Boondocking and free camping
Boondocking, independent parking, dry camping and free camping are words used to describe camping off the grid, away from hookups and serviced campgrounds. To do it you need to be self-sufficient or close to it.
In RV terms, boondock means to go camping (often for free) off the grid, away from hookups and serviced campgrounds. Once you are self-sufficient and can travel independent of hookups, you can camp for free or for very little in lots more places that are often close to nature.
Camping this way gets you closer to nature, saves you money and means there are more places you can stay.
Boondocking is essential for full-time RVers
Most people who RV full-time find that or free camping is essential to:
- let them stay on the road without having to go back home
- be free from having to earn a living
- spread their money further - have more museum visits or eat out more
- keep them away from the crowds
- stay close to nature in national parks and forests and other wild and unspoiled places.
We love independent camping, but we like to check into a full-service campground from time to time to:
- do the major washing (minor stuff gets done in the sink by hand or as we travel with it in a lidded bucket it gets agitated by the movement on the road)
- catch up with others who prefer more creature comforts or less natural surroundings or
- remind us of what we don't have to put up with when we camp in the wilds for free.
There is often much better security away from civilization than in lit campgrounds. It is generally safe and secure if you:
- are discreet about where you're headed when you're in nearby towns
- park away from roads and other places where people might see you and
- keep noise and lights down to make yourself unobtrusive.
One experienced RVer's maxim is: "Ten miles from town, a mile from pavement, away from and out of sight of graded and/or graveled roads." He has never had a problem except a couple of times when he didn't follow his own rule.
Although boondocking originally meant camping in the boondocks (places well away from civilization), today it usually includes camping anywhere area without hookups to water, electricity or sewage. It includes camping at non-powered sites in a campground or in a parking lot or a house driveway.
Self-sufficient RV boondocking
Self-sufficient RVing means camping without the need for:
- outside sources of power
- piped water
- garbage and recycling services
- sewage or sullage removal by hookup or dump points
Camping in the wild is usually much more comfortable if you have:
- Enough battery power to supply basic needs for light, appliances and controls
- Drinkable (potable) water for drinking, food preparation, rinsing dishes, cleaning teeth etc
- Other water for body washing, dishwashing etc
- A way to recharge the house batteries such as solar panels (or a generator, which may be unacceptable in many boondocking areas)
- Enough wastewater capacity for your stay
- A portable toilet with sufficient capacity for your stay and
- A way to store garbage and recycling out of reach of native animals and in a way that prevents unpleasant smells from destroying the pleasure of boondocking. Vacuum-sealed bags are one way. Other people freeze their garbage.
In north America there are thousands of camping areas that have few or no restrictions. We have made a webpage to make it easy to get more info on where you can stay far from the madding crowd, called Boondocking America and free camping in the USA, Canada and Mexico. It has info on and links to some very useful websites
In Australia, boondocking is generally called free camping. Not necessarily meaning free from having to pay, but free of all the constraints that staying in campgrounds brings.
Because Australia has thousands of unspoilt and uninhabited areas, there are thousands of camping areas that have few or no restrictions. We have made a webpage to make it easy to get more info on where you can stay far from the madding crowd, called Free camping in Australia
When we boondock we miss out on the following things, meaning that we don't have to put up with them:
- having to go back home
- having to earn a living
- the smells of civilization.
For hints on how to make your independent camping more successful and last longer, see the menu items at left and above.
The links above take you to excellent resources for anyone who wants to try out boondocking or free camping. You need to be fairly self-sufficient to be independent of hookups, but then you are free to camp for free or for very little in lots more places.