One thing that we learned after beginning a lifestyle of full-time RVing is that there are many, many different ways to live this lifestyle. Some people travel in vans, staying only one or two nights in Walmart parking lots and rest stops across the country. Others travel in million dollar motorhomes staying month-to-month in five-star resorts. Still others travel in less-expensive but larger rigs, such as travel trailers and fifth wheels. Some people travel solo, others as couples, and still others as entire families. Basically, there are many, many travel and camping styles within the full-time life. Boondocking happens to be our preferred camping style.
What is boondocking, you may ask? Boondocking refers to free camping, typically on public lands, with no hookups. Basically, when boondocking, you are on your own for water, electric, sewer, etc. (I’ll be writing a post in the near future detailing how we make this work for us).
Your question might now be, why would you want to camp like this instead of staying in campgrounds? In this post, I’ll highlight all the reasons why we love boondocking so much, in hopes that maybe you, too, will go out and try it. 🙂
Out in nature
One of our reasons for wanting to RV in the first place was to be outside more and to be really in nature. We craved the wide-open expanses of beautiful Western landscapes that simply can’t be found in a campground. That’s not to say that campgrounds are bad in any way, and we have stayed in some campgrounds that we adored. However, for us, staying in even the quietest of campgrounds still does not compare to the silence and solitude of remote boondocking.
While boondocking, we have often awakened to a lake or river just steps outside of our home. Other times, we have driven our RV deep into the mountains where we are greeted by jagged peaks in each direction. Still other times, we have traversed into a forest or desert landscape, with nothing but us, our home, and views for days. For us, there is nothing more ideal than opening our front door to be greeted by a beautiful view, instead of by another RV.
We love the tranquility that comes with feeling completely alone on a private peace of public land. It’s not that we hate being around other humans, but rather that we love having peace and quiet surrounding our home. We spend lots of time with other traveling friends, in coffee shops, etc, but when we are in a beautiful place, we prefer to enjoy it solo. This enables us to spend tons of time outside working, hammocking, relaxing, doing yoga, etc., all while surrounded by nothing but the view around us.
Boondocking tends to give us a bigger backyard than we would have in campgrounds. Technically, the world is our backyard, but here, I’m referring to the space around our RV as our “yard.” In campgrounds, you are typically given a small perimeter of land surrounding your RV that is technically “yours” for the duration of your stay. When boondocking, the sites are much larger, and most people will not bother you while you are occupying your own site. The bigger yard allows us more space to relax, work out, work, play with our dogs, etc., which leads to my next point.
Dogs can be off-leash
There are no leash laws in the wilderness! In campgrounds, dogs almost always need to be on-leash at all times. We have young, active dogs who need a decent amount of physical activity on the daily. When we stay in campgrounds, we must actively seek out dog parks and other open spaces to take our dogs to play, but when boondocking, we can play with our dogs right outside. There is always plenty of room for them to run, wrestle, and play ball and frisbee, which is better for them and us! We also like to let them hang out off-leash around camp with us, and this is only realistic while boondocking.
It’s completely free!
Finally, one boondocking benefit that we can’t forget is that it’s completely free! While we would still prefer it even if we had to pay, the price tag certainly doesn’t hurt. Nightly stays at a full hookups campground average anywhere from $30 to $70 per night, which adds up really quickly. Even national forest and national park campgrounds typically run anywhere from $15 to $30 for dry camping. Some people are able to stay at campgrounds for cheaper with a combination of discount clubs, but this still, obviously, costs more than boondocking. If you are looking to travel as cheaply as possible, then boondocking can really help with that.
In closing, we prefer boondocking over staying in campgrounds for a number of reasons, but namely that it allows us to get out into nature, gives us more space and privacy, offers better views, doesn’t require leash laws, and is totally free. While it may not be for everyone, it works perfectly for us. In fact, we knew even before we hit the road that we would want to be boondocking a majority of the time. Because of this, we added certain mods to our rig to make this style of camping easier, and I will publish another post on this soon.
If you are a full-time traveler or even a weekend RVer, and you want to try boondocking but are scared or unsure, I hope that you find this post helpful in outlining the reasons why you should try it. There’s a chance that you could hate it (although I seriously doubt this), but there’s also a chance that you will fall in love, as we have! You never know unless you try. 🙂
Have you boondocked before? What was your experience? Do you have any other reason you think one might enjoy boondocking? Feel free to share in the comments below!