Boondocking in an RV is self-sufficient camping, meaning having no access to water, sewer, or electrical hookups. This can mean parking your rig in the backcountry or pulling over to spend the night at a rest stop or parking lot.

If you’re considering an extended road trip, boondocking is a great way to save some money and offers more flexibility. You won’t need to make reservations, and you can go nearly anywhere. 

Is RV Boondocking Legal?

While setting up camp in the middle of nowhere (or in the middle of a city) might feel odd, 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

Is It Safe To Go RV Boondocking?

Boondocking in your RV is as safe as tent camping, if not safer. While these locations may lack regular oversight, you can lock your door at night for added protection during your camping experience.

How to boondock in an RV

As you prepare for your RV boondocking adventure, there are a few steps you can take to ensure a smooth trip:

1. Choose a Time and Location

The first step is to decide when and where you’re going. This will determine the type of supplies you need, where you’ll pick up your RV, and what activities you’ll have access to during your trip. 

2. Check the Weather

As you narrow down your time and location, keep an eye on the weather map. Inclement weather may hinder your camping experience and cause safety issues during your stay. If you notice the potential for dangerous weather, you may want to choose a new location or postpone your trip. 

3. Rent a Quality RV

After you’ve selected your location, you can search for nearby RV rental locations. Cruise America offers pick-up and drop-off locations across the U.S. Our quality RV rentals are a top choice for a boondocking trip anywhere in the country. 

4. Stock Up On Supplies

Once you’ve picked up your RV, it’s time to stock up on supplies. Create a checklist including batteries, plenty of food, layers for every weather, and more.

5. Complete Final Checks

Just before you pile in the RV and head out onto the open road, complete the final checks. Make sure your tank is full, your batteries are fully charged, and you have everything you need. The last thing you want is to set up camp and realize you forget essential supplies. 

6. Hit the Road!

And with that, it’s time for your adventure! Cruise down the road in your RV rental and make all new memories as you boondock in your RV. 

Where to go RV boondocking

Ready to book your trip? Before you hit the road, let's plan your destinations. Here are a few places for your RV boondocking adventure:

Parking Lots

Various businesses, such as Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, and Camping World, allow RV boondocking in their parking lots. Prior to arrival, call the store manager, as some states may have restrictions on overnight camping in parking lots. Be aware of specific sign-in procedures and designated parking areas for RV travelers. Supporting these businesses with a purchase is recommended to encourage continued service.

National Forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Areas

National Forests and Bureau of Land Management (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 with tent camping. 

How long can you boondock in an RV?

Wondering how long you can boondock in an RV? Some places permit up to 14 days, while others may have shorter limits, like under a week. Designated campsites and parking lots might have stricter guidelines, so always check the rules before planning your stay.

Your preparedness matters too. With extra batteries and supplies, a 14-day trip can be possible. We'll list essential RV boondocking supplies below.

Essential supplies for RV boondocking

Simplicity is the name of the game when RV 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 areas 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.

Stock up on these items and do a final walk-through of your RV before you begin your road trip!


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!