What Is Boondocking? Everything You Should Know
While you may not have heard of “boondocking” before, you probably know what it is and may have even done it before! The team at Bowlus has prepared all of the information you need to know about this exciting, inexpensive way to hit the road. Whether you’re just heading out on a weekend trip or planning a road trip across the entire country, boondocking may be exactly what you’re looking for.
If boondocking is your style, a Bowlus travel trailer is the way to go. They’re made to go off the grid, with a tough aluminum exterior and a high ground clearance that allow you to off-road wherever you please, a lightweight, easy-to-drive model so you’ll never be stuck, and a sophisticated lithium battery system that will allow you go off-grid for a week (or more, if you use solar panels).
What Is Boondocking?
Essentially, boondocking is camping without any of the frills. Some people refer to it as off-grid camping or its official term, dispersed camping. More specifically, boondocking is camping off-grid in an undeveloped area. The name comes from a slang term for areas that are away from towns, cities, and people in general: the boonies.
Boondocking involves not having any electricity, sewer, or water hookups. It is also normally free.
Remember, boondocking is a skill that develops the more you do it. Expect a few hiccups during your first experience, and learn from your mistakes. We’ll talk more about how to prepare and be successful while boondocking in this article, but, much like everything else in life, it’s a muscle that gets stronger over time.
For the easiest, most successful boondocking experience, a Bowlus travel trailer is the choice for you. If you have an RV that is not built for boondocking, you could end up damaging your battery or being unable to work even your heater due to your battery’s limitations.
The Bowlus is designed to be off-grid. Our extensive battery banks, sophisticated power management systems, and the ability to run appliances like the microwave and all outlets while off-grid means you can stay in all the coolest spots since you don’t need hookups. That means you are free to enjoy yourselves.
Why You Should Boondock
Even if you’re the type of person who enjoys “glamping,” everyone should try boondocking at least once in their lives.
This type of camping really allows you to get out into the beauty of nature, with fewer distractions that you’d have at more populated, “plugged in” campgrounds. You’re out there in nature in a way you probably haven’t been before, and it’s an unforgettable experience.
In addition, boondocking can free you from the worry of having to reserve a campsite ahead of time. That means you can go on a road trip without planning a strict agenda and travel at a more free pace. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do at least a little planning ahead of time.
Boondocking is both safe and legal, provided you follow a few rules and use some common sense. It is also great for reducing your carbon footprint, which can help preserve the Earth so that future generations can get out and explore in the same way.
There is a big, passionate boondocking community out there to get involved in. It connects you with like-minded people all across the country and insider information you might not have come across otherwise.
Where Can I Boondock?
While boondocking is free, that doesn’t mean that you can do it anywhere you want. Before parking somewhere for the night, you may want to check that it is legal for you to do so.
Many websites for public lands, like the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service, maintain databases of areas that can be camped in. However, some of them do verify that you pick up a (usually free) camping pass when arriving and may have a limit on how long you are able to stay.
Preparing For Emergencies
Because boondocking involves camping off of the beaten path, away from populated areas, you’ll need to make sure you have an emergency plan. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it, but having one and knowing what to do if an emergency happens can literally save lives.
Have A Form Of Communication
Depending on how far out you are from civilization, your cell phone may not be able to pick up a signal. While some travel trailers come with WiFi, it’s good to know the location of the nearest landline should you need emergency medical attention. You should also know where the nearest hospital is.
Luckily, the Bowlus Endless Highways edition offers both a cell signal booster and wifi through a built-in SIM card, so you’ll always have the communication you need. You can also piggyback off other wifi signals while still creating your own network for added security.
Have An Emergency Kit
Everyone should have a prepared emergency kit when boondocking. This includes more than just a standard first aid kit (compresses, bandaids, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, gloves, and a thermometer at the very least). You should also have a weather radio that operates by battery, a way to stay warm without relying on electricity, and a supply of emergency food and water for at least a few days.
You’ll also want to have a few spare flashlights, as well as bear spray. You’ll be prepared for anything.
Get Familiar With Your Owner’s Manual
Your manual will have all the information that you need to ensure you have a problem-free trip and can enjoy yourself every step of the way.
Tips For Boondocking
Before you boondock, either for the first time or for the hundredth, there are a few tips that you should consider. These will make your camping experience as stress-free as possible and help future boondockers continue camping there without getting a bad reputation. Think of boondocking as a community, and protect it by camping responsibly.
At Bowlus, we’ve set you up with everything that you need for successful boondocking. Our RV is the safest and easiest to drive, meaning that you can explore wherever you’d like without concerns over u-turns, acceleration, or braking.
The size is also ideal because it’s just small enough to fit the requirements that most national parks have for RVs. Most national park campgrounds cannot accommodate RV’s over 26’. With larger RVs, you’ll be stuck staying outside of the park and be far away from the fun. And even if sites can accommodate larger RVs, they are not as abundant, meaning you will have a harder time getting one.
Additionally, many RVs can’t be taken off of paved roads because of their very low ground clearance. However, when you are camping, you want to go off-grid or, at the very least, experience some rough dirt roads. The Bowlus has some of the highest ground clearance around to do this. Also, the exterior aluminum we use is the strongest available, so no worries about dents and dings.
Even if your travel trailer has plenty of running water, if you’re planning on boondocking for more than a few days, make sure to conserve water. This will allow you to extend your stay without having to worry about running out of water. Wash your dishes smart and take shorter showers. You won’t actually notice the change, but the water in your travel trailer will last longer.
If you’re using a Bowlus, however, we have a big advantage here in the form of our endless hot water. You’ll never have to worry about running out of hot water while you’re out enjoying nature.
Use Proper Etiquette
While there aren’t any hard rules for boondocking, there is some commonly accepted etiquette that you should follow.
In addition to making sure you can legally camp there, you’ll also want to be courteous to neighbors you might encounter. That means not making too much noise late at night or early in the morning.
You should also always leave your campsite cleaner than you found it. Don’t leave any litter, and make sure that any campfires you light are fully out before you leave.
Know Your Travel Trailer’s Power Needs
No matter how long you plan to camp for, it’s essential that you know the power needs of your travel trailer.
With a Bowlus trailer, our lithium batteries mean that these were designed to be used off-grid. You don’t need to worry about finding a power hookup like you might with another RV, especially because so many beautiful national parks don’t have any kind of power hookups. With Bowlus, you can continue using all the appliances you need without worrying about your power needs.
Respect Local Wildlife
You also need to make sure to respect the local wildlife you may encounter. If you are camping on federal lands, that’s even more important, as some of the species may be protected.
Don’t leave any food out unattended, especially overnight, don’t try to interact with wildlife, and try to keep your distance.
Boondocking is one of the best ways to experience nature the way it should be experienced, and it’s the perfect time to use one of our Bowlus travel trailers. Our lithium batteries were designed to be used off-grid so that you can keep your creature comforts without having to worry about a power source, and our trailers were made to be used in all kinds of weather with their heating and cooling functions.
Driving is made easy because the Bowlus travel trailer is incredibly safe and simple to drive, so you can go anywhere you’d like. Consider at least a day or two of boondocking during your next great American adventure, and make sure you’re taking your Bowlus trailer for the best boondocking experience possible.