In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: What do you need for Boondocking? We will give you 23+ essential tips for a safe and fun Boondocking experience.
What do you need for Boondocking?
For Boondocking, you do not need too many things – that is the essence of this practice anyway – to be able to camp freely, without hookups, electricity, running water or an internet connection.
Roughly speaking, you only need your RV or tent to boondock. However, since we want you to have a safe and fun dry camping experience, we are going to recommend a few things that we consider essential for boondocking. Check the 25 tips below!
25 boondocking tips and tricks
- Have a good escape plan. If you are worried that someone will bother you when you are asleep, make sure you know how you might escape. Can you get to the driver’s seat quickly and move your rig if you feel threatened? Do you know exactly where your key is? How would you react if someone started breaking into your car? Is your phone nearby so you can call 9-1-1 if needed? It is important to find a way out of the area where you are stealthily camping and to know what to do in an emergency.
- Try not to have anything outside the vehicle. There are many ways to distinguish a vehicle as a camper: bikes, roof racks, stickers, emblems, paint or strange colors. Try to keep your outdoor decor to a minimum. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, but avoid it as much as you can.
- Choose a place where you will feel safe. If you are stealth camping in a neighborhood, choose one where you feel safe. Pick a good middle class neighborhood with lots of cars already parked on the street. This way you won’t stand out. If you feel uncomfortable with your choice of parking, listen to yourself and don’t take the risk.
- Be prepared for emergencies. Boondocking often means you’ll be traveling outside of cell service range, and it’s important to be prepared if something goes wrong. Bring a few items such as a first aid kit, troubleshooting kit, and basic tools. Other items such as a shovel, water purifier, and even a distress gun can also come in handy.
- Buy a set of walkie talkies. You are not always going to have a cell signal when practicing the art of boondocking. Walkie talkies are therefore useful when trying to communicate while backing up in the camper or taking a bumpy road. Take them on a hike or in an emergency. Always nice to have on hand.
- Fill your water tanks. Make sure to fill up your tanks before heading out for free camping. You can invest in collapsible water containers to make the most of your space. If you are camping near a water source, such as a river or stream, bring a water filter.
- Be prepared to do your business inside the vehicle. Most of the time, you will be using a public toilet to go to the bathroom and clean yourself up. They are at every corner. However, going out in the middle of the night to use the bathroom is a big indicator that you are sleeping in your van, so be prepared to relieve yourself inside the van in case of an emergency.
- Don’t drink too much water before bed. Avoid drinking water at night to decrease the need to use the toilet. Doing your business at 2 a.m. in the middle of a city isn’t fun.
- Keep your van spotlessly clean Never “look homeless”. We have all seen multitudes of vans and crumbling cars parked by the side of the street and in parking lots. This is just one more invitation to get knocked on the door by the police. If you have an old vehicle, no problem – keep it clean.
- Keep yourself clean too! The best way to do this is to join a gym and go there often to shower and clean up. You paid for it, so while you’re there you might as well practice! Take a look at our article about 5 ways to shower when living in a van.
- Respect the police or security. If you are knocked on the window late at night, do exactly what the police or security guard tells you. Don’t try to justify your actions or think of an excuse, just start your vehicle and get out of it. Most vanlifers seem to get away with just a police reprimand and no fines.
- Pre-plan your meals. Preparing and freezing meals or making salads ahead of time means there are fewer dishes to wash, making it easier and more time to relax and enjoy while reducing the need to go to the kitchen. store. In addition, it also helps keep your garbage to a minimum.
- Park late and leave early. Move your vehicle before people start their day. This avoids being noticed and allows you to settle in a more private place to have your morning coffee and get ready for the day.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Make sure the area is safe from passing cars and that you are not blocking other streets or alleys. It’s also good to make sure you’re not parked where someone or something will prevent you from sleeping through the night, such as road maintenance at night.
- Google Earth Satellite. Use the satellite view from Google Maps or Google Earth to get a better idea of the terrain before you arrive.
- Use apps. There are several apps to make your life on the road easier. We even made a list of the best apps to use in one of our latest posts (Where to sleep in a van).
- Keep a respectable distance from others. Make sure you park a respectable distance from other motorhomes so as not to overwhelm their space or view, and also make sure that the noise from your generator (if you are using one) will not disturb them. Respect for your neighbours will guarantee a pleasant stay for all.
- Park your van in a direction that exploits the weather. If warm, sunny weather is forecast and your RV has a lot of windows on one side, park so that the side of the window is on the shaded side. You can also use the RV as a wind block if winds are common in the area.
- Pay attention to the humidity inside the windows. Moisture inside the windows is a sign that you are sleeping in your van. This is only a problem in the fall and winter, but you still have to deal with it. The only way to avoid it is to install a vapour barrier on the windows, especially the windshield. A layer of Reflectix, a good fit on all windows, should prevent fogging, give you privacy and keep you warm.
- Leave your boondocking site clean. Leave your boondocking site as clean or cleaner than how you found it. Pick up your trash, put out campfires, and don’t throw grey or black water on the ground. That’s all!
- Limit your electricity consumption. If you are going to be going for a few days without access to an energy source or without solar panels, reduce your consumption to a minimum and save energy for important tasks. Go for a front headlamp, and in general, don’t behave like you’re in a house. You could find yourself stuck where you are, with a dead battery.
- Use LED lights. LED lights are a great solution for two things: saving money and saving time. By opting for this type of lighting, you will consume less electricity and also be able to camp for longer before your batteries need to be recharged.
- Always have duplicate keys. Keep them somewhere outside the camper. You don’t want to circle your camper at 3 a.m. to decide which window will be the cheapest and easiest to replace so you can get inside. There are tools to hide a second keychain in your trailer hitch.
- Never park behind barriers. Never park behind barriers (a farm, a closed park, etc.). It would be a bad surprise to wake up embarrassed the next morning!
- Read our other articles. Not an actual boondocking tip, but make sure you read on our blog more information on how to practice dry camping in a safe and respectful manner!
Boondocking can be a great experience! As long as you take some basic precautions and follow our tips, we guarantee you are going to have a great time dry camping.
Please feel free to share with our other readers your thoughts, suggestions, concerns and dry camping experiences!
FAQ on What do you need for Boondocking?
Simply explained, boondocking it’s about caravanning in total autonomy. Some people do it out of necessity; for example on a long trip, they will make overnight stops (called a “transit stop”) at Walmart or rest areas because the purpose of their trip is the destination. Others, on the other hand, do it out of a taste for adventure; they then settle where they stop, as they wish.
You can boondock in an RV as long as you still have water, food and until you have to dump your RV tanks.
Boondocking is safe if you follow basic rules and take some safety precautions. Anyway, try not to cut off all forms of communication with the outside world; let your loved ones know where you plan to camp so that help can be directed to you if something goes wrong.
What is the best RV for Boondocking?
The best RV for boondocking is Class B RVs and vans, as they are smaller vehicles and better to manoeuvre off-road.
- The Ultimate Guide to Boondocking – Togo RV
- 14 Important RV Dry Camping Essentials You Will Want
- Baby Steps to Boondocking: Tips for Beginner … – Camping World blog