Everyone needs an escape sometimes. Camping in an RV is a great way to kick back and recharge. But sometimes, crowded RV parks can leave us feeling anything but relaxed. If you want to connect with nature and enjoy the surrounding land, there’s no better way than camping off the grid, better known as boondocking. We’ve been enjoying Class A RV boondocking for nearly two decades! Whether you’re a seasoned boondocker or you’ve never tried it before, we’ve got some tips for you, so read on.
What is Boondocking?
Boondocking is a simple way to camp for free. What? Free camping?! Sounds too good to be true, right? It isn’t, but there is a bit of a catch.
When we’re boondocking, we have no hookups: which means no city water, no shore power, and no sewer connection. But even in a large Class A RV, boondocking is our favorite way to camp by far. How can this be?! Well, even without hookups, there are many ways to live a life of luxury in the wild.
In truth, there’s nothing more luxurious than nature. The sun shining, the leaves rustling in the breeze, the stars shining down through a clear sky as you sit around a crackling campfire, with much of civilization far away in both miles and mind.
But we still want to be able to take a shower after enjoying the vistas we experienced as we hiked. And we still want to cook dinner, make our morning coffee, and stay connected to news (well, maybe not news) and loved ones (definitely loved ones). How do we do all of this without hookups?!
Let’s have a look at what you need to do to have all of these amenities while living in the lap of nature’s luxury for a while.
Essential Items for Class A RV Boondocking
To prepare for a successful Class A RV boondocking experience, you’ll need to make sure your rig is properly-suited in the following ways:
The whole point of having a Class A RV is to feel comfortably “at home” in your rig, and a proper supply of power goes a long way in achieving that degree of comfort.
There are two main options for powering your rig without electric hookups.
The first option is to run your generator. Most Class A RVs include a generator. It’s a straightforward way to get power that probably won’t include any additional setup work. Simply fire up the generator, and you have power as usual. The major downside to a generator is the noise. They can be pretty loud when they’re running. You also need to make sure you don’t run out of fuel.
If you want to boondock in your Class A for longer (and more quietly), the better option is solar power. Solar panels are a boondocker’s best friend. As long as there’s sun, you won’t run out of power. This allows you to stay in one place for longer. Still, it’s nice to have a generator as a backup in case you run into some cloudy days or you’ve chosen to park among majestic (but shady) trees!
A solar power setup requires some work and expense at the outset. But the benefits are unquestionably worthwhile, especially if you plan on Class A RV boondocking regularly.
Dealing with wastewater is part of RVing. When you’re boondocking, this job becomes a little trickier. Having no hookups means you won’t be able to dump your tanks as frequently. To make sure you can correctly manage your wastewater, it is good to have large grey and black tanks, another benefit of a large Class A rig.
The larger your tanks, the more they can hold, and the longer you can stay off the grid.
Another way to conserve wastewater space is to consider a composting toilet. Depending on the way your wastewater holding tanks are arranged (side by side, or stacked), this modification can even allow you to use your black tank for holding extra grey water.
We’ve not chosen to make this modification yet, but we’ve been thinking about it for years! We do have friends who have switched to a composting toilet, and they’re very happy with the modification.
When your garbage can fills up, you can’t just stroll down to the nearest RV park dumpster and toss it out. You need a way to manage your trash for the duration of your trip – a way that won’t create odors in your RV or attract bugs and critters, (which is also why you can’t expect to store your trash outside).
If you have the storage space, we recommend having a couple of large, airtight totes in which to store your trash when Class A RV boondocking. You can store these in your RV’s basement just as you might in a home garage, or in your towed car. You can also keep an additional tote for recycling.
To conserve space, crush things like cans and flatten boxes before throwing them in the recycling tote. When you get home from your trip, you can dispose of your trash & recycling in the normal manner, or toss them in the dumpster during a stay at the next full hook-up RV park.
If you’re a full-timer, on the road for a longer stretch of time, you may want to stay at an RV park periodically as we do. This allows you to dump your tanks, toss your trash, fill your freshwater tank, and even do laundry, all in the same visit.
Plenty of Fresh Water
When preparing to boondock it’s essential to make sure you have enough fresh water to meet all your needs. Fill your fresh water tank before hitting the road or, better yet, at a location near your chosen boondocking location. Bring extra water for drinking and cooking if necessary, or be sure to check the status of your water filters if you have them.
Having a good supply of fresh water is a must for boondocking, and this is another area where the size of a Class A RV is helpful. A larger rig equals larger tanks. You need fresh water not just for drinking and cooking but also for doing dishes, showering, and flushing the toilet (unless you have a composting toilet, as mentioned above).
It’s also important to conserve fresh water while boondocking. There are a variety of simple ways to do this. Let’s take a look at a few:
One of the simplest ways to conserve water is not to shower every day. Premoistened wipes or a cloth with some soap and warm water are sufficiently cleansing most of the time if you don’t have enough water for daily showers. Learning how to take showers that conserve water is also very helpful. (Search the term “navy shower” for instructions)!
Use your napkin to wipe plates of food residue before washing them, then be mindful of your water usage when washing your dishes. Alternatively, you can use disposable/compostable plates, bowls, and cups while boondocking.
Plenty of Food
When you plan your boondocking adventure, consider how long you’ll be gone and how much food you’ll need for that duration of time. When in doubt, err on the side of bringing more food than you project you’ll need, rather than less. It’s always good to have extra non-perishables on board in case you start running low on fresh food. And before heading out on your RV boondocking trip, you may want to do some additional food prep (washing lettuce/vegetables, doing some extra cooking, etc) so that you can conserve water while you’re out there.
A Great Class A RV Boondocking Spot
Finding a suitable spot is a little more difficult for Class A RV boondocking. Narrow roads, overhanging branches, small campsites, and even ground that won’t support our weight are all factors in whether or not we can stay in a particular location.
Many people envision boondocking in a smaller trailer or a van. But there are lots of glorious spots for boondocking in your Class A as well! We know this because we’ve spent many years mostly boondocking in both our current diesel pusher, and our first one as well. It may take a little more work to find a great spot, but they’re out there!
Boondocking With a Class A RV
If you’re wondering where on Earth you would park a large Class A RV for a stretch of boondocking, you can trust us when we tell you that there are plenty of wide-open spaces to park your rig and enjoy the Class A RV boondocking lifestyle.
For example, BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands are a great place for boondocking in any rig, but these lands offer immensely spacious locations for Class A rigs to settle for a while. BLM camping rules limit your stay in one location to 14 days, and then you’ll need to move on to another stretch of land. Two weeks is getting close to the limit we’re comfortable with before we want to hook up at a park to tend to our tanks and other errands, however, so this works perfectly for us.
We’re about to let you in on the secret to finding amazing boondocking spots for Class A rigs! Ready? Read on!
Tips for Finding a Great Class A RV Boondocking Spot
Now, more than ever before, there are a ton of great resources available for finding that perfect spot to boondock.
Use These Apps and Websites
Technology is a beautiful thing. The Internet and many smartphone apps offer you a real-life sneak peek at potential boondocking sites, allowing you to find the best ones for you. Not all websites and apps are created equal, though. Here are our top apps and websites for finding amazing Class A RV boondocking sites:
While we’re talking about finding places to camp, The Dyrt PRO offers special features to make planning even easier:
- Plan camping road trips with Trip Planner
- Find free dispersed camping with Map Layers
- Use The Dyrt app anywhere with Offline Access
- Unlock camping and gear discounts
While The Dyrt PRO is a premium service, we’ve arranged for RVgeeks viewers to get a FREE 90-DAY TRIAL (normally it’s only 7 days)!
Be sure to read reviews! These are written by RVers for RVers, and they’ll give you an honest perspective on what you can expect at any given location, based on their own experiences. They’ll let you know what driving into the area is like with the size and clearance of a Class A rig in mind as well as important notes such as whether you might have difficulty turning around.
Online reviews also often show pictures, discuss safety, and even include cell coverage in the area. Paying attention to these reviews will help to make your boondocking experience memorable… in a good way!
Use Google Satellite View to Scope Spots
If you’ve researched potential boondocking sites for your Class A RV but still have some reservations, use Google Satellite View. This feature of Google Maps will let you zoom in to determine if a site looks big enough for your rig. Just as important, you’ll be able to actually view the route in and out.
We always recommend scoping out a campsite on Google Satellite before heading to any potential location.
If Possible, Scout it Out
Scouting isn’t always possible, but when it is, we highly recommend it. If you can drive your car to a particular location in advance, you can check out the road conditions. If it isn’t too far off the main highway, you could even have a traveling companion run ahead to check things out as you’re arriving with your RV.
You never want to get stuck down a forest road or on public lands without being able to turn around. That’s why planning, reading reviews, using Google Satellite View, and scouting things out is so necessary. This is true for all boondockers but is especially true when you’re boondocking in a large Class A motorhome.
The key to successful, enjoyable Class A RV boondocking planning. Before you even hit the road, make sure you properly set up your RV for off-grid life. Then check reviews and scout out sites in advance. Many RVers are understandably intimidated by the thought of boondocking. But once you’ve tried it, you’ll surely want to boondock more and more!
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