The following is a transcript of my podcast on “Campgrounds vs Boondocking”:
“Hello everyone and welcome to the RV Inspection And Care channel podcast.
Today’s subject is “campgrounds versus boondocking”. And you know, really there’s so many ways to go camping in your RV.
And there’s no one right way for everybody. Lots of folks love to spend most of their time in campgrounds, if not all of their time.
Then there are others that love to spend most or all of their time boondocking. And then there are those that mix the two together.
Whatever works for you is fine. Now, for the sake of our discussion today though let’s go ahead and define what boondocking is.
That’s because it means different things to different people. But for this discussion, boondocking doesn’t mean overnight stays.
You know, at rest stops and Walmarts and places like that. No, boondocking refers for this discussion to going out in rural areas for an extended period of time with no hookups.
Okay, so now that we have that definition going for us, let’s get started on the pros and the cons of campgrounds vs boondocking.
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The Pros And Cons Explained
And the first pro of campgrounds is the hookups. The easy hookups that you have available to you.
It’s so nice to just pull into your site, hook up your electric, hook up your water, and probably even be able to hook up your sewer in many cases.
And then you’re all set. Then when you leave, you just unhook and you’re gone. Well, that’s a real advantage!
Campgrounds Pro #2
Another advantage is having access to larger bathrooms and showers.
A lot of people like that. Rather than using the bathroom and shower that many times is smaller and more cramped in their RV.
Instead, they have these really nice showers and bathrooms, and so that’s an advantage too.
campgrounds pro #3
But now, the next pro for campgrounds is amenities. Things like pools and volleyball and mini golf.
And all those other things that campgrounds love to give you to make your stay there enjoyable.
Well, that’s that’s a real advantage. That’s a pro, especially if you have a family.
campgrounds pro #4
The next pro is that when you stay at campgrounds, you usually have the best possible internet access while you’re camping.
And what I mean by that is that usually campgrounds are located fairly close to towns or urban areas.
And this is where there is access to the internet, especially on a cellular use of the internet.
So that’s an advantage. And you know, I have to say that for us when we have gone across the US camping, we stay in campgrounds most of the time.
And roughly 90 to 95 percent of the time, using our hot spot, we have excellent internet access. So that’s a pro for campgrounds.
campgrounds pro #5
The next pro is that you can plan your travels out in advance well if you’re a planner.
And the reason you can do that is because of reservations. You just call in advance and you make a reservation.
And so when you show up you’re pretty well assured that you’ve got a spot. And that’s nice for those who like to plan in advance.
campgrounds pro #6
The next pro is that you can often be very close to urban areas or towns or places that have attractions.
You know, like museums and things like that, that would be nice to go and visit. So that’s a pro too.
campgrounds pro #7
The next pro is about security. But it’s not really about being secure because that’s kind of controversial.
Some people that are boondockers are quick to tell you: “Hey, we’re just as secure as anybody where we are, even though we’re out there. There’s no problem with security there”.
But we’re not going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about how people FEEL.
And very often people FEEL more secure in campgrounds. When they know especially that there’s maybe a gate at the entrance, or maybe a security force that patrols and things like that.
So oftentimes people feel more secure in campgrounds.
Well now, let’s move on to the cons of campgrounds. Because it’s not all pros.
Campgrounds vs Boondocking – Campground Cons
And the number one con is the expense of campgrounds. Yes, if you stay every night of the year in campgrounds, well you’re going to run up a pretty good bill.
Especially if you don’t have something like a discount membership, or a membership like Thousand Trails.
Those can really bring your camping costs down quite a bit. But even so you’re still going to be spending more money in campgrounds than you will boondocking. And that’s pretty clear.
campgrounds con #2
Now the next con is that you’re going to have to camp next to other RVers. And when I say next to them, usually there’s very little separation between sites.
And in some cases, it’s kind of ridiculous you know, how close you are.
In some campgrounds, you’re within inches of each other slides. And so that can be kind of irritating. So that can be a con for staying in campgrounds.
campgrounds con #3
The third con is a big one. And that is the irritation of some campgrounds.
You know, when we’re talking about staying next to other RVers, well it could be any number of things.
They could be playing loud music. Their dogs could be barking all the time.
They could be just loud people and have lots of people over. And they’re all just partying out there.
Well this can be a little bit of an irritation. Because you’re really close by someone else, and that noise just filters right over to your campsite. Well, that’s a con for some campgrounds.
campgrounds con #4
The next con for campgrounds is less nature intensive experiences.
You know, campgrounds, many of them get you closer to nature. But you you’re not really immersed in nature like you are when you’re out boondocking.
So for some that’s a con. Because they still have to get out and drive to go and really be in nature.
campgrounds con #5
The last con is if you don’t like to plan, if you’re spontaneous, well then you’re going to have a struggle for reservations.
These days especially after Covid, reservations are becoming more and more vital to be able to get a spot in campgrounds.
And so if you’re kind of spontaneous, the old days of just being able to show up and make sure you get a spot, well they’re getting harder and harder to find. So that can be a con with campgrounds too.
Campgrounds vs Boondocking – Boondocking Pros
Now let’s talk about boondocking pros though. And the number one pro for boondocking is that it’s CHEAP!
In many cases when you’re staying on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, it’s even zero dollars a night.
And that’s hard to beat. So it’s a very economical way to camp in your RV.
boondocking pro #2
The next pro is that there are tons of scenic spots to choose from for boondocking.
And when I say “scenic spots”, I mean just blow your eyes out, drop dead, gorgeous spots.
And there’s lots of places on the internet where you can find out about these spots.
So you can go out there and enjoy the most beautiful places to camp. That’s so huge, and that’s a great pro.
boondocking pro #3
And the third pro is that you have more opportunities when you’re boondocking. For things like hiking, biking and kayaking.
That’s because you’re right out in nature. You’re right there!
So if you’re adventurous, and if you love to be active, well then boondocking can be a real help for that.
boondocking pro #4
The next pro is the space that you enjoy when you’re out boondocking.
As opposed to campgrounds where you’re right by other people.
In fact, it could be miles before you find another camper when you’re boondocking.
Or it could at least be several hundred yards. So if you like a lot of peace and quiet, that’s where you’re going to enjoy it.
Or if you like to play your music loud, well you can go ahead and do that.
You’re not going to bother anybody else, because you’re out there and there’s nobody near to you. And that’s a big a pro!
boondocking pro #5
The next pro is that when you’re boondocking, these boondocking spots are very often close to national parks and national forests.
So you really have a lot to choose from in those areas. Especially again, if you’re adventurous and you love nature.
So all of those are great pros for boondocking.
Campgrounds vs Boondocking – Boondocking Cons
But what about the cons? Well, the number one con is that you have to get very good at conserving power and water. (edit – you must also conserve waste as well)
And if you don’t, you’re not going to be boondocking very long.
When we’re talking about conserving, you have to bring your power along with you, your electricity.
And you have to bring your water along with you. And then you have to manage it while you’re out there.
Because it’s not an endless supply like you have when you’re in a campground.
So you’ve got to learn how to do that. And for some, that’s a real challenge. So we’ll put that down as a con.
boondocking con #2
The next con is that there’s often no nearby convenient place to resupply.
You’re often very far away from grocery stores and Walmarts and things like that.
So you have to plan those out. And then you usually have a pretty good drive to go take care of those things.
boondocking con #3
The next con is that boondocking can be very difficult for those with larger rigs.
The smaller your rig is, the easier it is to get in and out of boondocking spots wherever you want to go.
But the bigger the rig is, the more difficult it is to go out in those really rural areas.
You know, the ones way out there. So that can be a con if you have a bigger rig.
boondocking con #4
The next con is internet connectivity. Again, if you’re way out there, then the chances of cell towers being out there for internet access can be very small.
And even phone access too. So that can be a con.
If you really need access to the internet, then you’ve got to rely on something like a cell booster to get it.
But even then, that can be really challenging in some way out areas.
boondocking con #5
Now the next con is there are no reservations. You can’t call ahead and reserve a spot for your boondocking.
So it means that sometimes you’re going to drive out there and find out that it’s already taken.
Or that it’s just not what you thought it was going to be. So reservations are not something that is part of the boondock camping experience. And that can be a con for some.
boondocking con #6
The last con is that there are far fewer spots available to boondock in the eastern part of the US.
Especially as opposed to the western part. But now, the flip side of that is there’s so much land in the western part of the US that’s BLM land or available for boondocking.
In fact, you could camp for years and never camp in the same spot twice.
So you’ve got plenty of availability out in the West. But the eastern half of the US gets much more challenging.
Now that doesn’t mean that there aren’t boondocking spots there. But it’s a lot more difficult to find.
Well, those are the pros and the cons of campgrounds versus boondocking.
My Overall Conclusion
And here’s my conclusion on the subject of campgrounds vs boondocking. My general take is that campgrounds are best for RVers that like convenience.
So if you want convenience then that’s the best way to do it. If you like to stay in control of things.
And not be too challenged by camping itself, then campgrounds are the way to go.
But boondocking is best for those who love adventure. They love nature, and they’re happy to get out there in it.
They don’t mind having inconveniences and so on. Well then, boondocking is a great experience for them.
And as I said earlier, either way you go, you’re going to be able to enjoy your RV camping.
Well that’s it for now. Have safe and happy travels my friends …. until next time.”