So we really want to Boondock as much as possible. Some of you may not be familiar with this term Boondock. It means to not be hooked up at an RV site with water/electric/sewer. Ewe, yuck, weird, why would we want that you may ask? Well for one not paying a daily fee for these luxuries is a huge cost saving way to travel. But, it comes at a price, you for sure have to sacrifice some normal daily creature comforts. Depending on the size of your tanks you have to be pretty careful what and how much goes into them. All I’m saying is on boondocking days or even sites w/o full sewer hook-ups, we pee as a family!
So we decided to faux Boondock in my hubs parents driveway for a few days before we headed out West and tried it for realz. The girls slept in the house but we spent 3 nights in the RV and it was a good trial run. We have an RV 12 volt battery that will run stuff like the lights and the a/c and heat but it will also drain very very quickly. I’m still figuring all this battery stuff out so I pretty sure I don’t know what I’m talking about! Don’t plan on plugging anything in cause it ain’t no 110 volt either, which means no coffee maker or TV. You don’t realize what all you use that’s connected to power until you ain’t got none. I plugged my phone charger into the wall charger cause I wasn’t thinking and about completely drained the battery. The furnace needs electric to run its pump to provide this luxury as well, its also a battery sucker.
One thing we were glad we found out while on our test run was our water pump is not working right. It’s completely fine when hooked up to city water but if it’s not and we want to pump water out of our fresh water tank into our pipes it runs and won’t turn off which will inevitably ruin a motor or something like it. So we have some further trial and error reasurch to do with that but for now we just plan on having no water coming out of a faucet while boondocking, not so awesome.
OK besides the bad there is good, there are so many places to boondock that you may had never known about. For instance just to name a few, these places will let you stay over night in their parking lot; Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Bass Pro Shop, Cabelas, Casinos, truck stops and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. So why would we want to over night in a Walmart parking lot? Well besides it being free they are everywhere!!!! If you are trying to go from point a to point b and it’s 800 miles. Driving as far as you safely can the first day and pulling over into one of these parking lots at night then heading out in the early morning is a cost effective way to travel. If you had paid for a night at a state park or independently owned park it would typically run you $25-$60 depending on location and hook-up. A place you may only be at for 12 hrs to sleep and eat and be on your way sure ain’t worth dishing out the dough. Most likely you will need or want something from these locations and the managers know this so that’s why they allow it.
There are a few boondocking clubs that have recently popped up and it’s becoming really helpful with our boondocking needs. We joined membership based club called Harvest Hosts. You pay a small yearly fee and it gives you access to Winery’s, farms and historical locations around the country that will let you spend the night for free on their property. We recently got to experience our first Harvest Host boondocking stay at a Winery on the Georgia/Alabama border.
Our first real Boondock experience couldn’t had really gone any better. You call ahead to make sure they have space for you, the website gives a bit of info on each location and some pictures, also how big of an area they have and for how many RVs. The family who ran the winery could not had been nicer and even though they were closed on the day we arrived they were super welcoming and gave us a wine tasting. We did purchase a bottle from they which is suggested. The theory being you should spend the amount you might spend on an RV site at the location. So I got a night stay and a bonus bottle of wine is the way to look at it.
While we boondocked at the winery we used battery powered lamps and strung lights inside for light. The fridge runs off electric or propane so for traveling and boondocking it’s on propane. We woke up that morning freezing and our bettery was already pretty low so we cranked up our generator. This will juice back up your battery while it’s running things like your furnace for heat. So our rig did not come with a pre-installed/vented generator. We purchased one and carry it on the back of our RV cargo hold hitch mount. To use this we have to physically take it off the cargo holder and it ain’t light. Plus there is the added bonus of it being super duper loud. We asked the owners the night before if we could run it and they had no problem. However we were not gonna run it all night, we would never sleep due to the noise. If we had pulled over into a Walmart parking lot for the night doing this generator scenario is not an option.
So how do we boondock and run all the things?
The answer is get more batteries and eventually solar. The more batteries you have the less you will need the generator to charge them back up. Also you can charge the RV battery while it’s hooked up to your truck, but then you run the risk of draining your truck battery.
We have boondocked one more time since our Winery stay and it went in the complete opposite direction. We boondocked at a Casino and we had the option of several in the area and just by sure bad luck picked the wrong one. The parking lot was apparently the parking lot for the unlabeled after hours nightclub across the way that made for a very disrupted night sleep from 3-5am! For those of you looking to boondock in Biloxi, do not stay at the Hard Rock Casino! The Golden Nugget or Harrahs seem to be way less likely to have a similar result like we had.
We really like the idea of boondocking and once we get our water pump issue solved and gain a few more batteries I can see doing it for longer stretches. Out West there are tons of BLMs –Bureau of Land Management areas that are free or almost free to stay on. Many people whose rigs are too big to fit in National Parks like Yosemite boondock right outside their entrances as well as the Grand Canyon. National parks usually have a 35′ limit and ours is 40′. These are places I’m excited to stay for free at, a little bit more off the grid then the Walmart at the closest interstate exit!
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