What is Boondocking in an RV?

Attention adventurers! Ready to save money and experience the beauty of the great outdoors? Our RV boondocking guide will show you how to do just that.
boondocking rv
Photo Credit: Instagram User @walkerfamilygoods

Traveling in an RV is all about freedom — hitting the open road to explore wonders off the beaten path. And what’s one way to truly take the road less traveled? Two words — RV Boondocking. 

Boondocking is camping without all the amenities, and it can be a cost-effective and fun way to travel in an RV. Sure, it’s a little intimidating at first, but with this guide, you can choose the best RV for boondocking and confidently hit the road.
 

What is Boondocking? 

In essence, boondocking is off-the-grid RV travel. Sometimes referred to as “dry camping,” boondocking is any time you camp in your RV without water, sewer, or electrical connections. That can take the form of parking your rig deep in the backcountry or pulling over at a highway rest stop. What’s important is that you are self-sufficient. 

If you’re considering an extended road trip, boondocking is a great way to save some money and allows for more freedom in your route planning. You won’t need to make reservations, and you can go nearly anywhere. 
 

Types of Boondocking and Where You Can Camp for Free

@koupleofkorsys.jpgPhoto Credit: Instagram User @koupleofkorsys
 

Is Boondocking Even Legal?

While setting up camp in the middle of nowhere (or in the middle of a city) might feel suspect, it’s actually encouraged by state and local governments. Those who are willing to go without amenities reduce overcrowding at RV parks and developed campgrounds. Thankfully, there are several places to spend the night without paying a dime. 
 

Parking Lots

Many businesses permit RV boondocking in their parking lots, including Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s and Camping World. Call the store manager before your arrival, though, as some states don’t allow overnight camping in parking lots. They may have specific sign-in procedures and parking areas designated for RV travelers. It’s also a good idea to spend some money at these businesses, so it’s worth their while to continue offering this service. 
 

National Forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Areas

National Forests and BLM lands are generally open to RV campers so long as you can find a level spot to park off of the main road. Some areas have “no camping” signs up, but it’s legal to camp for at least a few days if you don’t spot one. Get yourself a detailed federal lands map as it’s sometimes difficult to know who owns the land you’re trying to camp on. These federal lands are also much more common in the western half of the U.S.
 

Designated Campsites

Usually, the goal of boondocking is to avoid RV parks and campgrounds, but you can save a little money by staying in a hookup-free site. You’ll still have access to the bathrooms and water spigots, just as you would tent camping.
 

Essential Supplies For Boondocking 

Simplicity is the name of the game when boondocking, but there are a few important items that will make your trip a lot more comfortable and safe.

Water Jugs: H2O is in short supply when you’re camping outside the RV parks. While you can go a few days without a shower or washing dishes, it’s always a good idea to keep a jug or two of drinking water.

12v Fans: Without electrical hookups, you won’t be using your RV’s air conditioner. However, you can keep cool with a couple of 12v fans that run off the same batteries as your RV’s lighting system.

Propane Space Heater: If you thought boondocking was only for the summertime, think again! Cold weather boondocking can be great fun, but using your RV’s heater will quickly drain the tanks. Using a small space heater keeps specific area’s warm without burning through so much fuel.

Composting Toilet: RV toilets are a resource hog. When boondocking for several days, the water tank runs dry, and the sewage tank fills up. A composting toilet will keep your waste sanitary and scent-free.

First Aid Kit: Boondocking can take your RV rental into remote territory, which means you might be far from medical attention. A simple kit filled with a variety of bandages, sterilizing solutions and a few tools, like tweezers and scissors, should be more than enough.

Power Banks: You might be going off the grid hookup-wise, but you’ll still want to make use of your phone, e-reader, or handheld gaming system. A power bank with enough capacity for several charging cycles should keep all your electronics up and running.

Cell Signal Booster: This one’s a necessity if you’re camping far from civilization. Having a couple of extra bars can be a lifesaver should there be an emergency.
 

Adventuring in a Cruise America RV 

Some of the best boondocking RVs are at Cruise America; our RV rentals come in a variety of styles with the amenities you need for a successful trip. Our rental process is simple, and you can tailor it to fit your trip’s needs, whether it be a simple weekend trip or a long-term excursion. 

Think you’re ready for a boondocking RV adventure? Book a Cruise America RV today!

RV Lifestyle

Find Your Perfect RV To Rent

Maximum
Capacity
7
Learn More

A traditional motorhome with the self-contained features you expect. This economical family unit is a traditional favorite for those who want the walk-through convenience of a motorhome.

Features And Amenities Include:

Maximum
Capacity
5
Learn More

A traditional motorhome with the self-contained features you expect, units in the USA even include a power generator. This economical family unit is a traditional favorite for those who want the walk-through convenience of a motorhome.

Features And Amenities Include:

Maximum
Capacity
4
Learn More

Our compact plus unit is a fully self-contained RV. The floorplan features a unique rear kitchen design with all the amenities of a larger unit. The compact RV is the ideal unit for two adults of any age and a dinette folding to an extra bed allows for a child. With 6.5 foot/2 meter ceilings and walk through convenience even tall campers can enjoy the compact plus RV.

Features And Amenities Include:

Maximum
Capacity
3
Learn More

Our compact unit is a fully self-contained RV. The floorplan features a unique rear kitchen design with all the amenities of a larger unit. The compact RV is the ideal unit for two adults of any age and a dinette folding to an extra bed allows for a child. With 6.5 foot/2 meter ceilings and walk through convenience even tall campers can enjoy the compact RV.

Features And Amenities Include:

Maximum
Capacity
3
Learn More

The Truck Camper is attached to an F-150 truck making it easy to drive and maneuver for first time renters. The truck camper has plenty of power to master even the steepest terrain. Whatever your plans, the truck camper offers comfort and accessibility.

Features And Amenities Include: