Since early 2017, we’ve grown to love dispersed camping and the boondocking lifestyle. Through the years, we’ve become proficient at it. And, we’ve put together a humorous spin on it that maybe you can relate on how to succeed at RV boondocking.
There’s nothing like it; setting up our RV in the middle of the southwest desert amongst the prickly giants or in front of the red dirt canyons and mountains as the backdrop. So those who are curious about the lifestyle, we’ll go right into it sharing how we do it. We hope our experiences and tips help!
YOU KNOW YOU’RE AN RV BOONDOCKER WHEN…
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You can make 10 gallons of water last 3 days…or longer!
Other than drinking water, we’ve learned to conserve water while we’re boondocking! But, if we’re nearing the bottom of our water tank and don’t particularly want to pack up everything and take our RV to fill up it up, we found a worthy solution. We simply fetch our water using a water bladder!
And no, that’s not how we do it in the humorous photo above.
You don’t take a shower for days
Some dermatologists only recommend a shower every other day, or two to three times a week. Many people hit the shower at least once a day, either in the morning or at night before bed. Depending on the day and your activity level, you might even take two or three showers. That’s A LOT of water! When we boondock, taking multiple showers or even one shower a day isn’t feasible, especially if you have small tanks. And, though we try not to do activities that make us sweat, we do still clean up using large body wipes made specifically for that purpose.
You think a 3-minute shower is too long
We call them Sea Showers. We don’t call them Navy Showers because, well, we weren’t in the Navy and Sea is so much shorter to type and say than Coast Guard. But I digress.
When we do take showers, they are very short. We turn on the water, dance around to get wet, shut off the shower, lather hair, turn the shower on and rinse quickly and shut the shower off. We then lather up our entire self, turn on the shower again and dance around like there’s fire under our feet. Voila! Our three minutes are up! We don’t really time ourselves but I’m willing to bet, we’re down to less than the 3-minute wire. Oh, and to help minimize water loss, we bought one of these to for our shower head.
If you’d rather not use your RV shower, ake your own outdoor shower with this cool privacy shower tent and 5-gallon solar-heated shower.
You’ve stepped outside to go pee (guys)
I can’t bring myself to do this because I’m made a little different than guys but we’ve boondocked with several guys who do this. But it’s not only out of convenience saving themselves a walk back to their RV bathroom but to also not to fill up that good old black tank! Hey, if you’re out in nature, find a tree, a bush or boulder. Just make sure you bury if you do the other thing.
Oh, as a female hiker and outdoor enthusiast, sometimes I may have to go. I’ve found the coolest way for us ladies to go pee standing up just like boys do!! So for those saying ‘can’t be done’, ladies, don’t listen to them!
Your clothing supply consists mostly of socks and skivvies
I admit that I have two dozen pairs socks and pair of underwear in my clothes cabinet! To those who don’t live of understand the RV boondocking lifestyle, that is excessive. When you’re boondocking or living off the grid without laundry facilities, having a few more pair is everything! So, if you’re an RV boondocker, don’t skimp on socks and skivvies!
You learn to hand-wash your clothes
There’s no greater joy (for us at least) than discovering we can stay out a couple more days than planned because we’ve done well with conserving our water. But even if we do run out of our socks and skivvies, we just wash them in this convenient portable hand washing bag outside and hang them over our camp chairs or ladder. No HOA’s or fancy schmancy RV park out there telling us we can’t!
You wipe your dishes clean before you wash them
Stupid as it may sound, I actually learned that from my mother who made us wipe our dishes off before washing them because, well…I don’t know. However, I get it now. Even when we are tethered to full hookups, we still are in the habit of wiping our plates off because it keeps our drains clear and our tanks smelling much nicer. We’ve never had drain issues or smelly gray tank fumes. When we’re boondocking off the grid though, after wiping our dishes off with a napkin, I may wipe them with antibacterial kitchen wipes to hold us over for a day or so.
You let dirty dishes pile up in your sink for two days
Okay, two days might be a stretch. However, we do hold off on washing our dishes until the next meal because it’s all about water consumption when we boondock. But when we do, we wash and rinse them in our collapsible dish pans so we can monitor our water usage. And, by the way, our clean rinse water becomes the next batch of wash water.
You jam-pack your RV refrigerator and freezer
This is the honest to God truth! The day before we travel to our boondocking spot, we hit up the farmer’s markets and grocery produce departments. And, we’ll batch cook some of our meals and freeze them. We love these Produce Saver Food Storage Containers that helps keep our raw veggies and salad makings fresh longer. So, load up, Buttercup!! Because there ain’t no Krogers or HEBs out in the desert or in the mountains.
You have a love/hate relationship with plastic shopping bags
Seriously, we hate those stupid plastic shopping bags just as any environmentally conscious earth lover does. They still can be reused and recycled. Because they are small, we use them as trash bags and can easily stuff them into trash cans at fuel stations, stores and rest stops. And, we’ll fill them full of our recyclables until we can find a recycling center.
You’ve not watched TV in months
Seriously, we don’t care what’s happening on the silver screen, green screen or whatever color television screen it is. There’s so much more going on beyond the TV set. While we do still stay somewhat tuned into current events on our digital devices via WiFi, we just prefer to enjoy the outdoors instead. After all, that’s why we go boondocking!
You’re not scared of the dark
I admit that I used to be scared fo the dark when I was a kid. But as an RV boondocker, anyone who wants to come git us is going to have to drive a long long way to even find us. But just in case we hear something go bump in the night, we do have plenty of flashlights, outdoor motion sensor lights and lanterns.
We can have a campfire anytime we want
Wood campfires are amazing! We love the smell and the ability to cook on them. However, lots of dispersed camping sites in forests or on BLM land may not permit them. And, who wants to worry about carting around bug-infested firewood anyway? So, to still enjoy an occasional campfire, we just turn on our fun little propane fire pit. We don’t have to worry about burning down the forest with sparks and we don’t go to bed smelling of smoke.
You know your stars and constellations
Sadly, most only know about the stars and constellations through reading their zodiacs. However, as an RV boondocker, know what they are and where to find them. We even can tell by where they are which way is north. But even if we don’t know which stars are which or we’re interested in finding constellations, we keep our stars and constellation guidebook nearby.
You never leave your shoes outside
We’ve found out the hard way that we never ever leave our shoes outside. Desert residents like venomous snakes, scorpions, spiders and whatever else love to take naps in shoes, so we’ve made it a practice to never leave them outside. Or, if we do, even for a few minutes, we vigorously shake them out before slipping them on.
You don’t want anyone to know where you are
Well, isn’t that one of the whole principles of boondocking is? To be out there in the beautiful outdoors with great views and fresh air. So, other than texting our loved ones, we are careful not to share our whereabouts, especially on social media. It’s not that we don’t want company, we just don’t want the wrong type of company.
You constantly monitor your electric usage
Dan checks our battery level each morning and before heading to bed. Not that we have to because we now have lithium batteries, but it’s nice to know how much energy we harvest through our solar panels and what we’ve consumed. We plan ahead if cloudy weather is in the forecast.
Check out our new Solar, Battery & Energy Management online store!
So, there you have it! If you can relate to or have done several times, then you’re deemed a RV boondocker who enjoys being out there enjoying the freedom of being disconnected from utilities and society.
Interested in becoming an RV boondocker, check out our other RV boondocking related blogs.
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10 Replies to “How to Succeed at RV Boondocking”
I would love to do this til I was sick of it. Just move from place to place. Wouldn’t need a big RV, pop up or small camper would do just fine. Taken many bucket baths in my life. But being alone is a drawback. Not enough squirrels for all the nuts out there.
Di, oh man, we’re sorry your experience wasn’t so pleasant. RV life isn’t for everyone. It’s a lifestyle that must be prepared for and accept all that goes with it. We agree, it could be lonely but there are ways to join groups to alleviate loneliness (ie. Escapees, RV Manufacturer Owners’s Clubs, etc.) -Dan & Lisa
We loved your list. Especially about the Walmart bags and giving intruders the “Stink Eye”. We’ve been doing the same thing but it’s funny to hear someone else say it.
Frank and EJ, thanks for reading our Boondocker blog. Its funny how boondockers find ways to do the right thing but in a funny way. Safe travels and enjoy the open outdoors! -Dan & Lisa
My wife and I are new to boondocking I worry about the battery. I do have a generator but my travel trailer has a solar connection how big of a panel do I need
Hi Michael, thank you for reading our blog. We really need more specifics of your setup in order to calculate what you need in panels. What type/size of RV do you want to power? What will you be powering? How big is your battery bank? Inverter(s)? -Dan
I bet you will find with on off, 1 minut is enough for a shower. Count off a minute. It is a long time.
Some say they use 8 gallons a day for a couple, both showering. We use 14 gallons. I splurge on dishes. Measure it sometime. How manydays from a tank?
Steve, Thanks for following! We can make our 90 gallon water tank last about 10-14 days. Of course, that’s not showering everyday and we save our dishwashing to once daily. We monitor every drop. -Dan
I’ve been reading your blog extensively and at this point I feel like I’m pretty well equipped to go Boondocking but we are going to start out by joining Boondockers welcome and get to know some people who actually do it in person. I really appreciate your entertaining stories and tips. I envy the freedom y’all have and look forward to the same. We will be using a 2009 heartland Agusta. Since y’all are heartland owners, do you have any knowledge of the Agusta .
Hi Greg, thanks for taking the time to read everything you wanted to know. We are no longer Heartland RV owners. In June of 2019, we traded our Heartland Landmark “Ashland” in for a Winnebago View – 25′ motorhome. We wanted more mobility and ability to park almost anywhere; including Boondockers welcome. There are lots of great articles in our blog that can be applied to most any RV. We hope you have safe travels and get to see all that you want to see. Best wishes! -Dan and Lisa