First of all, what is “boondocking”?
Boondocking, also known as dry camping, is camping “off grid”, with no hookups for electric, sewer or water. It is a prime way to get away from civilization, and enjoy nature in all it’s grandeur. It is also economical, because many boondocking areas are free, on public lands.
Within the RV world, there is a special, hardy breed of fulltime RVer, known as the fulltime boondocker. This hardy breed of traveler strives to live “off grid” all of the time, with very infrequent visits to an RV park. They pride themselves on the ability to not only save money on rent, but also, their ingenuity at finding new ways to live comfortably without “the grid”, and in their ability to find new places to camp.
The prime areas to live as a full time boondocker is West of the Rockies, where the population is sparse, and the majority of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land is, as well as abundant National Forest lands. Many free boondocking areas are well known, such as Quarztsite in Arizona, and the areas around Yuma Arizona, across the border in California. Other areas are less well known, and the full time boondocker prides themselves on the ability to find these hidden spots, and often, will jealously guard their favorite areas.
There are a few rules that must be obeyed as a full time boondocker, and the first and most important rule is, “pack it in, pack it out”. That means, whatever garbage you generate while “out in the boonies”, you must take with you. There will be no garbage dumpsters out there in nature, and it is extremely bad form to just throw your trash into the fire pit, and drive away. There are “bad actors” within the boondocker community, who leave litter everywhere they go, and these litter bugs are often blamed when a boondocking area is either closed down or restricted.
Another rule, give your neighbors room! This is not an RV park, where your neighbors are just a few feet away. Boondockers like their space, a lot of space! Like acres of space! Rule is, just one rig per pull out, even if it is big. Of course, if you are caravanning with other boondockers, it would be appropriate to park together, but otherwise, even if a pull out looks big enough for more than one rig, keep on driving down the road, if someone is already there.
As with an RV park, quite time is appreciated; don’t blast your music if other campers are within ear shot. Also, don’t run a noisy generator all day; if your goal is to do a lot of boondocking, consider getting solar panels. Most full time boondockers have solar, and the standard seems to be 300-400W, or 175-200W minimum.
Boondocking full time is an unusual life, and not for everyone. If this lifestyle appeals to you, be prepared to spend some initial money on a good generator and/or solar panels, and to give up some of your comforts and luxuries, such as high wattage hair dryers and coffee makers; you will have to go old school in a lot of ways. You may also have to endure weather without the usual air conditioning or heating, as solar power is not the same as grid power.
As a full time boondocker, you may also have to for go the usual social amenities; living off grid as a boondocker is best suited to introverted personalities, or couples who are very close.
Boondocking fulltime can be an economical and rewarding lifestyle, as long as you follow a few rules, and are OK with living a more socially isolated lifestyle.
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