When it comes to boondocking, there is no official rule book, nor are there any boondocking exams to pass. There is, however, a right and a wrong way to boondock, and these guidelines come from tried and true trial and error. We RVers are a social breed, and during every new RV adventure we learn and discuss new tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your trip–and now we want to share them with you! Here are our Top 5 RV Boondocking Tips that we have compiled over the years:
#1 Heed State Ordinances
This in an incredibly important place to start, should be researched on a regular basis if you are unsure of where to set up camp for the night. For instance, boondocking rules here in California are vastly different from rules in many other parts of the country, making it imperative to know what is acceptable and what is not per each city ordinance. This includes by is not limited to contacting city authorities ahead of time to be sure that it is okay to park in a certain area overnight. When speaking with authorities, it is a good idea to give them the exact location in question, time and date of the trip planned, description of your vehicle as well as the license plate number. Always look to be preemptive with this so that local authorities already know you are there IF there is a complaint.
#2 Refer to one of the many “freebie” overnight RV Parking directories
If you’ve boondocked before, you know that finding a good spot is not always as easy as we would like. If you check online, you will see that there are tons of boondocking website resources. Out of the many resources available, my personal favorites were found on www.overnightrvparking.com and www.boondockerswelcome.com. These resources are paid utilities, but well worth the value if you are planning on boondocking often. Sites like these offer an array of established boondocking locations, complete with reviews from other boondockers just like you!
#3 Be social but give others their personal space
I personally believe that there is nothing more jarring than having a stranger knocking on our door while I am still in bed. Not everybody is like me though, and some people are outgoing and prefer to greet strangers with tea and cookies! Like I said, I am not that person, but I know I am not alone! Like I said before, RVers are a social breed but personal space is personal space. With that in mind, we found that the best way to work around this is to park your rig as far as you can from your neighbors…while still being neighbors!
#4 Pets and Noise
This rule ought to apply in more places than just the RV, but is a sentiment that often needs to be restated. Although there are no official “quiet hours” while boondocking, it is good boondocking practice to keep the noise level down as the sun starts to set. If you have a dog (or dogs), it would be a good idea to establish a quiet time with them as well. Also, even if your 4 legged buddy has had extensive behavioral training, other campers in your area are not automatically aware of that. Take the cue from your new RV neighbor: be social and introduce your dog if they seem interested, but if not, it would be best to keep the dog closer to your own campsite. This is just another one of those things you will have to feel out whenever you set up camp.
#5 If all else fails…
Rule #5 should be considered as a last resort option, but if your planned boondocking location does not work out–or you’re simply on a long trip and need to take a break from driving–it is common that major chain stores like K-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc. allow for temporary overnight stays in their parking lot. Not all store locations are the same however, so it is a good idea to either ask the store manager in person, or call ahead of time just to be sure. Don’t forget to leave them a small parting gift if possible!
Boondocking is a real adventure but it can prove to be unpredictable at times. We always advocate months of planning before taking off for any trip but it is always a good idea to have a plan B. I hope that these guidelines help point you in the right direction when it is time to set up camp for the night!