The Top 5 Ways For Successful RV Boondocking

RV boondocking means camping without any hookups. No electric, water or sewer hookups whatsoever. You are totally self-contained.

Of course, this kind of RV camping is a lot more involved than campground camping. It means that you have to plan in advance how to handle your power and water needs.

And it can be intimidating to newer RVers or those who haven’t boondocked before. But there are ways to ease into RV boondocking that can take the stress level way down.

One way is to practice your boondocking skills in your own driveway or the driveway of a friend or relative. By doing that, you have water and power close by in case something doesn’t go right.

After that, you might try an overnight at a nearby Walmart, Cracker Barrel or Cabelas parking lot. These businesses often allow overnight RV boondocking, so you can use them as a practice spot for the real thing.

Once you have become fairly comfortable with the process of boondocking, or dry camping, you can go further. The next step is to find good boondocking campsites.

A video on 5 ways for successful RV boondocking
Watch my video on RV boondocking the successful way

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1 – Find RV Boondocking Campsites

There are lots of places where you can go RV boondocking, but you have to find them first.

Some of the most popular places are on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Also, many National Parks and National Forests have good dry camping areas too. And another great place to boondock is on Army Corps Of Engineers (ACOE) land.

But how do you find these great spots? There are two websites that offer lots of information about RV boondocking campsites.

One is Campendium.com and the other is FreeCampsites.net. On both sites you can find great boondocking campsites and read reviews of those who have stayed there before.

You will also learn plenty about the size of the campsites and the access roads to get in and out of there as well.

One other great source of information about dry camping is found on the US Public Lands app. It’s a free app that provides a lot of information about exactly where Public Lands are located.

Finally, one more great resource that can be very useful is Facebook boondocking groups. Oftentimes, you can find out about campsites in these online groups that you won’t hear about anywhere else. So give it a try and join a couple of RV boondocking groups!

2 – Conserve Water While RV Boondocking

One of the most important skills you need for RV boondocking is to know how to conserve water. That’s because most boondocking spots are not going to have clean water nearby.

And that means that you need to make the water in your fresh water tank last as long as you possibly can. So when you buy an RV try to get the largest water tanks that you can to make water conservation easier.

One of the best water conservation techniques for RV boondocking is taking “navy showers”. This means that you don’t allow the water to keep running all the time while you are in the shower.

Instead, just run the water long enough to get wet. Then shut the water off while you lather up with soap. Then turn the water on again to rinse off quickly.

It’s amazing how much water savings can be had by taking “navy showers”. And if you can, try stretching out your showers to every other day to make it even more effective.

One other way to conserve water is wipe your dishes with paper towels before washing them. This dislodges and removes most of the food left on the dish. And that makes much quicker work of the washing process.

Another way to reduce dishwashing water is to wash the dishes in containers instead of under running water. Just fill two containers to a level that can cover most dishes and then dip them in the water to wash and then to rinse.

Some boondockers even eliminate dishwashing almost altogether by using paper plates and disposable utensils instead. You might try it and see if it works for you too.

Privacy Tent For Showering

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3 – Conserve Power When RV Boondocking

Of course, when you are not hooked up to AC electrical current, power has to be managed carefully. And you have to have a portable source of power too.

For many boondockers, choosing either solar power or inverter generators for RV power needs has been successful. And some use a combination of these two power sources.

With either method you can recharge your RV batteries each day and have enough power for most off-grid needs.

But this means that you need to be very careful about not running too many high wattage devices. They will consume a lot of your battery power.

Some high wattage items include hair dryers and microwave ovens. So keep their use to a minimum.

You might even consider installing LED lights in your RV to further lessen the power draw on your batteries. If you don’t use LEDs, make sure you use your RV lights as sparingly as you can.

Also, charging your electronic devices like cell phones can be done in the car instead of the RV. While you are traveling in the car just plug in the devices and let them get their charge from your car’s energy source. This saves using RV battery power instead.

And finally, switch your water heater and refrigerator to propane power instead of electric. This will help conserve a lot of battery power while RV boondocking.

1000 Watt Inverter Generator

2000 Watt Inverter Generator

3400 Watt Inverter Generator

200 Watt Portable Solar Panels

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4 – Conserving Waste Water Is Necessary

One thing that keeps building up all the time while you are boondocking is waste water. Gray water is the water that goes down the bathroom and kitchen sinks. Black water is the toilet water.

You will need to conserve waste water in remote areas so you don’t have to break camp and dump the tanks often.

One way to conserve toilet water is to use the bathrooms in town when you visit there. This eliminates that water being used in your RV instead.

Another suggestion is to shower outside your RV instead of inside. Most RVs these days come with an outside shower, so why not use it in good weather?

Some take outside showers by setting up a privacy tent next to the RV and running the shower hose inside the tent. Doing this can really extend your gray water tank a long time.

You may also consider getting a portable holding tank to transport the waste water. You just empty the waste tanks into the portable tank and take it to be dumped. This eliminates having to break camp and take the whole RV to the dump station.

Also, some very experienced RV boondocking campers use a composting toilet to cut out water usage for a toilet altogether. It’s not for everybody, but a composting toilet can often go 2 – 3 weeks without having to be emptied.

Composting Toilet

Portable Waste Tank

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5 – Manage And Conserve Your Trash

One of the most clear and important rules of RV boondocking is – whatever you bring in, bring out when you leave. Some have not followed this rule and they have cost the ability of everyone else to use some of the best boondocking spots available.

So be a responsible and considerate camper. Don’t leave food and other kinds of garbage behind when you vacate a site.

And while you are still on the site, keep food garbage out of the reach and smell of animals. Otherwise, you may have some very unwelcome animal visitors who want that food too.

A good way to avoid this is to put any unused food in containers where it can’t be seen or smelled by wildlife.

And when you make a trip into town from your beautiful boondocking location, take a bag of trash with you. If you ask to leave it in a dumpster, almost always you will get a thumbs up to do so.

If all else fails, just offer to pay to put your trash in their bin and that usually works every time.

Conclusion

RV boondocking can be a challenge. But if you use the guidelines in this article, it can done very successfully.

Dry camping often means being able to camp in places where some of the most amazing scenery is just outside your door. So it really is worth making the effort to learn how to boondock right.

And a great side benefit is that RV boondocking is often FREE or very low cost!

So why not give it a try? Before you know it, you will be an RV boondocking pro!

Have safe and happy travels my friends!

The Top 4 RV Camping Tips That Save You Money

This article’s purpose is to help you learn my top 4 RV camping tips that will help you save money.

And, of all the expenses that an RV owner encounters, often the biggest by far is camping costs. This is especially true if a lot of time is spent in campgrounds.

That’s because the cost of staying at a campground in an RV at the time of this writing is an average of $30 – $35 a night.

So, a full-time RVer that spends all of their time in RV campgrounds would spend almost $11,000 a year at $30/night. That’s a big hit to an RVer’s budget!

But I am only going to cover ways to lower RV campground costs in this article. Boondocking is another subject entirely, and I’ll discuss it in another article.

And these tips are mainly for RV full-timers and part-timers. In other words, those who spend a lot of time in their RV in campgrounds. So let’s get started!

RV camping tips to help you save money
Watch my video on how to save money on campgrounds

RV Camping Tips #1 – Thousand Trails

I won’t go into all the details about Thousand Trails in this article. That will be for another time.

But I just want to explain how that having a Thousand Trails membership is a great way to save money on camping costs.

In fact, of all the RV camping tips that I can offer, I feel that this is the one with the most potential savings. This is especially true for full-time RVers.

To begin with, Thousand Trails (TT) has 81 camping parks in their system. But they also can offer 108 more Encore Resorts with their Trails Collection (TC) add-on package. This brings the total TT campgrounds to 189 altogether.

The TC does cost a little more, but it’s only a $299/year add-on at the time of this writing. So it’s well worth the extra spent.

I recommend starting with a Zone Pass from TT just to make sure that you become familiar with the TT system and like it.

A Zone Pass is a great way to try out TT first, and it costs about $600/year at the time of this writing. Then with the TC added on, it will only cost you about $900/year total for 0$/night camping. The more you use it, the more savings you get.

But if you are a part-time or full-time RVer, you will want to quickly move to an upgraded membership. And I recommend the Elite membership that allows you to move from park to park without leaving the TT system.

Thousand Trails – How Much Can You Save?

A map of all Thousand Trails campgrounds in the US
The Thousand Trails Zones and map of campground locations

I have an upcoming trip across the US from Arizona to New England. So let’s use that trip to illustrate the savings that a TT membership can offer.

The whole trip will take us about 3 months as we plan on taking our time as we go. And during that time we will only have to be out of the TT system for about 7 days total.

That means that for 83 days we will stay in TT campgrounds for 0$/night. At an average cost of $30/night for staying in a public campground, we save around $2500 in those 83 days.

And our sewer, electric and water are all included whenever we stay at TT parks. So we only have camping costs for the 7 days not spent at TT parks on that trip.

So how much does an Elite TT membership like ours cost? You can get a resale Elite membership for $4500 at the time of this writing.

That membership provides all of the TT benefits mentioned above for life. As you can see, I will recover well over half of my Elite membership in just that one 90 day trip.

So if we made a similar trip 4 times during the year, I would have paid for my lifetime membership in the first year easily with plenty of savings left over.

Then every year that I use my membership, from then on, my only camping costs are about $900/year. This includes the yearly dues of about $600 and the Trail Collection of Encore parks at about $300.

We can then travel all year and stay in TT parks for $900/year or about $2.50/night with full hookups.

I just don’t know how you can stay in campgrounds as an RV fulltimer for less. It’s one of my best RV camping tips!

Tip #2 – Passport America

Another great membership program is Passport America (PA). It only costs $44/year at the time of this writing and they offer campground discounts that are often around 50% off.

It’s such a low initial cost that it’s easy to recover the membership fee in just a few nights worth of camping. And from then on, your savings are all yours.

And there are about 1600 campgrounds that accept Passport America across the country. So chances are that you will be able to find a PA park close by no matter where you are.

There are some restrictions with PA that is determined by each individual park. Most of the restrictions limit the use of the membership during high traffic seasons of the year.

But if you use the PA card wisely, you can still get lots of use out of it and way more savings than the membership fee costs.

Tip #3 – Get Weekly Or Monthly Rates

Another way to save on campground costs is to slow down a bit. Don’t be so rushed to get on to the next destination.

This is because the most you will ever pay at a campground will be the single nightly rate.

But almost all campgrounds offer a discount for staying longer. And in many cases, the discounted rate can be significant.

So slowing down in your travels and spending more than just a few days in an area can be a smart move. It can save you lots of money in the long run.

Just ask for the weekly and monthly rate in the campgrounds you like. You may be surprised to find how much less those rates can be.

And besides, RVing shouldn’t just be a pell-mell rush to get to the next destination. So taking time to enjoy the journey can have solid financial advantages too!

RV Camping Tip #4 – Mobile Home Parks

Many RVers, even fulltimers, only think of RV parks and campgrounds for nightly stays.

But there are other places to stay in your RV that can save money too. One of those places is in local mobile home parks.

If you are going to be in an area for a few weeks, it pays to broaden your search for camping to include mobile home parks in the area.

Many MH parks have older models that age out and have to be removed. So they often set aside some of those spots for RVs because of the popularity of RV travel these days.

These sites will often be full hookups that include sewer, water and even 50 amp electric. And in many cases, the sites are more level than you would find in an RV campground.

The best part is that because it is not considered an RV campground, the camping spots are usually less expensive.

We have found MH parks that have beautiful sites and full hookups for as little as $22/night even in high season.

So, if you want to spend time in a particular area but find that the RV parks are all full, why not try the local MH parks? It can be a smart move that saves money!

Conclusion

There are lots of ways to save money when you stay at a campground. But these are some of my best RV camping tips.

And the more money you save, the more it’s likely that you can continue to have fun RV adventures.

Have safe and happy travels my friends!

RV Inverter Generators – The Pros & Cons Explained

So what are RV inverter generators anyway?

One thing they are not is the loud and obnoxious construction type of generator. Those may be fine where heavy construction is going on, but don’t bring them to a campsite.

If you do, you will be sure to make enemies quickly. The noise and fumes from those generators will annoy everyone around you. And you won’t like it either!

RV inverter generators are much smaller in size. And although they do make some noise, it’s very low in comparison.

And they are very fuel efficient too. They can usually run several hours non-stop on just a gallon of gas.

So these kind of generators are well-suited for use with RVs, especially while boondocking. But they may not be the best choice for RV power for everyone.

So let’s discuss the pros and cons and see who benefits most from the use of an inverter generator.

RV inverter generators - are they better than solar power?
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Disclosure: Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means – at no additional cost to you – I earn a commission if you make a purchase using our affiliate links. I only link to products and companies I use and feel comfortable recommending. The income goes toward supporting the free content on this website

The Pros Of RV Inverter Generators

  • When compared to the cost of RV solar power, it is much less. A solar system that can run most appliances in the RV other than ACs can cost $5000 or more. An inverter generator that will run everything in the RV including an AC unit is under $1000.
  • Inverter generators can easily run high wattage devices like microwaves, hair dryers, and yes, even air conditioners.
  • They are so simple – all you have to do is plug in the RV power cord and fire up the generator. It really is that simple. The generator will adjust to whatever load is placed upon it up to its power limit.
  • They work in any kind of weather. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sunny or rainy, foggy or clear, night or day. An inverter generator will keep chugging along as long as you provide the fuel for it.
  • Inverter generators produce clean and safe power for all of your sensitive electronic devices.

But What Are The Cons?

  • Noise – yes, the noise level is much reduced when using an RV inverter generator. In fact, if you get more than 15 feet away, you may not even hear it at all. But some noise is produced. And it’s constantly there. This can be unacceptable to some RVers.
  • Weight – Especially if you choose an inverter generator that is big enough to run all your RV appliances and an AC unit. In that case, the generator will probably weigh about 100 lbs. And that kind of weight is not easily moved around. Smaller ones that will only charge up your RV batteries after a day’s use will weigh about 50 lbs.
  • Storage – you have to find somewhere to store the generator when it’s not in use. Many people use the bed of their pickup. Others use a storage compartment in the RV. But these units both take up space and add weight. So you have to plan for that.
  • Requires fuel – inverter generators usually run on gasoline. This means that you will have to bring along a supply of gas and make sure that it is stored safely. Of course, some generators can also run on propane and they are called dual fuel generators. This can be very convenient for RVers since they already carry a supply of propane with them.
  • Needs regular maintenance – all motors and engines will require some kind of maintenance and care. And that is true of these generators too. But the good news is that the needed maintenance is fairly easy to do. In fact, almost anyone can do it.

Who Should Use An Inverter Generator?

RV inverter generators are really nifty devices that bring AC power wherever you need it.

So if you like to go off-grid a lot, or boondock, an inverter generator can be a great purchase. They work particularly well for travel trailers and fifth wheels.

Many motorhomes have a generator already permanently installed. So an additional inverter generator may not be needed.

But towable RVs often do not come with an installed generator. So a portable generator can be a great addition in these cases.

However, if you spend all your time in campgrounds plugged into shore power, a generator may not even be necessary.

Another point, some RVers just cannot stand the background noise that a generator produces constantly. Even a relatively quiet one. So it may not fit their RV powers needs at all.

Others have a substantial solar power system installed in their RV. And if so, they may not feel the need to have an inverter generator as well. Although having one as a backup may not be a bad idea.

If you have an RV inverter generator,
please answer this anonymous poll:

Is your inverter generator a Honda or Yamaha?
Is the noise level from your inverter generator bothersome?
Do you use a combination of solar and generator power?

Which Brand Should You Buy?

For many years, the best inverter generators have been made by Honda and Yamaha. And they continue to be excellent products even now.

But times have changed and other manufacturers have entered the inverter generator market. And many of their products are much less expensive.

Of course, that does not mean that any old inverter generator is a good buy. But it also doesn’t mean that Honda and Yamaha are the only prudent choices anymore.

Don’t get me wrong here. Honda and Yamaha inverter generators are still excellent choices. But don’t rule out others that cost as much as 50% less, just because they are a different brand.

In fact, some of the newer products in the field have Amazon user ratings that rival Honda and Yamaha. So compare wisely and choose the brand that fits your budget and needs.

What Size RV Inverter Generator?

The size of generator needed depends on your power needs. And power needs can run the full gamut between individual RVers.

But generally speaking, if all you need to do is charge your batteries at the end of a day’s usage, a 2000 watt unit will do fine. And they are lighter in weight too.

But if you need enough power to easily run all of your RV appliances and maybe an AC unit as well, more is needed. Probably 3000+ watts will be required in this case. And that means a heavier unit.

But there is another interesting choice though. This is because two inverter generators can often be hooked together to run simultaneously.

This means that their ouput is almost doubled. So you could have two 2000 watt inverters on hand.

You only use one of them when your power needs are low. But if your power requirements grow, you can run them both together through the use of a parallel cable.

Again, this is an individual choice. You may feel that having only one inverter generator that meets your normal RV power needs is appropriate. But there is always the option to add another one and nearly double your power output.

Click here for a Honda 1000 watt inverter generator

Check out a Yamaha 2200 Watt inverter generator here

Compare a Wen 2000 watt inverter generator here

View a Champion 3400 watt dual fuel inverter generator here

Click here for the Wen parallel cable that runs two inverter generators

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Combine Solar And Inverter Generators?

For many RVers, the perfect boondocking, or unplugged power source is not either solar or RV inverter generators. It is a combination of the two instead.

If your power needs are fairly high, you can always supplement an installed solar system with an inverter generator. This can be especially beneficial if you are camping where the sun doesn’t always shine a lot.

On the days when the sun is out in full force, the solar system can quietly handle the power needs alone. But sometimes on cloudy or rainy days, solar power is not able to keep up with power demands.

In that case, having a good old fossil-fueled inverter generator may be just what you need.

Other RVers with smaller power needs may still get the benefit of a combination of solar power and generator power too.

In this case, many RVers may choose to use portable solar panels instead of the permanently installed panels.

In the morning, they run the RV inverter generator enough to recharge the batteries up to about 80% of capacity. From there, they shut off the generator and deploy the portable solar panels.

Portable solar panel setup
Example of a portable solar panel setup

Through the day, the solar system tops off and maintains the batteries at full charge. Then battery power can be used for power needs overnight starting with a full charge at evening time. The next day, the process is repeated.

There are other ways to use solar and generator power together for handling RV power needs. You can design a system that works best for you, your rig, and the way you like to camp.

Click here for the Renogy 200 watt portable solar panel unit

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Conclusion

RV inverter generators are a great source of AC power when you are off-grid or boondocking.

They allow you to run all of the modern conveniences built into RVs at a very low cost. And almost anywhere. Plus, they can even be quiet enough to meet the needs of most RV owners.

So they have a lot of distinct advantages for RV use. But they are not for everyone.

So weigh the advantages and disadvantages of these generators carefully. Then choose from my recommendations above or find a well-reviewed model that works best for you.

With careful advance thought and planning you will make a good choice for your RV power needs.

Have safe and happy travels my friends!