Almost 60 million Americans enjoy camping, which includes 25 million RVers. There are many ways to enjoy camping in your RV. Whether you hunker down at a KOA campsite or RV resort, or hit the open road and see where it takes you, there is no right or wrong way to enjoy spending time in nature. RVers can even spend time in spots without hookups, which some call dry camping. But did you know there's a term for camping in an RV without hookups? It's known as boondocking.
Boondocking is camping in your RV without connections to water, electricity, or sewer. It allows you to pick more-isolated spots and be one with nature for a couple of nights. Seasoned RVers Gabe and Rocio Rivero have been boondocking in their Thor Motor Coach Sequence for four years and were happy to give us some insight into how and why they do it.
The Riveros have spent the past four years traveling in their RV along with their two dogs, Wilson and Journey.
"First, we absolutely love the feeling of being fully immersed in nature. Some of the most beautiful places we've visited have been in the middle of nowhere," the Riveros said. "Second, the wide-open spaces are great for our two dogs. Third, campgrounds can get crowded and cost upwards of $100 per night, depending on the location. But with boondocking, you typically don't have to pay to camp, and you rarely have any neighbors nearby."
Not being in a crowded campsite with loud neighbors is truly one of the biggest advantages of boondocking. But planning the trip may take a little extra preparation time, especially when it comes to mapping out the trip. Gabriel and Rocio have found a method that works well for them.
"Start by having a rough idea of where you want to stay and what you want to see," they said. "Once we have an idea of where we want to be and what we want to see, we begin to create a route for the drive. Depending on what RV you have, there are several RV-specific GPS apps that can help you determine the best route based on the length, height, and width of your RV. You should always take pictures or screenshots of the driving route to and from your boondocking spot. This way, you'll have a backup in case you find yourself without any cell service."
The biggest part of boondocking is being prepared, and the preparation is a little different from a regular RV trip.
"First, make sure you have all the essentials, including enough food and water to last the length of your stay, as well as medical supplies and a roadside emergency kit," the Riveros said. "Be sure and let someone know what your itinerary is before you leave. Cell service can be spotty when boondocking, so it's good to keep a friend or family member informed of when you plan to return."
The Riveros even shared their favorite locations.
"If you're looking for a spot without hook-ups but still want some people around for security, then state parks and national forests are ideal for boondocking newbies," they said. "For completely off-grid locations, much of the land outside national parks is perfect for more remote camping. Utah has endless public land just outside of its five national parks. And the same goes for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming."
Most of the time, it's free to boondock depending on where you end up. Agencies such as the National Forest Service, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management allow dispersed camping or boondocking on some of the land under their control. To find locations where you can enjoy dispersed camping, along with the rules and regulations to go along with it, check out Campendium, Campnado, Bureau of Land Management, or the U.S. Forest Service.
READ MORE: FIRST 5 STEOPS TO CREATING YOUR CUSTOM CAMPING AND TRAVEL VAN
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