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 hookups 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 campfire 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.
Click here to learn how you can run an air conditioner off your batteries or a small generator.
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.
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 the dishes before washing them.
- Extend your tanks with a freshwater 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.
Add Your Advice
Let’s learn from each other! Please feel free to use the comments below to share some of your tips and tricks.
Sharing is caring! Please feel free to save the image below on Pinterest.
Excellent article, Julie.
I thought the reminder about the fire extinguisher was on point. I think people might be surprised at how quickly the standard sized extinguisher bottle (usually supplied with your RV) is expended when used.
I suggest that folks think about a supplemental bottle, perhaps a “non-residue” Halon (or Halotron) based extinguisher for use inside the RV.
Overkill, maybe, but I keep four extinguishers around. Two in my tow vehicle and two in the RV.
Julie Chickery says
I don’t think it sounds like overkill. I’ve seen a couple of RV fires on video and they go quickly.
Great tips! Answered questions I didn’t know I had about boondocking!
Norma Baldridge says
Hello Chickery Travelers, I’m always looking for fellow Cyclone owners and was very excited I found you. We are about 3/4 RVer’s now but within the next two years we should be ready to full time. Thank you for your tips, some I already use but I have a better awareness of new things to try. My main concern I have right now is how to downsize from our 1500 ft home to our 44 ft trailer. My biggest concern is the kitchen storage which my husband and I differ on our expectations. I really don’t want a lot on the kitchen counters and he wants everything out so it’s convienent to use. The counter space was one plus in the kitchen that sold me on our trailer, do you have any tips for storage in the kitchen that leaves less out on the counter. I’m loving your vlogs and would love to meet you someday. We spent about 3-4 months In VA and have a really hard time finding places to stay any suggestions would be appreciated. Safe travels and hope to see you someday.
Hi there! We actually don’t have our cyclone anymore. We downsized to a 30′ fifth wheel 9 months ago. So don’t worry, before you know it even the cyclone will seem big. The one thing I love about fifth wheels is all the kitchen cabinet space. I was able to put my instant pot and vitamix in the cabinets. We leave the coffee maker out all the time, but it would be easy enough to fit in the cabinets too. Just have to find what works for you. We spend at least a month or two a year in northern VA. This time we’re trying a new place called Candy Hill in Winchester. We’ll see how it goes. Hope to meet you on the road!