Boondocking | bün-ˌdäk-iŋ | verb
to engage in free or off-grid camping, with no traditional RV hookups to water, electricity, or sewer. Also known as: dry camping, driveway surfing, Wal-Mart parking, moochdocking, stealth camping.
When we started planning our life on the road, we knew that boondocking was going to play an important role in sustaining this lifestyle. This is a lifestyle, not a vacation. Campgrounds and RV parks are convenient, but some charge up to $40/night for full hook-ups. That isn’t much different than renting an apartment in the city.
To get familiar with our boondocking options, we became members of two boondocking clubs: Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome. These clubs offer a wide network of property owners who open their farms, wineries, ranches, and driveways to RVers looking for a place to park for a night or two (usually free of charge). So far we’ve had no problem finding convenient spots along our route, and much to our surprise, most of them have offered some type of electricity hookups.
We’ve stayed at a scenic farm on the Vermillion River in South Dakota, a goat and sheep dairy in the Loess Hills of Iowa, a castle outside of Oklahoma City, and a winery overlooking the Palo Duro Canyon in Texas. These boondocking spots have introduced us to fascinating and generous people who love and support the RV lifestyle.
Another type of boondocking is, well, actual boondocking—in the boondocks. The US has nearly 250 million acres of public land where you can park and use for free. National Forests account for an additional 190 million acres. After the holidays, we will have the flexibility to travel at a slower pace and will try our hand at boondocking on these public lands, using sites like Campendium as our guide.
Of course there are also overnight parking options like Wal-Mart and truck stops. We’re not opposed to staying in parking lots when our options are limited, but they won’t be our first choice.
Boondocking requires more planning than just rolling up to an RV park. We have to consider things like water consumption, propane levels, power needs, network connectivity, and what Mother Nature has up her sleeve. This effort can be stressful, but it will give us the freedom to live this lifestyle for as long as we choose.