We just completed 9 days of boondocking and dry camping at several different locations. In this article, we’ll share our tips for success from resource management (power, water, and trash) to safety precautions.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we find our free camping spots, watch the video below where we talk about some of our favorites.
The main element to boondocking or dry camping is that you don’t have any hook ups like you would in a campground. Instead, you’re using the ability of your RV to be self-contained. Here are some things we did to manage our resources.
Although we upgraded our power system last year to 4 lithium batteries and 800 watts of solar last year, we still tried to conserve using these simple methods:
- Look for alternatives to electrical appliances. We use a french press to make coffee and have a battery operated fan.
- Turn the water pump switch off after use.
- Use solar or battery operated LED lights for evenings.
- Operate your refrigerator in propane mode.
- Use your propane stove/oven, grill, or camp fire for cooking.
- Choose locations that won’t require air conditioning.
- Charge your cell phone in the car (or with a solar charger).
- Consider using solar panels to produce more power when you are off the grid.
- Invest in lithium batteries to have full use of your stored power.
Most RVs have three holding tanks: fresh, black, and gray. You’ll want to begin your boondocking adventure with the fresh water tank full and the other two empty.
We also chose to fill reusable jugs for drinking water because we weren’t sure how much water we’d need for bathing and washing dishes over the days days.
Other water conservation tips we employed were:
- Navy showers – This means turning on the water to get wet, turning off the water while lathering up with soap, then turning the water back on to rinse.
- Capturing cold water – I put a bucket under the water faucet while it was heating for showers and dishes.
- Use the cold water for flushing – Instead of using the water pump to flush the toilet, we used the cold water from the bucket.
- Wipe down dishes before washing.
- Extend your tanks with a fresh water bladder and portable waste tank.
- The easiest thing to do is create less waste to begin with. So for example, we use reusable drinking containers and don’t use paper plates.
- We also recycle. I have two reusable recycling bags that I use to collect things like food cans and look for a recycling center when I’m going to be in town.
- I also minimize food waste by shopping and prepping food prior to leaving for our dry camping destination. Click here for tips on meal planning.
- When boondocking, we use small trash bags that we can easily throw out in small trash cans when we stop at a grocery store or gas station.
We felt completely safe the entire time we were dry camping, whether it was out in the wilderness on federal land or in a casino parking lot. Here are some basic precautions you can take for your safety.
- Don’t drive your RV to scout out off-road sites. Take your tow/towed vehicle or walk if needed. Always let someone know where you’ll be camping.
- Be aware of your surroundings. If something doesn’t feel right, move.
- Make sure your fire extinguisher is in good working order and easily accessible.
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