The art of Boondocking off the grid is popular by many van and recreational vehicle (RV) owners. Simply put, the people who boondock are choosing to camp without electricity, water or sewer hookups. Although this method of RV camping has it’s challenges, it has many advantages too.
One of the biggest advantages to boondocking is the freedom of stopping and making a temporary home where ever you are. Pre-planning or reservations are not required. Since we like making up our trips as we go boondocking works well for us.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BOONDOCKING?
Recently, on an on-line forum of full-time and part time campers, I asked the question, “What do you like most about boondocking”. The answers were interesting and insightful.
About 150 people responded to the question. Although each answer had their own personal and sometimes humorist twist, there were consistent themes in the responses. Generally, the answers were from people who are perusing a chosen life-style. They want the best experience possible in the outdoors.
These are the 5 main reasons people liked to boondock:
PEACE AND QUIET
People boondocking off the grid prioritize peace and quiet as a primary reason for choosing this lifestyle. They also like being alone and want plenty of distance from neighbors. Better yet, they don’t want neighbors at all.
In a commercial campground or national park the campsites are often located very close together. The close proximity can make privacy a challenge. Additionally, the campers in these sites sometimes have to tolerate their neighbors music, their noisy kids, pets and other distractions.
In contrast, Boondockers primarily seek out overnight locations that provide quiet getaways. Being alone in a private retreat to enjoy the quietness of nature is what most of these people are seeking. These folks are not looking for social interaction, they are seeking solitude. There is also a sense of accomplishment in finding the perfect spot with a view and no neighbors.
Many of the respondents enjoy spending these peaceful moments with their loved ones and spouses. Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean being by themselves, rather sharing these moments and making memories with people who mean the most to them.
BEING IN NATURE
It’s no surprise the reason people purchase RV’s is to spend more time enjoying nature. Boondocking off the grid takes the RV camping experience to a new level.
People who boondock have their own version of the ideal spot to call home for a few days and it’s easy to imagine staying next to a lake or ocean as the extraordinary spot. Other people may prefer a mountain view or be positioned to watch the perfect sunset. Whatever the definition of the perfect camp site is, the boondocker is always in search for it. The idea is to maximize the experience of staying in a beautiful and memorable location while being isolated from others.
One of the comments was from John who said, “Star gazing in paradise is good for my soul”.
If this description sounds amazing, it can be. However, the ideal places are not necessarily the norm.
For Gail and I, we have stayed overnight in places that we couldn’t believe we were in. However, for each of the amazing places we have stayed, we have also slept several nights in parking lots, truck stops or city streets. The ideal and amazing boondocking site does not happen daily; at least not for us.
I think the meaning of the word ‘freedom’ has many forms for people who boondock.
Without a doubt, people who find themselves alone in the wilderness have a sense that they have escaped the madness of the world. They have found a method of experiencing peace and solitude while the outside world goes crazy. Short of the rules, “leave it cleaner than you found it” and “no camping” signs these folks enjoy the feeling of being on their own and prioritizing their own objectives without distractions.
There is a true sense of freedom, liberty and self reliance when boondocking.
Another type of freedom mentioned in the survey was the opportunity walk around outside in the nude without worry. More then one person mentioned nudity or sexual behaviors in the woods as their favorite thing. HA! Why wouldn’t it be?
The adventure of boondocking is dealing with the unknown. Deciding where to sleep each night, managing the mechanical limitations of your RV and the distress of being disturbed either by humans or animals are some of the unknowns.
Finding the ideal location is actually part of the adventure. We usually start looking for a place to stay in the late afternoon; certainly before nightfall.
Besides looking for a beautiful place to stay, privacy and safety are high priorities for us. We are mindful of “no camping” areas and make sure we’re not parking on private property. We like to have a low profile, keep noise levels low and “blend in” to our surroundings as best we can. Most national forests are ideal for boondocking as they have multiple sites to choose from that are accessible with our van.
Once we choose the site and settle in, we can survey our surroundings and start plotting out our plans for the next day. Since we like to hike and bike, boondocking near a trail head has it’s advantages for us.
In general, the adventure of boondocking is a way of putting yourself out there in a place of unknowns but being ready for anything.
Boondocking off the grid is a legitimate and cost effective way to camp. Unlike staying in a campground with full utilities, boondocking is free most of the time. Occasionally, we will stay in a national forest campground that has limited faculties and a low cost. These site usually cost $5-$10 per night verses $25-$60 in a commercial campground. For travelers on extended trips, staying in commercial campgrounds every night is just too costly.
Prior planning and developing a strategy for conserving resources is a must when boondocking. Gail and I talk about our our plan to conserve water and where we will replenish when we need to. We discuss how to maintain our batteries and recharge all of our devices. We are pretty good at maintaining our batteries in the van, but we do struggle keeping our phones, watches, cameras and computers charged daily when boondocking.
So far, we have had only good experiences but we have gone multiple days without a shower at times, which Gail really does not like to do.
Additionally, we’d like to thank all the people who commented on the forum. These are really great people who want to live life in the best possible way and on their terms when possible.
The comment from the forum that best summed up the boondocking off the grid lifestyle was made by an experienced and full time camper.
“I just spent 2 years fixing my rig for boondocking while I was boondocking. It’s challenging to make lifestyle changes. It’s challenging to learn about your home. It’s challenging to continue having the energy and urge to continue. In the end, when you learn enough, boondocking is easy and preferred. There’s a home for you everywhere you go. Your home is always a few steps away from your driver’s seat.”Jevon