Boondocking—by definition—is staying overnight with no or limited hookups. The other term is “dry camping” and generally refers to staying two or more days with no hookups. RVers use the two terms interchangeably. It is common to find yourself boondocking and also dry camping for a variety of reasons. When you finish this one, read my other article entitled “Boondocking Required” to learn why and when you will find yourself in this situation.
The Epitome of Convenience
We frequently choose to boondock because it is convenient. When we started tracking it, we averaged boondocking 11 nights-per-month during 2006, 12 nights-per-month during 2007, 11 nights-per-month during 2008, and 12 nights-per-month during 2009. Today, 7 years later, we still average boondocking about 10 nights per month—whenever and wherever it is easy to do, i.e., convenient.
Certainly, you can save money by boondocking because campground fees go away. However, campgrounds offer services you need occasionally. I am not an advocate of trying to boondock the majority or all of the time (as some do) just to save money. To do this, your lifestyle must change—I think negatively. It is not something we want to do nor support.
Where and Why to Boondock
Sometimes, you may be required to boondock (stay several days) and this frequently happens at rallies and RV gatherings. Often, there are no hookups or at best, electricity-only at the site.
A Personal Story… As I was writing this article, we pulled into the FMCA Southeastern Rally in Brooksville, Florida. We arrived on Monday and will leave the following Sunday. We are a vendor and they parked us where we could plug in to a 20-amp circuit—nothing else.
Every January, Quartzsite, Arizona hosts the largest gathering of RVers in the world and boondocking is a must for the 10-day stay. Even getting your RV serviced may require staying one or more nights—often with no or minimal hookups. Here we are, plugged into an outlet just outside a service bay and we may need to stay the night here if the service has not been completed by the time the techs quit for the day.
Although not a requirement like service or Quartzsite, as shown below, we were traveling with friends and use a field to park in for a few days (with permission, of course). The field belongs to a relative of mine. We were able to watch deer and wild turkey from our coaches. What a wonderful and convenient site.
Like yours, my motorhome has those self-contained systems—so we use them. The ability to boondock provides you with thousands of places to stay that otherwise must be avoided if you have convinced yourself you must hook up to utilities for the night. For example, if I really need to stop (tired, sleepy, hungry, whatever) I would hate to have to drive another 20-30 miles just to find a campground or felt I had to hook up to utilities. That’s just not safe. I also don’t want to be required to drive a fixed distance because I had a reservation.
I’m not “anti-campground.” When I need those things (utilities and space) the campground offers, I pay their fee, stay there, and appreciate the opportunity. Consider this… I only go to the grocery if I need groceries, only go to the barber if I need a haircut, and only go to campgrounds when I need campground services. I also use campgrounds when we stay two or more nights in one place.
The Ultimate in Instant Savings
You will realize instant and significant cost savings by boondocking because you actually keep the money in your pocket. Assuming an average nightly campground cost of $30.00, if you average boondocking just one night per week, that is an annual savings of more than $1,500 ($30.00 X 52 weeks = $1,560). Our 12-nights-per-month average during 2009 calculates to an average of 2.75 nights per week. Multiply (2.75 X $1,560 = $4,290) and by boondocking that number of nights, the savings was significant. This type of savings will certainly offset increased fuel costs and allow you to continue RVing.
Come on! Even you have to admit that over four-thousand bucks is not to be taken lightly!