What is boondocking? Boondocking is camping in your RV, somewhere where you can camp for free without hookups. Some people say boondocking is also like dry camping.
Dry camping is where maybe you’d stay at a national park camp-ground and pay for it, but you have no hookups there either, so it really depends on who you talk to as to what boondocking really is.
What do you mean by no hookups? No hookups means no electric, so you can’t plug into anything. There are no hookups for your grey tank or your black tank, and you have to get by with the water that you bring with you for fresh water. We have learned so many tips about how to boondock. We’ve been following lots of friends of ours that boondock a lot that.
We want to share some of those tips with you today. We have an onboard generator that we can run right off. If you literally push a button it starts a generator to run right off of our gas tank and we’re able to use that whenever we need to to power up our espresso maker, the microwave, AC if you really need it.
The idea with boondocking is you stay in places where you don’t need air conditioning, otherwise you can also use solar and we recently just got a small solar panel, but we have friends of ours that have a lot of solar and extra batteries on their RV. If it’s a really sunny day out they never have to start the generator at all. Fee power from the Sun as a full hookup. Well, it’s not really free. It’s kind of expensive and that’s why we didn’t invest big-time into it.
We’ve got a small panel for one hundred and fifty dollars used from friends of ours and that’d be able to power enough that it charges up our one on-board battery. We can charge up our laptops and be able to actually work during the day. How do we keep our food cold then, if we have no electric?
There’s a generator, solar and then propane. Our fridge runs off of propane as well as electric, so when we’re not hooked up to electric, it runs on its own off of our propane tank which uses very little. Propane is another fuel that generates energy. We also use it for cooking. It works our stove-top or oven, and then also for our heat.
We are boondocking right now in a cooler climate in the evening, so our propane actually helps helps us stay warm at night. We have a fresh water tank on board. Every RV is equipped with one, usually when you buy them, but you need to pay attention to how those work, how big it is and how much you can bring with you.
Where to get water when boondocking?
Some people are comfortable drinking right out of their freshwater tank, so if you fill up somewhere you know that it’s not contaminated water, you can drink right out of your tap. We do run out of water and we either drive our RV somewhere to find fresh water, maybe a camp-ground nearby will let us dump our tanks and sell fresh water, or we bring a jerrycan.
Where does that all go, that stinky stuff the gray tank and the black tank. Especially so when we are boondocking we fill up a gray tank really fast if we do a lot of dishes and if we shower. We try not to do as many dishes. Sometimes we buy paper plates, which then fills up our garbage.
Where to get water for RV?
We also sometimes will wash with biodegradable soap and I’m okay taking our the dishwater when I’m done washing and just dumping it outside here in the desert because you’re helping the plants grow. Now when it comes to showering you tend to shower let’s say a little bit less when you’re boondocking.
Where to dump grey water tank?
Dry shampoo is my friend. Baby wipes for kids. We use baby wipes a lot. I’ll tend to boil a pot of water and then the kids will use warm wash-cloths and soap, and wash their bodies and then we’re good for the next day. You just tend to do without showering. One other thing about showering – we have an outdoor shower, so if we have a lot of extra fresh water like we had mentioned before or do boondocking with friends who have a big huge freshwater bladder that we can fill up with, then we could take an outdoor shower in swimsuits and it just goes outside.
What about the black tank? We no longer use toilet paper in the black tank or it doesn’t fill up nearly as much. We can go near almost two weeks, ten to fourteen days for our family of six on a thirty gallon tank. We’re in a 33 foot class C RV so it’s not a giant box but the tip is to not put your toilet paper in the toilet. You put it in the garbage and your black tank can last you quite a while.-
At some point we do have to dump and so then you have to pull all of your slides in and get everything closed up and you find a dump station where we find some solution. You can find those at local camp-grounds. The place we’re staying right now, the city has a sanitation department and they actually have a public RV dump available for five dollars
Where to dump trash when boondocking?
Let’s talk about trash. I don’t think I was prepared for when it came and never thought about how much trash our family creates every day. We use paper but then you fill up trash place so much, so it’s about a bag a day between the bathroom, garbage and the kitchen garbage, it’s about a full bag of trash for a family of six every day.
You can’t just leave it outside either because a lot of these places you’re in the wild. We don’t want them digging into our trash so with our setup we have a minivan and we can’t put our leave our trash inside if it’s too smelly, then we end up putting in the back of the minivan. To be honest it smells up the minivan pretty quickly.
If we’re boondocking with friends and they have a pickup truck, we’ll ask if you can put our trash in the back of their truck until somebody goes into town and find the trash a dumpster somewhere that we can dump it off. There’s not a lot of free public dumpsters around, so what do you do with a large kitchen bag?
If you’re somewhere near a national forest camp-ground we can go on there and use their dumpsters. You can also go to local gas stations. They have the trash bins usually by gas station pumps and in my eyes it’s better to keep trash in a trash receptacle than they leave it out here.
Being a digital nomad we have to be connected 24/7, well 24 by five at least. We do need cell signal and that’s what we use to be able to get internet so we can work and provide for a family and make this work. How do you find cell signals? There’s lots of apps out there. One of our favourites we use is called ‘Coverage’ and so that is a composite map that brings all the carrier’s together and you can drop a pin somewhere and see what kind of coverage you get from the four major carriers in the United States.
Right behind us is Mount Elbert, the tallest peak in Colorado and we’re camping in its shadow. On the other side are beautiful twin lakes. It’s gorgeous here, absolutely amazing. This I would say is definitely one of our favorites so far – Twin Lakes Colorado. We took the kids down by the beach and down on twin lakes and it’s only been in the 60s and it’s in June so we don’t have to run our air conditioner. We get to be out here and just enjoy the sunshine and the nature. A slight downside with that – if there’s any precipitation now we’re at 10,000 feet, we might be seeing some snow.
Right now we’re in the snow-capped Rockies. Where else is some of our favorite spots – One of my very favorites was just outside of Zion National Park and Utah and we camped there with our friends. We were able to get this giant open space spot next to each other overlooking the beautiful Canyon and we even took the kids on a hike there.
We’re able to hike down in the canyon. Excellent cell signal – a desire yep 30 minute drive into Zion. Free. You can stay for up to 14 days, so that’s something to note, in case we didn’t cover it. All these beautiful favorite places you want to stay, they have different regulations whether it’s BLM Forest Service, USDA, different people manage different areas so just know your rules. Just try and respect them.
After 14 to 16 days in one place you need to move on to somewhere else, but you know, by that point we’re read. There’s also what they call long-term visiting areas over in the Southwest. You can actually get a permit to stay there for an entire winter. In the same area. You can park in the same spot so that’s not free but it is dry camping, because there are no hookups.
Goblin Valley State Park in Utah – amazing boondocking spot, but what’s the negative?Zero connectivity. No cell signal whatsoever. You can’t make a phone call on Verizon, t-mobile – none of it. It’s about an hour’s drive to get cell to cell signal and it’s gorgeous and the kids had so much fun climbing around in Goblin Valley.
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah – that was I would say our fourth favorite and that’s just outside of the national parks. So close we were able to drive right in in like five minutes and see all that it had to offer. We also enjoyed the campsite that kids the played so well with the pine trees and they built forts and they even set up a tent.
We were like five minutes away from the local rodeo and we got to take the kids in for a fun rodeo. That was fun. You never know where you’re gonna play in these spots and where you’re gonna end up. Those were like our four favorite boondocking spots. Maybe you’re not on the road. Maybe you’re thinking about boondocking or taking a one-year trip and you’re wondering about this whole dry camping or boondocking thing. If you have questions leave them below and ask away.