Boondocking Newbies! Are you ready to cut the RV Park Cord? Do you want to let family know that you’ve Gone Boondocking so they can look at you even weirder!?! Well you can, and can learn from our first two weeks of bumbling around the gorgeous wilds of Florida! Here are 5 quick tips we’ll discuss:
How to find boondocking locations
Water – How to Conserve it and How to get it.
How to make the most of your stay
Black & Grey Water – How to deal with it
How to deal with the lack of electricity
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1) How to Find Boondocking Locations
We use three sites: Freecampsites.net, Boondockers Welcome, RVwithME
The easiest way to find free camping and potential boondocking locations is by visiting www.freecampsites.net. Freecampsites.net has been an extremely useful tool both on the computer and smartphone to find where to go. The website features locations, directions, user reviews, and other other helpful information. There is also an opportunity for adding your own reviews and information to places you have visited yourself.
We have also used Boondockers Welcome. Through the website, private individuals make their land, driveway, or lot available for RVers to overnight with their RV for a night or two! On the site, you can search for a general location and see what’s available. Hosts will list what amenities are available – water, electricity, sewer and what size RV they can accommodate.
An up and coming website is RVwithME. You can find all kinds of RV camping – paid, boondocking, wineries, and more. It is a place where private individuals can list their space. We have also contributed some of the boondocking spots we have found.
Besides websites like Freecampsites.net, Boondockers Welcome and RVwithMe; there are plenty of online resources to find potential boondocking spots.
Want to read more on how to find boondocking locations? Here’s are the top 10 states in the US for free camping: https://www.campendium.com/camping/free-camping/
2) Water Conservation
You gotta conserve it since you don’t have a never-ending supply like you do at campgrounds and RV Parks.
So how do ya do it?
Water is clearly a limiting factor. Our TT has a 35 gallon fresh water tank that is heavily taxed by the thirst and needs of us four people and two cats. Before heading out, we like to fill up that fresh water tank. You can fill at RV parks (we filled up after dumping our tanks for a small fee), gas stations, and rest stops. You can also bring extra water with you in jugs or collapsible reusable containers.
We have found that using resusable water bottles (that we do not wash daily) and paper plates cuts down on water usage. When we do not use paper plates, we try to reuse the plates before washing (PB&Js don’t really dirty plates) or wash them with as little water as possible. We keep a small cup by the sink to reduce water use when brushing our teeth.
How to keep from getting stinky when showers are all but off limits…
We like to use Epic Wipes when we need to freshen up. They are really big, smell great, and can handle any job. If you use LOCAL10 at checkout, you can save 10%.
3) How to Make the Most of your Stay
OK, so you are in the boonies, what do you do with your time?
The great outdoors is your entertainment. If you’re near water, you might be able to go for a swim, paddle board, kayak, and/or go fishing. You can almost always find good hiking in the area as well. Set up your campfire and roast some marshmallows. Always make sure to research whether fires are allowed and what kind of wood you can use. Some places have fire bans and have very specific rules concerning the transport of firewood from different locations. If you place doesn’t have a firepit, you can always bring your own!! It’s good old fashion fashion camping really, except you have the comforts of your own bed, bath, and kitchen.
We love exploring local historic downtowns and districts. Wherever we are, time (and funds) permitting, we look up local coffeshops, breweries, and eateries. There is nothing better than seeing the world through the eyes of the locals and meeting new people.
4) Black & Grey Water – How do Deal with It
Into the Black…
Unless you have a composting or incinerating toilet, you will have a black tank to deal with. You will probably always have to deal with a grey tank (very few tiny units lack grey tanks and have hoses directly from sinks to the outside) and it’s holding capacity. So, what do you do when you have grey and black tanks and no sewer? First thing, make sure they are empty before heading to a boondocking location. This will ensure that you can maximize your tanks. If you are at a location that offers port-a-potties or vault toilets, you can use those and spare yourself the worry. If the idea of using those makes you break out into a sweat, you can just use your on-board toilet.
How long can you go before emptying your tanks?
Before you set out on your first boondocking experience, calculate how long you can go without emptying your black and grey tanks. If you want an accurate measure, use it as if you didn’t have access to a sewer. Close up all your valves (you should be doing this with your black tank to prevent solid build-up and clogs) and see how long you can go before having to dump your tanks. If we are really conservative with our water use, we can go 7 days on our black tank. This is with not always flushing our toilets (at least not after every use, especially if everyone has to go right after the other…unless it is solids…). We eventually want to have a composting or incinerating toilet, but we are working our way to being able to be completely off-grid.
Crap, the tanks are full…now what??
Once those tanks are full, you have some decisions to make. Some places (do your research first) will allow you to dump your grey tanks on the ground. You still need to find a solution for that black tank. Some locations do have dump stations and you can just dump as usual. There are several options for dumping your tanks – you can find a dump station via sani dumps (or similar website) or you can pay to dump your tanks at a RV park. Some of the dump stations are free, some require a small fee. Have some cash available just in case.
5) How to Deal With the Lack of Electricity
Who turned off the lights?
If you are boondocking, you will not have any electricity unless you bring it yourself. If you only plan on staying one day or just overnight, you will probably be OK without any electricity at all. Your RV battery will keep your lights and fan running , your fridge can easily switch to propane to keep your food nice and cool. After a day, your RV batteries will need to recharge (or less or more…all depends on your use/needs and your batteries. monitor you batteries frequently, but especially if you are new to boondocking). So how do you recharge those batteries?
You have a few options, but the most common are via generator or solar. Wind turbines are also a possibility, but not as commonly used (Read here for one RVers experience). So far, we have a generator and have been using it pretty extensively. We tend to run it in the evenings to recharge the RV batteries, but also to recharge our phones, wifi hotspot, computers, and tablets (remember we work and live on the road, we are not just doing this for the weekend). We have only run our AC a couple of times so far. Our hope is to enjoy mild temperatures and eventually transition to solar for the bulk of our electrical needs. For details about our particular generator and how it compares to other generators is available here. If you would like to see what our generator can run and how it really works, watch our video here. We are actively researching various solar set ups and are very interesting in the kits provided by Windy Nation.
Hopefully this has given you plenty of information to get you started on your boondocking research. As we continue to learn and grow in our boondocking adventures, we will share our knowledge and resources with you as well. Keep in mind that boondocking is NOT for everyone and there is no shame in never trying this or not enjoying it. Everyone’s needs and experiences are different. Do what works for you and your particular needs. As always, thanks for reading and please share your ideas and experiences below.
Oh – Jessica wrote this post. I was supposed to write it but only got through the basic outline of topics before she had to take over. 🙂