I was younger. My hole life would have been different.

How to boondock

Van Boondocking Tips for Beginners

  • Always listen to your gut
  • Let someone know your location if possible
  • Be aware of what your vehicle looks (do you look like you are camping)
  • Keep your windows covered
  • Read the reviews from others who have stayed there
  • Talk to locals
  • Position your vehicle so it’s easy to leave quickly
  • Know where your keys are

How long can you Boondock in an RV or Van camper?

Many “Seasoned boondockers” who dry camp is set up to last 10-14 days without refilling water or needing to dump their tanks. If dry camping for this length of time is something you have never done, with practice, most campers could easily last Four or five nights. Dry camping may seem overwhelming and difficult if you have never tried it before.

Tips for successful boondocking

  • Pre-wash fruits and vegetables while still at a campground (with water hookups) just before you leave for your boondocking adventure.
  • Pre-plan all your meals and snacks. Preparing Frozen meals or making ready-to-eat meals ahead of time means there are fewer dishes to clean, allowing more time to relax and enjoy your time while reducing the need to go back and forth to the store. keeps your trash to a minimum
  • Cook with gas camping stove or electricity using an inverter. When you warm your meals in a saucepan on the propane stove or with an inverter, That means no noisy generator. Check out my blog post on gas camp stoves
  • Use your paper napkins after your meal to wipe dirty plates and dishes off making it easier to wash, uses less water
  • If you have a gray tank use a bucket in the shower to catch excess water. Use that to ‘flush’ the toilet – Saving your water and reducing grey tank water
  • Consider not flushing after urinating to reduce the number of toilet flushes
  • Navy Showers save on water. Get in, get wet, turn off the water, lather up, turn the water on, rinse off, jump out. Or shower only every other day or have a ‘sponge bath with lemon water
  • Track your water usage it is a handy way to gauge the amount of water you are using and estimate how many days your water will last so you can relax about it.
  • Consider building an Hour shower. This shower is a self-contained shower unit that circulates and continuously filters the same five to ten gallons of water. Providing a shower that wastes no water and uses no water from your freshwater tank.
  • Be sure to park a respectable distance from other RVers. Avoid noise generators, generators are them most complained about noise, no excessive noise, so everyone can continue to enjoy the peace and quiet we all enjoy. Being respectful of your neighbors will ensure a pleasant camping experience for everyone.
  • Park your RV or camper van in a direction that take advantage of the weather and sun location. For example, in hot, sunny weather is predicted and your RV or conversion van has a lot of windows on one side, park so the window side is on the shady side. If expecting high winds park on the leeward side of a tree grove for protection.
  • Find a camping spot that creates a natural boundary’s around your van so you feel more comfortable and safe.
  • Avoid  heavy battery drain items like the microwave or TV’s Try to refrain from  running your generator.
  • Think ahead. Charge all of your small electronic devices laptop, camera batteries and electric razor while driving to your next destination, via a portable power inverter/charger using the 12V DC socket on the camper van dashboard
  • Be aware of your use of unneeded lights or electrical items. Install power saving LED lights.
  • Cover your window with insulated window covers during the hottest parts of the day to deflect the sun and help keep your campervan cooler. If you have external window covers or Van awning, those will be even better and or park in the shade of the trees.
  • When staying in a hot climate, open your windows in the evening and make the most of the cool night air to cool down your RV or campervan. Installing a roof vent fan. Check our buy post on roof vent fan
  • Use your air conditioner intermittently, not continuously, to keep the vehicle at a comfortable temperature and to reduce the drain on the generator.
  • Cover the windshield on your RV or campervan with Reflectix to help protect the driving area of your vehicle from heating up like a sauna.
  • Search for BLM or other public land or websites ahead of time for directions and any information you need to about the area, such as fees, rules or permits
  • Utilize  satellite view on Google Maps or Google Earth to formulize yourself of the area before arriving to know the lay of the land.
  • Setup a Safety travel plan for your own precaution, send your travel details with a GPS location or google map search with coordinates to a family or friend so someone knows your whereabouts.
  • Check the cellular/internet coverage beforehand
  • Keep your trash stored securely and don’t leave food outside your vehicle. Park animals will come by to welcome your stay. A black bear can pull open your vehicle door to find open food.
  • Leaving trash behind is the biggest reason for bringing on wanted negative attention to boondockers. Be respectful of the environment and fellow campers and leave no trace when you depart. Also, take any trash you see. Thank you!
  • Most of all take it all in and enjoy nature and the great outdoors for all it has to offer. Its beauty, awesomeness, and its calming affect on your soul.

How To Stay Cool When Boondocking in hot weather

  • Position your campervan or RV in shade if possible
  • Use Reflectix Sheeting to block out the sun
  • Cover windshield with reflector
  • Use your roof vent fans to suck or blow out hot air

Solo Boondocking

Boondocking Saftey With These 10 Tips

  • Listen to your gut
  • Let someone know your location
  • Be mindful of what you show outside your vehicle
  • Keep your windows covered
  • Read boondocking reviews on your location
  • Talk to locals in the area
  • Make friends with your neighbors
  • Set up so you can leave quickly
  • Always know where your keys are
  • Know where the Police and Hospital is in your area

Free boondocking sites

Boondocking free camping

If you’re in town and need to find free camping quickly, here’s some other popular options:

  • Walmart Parking Lots. Those looking for Boondocking can stay up to 24 hours at a time in any Walmart parking lot
  • Truck Stops/Rest Areas
  • Visitors Centers
  • TrailHeads
  • Apartment Complexes
  • Hotels/Motels
  • National Forests
  • Churches
  • Hospitals
  • Rideshare parking

Boondocking Places You Can Park Overnight & Sleep On A Road Trip

  • Walmart
  • Casino’s
  • Truck Stops
  • Welcome Information Center’s
  • Rest Stops
  • BLM Land Grocery Stores
  • Fast Food Outlets
  • Shopping Malls
  • Parking Lots
  • City Street Parking
  • BLM (Bureau of Land Management
  • Some US National Parks allow overnight RV parking and boondocking

Baby Steps to Boondocking: Tips for Beginner Boondockers

  • Check the Weather. Avoid boondocking in poor weather conditions
  • Cover Your van camper Basics: Food, water, hygiene, security, proper clothing
  • Plan a Three-day getaway
  • Keep a journal of likes, dislikes, and things to improve on.
  • Boondock at a USFS or NPS campground
  • Boondock on BLM Land or National park

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