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

(These are affiliate links for the product on Amazon. It does not cost you any extra to buy the product using my affiliate link if you choose to do so)

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

(These are affiliate links for the product on Amazon. It does not cost you any extra to buy the product using my affiliate link if you choose to do so)

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!

How To Keep An RV Cool – The Top 10 Tips

When the summer sun is blazing, lots of RVers want to know how to keep an RV cool. This is because RVs don’t handle temperature extremes very well.

Both very hot and very cold temperatures can be a challenge for RV life. But it’s a challenge that can be met and conquered.

This article will show you how to keep your RV cool even on the hottest summer days.

Video on how to stay cool in your RV during the summer heat
Watch my video on how to keep your RV cool in the summer heat

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

Tip 1 – Get the right campsite

If possible, try to plan your campsite in advance. If it’s in a campground, do your best to get a campsite with as much shade as you can.

Shade from trees or other objects can go a long way toward keeping the temperature down inside your RV.

Tip 2 – Face Your RV The Right Way

Along with choosing the right campsite, you also want to face your RV in the right direction.

The best choice for motorhomes in the summer is to face the front of the RV north. This keeps the sun off the front windshield as much as possible.

That’s because that big glass front end on motorhomes can be great for traveling. But when you park it, the windshield becomes a huge heat radiator in the summer.

If you have a fifth wheel or travel trailer, try to park the side of the rig that has the most windows away from the afternoon sun. This is because windows are heat radiators too, so keep as much sun off them as you can.

Tip 3 – Use Your RV Awning And Window Shades

Almost all RVs come with some kind of awning. So use it to your advantage in the summertime.

Deploy your awning as long as you can in the daylight hours and it will help cool that side of the RV tremendously.

And if you have window shades, use them too. When you keep your RV window glass in the shade it will radiate a lot less heat into the RV.

Tip 4 – Keep Your ACs Clean And Serviced

Of course, one of your best defenses against the summer heat is your RV air conditioners.

So don’t wait until it’s already hot in your RV before turning them on. If you do, they will always be working harder to keep up with the heat as the day goes on.

Instead, start them early and establish a cool temperature right away. Then they can more easily maintain that temperature through the day.

And be sure to clean the RV air conditioner filters. This will help the AC work at it’s best efficiency level.

Finally, be sure to have your air conditioners serviced at least once a year to keep them in tip-top working order.

Tip 5 -Cook Outside If You Can

One of the biggest sources for heat inside your RV is the stove. And the more you use it, the more pressure you are putting on the AC units to cool the rig.

So why not use a portable grill and cook many of your meals outside instead? Besides, a lot of people feel that food cooked outside tastes better anyway.

And you could also choose to have more cool meals in summer that do not require cooking. Foods like salads and sandwiches can be a much better choice in the heat of summertime.

Coleman portable grill for RVing

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Tip 6 – Use Reflectix

Reflectix is a product that looks like bubble wrap covered with tin foil on both sides. But it is a great insulator and is very adaptable to many uses.

For instance, many motorhome owners use it behind their windshield to keep the heat out. But it can also be used behind windows, or vents and skylights too.

Some have even lined the inside of their RV cabinets and closets with Reflectix.

I have been told that using it that way in the summer has helped lower the inside RV temperature significantly. And it can also help keep the heat inside the RV in wintertime too.

Wherever you decide to place it, it can help insulate your rig’s interior from the hot summer sun.

Class A Reflectix windshield sun shade

Class C Reflectix windshield sun shade

Reflectix – 24 inch X 50 foot roll

Reflectix – 48 inch X 50 foot roll

(These are affiliate links for the product on Amazon. It does not cost you any extra to buy the product using my affiliate link if you choose to do so)

Tip 7 – Use Ceiling Fans

If your RV has ceiling fans, use them as much as you can to make it more comfortable inside the RV.

Just be sure that you have the fan turning in the direction that will bring the cool air down instead of up.

Tip 8 – Close Off Unused Areas In Daytime

If you can, try closing off areas like the bedroom during the day and shutting off the AC vents in there.

This will make sure that all of the cooling power of your air conditioners is going where it is needed most.

Of course, as evening comes on, it may be necessary to reverse the process to provide a cool sleeping area.

Tip 9 – Use Portable Fans

One of the best things you can do to make the RV interior feel more comfortable is to get air moving. And small portable fans in strategic locations throughout the RV can do this very well.

The air movement does not really lower the temperature in the RV, but it makes the living area feel more pleasant. So use fans as much as you can!

Small portable fan for moving air in an RV

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Tip 10 – Consider A Portable AC Unit

If all else fails, maybe you just need more raw cooling power. And here is where a portable AC unit can come in very handy.

There are many of these portable ACs that are getting very good reviews if they are used correctly.

And some RVs only have one AC unit from the manufacturer to keep the cost of the RV down. So you may need to add a portable AC at times inside the RV to get the cooling job done on very hot days.

Portable air conditioning unit for RV

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Conclusion

It’s hard to enjoy RV camping when you are hot and miserable inside your RV.

But the tips I have shared above can help change your RV trip from hot and irritating to cool and enjoyable.

Depending on the RV, you may need to put more than one or two of these tips in use.

We have spent time in the Phoenix AZ area in the summer months. And when the mercury starts going over 100 degrees, it puts a lot of strain on any RV’s cooling system.

But we have personally used many of these suggestions and tips to be able to stay cool even in that kind of extreme weather.

So here’s wishing you safe, happy and COOL travels my friends wherever you may go!

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!