When we talk about dispersed camping, there are two big boondocking misconceptions that need to be addressed.
If you have followed Jennifer and me for any length of time, you know that we are big boondocking boosters.
It is clearly our favorite way to camp and we are always telling others about how great it is.
Before we go too much further, let me share a video we did on the most beautiful and scenic places we've seen in our RV. Most of these places we show you involved us boondocking in one way or another.
It's time to Bust the Boondocking Misconceptions
As Jennifer and I tell others about boondocking, over and over again, we hear people give voice to the same two issues.
These boondocking misconceptions have somehow taken deep roots in the RVing world and it's our intent with this article to dispel them.
They are both totally fake news.
Let's try to clear them up:
Boondocking Misconception #1: Lithium batteries and solar panels are needed
The first is the common misconception in the RVing community that you NEED 600 amp-hours of Lithium-ion batteries and 800W of solar panels on your roof to even think about going boondocking.
After watching so many videos on YouTube of how people have rigged up their RVs with all the latest technology, it might surprise you to know that while these are certainly nice to have, they aren’t a need to have for short stints of boondocking.
I’ll say it right here. You don’t have to install solar to boondock.
Or lithium batteries.
In fact, most RVs will easily allow for boondocking all weekend on their house AGM batteries.
Lithium and solar are relatively new technological developments that new RVs have but you don’t need that to boondock at all. At least when you are first trying dispersed camping.
Granted, if boondocking takes root in you as it has for Jennifer and me, you'll want lithium batteries and solar power.
Let me be clear. Jennifer and I have 400 watts of solar on the roof of our RV and two 100-amp Battleborn Batteries.
Now we do. Notice the word “now.”
We didn't start out that way. We added them as we grew more experienced with boondocking.
And while we are very pleased at the off the grid capabilities they provide us, they are luxuries, not essentials for boondocking.
So don't let anyone tell you that they are must-haves!
They are very costly add-ons.
And if you don’t have $5,000 to drop into the latest technologies, I want you to know that boondocking iand dispersed camping s still a very accessible way for you to travel.
Our friends Roger and Lynn Brucker boondock for 2 to 3 days at a time with one 80 amp-hour battery in an RV more than 20 years old.
Boondocking Misconception #2: Camping is Cheap
The second misconception I want to talk about is the cost of traditional campgrounds.
To watch some of the so-called RV gurus out there today, you'd think staying in an RV park was a good ay to see the nation and save money.
Bt have you ever taken a second and looked at what staying in an RV Park or campground costs you in the long run?
Jennifer and I did this mental accounting around the time that we started boondocking. It’s one of those things that sneaks up on you and really starts to add up over time.
Let’s take two examples to show what I mean: Boondockin’ Bob and RV Park Joe
Boondockin’ Bob and RV Park Joe are both part-timers and they’re on the road about 3 months a year from June to August.
RV Park Joe is locked into a set schedule of the commercial campgrounds that he booked months in advance because during the most popular travel times, most campgrounds, RV Parks, and even state parks are booked almost solid.
RV Park Joe spends about ~$45 per night in a traditional RV Park or campground. Some places are much higher than that, some are lower but for the sake of this example this is the number I’m going to use.
After 3 months on the road, that’s about 90 days so with an RV Park of $45 a night RV Park Joe is looking at a total bill of 90 * $45 = $4050.
Now let’s look at Boondockin’ Bob.
Boondockin’ Bob hit the road in June and is boondocking about 70% of the time. We’ll say that’s 63 of 90 days.
He isn’t locked into a specific schedule and is meandering around the country. He can boondock pretty much anywhere so if he decides that Tuscaloosa, Alabama is where he was meant to spend a week then he can make his way over there.
The first stretch he only spends $1,215 (27 days X $45 per night) at RV parks and campgrounds that he finds every couple of days to empty his tanks and charge his house batteries versus the $4,050 that RV Park Joe spent.
For Boondockin’ Bob this is a savings of $2,835 in his first summer.
Come next summer and if he does the same thing, Boondockin’ Bob will save a cumulative total of $5,670 the second season. And a cumulative total of $8,505 the third season.
And of course, this savings is compounded if you’re RVing more than 3 months out of the year.
A full-timer will save almost $11,500 per year boondocking 70% of the time.
What’s stopping you from becoming your own version of Boondockin’ Bob?
The Bottom Line about Boondocking
When our readers email me about boondocking, their biggest worries are things like how do I conserve my batteries? How do I make sure I have enough water? How do I find safe places to boondock?
That’s why we put together an e-book called the Beginner's Guide To Boondocking.
This is a collection of the knowledge of everything that you’ll need to understand before you boondock for the first time. This e-book includes 65+ pages on various topics that you’ll need to know before you begin boondocking.
We cover everything from, electrical and water conservation and how they affect your ability to boondock, boondocking cooking and how to conserve energy while cooking, where to find boondocking spots and multiple resources to do so, our favorite “cheat” to getting a long, hot shower while we’re on the road, boondocking and safety – should you carry a gun? (You’d be surprised at the number of people who do, as well as much more!)
In it we cover in detail:
- The 4 electronic systems in your RV that you’ll need to master or improve in order to get your rig “boondocking-ready”
- Our tips and tricks for conserving electrical energy in your RV
- Understanding the balancing act of water in your RV between your tanks
- Ideas and recommendations to conserve water while you’re boondocking
- Resources to find free or extreme low-cost boondocking spots and places to stay the night
- And many more topics
This is a fully designed and edited guide that you can download and start reading immediately on your phone, tablet, computer or e-reader.
Whether you buy the book or not, we hope you give Boondocking a Try. Don't believe those misconceptions about boondocking.
Free Boondocking Resources
To help you, here are three links to the most popular articles I have written about boondocking… all are totally free:
- Is Boondocking Right for You?
- Essential Tips about Boondocking and Dry Camping
- Where to find Free of Cheap RV Sites
Curious about the gear, gadgets, accessories, and RV products Mike & Jennifer use and recommend?
On this RV Lifestyle Travel blog, our RV Podcast and our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, we mention all sorts of RV-related products and gear that we use, So we created a special page links to them. We update this all the time. CLICK HERE to go to it directly.
Ready to Plan an RV Trip? Here's the tool we use:
Planning an RV Trip has never been easier than with RV TripWizard. It is a comprehensive tool that Jennifer and I use whenever we are planning a trip. It works seamlessly with all our devices and gives us access to the info we need on where to stop, what camping is nearby and what we should do in an area.
Best of all, you can try it for free to see how it will fit into your trip planning process.