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Camping : Boondocking

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Stay Longer and Stay Free by Boondocking (Dry Camping)
By Ron Jones

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Boondocking (living with no hookups) several days simply requires that you approach water conservation differently. This is a hot topic in our seminars and everyone is interested due to the convenience and cost savings. As fulltimers, we boondocked, on average, 15-nights-per-month in 2004 and 12-nights-per-month in 2005. Whether you just want to stop for a night's sleep while meandering cross-country or stay longer in Death Valley National Park, boondocking is easy. Your RV is self-contained—you have everything to live comfortably.

Boondocking does not mean living primitively—not at all. We enjoy daily showers, a toasty-warm furnace, our TV, great meals, perfectly chilled wine, and consider these a natural part of boondocking. Yes, we use paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils.

You encounter two problems boondocking—using too much fresh water and your grey tank capacity. The biggest problem with boondocking several days is that your grey water tank fills too rapidly—it will fill 2–4 times faster than the black water tank. But, unless you simply enjoy watching water running down the drain, you can easily boondock for 4-5 nights and, with practice, stretch that to 7-8 nights. Some of that time is dependant on your RV capacities. Try this…

  • Carry a few gallon jugs of drinkable water with you. Use these in the kitchen for cooking, filling the coffee pot, refilling drinking bottles, etc. This leaves more water in your fresh water tank for showering, flushing, etc.
  • As the jugs are emptied, carry them in your car. When you get someplace where you can refill these with potable water, do so. A plastic milk crate holds four jugs securely.
  • If your family uses lots of ice, take an extra bag with you.
  • Purchase condiments in squeeze bottles to save utensils.
  • Use a zip-locking plastic food bag for mixing foods. Pour in the ingredients, close it, hand it to your spouse, tell them to entertain themselves. Toss the bag.

Your biggest waste of water is waiting on the shower to warm up. Catch this cold water in a pot. When the shower is hot, shut off the diverter, and take your shower. Use the clean water for making coffee or heat it to wash dishes, but don't waste it.

When washing dishes, use two plastic tubs—one each for washing and rinsing. Don’t empty these down the sink into the gray water tank. Flush this water down the toilet. Don't forget to turn off your water pump when flushing so you don't waste more water while emptying these.

Next time, we will teach you how to take a "Navy" shower to help you boondock even longer.

Convenience and cost savings are great reasons to boondock—that is, just park overnight. If you boondock just one night per week, you will save an average of $1,000 annually in campground fees! Please note, I have nothing against campgrounds, but I do not go to the gas station if I don't need gas and don't go to campgrounds if I don't need to camp.

(This suggestion is one of the more than 500 in All the Stuff You Need to Know About RVing (ISBN 156870514-X) by Ronald Jones and Robert Lowe

RV Boondocking Basics
Learn how to live on a shoestring budget in your RV without hookups. Learn about solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, inverters and ways to get freshwater and get rid of waste water without moving
"No Overnight" Wal-Marts
Learn which Wal-Marts DO NOT ALLOW RVers to overnight for free. This concise directory lists more than 350 such stores. Plus, common sense rules about staying at Wal-Mart.
Guide to Free Campgrounds, West
This Western volume lists virtually every campground where you can stay for free or under $12 west of the Mississippi River.
DON'T PAY TO STAY! lists free or inexpensive places to camp in the USA.

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