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Camping : Boondocking

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What is boondocking?
By Jerry (RiverGuy) Brown

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Boondocking, dry camping and parking lot overnight stays all have one thing in common: no hookups. Otherwise they can mean different things to different RVers, thereby resulting in confusion. In this article we'll talk about how they are different and why using the right terminology can be helpful.


Let's start with some rather specific definitions for these terms. For many RVers boondocking means camping out on public lands where facilities are very rudimentary or non-existent. The word boondocks means rural country, the backwoods, a remote and undeveloped area. And it is the source of our term boondocking. Essentially, boondocking means staying at an undesignated and fairly remote site. Dry camping generally means no hookups, but in the context of this discussion, it specifically refers to camping without hookups in a designated area, such as an RV park, state park, or forest service campground.

Boondocking at Lake Pleasant, AZ
Spending the night in casino or WalMart parking lots or highway rest areas doesn't really have a specific term in common use. That's probably why some folks have taken to calling it boondocking. But for those who are searching for suggestions for nice places to camp in the wilderness, it can be frustrating to find casinos and WalMarts listed as if they were in the same category. Likewise, if you are planning a route and want to know of good places to stop for an overnight stay, it isn't very helpful to find references to remote dispersed camping sites.


Communication works best when terminology is clear and consistently used. If we use the terms boondocking and dry camping as defined above, especially when using them as designations for camp sites, we'll all be better off. Perhaps this is not the best venue for coining a new term, but a sensible choice for designating overnight camping stays would be "overnighting."


Whether you are spending time somewhere in the boondocks, dry camping at a great state park or just overnighting on your way to a jamboree, the important thing is to have fun and enjoy the freedom that the RV provides.


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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