Boondocking in Your RV: Getting in Touch With Nature

What is Boondocking in an RV? 

If you are new the world of RV camping, you will soon learn that there are many ways to enjoy your RV and one of them is boondocking. We take a closer look at what boondocking is and everything you need to know, so you can decide if it’s something you want to do on your next RV adventure.

Boondocking and Why Some RVers Love It

Some avid RV owners refer to boondocking as dry camping or free camping. Others may refer to it as independent or wild camping. Boondocking in the RV world means that you are not connected to water, sewer, or electricity.

If we consider the history and culture of RVing, many people are quick to assume that boondocking and RVs don’t go hand-in-hand. While there many benefits and conveniences to parking your RV in an RV campground, it’s not what every RVer wants to do.

Some RVers are happy to stay in a crowded RV park for a weekend, but may also crave the solitude and space of staying in their RV in the great outdoors without the constant hum of generators or having strangers parked just a few feet away.

Boondocking is becoming increasingly popular because it’s a balance of camping comfortably and enjoying a more simplistic outdoor experience.

Even though boondocking often refers to getting in touch with nature, boondocking falls into some different categories, such as moochdocking (RVing at a friend or relative’s place) or Wallydocking (an overnight stay in a Walmart parking lot).

Boondocking occurs in developed campsites with no hookups or primitive campsites. Most often, boondocking takes place on public land provided by US Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The Cost of Boondocking

As with all costs associated with RVing, the costs related to boondocking vary. Your costs are dependent on numerous factors from the type of RV you own to your wants and needs while boondocking.

Not only do RVers choose to boondock to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature, but many also decide to go boondocking to keep their costs low.

The prices we list are average costs, so if you need more accurate pricing, it’s best to take a little time making price comparisons and planning out an itinerary. It’s important to note that boondocking is typically spontaneous and making reservations can be difficult (or not an option).

Camping Sites

If you choose to stay in a public campground, but at a site with no hookups such as a primitive site, it can cost around $25 to $30 a night, which is comparable to a night in an RV park. Public campgrounds include local, state, and national campgrounds, and there are specific guidelines to follow.

Although there are some regulations to follow when you’re boondocking on BLM land, you have a little more freedom and space. If you decide to go boondocking on public land, rather than at a campsite, the cost is free (but again, make sure to follow any posted signs or other guidelines).

Fuel and Propane Prices

Every RVer knows that the cost of fuel fluctuates. The amount you spend on fuel is dependent on the type of fuel you use (diesel or gas), how far you plan to travel, and how frequently you fire up the generator.

If you use propane for cooking or heating, the usage is likely to fluctuate based on how many meals you cook and how much heat you use.

Always check out your current fuel and propane prices before you plan your trip so that you can create a fuel and propane budget (make sure to account for fluctuating prices).

Adding Solar Panels to Your RV

Unless you’re an RVer who spends most of the year on the road and have a lot of experience with boondocking, you may not think of adding solar panels to your RV.

If you’re new to the world of RVs, you may not be ready to explore alternative energy options, but most 100-watt solar panels cost between $100 to $150, and most RVs need at least two.

Water and Dump Fees

Water is often free, but it’s important to make sure that it’s safe to consume. Dumping services typically cost between $5 and $30 depending on the size of RV or the pit stop that provides the services.

Unexpected Expenses

As with any road trip or vacation, you should consider unexpected expenses that might occur when boondocking. Whether you have a mechanical error on your RV or run out of groceries while you’re on the road, always prepare for the unexpected by cushioning your boondocking budget.

Don’t forget to stock your RV with a first aid kit, a shovel for burying human waste, water purification devices, and emergency flares. You can find all of these items online or in outdoor gear stores.

Preparing for Your First Boondocking Adventure

Many RVers love boondocking because it’s a spontaneous camping experience, but a successful boondocking requires a little planning.

One of the best ways to prepare for boondocking is to give it a trial run at home in your driveway, at a campsite at a local campground, or even in the parking lot of your local Walmart. Camp in your RV is if you are in the middle of nowhere (or at least a few miles away from amenities).

Track Your Usage

Pay attention to how much gas and water you use. Take careful notes of your usage on other things, including food and other essentials. Once your mock boondocking adventure is over, go over your notes and see where you need to make adjustments.

Ask Fellow RVers for Advice

Another excellent way to prep for boondocking is to seek advice and other tips from fellow RVers who have experience boondocking. Keep in mind that everyone’s needs for water, food, gas, and electricity are different, but you can get some other helpful hints from people who spend lots of time on the road and unplugged.

Be Open to the Unexpected

The unexpected doesn’t always need to be bad. If you are the type of person who always likes to follow an itinerary, you may struggle to enjoy boondocking. While you should have some type of plan when boondocking in your RV, don’t be afraid to “go with the flow.”

Familiarize Yourself with Regulations and Etiquette

As we already mentioned briefly, even if you’re boondocking on public land in a wide open space, there are regulations you need to follow. Camp rangers are incredible “go to” people to help you find out the regulations and other important information you need to know.

When you’re boondocking in your RV, it’s also important to be a respectful camper. If there are other campers nearby, be a good neighbor. Always leave your boondocking site cleaner than you found it and leave wildlife alone.

Buying an RV for Boondocking or Upgrade

If you’ve been considering boondocking in an RV, you probably already own an RV. If not, you can browse new RV prices at an RV Finder or consider purchasing a used RV for your boondocking adventures.

RVers love boondocking for a variety of reasons, but you can enjoy the unique camping experience regardless if you own a Fifth Wheel or a Class A motorhome.