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.

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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 t to park in any public parking lot.  Ask the management of the anchor store if they would allow you to park overnight.  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 overnight 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 plain tacky.

Rude

4:     Never overstay 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 litter 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 stores 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 harassment.

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 YouTube videos, read many posts and blogs concerning the RV lifestyle.  The majority of information that I have found leads 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 tiresome.  Depending on 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 won’t 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 online 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 quiet 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, rainstorms, 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 harm’s way.  Hot temperatures are the most of my worries living in an 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 used 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 shower 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 skeptical, 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 backyard 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 was 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 work camping.  “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.

Our 2007 Road Trip, Part 2: Signs of Georgia

This is such a great post on driving through Georgia and what you will see coming down I-75. Brings back a lot of memories.

Midlife Crisis Crossover!

Giant Peanut! Behold the World’s Largest Peanut, according to the good people of Ashburn, Georgia. Also possibly the World’s Most Hypoallergenic Peanut.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2007 we changed up our strategy a bit and designed an itinerary for what would prove our most kid-friendly outing ever. Granted, my son was now twelve years old and less kid-like than he used to be, but the idea was sound in principle.

Thus in this year of our Lord did we declare: the Goldens are going to Florida!

When most people think “road trip” in the fanciful sense…

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Never Forget the Ice

via Daily Prompt: Opaque

Pondering this daily prompt, what could I possibly say about the word, opaque?  Cluelessly staring at my computer screen then looking to my left, oh there is it… One of my favorite luxuries in the world, Ice.  Oh, how I love ice.  I love the way it slightly freezes my favorite drinks.  Just barely melted, it starts to break down… exposing the tiniest of air pockets.  I savior every big gulp of cold liquid as it rushes down my throat cooling my belly on a hot summers day.  Nothing could be finer and more satisfying than that beautiful chunk of frozen, opaque, water chunks waiting to nourish my whole being.  Yes, I chew on the little buggers, it’s my fat-free snack.  It keeps me from snacking on more sinful treats.  I’ve gotta watch my weight, ya know.  Will I ever give up the chunky goodness?  Probably not.  I always have a beverage at my side and I “never forget the ice”.

‘Dotty’ is her name.

The seller of our motor home had his own camping story to tell.

What’s in a name?  We all name thing we love, care about or has meaning for us.  It brings a connection or commitment to the object we name.  I have always had a fascination with naming things.  If I like it, it gets a nick-name, a personality.  Same goes for vehicles, the motor home had a name before we left the sellers home.

The seller of our motorhome had his own camping story to tell.  He purchased the motorhome with the idea that he and his wife would become full-time rv’ers.  He spent many hours refurbishing the camper to get it road ready.  During this time, his wife became ill and passed away.  They never were able to fulfill their dream.  His wife’s name was Dorothy.  Dotty seemed an appropriate name, it suits her, I will never forget the story behind their dream and fulfilling our own.

The Great Camper Hunt

It was another cold and rainy day in Southern Michigan, pressed for time and home sold, we needed to find a motorhome quickly.   Hours and weeks were spent looking on-line looking across the state for the perfect, or nearly perfect, camper.  With a few dollars in our pocket, the pick’ns were slim.  There was plenty of motorhomes to choose from if you wanted to take out a mortgage and drive a bus around the country.  That wasn’t our idea of downsizing.  We needed something dependable and cheap.  No leaks, mold and a solid motor, something we could work on and repair without breaking the bank.

We left early in the morning and headed about two hours north in the cold windy rain to view our first potential option.  The GPS took us down wet, pothole-filled roads to look at the first possibility.  We found this gem on Craigslist, pictures looked good, description gave us hope…until.

Pulling into the rutted driveway we knew this was a no go, a rust bucket from hell.  A lot of front end rust and crooked camper shell gave it away.  We knew this one had a lot of problems.  We didn’t need to drive it, though we did, to know it should have been in the junkyard.  We politely declined the sale and went on our merry way.

Rather disappointed, we started our way back home, then the light bulb came on!  Call it a coincidence, however, I don’t believe in coincidences, pulling into a local grocery store, my husband checked Craigslist one last time.  Sha-zam…there she was, a half an hour away.  This was a must see.  A quick phone call and off we went to check another possibility.

I have to say the drive was better, paved roads and all.  The first impression was very hopeful.  This motor home was taken care of.  No rust to be seen, no sagging, brand new tires, refurbished motor and only 45,000 miles.  She was clean.  We spent approximately an hour or so with the owner, going over the many details of this 1975 Cruise Air.  He was obviously proud of the renovations he had done.  The inside was “sweet”.  All wood cabinet, reupholstered benches and cab interior.  The only damage we could find was minor roof leaks that had been repaired.  We needed a test drive.

Down the street, around the block and a smile on his face, I knew we had just bought a motor home.  This vehicle would be just what was needed to get us down the road.  A little more time spent with the owner talking about what was repaired, replaced and needed work, money was exchanged and title in hand, she was on her maiden voyage back home.

Forty to fifty mile an hour winds didn’t make for easy driving.  It was a test, her first test, and she did great.  Suspension needs work and carburetor needs tweaking but all in all it went very well.  We made it home with no incidents and very pleased with our purchase.  I hope she serves us well during our travels, we shall see.