A Guide to Successful Boondocking on Your First Try

Want to go boondocking, but you’re a little intimidated? Not sure where to begin? Check out this simple guide to help you have success on your first try boondocking. 

The What and Why of Boondocking

Everyone wants a definition, but sometimes we want something less involved. We’ll give you a simple explanation of what boondocking really means below.  

In Simple Terms… What Is Boondocking?

Quite simply, it is the best way to use your RV. Boondocking is the RV life untethered. It means you use your RV to its fullest capacity by heading to a desired location without the need to be connected to sewer, a water supply, or power source. This is what RVs were made for, and it might be just what you need.

Why You Should Go Boondocking

There are a ton of reasons you should go boondocking. But we are going to rattle off a few of our top reasons here. 

  • To relax and disconnect
  • To continue watching the sun go down without a worry
  • To connect with those you love
  • To stay longer at your fishing or hunting spot
  • To breathe in fresh air
  • To wake up next to a secluded nature spot
  • To see what your RV can offer you

Boondocking is great for your whole family—including your pups! And we could go on and on about why boondocking is an important part of RVing—and in our opinion, life in general—but that isn’t what this is about. But if you are here, it is because you are interested in giving it a try. So let us help you find success on your first trip boondocking. 

Set Up Begins Before You Depart

Like anything in life, if you wait until you arrive to be ready, you’ll never be prepared. Preparation for boondocking begins before you leave your home—or previous destination. It starts with having a plan, a realistic expectation, and a hopeful attitude. 

Plan the Necessities

Planning the absolute necessities will help alleviate a lot of tension and make you feel more at ease. Here are a few things to do before you leave. 

  1. Top Off Your Freshwater Tank

We know it is not advised to travel with a full fresh water tank, but it is different when you are planning on being off grid for a while. So go ahead and top off your tank and we’d even suggest taking a few one gallon jugs with you. If you are out there and you run out of fresh water from your tank, at least you have these to get you by until you depart. 

  1. Meal Prep What You Can

You might not know every meal you are going to eat, but you know some of them. So go ahead and wash the fruits and veggies, soak those beans, and do a little meal prepping. This will help reduce the fear of using too much power or water while you are off-grid. 

  1. Prepare Some Activities For Your Kids and/or Adults

It is sad, but most of us don’t know what to do without screens. And while you can have screens while boondocking, it tends to take away from the experience. Have some plans for those of us addicted to screens. You can do anything from creek stomping to puzzles to gathering kindling for a fire. 

  1. A Few Other Tips

There are a lot of things you can do ahead of time. Here is a list of more. 

  • Charge all of your devices ahead of time
  • Do laundry ahead of time
  • Double and Triple Check the weather

Prepare Your Mind

We are used to being on the go and having our mind constantly engaged. In all transparency, it can be difficult to be left alone with your thoughts and reality. This is often when people will begin to get fidgety, pull out their phones to scroll social media, or let out that long sigh—letting everyone know they are bored. 

If you plan on spending several days boondocking, you might want to practice being alone—or with those you will be traveling with. Being alone with your thoughts can get quite uncomfortable and the temptation to run back to busyness will tempt you. However, just on the other side of the decision to stay begins a calming and connected experience. So before you head out, practice being alone and staying put a little longer than you typically might. 

Know Your Route

Finding boondocking sites can sometimes be a bit tricky, but there are social media groups that share great spots with one another.  If you know where you are headed, spend some time and look over the route and what is around. The terrain can sometimes be rough—expect that. The spots might be hidden so slow down as you get closer—who cares if the person behind you is upset. Better safe than sorry! Be aware of low bridges and hairpin turns. And make sure you show up with plenty of daylight hours left.

As You Arrive to Your Spot

This is usually understated, but there is a lot that goes into your arrival. Unlike a lot of RV campgrounds, you won’t have someone escorting you to your spot. You won’t have someone telling you which direction to face. And you probably won’t have a perfectly level spot. When you boondock, all of that is up to you—for good and for bad. 

Once you get your entire rig off the road and you can see your spot, you might want to pause, get out, and look around. Ask yourself a few questions before you shut off the RV. 

Is There an Obvious Place to Set Up?

If there is already an established spot, you might want to follow suit and set up in the same location. If there isn’t, you might want to look and see if there is an established fire ring—if there isn’t a fire restriction in your area. 

Are There Branches Overhead That Could Cause Issues?

Don’t just look around, look up. The perfect spot can be ruined by a branch that looks weak. 

Is There a Preferred View?

If there is an obvious view or feature of this particular boondocking site, then this is super simple. You set up to enjoy that feature or view. But sometimes you find those magical spots where it doesn’t matter because it is all breathtaking. Well, then you move on to some other questions. 

Which Direction Is the Wind Coming From?

If you are in one of those windy states—I’m talking about you, Wyoming—then you might want to get strategic about this. If you can park your RV in a way that helps block the wind, it is worth taking into consideration. 

Where Will the Sun Rise and Set?

When you are boondocking for an extended time, this is something you’ll want to ask yourself. Most people will want the side of the RV with the most amount of windows facing the morning sun. This will help heat up the RV as soon as possible. 

Can You Get Back Out?

Just because you can squeeze into a spot, doesn’t mean you will enjoy getting back out. Always consider this before you commit to heading further off the paved road to a spot. Make sure you can work your way back out without having your marriage end in a divorce. 

You’ve Made it—Now what?

This is where it gets weird. You don’t immediately get out of your RV to hook up power, run your sewer slinky, or connect to water. You get your RV level and then you begin camping. But there are some nuances to boondocking you’ll need to navigate on your own. 

Be A Good Neighbor

When you are boondocking, your camping neighbor is usually a long ways away. But that doesn’t mean they can’t hear the ruckus around them. People are out there to enjoy some quiet solitude and connect with those in their camp. 

Choose to run your generator in short spurts and in the middle of daylight hours. This helps keep the animals around during their natural times—dawn and dusk. 

Reduce Light Pollution

When you are boondocking, it can get a little strange being in a place that is removed from the light pollution of a dense population. But that is a part of the beauty of being out there. If you’ve ever had the chance to see the Milky Way, you’ll remember it for the rest of your life. Turn off the lights and look up. 

Read A Book, Tell Stories, and Listen

Spend time reading,  listening to one another, or in the sounds of nature. Being still is something that those who boondock regularly learn to appreciate. You are going out of your norm for a reason—try to embrace it. 

Start with Boondockers Welcome

The best way to get started boondocking is with Boondockers Welcome. With a Boondockers Welcome Membership, you’ll gain access to a network of 3,000+ private-property hosts across the United States and Canada. 

With your Boondockers Welcome Membership, you can enjoy unlimited boondocking experiences on private properties all over North America for up to 5 consecutive nights without any camping fees. A membership to Boondockers Welcome costs less than two nights at a typical campground, and more than makes up for itself on your first trip! 

This will alleviate the fears of not knowing where you’re going, how you’ll get there, or if you’re even allowed to be there. 

Click here to get your Boondockers Welcome Membership, and we’ll see you out there! 

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