I write and talk about RV living quite a bit. Sometimes when this subject comes up, I’ll go off on tangents and forget that some of the language I use could be foreign to others. Of course, this leads people to ask me the meanings of various words.
The word I’m asked about most? Boondocking.
So, What is Boondocking?
In all honesty, this word could mean slightly different things depending on who you’re talking to.
I use the term “boondocking” as an all-encompassing word. For me, the word simply means to camp without electric, water, or sewer hookups. This might mean we’re spending the night in a truck stop, or that we’re in the middle of nowhere without another person in sight. Either way, if we’re staying overnight without any sort of water or electric connection, that’s boondocking in my mind.
That said, some other people have a slightly different take on the word. They feel that simply camping without hookups should be referred to as “dry camping” and that the term “boondocking” should be reserved for camping trips that are both 1) hookup free, and 2) far from civilization (or in “the boonies”).
Considering the word boondocking was actually created in reference to the term “boonies”, I do understand this thinking. However, I was raised using boondocking as an all-encompassing word, and old habits die hard.
Now that you know what boondocking is, you may be wondering why someone would choose to go that route. Generally speaking, people boondock to save time and/or money, or to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of daily life.In our experience, boondocking has been quite handy for quick overnight stops when we don't want to drive too far from the highway or spend money to sleep. In these cases we might “wallydock” in a parking lot somewhere.
We’ve also used boondocking to save money when full hookup sites were too much for our tight budget. For instance, when we wanted to stay just outside of Washington DC, we were able to do so for very little money by boondocking.
How Can I Boondock?
This all depends on how long you’d like to stay. Do you only want to stay a night or two? If so, just fill your fresh-water tank, top off your battery, and go!
If you’re looking to stay longer than a couple of nights, you’ll want to look into options for refilling your battery, conserving water, and cutting back on waste water. Information on all these things can be found through a simple Google search.
Not sure where you’re allowed to stay? National Forests, BLM land, and National Grasslands are all great, free options. If you’re willing to pay a bit, there are many campgrounds that offer incredibly inexpensive, hookup-free camping. Finally, if you’re just looking for a place to sleep for a few hours, Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, and Walmart are all options. Just be sure to ask permission and be polite!
That, my friends, is boondocking in a nutshell. If the idea of boondocking appeals to you, I encourage you to do some research, prep your RV, and get out and camp!