What does Boondocking mean?

In this short guide, we will explain: What does Boondocking mean? We will discuss the art of boondocking and explain some basic rules for respectful boondocking. 

What does Boondocking mean?

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.

In fact, more and more caravanners are turning to boondocking for the experience. whether it is for freedom, for necessity on a long journey, for a taste for adventure by choosing places that offer more privacy or to save money.

Who is boondocking for? Possibly for everyone. Van owners, Class A, B or C RVs, Trailers, even fifth wheelers are perfect for boondocking. 

There are, however, a few basic rules for respectful boondocking:

  • Observe the signs. If there is a ban on sleeping or registration of private land, you do not sleep without permission, and you find another place.
  • NO GENERATOR … otherwise go with your common sense. 20 minutes to charge the battery or make your coffee is one thing, but running it for hours on end to get the air conditioning is another thing. 
  • If it’s in a big box store parking lot like Walmart, you don’t pull out camping chairs in the parking lot or awnings, you sit far away so as not to harm the customers of the store. We are not on a campground or in a park. We arrive for bedtime and leave before the opening. 
  • We collect our waste, we do not empty the grey water tank on the ground or our dishwater in public places. If you are in nature, some places allow you to empty the grey water tank (never the black water tank), on the other hand only use biodegradable products that are safe for the environment.
  • No loud music or TV sound.
  • We have to pretend we are always ready to go quickly. That is, the legs to stabilize the vehicle should not be installed.
  • We encourage local, that is, we buy local and we visit local, this is a way of thanking for the hospitality
  • Leave no trace of its passage. We respect fauna, flora and nature.
  • We leave the place as you found it or even cleaner than when you arrived, it is not uncommon for a bag of trash to be picked up from others.
  • And the last tip, go with common sense …

Where to boondock: the apps

It may seem obvious for some things and for others a little less, but we share what we have lived as an experience in the last months. It’s very popular in the United States. In fact, the sites where we slept are very clean. 

Aside from one or two bad experiences, people are very respectful in places of boondocking. This is the reason the United States allows the use of its available government land such as the BLMs. 

You can use a few apps to find, including overnight sites, dump stations, and places to refill our propane tank. We share with you our favourite apps for boondocking:

  • Ioverlander
  • Park4night
  • Freecampsites.

Practical info for boondocking

To practice boondocking, you still need to have a minimum of preparation.

  1. Check the level of the freshwater, grey water and black water tanks, to be able to stand without a dump station for a few days.
  1. Beforehand, get an idea of ​​where it is possible to spend the night by looking at the interactive maps on the applications.
  1. Get a feel for the energy you are using so you don’t run out. For our part, we have 200 watts of solar panels as well as a current converter of 1500 watts in pure current. 
  1. Use LEDs, as these lights  require very little energy to operate.
  1. As far as water is concerned, you will be able to be self-sufficient in 3-4 days if you are careful with the use. So we take quick showers and wash the dishes completely once a day if possible. For more autonomy, you can always add additional tanks.
  1. Always keep canned foods, dry foods like rice, nuts, and frozen vegetables. This way if the fresh food is finished we will always have something to cook for a few days.
  1. It’s always better to know ahead of time which roads you will be taking because if you’re riding off the beaten track, it’s better to know what is around the next bend. Informing the locals (the inhabitants of the place) can also enlighten you on the best places to camp independently. 

And sometimes, a night at a campsite can be a good home base for combing an area before setting off on an adventure.

  1. We can do without electricity, but no water! When you go camping on your own, make sure you have the necessary amount of water that you expect to need. You can bring a few extra bottles of water just in case, use wipes to clean yourself up, and eat from paper plates to avoid washing dishes. 

You can also install an outdoor shower where you will collect water to flush the toilet afterwards … In short, a little forethought will make your life more pleasant … and save your water.

  1. Just because you feel free from all obstacles, doesn’t mean you can encroach on your neighbor’s peace of mind. If you are camping near other stand-alone campers, be careful not to listen to your music until the wee hours of the morning or run your generator at full capacity. 

And when you exit, leave the location as you found it. Now is not the time to dump grey (or worse, black!) Water and leave your trash lying around. In short, it is a matter of common sense.

What else do you need for boondocking?

If water conservation is essential in autonomous camping, so is energy conservation. Before you go, check your batteries, consider getting a generator if you don’t have one, and consider if solar panels may be right for you. If an evening by candlelight can be romantic, several meals from cold cans, because they could not be reheated, are less so.

To avoid picking you up on a farmer’s lot knocking on your door early in the morning, make sure you camp on public land. Once again, preparation, before you go, is essential. Do your research! Several parking lots in marinas, small airports, churches, Caisses Populaires, tourist centers, etc. allow camping for a few days if campers use discretion and courtesy. It is still better to ask if camping is allowed before settling in.

In the United States, national park rangers are a great resource for finding good locations. In Europe, you can camp with locals for little or no cost. To find out who receives caravanners on their land, you have to check with tourist centers.

Final tip for boondocking: Put your safety first

When you leave your site for the day, don’t leave expensive items insight: bicycles, electronics, etc. Lock them inside the RV before you go. The chances of getting robbed are slim, but you better be careful. 

Also, 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.

Do you have any tips, thoughts or suggestions regarding boondocking? Share them with our other readers!

FAQ on What does Boondocking mean?

How long can you Boondock in an RV?

You can boondock in an RV as long as you still have water, food and until you have to dump your RV tanks. 

Is Boondocking safe?

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 maneuver off-road.


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