Boondocking in Your RV (Dry Camping)

 

Desolation

Boondocking……..living off the land, hunting your own meat, growing your own corn and grinding it for flour.

Well maybe I am getting a little carried away, but I think that this what comes to some people minds when you mention this word.

Pilgrim camping

 

Living like the Pilgrims did……….. not so much. Boondocking or dry camping is basically living without hooking up to water, electricity, and sewer, living off your stored water, battery power and everything drains into your holding tanks.

 

Dry camping a good way to save a few dollars on RV parks and to lessen stress, when you get tired of traveling find a place where you feel comfortable and stay the night, (See my article "Travelling in Your RV") click here for ideas. 

If you need to stay overnight or longer in an RV park, may I suggest the Happy Camper Club. The membership entitles you to 50% off 1000+ RV parks and campgrounds, although some parks have restrictions during high season. I've checked it out and Happy Camper member parks seem to have less restrictions than some other clubs. Click here to check it out.

 RV Boondocking to Save $$$$

Walmart boondocking

Traveling is expensive, even though traveling in your RV is a cheaper way to travel it can still cost. Other than fuel, RV parks can be a major expense. Parks can charge $30 per night depending on your length of stay and the amenities. Boondocking is a way to stretch you RV traveling dollar. Modern RV's are equipped with all the necessary amenities to be make boondocking very comfortable. Niceties like satellite TV.  If you are careful you can stretch your resources to more than a week.

 Boondocking…….. desolation???

boondocking

Although while traveling in the south you will see in the distance a lone RV or two, this is not the typical boondocking venue. If your boondock you may consider some protection other than a firearm, click here to check out tasers.

If you are planning to spend time enjoying this type of RVing, you are more likely to seek out a more organized spot. Quartzsite and Senators Wash are two areas that attract hundreds if not thousands of RVers in the winter months looking for more space while still enjoying the security and social interaction of others.

Imperial dam ltva

These types of places are not completely free approx. $40 for 2 weeks or $180 for the winter season. The fee includes 7 dry camping areas from Quartzsite south. One place is Pilot Knob which is just off I-8 west of Yuma just past the Algadones, Mexico turn off. this place is handy to stay if you are considering going to Mexico for dental. If you want the name of a good dentist leave your e-mail address in the comments below and I would be happy to give you the name of the one we use.

Tips to stretch your RV boondocking days.

Shower with a friend

Shower with a friend, good idea but probably not enough room, but you can do several things to save shower water. Most RV's have a button on the shower head that when pushed restricts the flow, you use less hot water, which saves water and propane.

So turn on the shower, wet yourself down, hit the button soap up, hit the button and rinse. You can also stand in a wash tub so you catch the water for other uses, flushing the toilet, washing the table etc. Don't leave the water running when you brush your teeth wash your hands etc.

This may seem a bit gross, but don't put toilet paper in the toilet, wrap it and put in a waste container next to the toilet. This will not only help your black water tank to last longer but it will also help with the sensors reading more accurate. Believe it or not, most countries sewer system do not function with toilet paper, not putting toilet paper in the toilet is common practice, another gross thing is not to flush when you only do #1 wait until #2 is there, so I guess flush when you have #3. This prevents excess water from going into the black water tank.  These small adjustments will help your tanks last longer.

Save on propane & battery power

Wait until you need to have a shower before turning on the hot water tank. A good sign is when someone starts looking for dead rodents under your chair, or you are being accused of letting gas more often than usual.

Heat water in a kettle to do dishes etc. If its cool put on a sweater, or an extra blanket rather than turn up the thermostat so the furnace comes on.

 

If used sparingly your RV batteries could last several days. If you are not in a room shut the light off, use a minimum amount of lights.

readding in the dark

If you are lucky and stay in a somewhat organized boondocking area like Quartzsite Arizona a honey truck will come by and empty your black and gray water and fill your fresh water tank.

If you are not so lucky eventually it will be necessary  to break camp and take your RV to dump, and refill your fresh water this trip will probably charge your batteries. If you google RV dumps or sani– dumps you should be able to find one in your area. You can usually fill with fresh water as well. Another note, if you are in the southern deserts a good place to get drinking water cheap is at water depots (small blue building), cheaper than bottled water.

Stay the Course – get setup for Boondocking.

Some retirees boondock for weeks months or even all winter. This kinda life takes some different preparations and adjustment to your life and routines.

In order to avoid breaking camp every week or so you can drain your sewer and gray water into a wheeled container called a blue boy. They come in different sizes, but be careful if you buy a large one it may have to be towed to the RV dump Even the smaller ones are heavy. Check out these portable blue boysewer tanks at Amazon, click here.

Also, pay attention to the sewer hose fittings, you will need to attach the sewer hose to your RV as well as the blue boy. Another solution to the problem is a macerator pump.

This is probably the best system it will enable you to pump your gray and black tanks into a larger blue boy in the back of your vehicle, then you just attach your sewer hose to the blue boy and open the valve and let it drain at the RV dump.

Click here to check out these pumps on Amazon, there are two that will do the job comments are mostly good.

To refill your RV fresh water tank. I use a couple of larger "Tupperware" containers with lids that I used to store some other items while traveling. Wash them out and take them to a fresh water outlet, fill them (not completely) haul them back to my RV.

I use a small 12-volt water pump to transfer the water into the holding tank. The pump can be powered by your RV batteries or your vehicle battery. There is a nice little pump that would do the trick. Click here to check them out on Amazon.

RV pump

You can also use a water bladder to transport water, a large reinforced plastic bag that collapses when empty, great for storing. Just one brand with several sizes, but good reviews. Click here to check them out on Amazon.

 
Solar Power for RV Boondocking

 

RV solar

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most fascinating ways to charge your RV batteries is the Sun.

This system once installed is probably the most satisfying, economical, and lowest maintenance, there is. Of course, you need to have direct sunshine in order to charge your batteries. The southwestern states are ideal for solar power.

Yuma, Arizona is the sunniest place on the planet and the warmest area north of the Mexican border. Even though solar power can be ideal, if the sun isn't shining your batteries will not charge.

We have about 190 watts of panels and if I move them to follow the sun, the panels will charge our 2 x 6 volt batteries. These batteries seem to be enough for us, although if I had double the panels I could permanently mount them on the roof of our trailer.

She Quilts in the Desert

During the evening we use battery power to watch satellite TV (so a receiver + TV + lights + my wife will sometimes use her sewing machine for quilting and the furnace on cool mornings. This gives you an idea. Click here to check out the RV solar systems on Amazon. These systems are easily installed on the roof of your RV, although a 200 watt system would serve better being portable, meaning can be moved to follow the sun.

RV wind turbine

 

A wind turbine generator that will operate day and night as long as there is wind is another charging alternative. Click here to check out wind generators on Amazon. 

Of course, if you already have solar panels you probably have a charge controller so you will only need the wind generator.

Gas Generator

Of course, there  is the old stand by electricity and noise producing gas generator that is probably a necessary addition in case none of the above are working. One of the draw backs of boondocking is, most evenings in the distance you can hear the low rumble of someone's generator or sometimes much closer, luckily the sun goes down early so we are usually inside.

I have a generic probably Chinese made 2000 watt generator. It works fine at half the price of the Honda or Yamaha. The main difference is the popular makes are a bit quieter and lighter due to the aluminum engine block. Click here to check out the generators. 

 
Boondocking ……What's Happening.

Okay, so you've landed in the desert to dry camp. You've found your spot, a good distance from your closest neighbor, maybe a desert tree near by, perfect, now what. You need something to do besides read and enjoy the peace and quiet. There are many pastimes that can be done while boondocking. Hiking, bicycle riding, enjoying your favorite hobby, maintaining your RV, exploring for interesting rocks, and one of my favorites ATV touring.

The desert in the winter is a perfect place for this activity. There are many established trails that lead to some fascinating stops of interest like mines, hidden water features left by the rains captured in a vessel made in a rock formation.

Atv in Desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

Native petroglyphs writings and pictures, interesting landscapes. There are also many donkeys in the southwest apparently left by miners after the mining petered out. there are many such activities to enjoy in the warm sunshine of the southern states.

A golf course is always close in the southwest, click here to book a time no booking fee.

Boating and fishing In the desert ………ha ha 

Believe it or not, there are many places to fish in the desert, reservoirs, the odd lake and some rivers where boating and fishing are very popular especially the Colorado river basin. The waters are mostly calm unless the wind picks up. I found the perfect 4 person inflatable for $120, great reviews, click here to check it out.

RV boondocking some love it some don't, we are all living the RV retirement travel Dream.

boondockingsunset

I have created a comprehensive list of equipment and items you may need for your RV travels click here to check out my list.

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If you enjoyed this article or have any questions feel free to leave a comment below.

G. Borg

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