Guide to Successful Boondocking

This is our top 10 boondocking tip for the inexpirenced boondocker. This guide helped us have a safe and enjoyable stay where ever we parked.

10 Boondocking Tips for the Inexperienced Boondocker

This is our top 10 boondocking  tips we recommend for the inexperienced boondocker,  We used these tips on our 2600 mile journey this past Spring, on our road-trip to Georgia and back to Michigan.  Not once were we asked to leave our parking spot.

Here is our list:

1:     Ask permission – Just don’t assume it is legal for you on park in any public parking lot.  Ask the management of the anchor store if they would allow you to park over night.  Many times they will agree and direct you to the best area in the parking lot to park.

2:     Don’t lie about why you are there – Be honest about your need to park.  We were never told no, even when it was posted “no over night camping”.  We were just honest about it.

3:     Never set up camp in the parking lot – We have seen campers take advantage of the kindness of store manager and their parking rules.  Don’t pull out your grills and chairs as you would if you were at a campsite.  It’s rude and just plan tacky.

Rude

4:     Never over stay your welcome – One or two days stay at best.  You don’t want to attract attention to yourself and ruin other traveler’s chances to boondock at the same location.  Share the love.

5:      Spend a little money  – Even if it just a gallon of water or a bag of ice.  Patron the store will make the manager more willing to let you stay longer.  It’s also being considerate of the situation.

pitch in trash image

6:     Keep it clean – Pick up your trash and clean up your surrounding.  It’s very sad to see full trash bag and tons of liter surrounding the parking lots.  Be a good guest and pick up after yourself.  It will make management happy too.

7:     Be quiet – This is not a time to have a party.  Keep your noise level down, again don’t attract attention, it’s rude and you may get a visit from the police.

8:     Vehicle Presentation – You don’t have to have a new camper to be overlooked while boondocking.  Keep your rig clean and in good working order.  It draws less suspicion.

Traveler, Motor Home, Travel Journal, Bonndocking

9:     Consideration parking habits – Plan your parking on the outskirts of the parking lot.  Don’t park up front and take up multiple spaces.  You’ll only make management and customers angry.  Be considerate of the space your rig will use.

10:    No major repairs while parking – Many store have a policy that states no repairing of vehicles in parking lot. If you have major repairs in the future, plan accordingly and drive your rig where you can repair it or have it repaired without harrassment.

Live by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have done to you” (Luke 6:31) and you should have no problems boondocking on your travels.  You can also save money on the way too.

Challenges of Boondocking

These are real concerns that will put a crimp in your travels…

Travel Obstacles While on the Road

When you read about boondocking you’ll frequently hear how wonderful life is living free on the road.  Well, I am here to tell you not every day is peaches-n-cream.  There are plenty of obstacles you’ll face and many changes you will make.  This post is about a few of those challenges we have faced along our 2600 mile journey.

Over the course of two months on the road I’ve watched many You Tube videos, read many posts and blogs concerning the RV lifestyle.  The majority of information that I have found lead me to believe that the RV life is an all carefree style with limited stress.  I’m here to tell you life in general is stressful.  It doesn’t matter if you live in a house or on the road, problems will arise and have to be dealt with.

The first big issue we faced while being on the road was high-speed internet access.

4G-internet-phone-serviceNow if you are working from your laptop as your main source of income you will be hard pressed to find a steady fast connection.  Yes, you can give it your best shot at the local McDonald’s or Starbucks, but driving your rig to find these locations will get tire-some.  Depending how big your rig is you may not be able to find parking close enough to connect for long.  There also will be days when you wont be able to connect at all. We use Verizon with a Jetpack and still have trouble with a steady signal.  Verizon has dead spots too.  This is just food for thought for those planning on an on-line income.  You may want to rethink your plan.

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Power usage is another biggie to think about.  Are you the kind of person who can’t live without your t.v. shows or video games?  I can tell you even if you have batteries and solar panels the power generated will be limited.  The power that’s  been stored during your travels would be better used to power a refrigerator, an air conditioner, fans or keeping your cell phone charged.  There will be a lot of quite time.  Can you handle the quite? “Silence is golden” as the saying goes only to those who enjoy it.

Storm+warning

Weather conditions are a must to keep track of during your travels, rain storms, high winds and hot temperatures.  These conditions can all be a day breaker for the boondocker.  Keep a daily check on your local weather channel to make sure you are not in arms way.  Hot temperatures are the most of my worries living in a RV.  See this post on how we deal with the heat. Spending for a full hookup campsite for power can take a toll on your finances if you are on a limited income.

bathing with a bucket (500x629)

Lastly, get use to limiting your bathing time.  There will be days when you will not bathe.  I know you have probably heard of full-timers that purchase time at a gym to use their showers facilities.  Once again, driving around in a big RV in a heavily populated area to find your shower access will get old.  It’s also expensive, remember you have to pay per person.  You would be better off locating a truck stop and share the shower stall if you’re traveling as a couple.  We’ve used a bucket with water or baby wipes to wash down if a shower wasn’t available.  Change your clothes regularly and don’t forget the deodorant. This will stretch the bathing considerably.

These four issues are not often discussed or are sugar-coated in the camping, boondocking world.  They are real concerns that will put a crimp in your travels if you’re not prepared to deal with them.  Think it through, be realistic, prepare and enjoy the ride.

Southern Hospitality

It all started last week with a simple post from Facebook.

It all started last week with a simple post from Facebook.  In the most unlikely way a post came over offering us a place to park for a few days.  It caught us both by surprise, we didn’t know what to think or say, “Was this for real?”  Being sceptical, we decided to think on it for a day or two.

The weather was getting hotter and we really needed to find shade.  Maybe it was time to learn a little trust and accept the offer.  We didn’t have to travel far when we were greeted by  (we will call her Gail) a small, cheery-eyed woman with a warm smile and cherry cheeks. She directed us to her back yard to park ‘Dotty’, and there it was… shade, wonderful large oak trees with the charming hanging Spanish Moss.  The perfect place to keep us cool on those hot days.

We spent the first few days getting acquainted.  A lot of question were asked and answered, one being how were we going to finance ourselves? Our plan was to take on odd jobs, (according to our skill sets) and possibly workcamping.  “What are those skillsets, you might ask?”  We have a few at our age, my husband, Bill, is a carpenter by trade and an all around handyman.  Myself, I have a nack for cleaning, organizing and yard work.  Those are my specialities.  Gail was carefully listening to our story and quickly asked if we would like to extend our stay and help her with home repairs and clean up duty.  This was shock number two, we weren’t expecting that question.  She showed us around the house pointing out various needed repairs, back door casing, hanging new drywall, lawn work, etc.  We decided quickly we would like to help her out knowing she wasn’t able to do the work herself.  Labor fee was briefly discussed, however we hadn’t thought about a price, we decided to ask for donations for work completed.  We felt that was fair.  We now were well on our way to our first job with a reference…priceless.

As the days progressed and the work was getting finished a funny thing happened.  We were building a new friendship.  In the evenings we would all relaxed on her wonderful screened in back porch having drinks, meeting neighbors and just having a good ol’time talking about camping and life.  Gail went out of her way to be a gracious host.  She even cooked dinners for us and of course we joined her, she a great cook!  Our few days turned into a week.  We knew we would have to leave soon, we had another committment coming up.

This week was a complete success.  I had heard stories of the kindness of strangers, but have never experienced it.  This boondocking adventure has made us realize there are good people out there.  Gail has shown us there is kind and thoughtful people in this world, people who do care.  She is one of those people we will never forget and hope to see again in the future.  We are forever grateful to have met her and can call her our friend.

A Weekend of Visits, Boondocking and Repairs.

Time to play catch up in the world of blogging.  We’ve been busy the past couple of day, bust’n butt getting Dotty ready for our first boonndocking experience.  We also made a mad dash to say good-bye to friends and family over the weekend.  Friday was laundry and shower day while we still had water access.  Writing our list and checking it twice making sure we didn’t leave anything behind and thanking Bob for putting up with us over the past couple of weeks.

So heading out early Saturday morning, traveling north, to Madison Heights, Mi. for a good-bye breakfast with dear long-term friends, the Wagner’s, and their brood.  Jeff is another good friend who has alway helped in times of need.  He was the first person to offer help when this journey started.  We appreciate all you’ve done and offered to us over the years.  Keep that steel polished and well oiled, Jeff, and hugs to you and yours.

Heading back to home base it was dinner with, Mom.  It’s been years since Bill and I have had contact with his Mother.  It sure was nice to spend a couple of hours catching up on life and having a wonderful steak dinner.  We love you and promise to be in contact more often even if we are miles away.

First night boondocking wasn’t as restful as we would have hoped it to be.  We pick a less traveled parking lot with a Dollar Tree store (we needed more plastic containers).  I spent an hour playing, stake out, looking out the windows watching the police patrol the strip mall.  I thought to myself, “How long will it be before we get a knock on the door?”  Not interested, we never got that knock.  The next morning we woke up to McDonald’s coffee, not a McDonald’s fan, but  I never knew I could appreciate McDonald’s, however,  I will say they have damn good coffee.

Next day, Sunday, more family visits, my son Ray, who I will miss dearly and Bill’s brother, Dougie.  Dougie’s visit was exceptionally nice and entertaining.  Bill’s sister, Marge and niece, Kristin also dropped by.  We enjoyed all their company and were glad we were able to see them before we left for the road.

Evening was spent with Pops and his wife, Wanda.  We went to dinner at a local diner and had a very pleasant visit while giving the waitress a hard time.  Don’t worry, she got a fat tip for putting up with us, chaching.

Another night of boondocking, this time at the ol’trusty Wal-Mart parking lot.  Low and behold, there’s a Tim Horton’s next store.  Gotta look out for those coffee spots since we’re without shore power.  I don’t think Wal-Mart would appreciate us building a camp fire to heat water in their parking lot.  It would draw a lot of attention.

Well, in between all the visiting, we managed to get someone to look at Dotty’s suspension. She is ass end heavy and needs new shocks and a rear seal replacement. We went to a local RV repair shop under the recommendations of a national RV chain store.  Now here is some cool advice for those looking for repairs on your campers/vans.  Make connections with a good honest mechanic, ask around, get advice, this relationship is priceless.  We received the estimate for repairs at $1600.00.  Ummm…not gonna happen.  So, what to do, what to do?  Our first thought was to call our long time diesel mechanic to ask for advice.  Happens… that they are willing to do the work and can get us in tomorrow.  Whoohoo!!

One more night boondocking in amongst the semi trucks, buses and dump trucks, lol.  Don’t think anyone will find us after being locked in the yard at the repair shop.  Parts already delivered, repairs start yearly in the morning.  Should have a good night sleep tonight.  Keeping our fingers crossed.  Eight o’clock comes early, looking for fresh brewed coffee with the staff at DRS.

Best Friends Make Everything Better

We made it up the highway around fifteen miles to our next destination, to best friend Bob’s house…

After the home sold we made a mad dash to load up our belonging into the motor home and be on our way.  Our first stop wasn’t far.  Packed to the gills, camper squatting like a s.o.b., we made it up the highway around fifteen miles to our next destination, to best friend Bob’s house.  Bob has been a close friend of my husband for years, way back to the high school days.  The carefree days of immense trouble making.  Like I said, a really close friend.

Bob offered his driveway for us to park Dotty and get our bearings straight.  We needed time to adjust to the new accommodations, check out all thing mechanical and throw more stuff way.

First on the list was shore power.  It works like a champ.  We plan to purchase a small microwave to use when power is available.  Our hope is to install a couple of solar panels to use on such occasion when we are boondocking.  Next issue is the classic refrigerator.  It’s in great shape but doesn’t run and if it did it would be a power-hungry whore.  Think we will be removing it and purchasing a 12 volt to put in its place.  We’ll also have more space for dry good storage above it.  There is plenty of projects to keep us busying for the next couple of weeks.  The more we assimilate to camper living the more we will be ready to head out down the highway when the time comes.

And as always, thank you Bob for letting us intrude in your living space.  We will always be grateful for your help.