RV Podcast 311: Try Moochdocking for cheap RV Overnights

 RV Podcast 311: Try Moochdocking for cheap RV Overnights

You surely have heard the term moochdocking by now, a variation on the boondocking trend that is so popular with RVers these days. While boondocking is typically off-grid camping in remote areas, moochdocking is camping – usually without hookups – in people’s driveways or the back of their property.

This week, we’ll learn about a new website that will help you find places to inexpensively do some moochdocking, offering still another resource for RVers who want to avoid overcrowded and overpriced campgrounds.

Also, this week on Episode 311 of the RV Podcast, we have lots of RV news, your questions, and a fun and entertaining off the beaten path report from Tom and Patti Burkett.

You can listen to this episode of the RV Podcast in the player below. And scroll down this page for shownotes and a transcript of the interview, plus links and resources about all the things we talk about.

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK

Photo of Mike and Jennifer Wendland, hosts of the RV Podcast
Mike and Jennifer Wendland, hosts of the RV Podcast and the RV Lifestyle Travel Blog

We hope everyone had a fantastic Labor Day weekend. Many were camping. But, according to an informal survey of campers and campground hosts, we’re hearing that more RVers than normal will continue camping through the rest of the month. 

Many campgrounds are filled and others report being much busier than normal. With so many still working remotely, a lot of RVers figure why not work from the road.

We’re planning a fall color RV getaway to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – right after Jennifer has a tooth pulled. Ouch!

This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Camping World – America’s #1 RV Dealer Listeners of the Podcast can get 10% off all purchases over $99. Just go to RVLifestyle.com/campingworld and you will see all the Camping word RV gear and accessories we like the most! Just use the discount code RVLIFESTYLE10.

RV PODCAST NEWS OF THE WEEK

More than 200 people were evacuated from a California campground, some with burn injuries, as a fast moving fire trapped campers
More than 200 people in California trying to squeeze in a little camping over the Labor Day weekend had to be evacuated by military helicopters after a fast-moving wildfire came upon them, sending more than 20 to the hospital, at least two with critical injuries. The campers were near Mammoth Pool Reservoir in the Sierra National Forest in northcentral California. The fire started Friday night and by Saturday blocked the only exit to Mammoth Pool Reservoir, trapping the campers as fire spread on all sides. The National Guard sent helicopters in to rescue people, taking more than 200 to safety. One evacuee shot some terrifying video (click here) of what the campground looked like before he was rescued.  Wildfires have been a major problem in much of the West, and California especially is hard hit.

Majority of Americans planned a road trip vacation Labor Day weekend
If you decided to take a last minute road trip this weekend, turns out you were in the majority. Some 60 percent of all Americans planned to travel over the weekend, 88 percent by vehicle. Also the majority of those traveling headed out further from home than they did Memorial Day weekend. The stats come from a survey by Cars.com. The info collected was very similar to AAA reports, indicating 97 percent of all Americans were vacationing by vehicle this summer, and which corresponds to what we are hearing out there in the middle of the pandemic. Not too long ago we had YOU call in and tell us what it is like out there on the road. To hear that podcast click here.

The Better Business Bureau urging RV shoppers to be aware of scams if shopping for used RV online
If you are shopping for a used RV online, the Better Business Bureau has a warning: Beware of scams. As more people are shopping for an RV as a way to travel in the time of a pandemic, scammers are spotting an opportunity to make a quick dishonest buck by listing RVs for sale that do not exist. To avoid being scammed, the Better Bureau suggests the buyer ask the seller for a FaceTime interview and a video walkthrough, ask for VINs, and more.  We also recommend that, if possible, you hire an RV inspector to look over the RV to make sure it is in the condition claimed by the seller. We did a whole Podcast episode about buying an RV and getting it inspected. CLICK HERE for the information on RV inspections.

Yet another American fined – this time $2,000 – for violating Canada’s Quarantine order
An American family was fined $2,000 and expelled from Canada last week after violating the country’s Quarantine Act. Americans are permitted to enter Canada if they go straight through to or from Alaska and the lower 48 states. They are not permitted to go to national parks, leisure or tourism areas. They are only permitted to stop for food, gas or sleep. And they are required to have a tag stating the day the entered Canada and the day they must be out. This tag is what gave the latest quarantine-violating American family away. They entered British Columbia Aug. 25, and were found vacationing in Vancouver Aug. 29. Once discovered they were fined and escorted to the Peace Arch Border Crossing.

If Canadian border remains closed, Canadian campground organization warns snowbirds will need somewhere to go
Speaking of Canada, as the Canadian-American border remains closed to non-essential travel because of COVID-19, Canada’s National Private Campground Association is looking ahead. The group estimates Canada has about 50,000-200,000 Canadian Snowbirds, who live or travel in an RV in Canada in the warm weather, the U.S. south in the winter. If the border remains closed they will need somewhere to go, and the group is suggesting a partnership with hotels since many of the seasonal Canadian campgrounds can’t operate in winter. There are increasing indications that the border may be closed until 2021.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes, America’s #1 e-bike brand, offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping  

RV PODCAST QUESTION OF THE WEEK

What happens when my RV runs out of freshwater?

Here’s a question that came in from Wendy:

QUESTION: Newbie here: we are quite confused about where to get clean water to fill the freshwater tank when Boondocking/dry camping. How do you do it?

ANSWER: One of the things we’ve done in the past is use 1-gallon water containers that we pick up at a supermarket.

Our RV has a short hose and a valve that will suck water out of the water jugs. It comes standard on our Leisure Travel Vans RV. But most RV shops can easily set up with a similar system.

If not, we’ve heard of people who take an empty soda bottle, cut a rectangular hole in it and use it as a sort of funnel to pour in the water from the gallon jug to the freshwater fill on the RV.

A better solution for most RVers is to use something called a Water Bandit. It has a ¾ in threaded connector on one end tat should connect to your city water connection. The other end is an a highly flexible, silicone polymer sleeve that stretches to fit over the end of virtually any standard water source… like a gallon water jug… making it really easy to pour in the tank. It costs around $8. Here’s the Amazon link – https://amzn.to/35gpKkZ

Something else we’ve done more recently is buy a heavy-duty collapsible 5.3-gallon water container. It only costs $12 or so. Here’s a link to it on Amazon – https://amzn.to/2ZixW0c

When empty, it collapses very small and easily stores.

When I fill up the RV freshwater tank, I’ll also fill up the collapsible water container.

That way, if we’re boondocking for a while and we run low on fresh water, we have an extra supply that will let us stay out longer.

As I said, Wendy posted her question on our Facebook RV Lifestyle Group. It brought in more than 40 responses from members.

Here are some of the replies and suggestions:

Jack: I top off at home before leaving I often top off at a paid campsite before leaving there. Most truck stops have water hose at or near the pumps that you can use to top off. Any gas station would probably let you top off especially if you tip the attendant a $10 or $20. If you use a small pump you can pump creek water if you can get close enough but make sure you chlorinate it to kill any bacteria or parasites.

Dave: I use several 3-gallon water jugs with handles. Much easier to carry 2 three-gallon jugs then 1 five-gallon jug. all drinking water we use goes through a Brita water filter first.

Renee: Some fire stations will let you fill your RV freshwater tank.

Cindi: We also carry a 60-gallon tank in the back of our truck that we fill as well. We have a small transfer pump that pumps into the camper. Between coffee and washing we always run out of water before our grey or black tanks are full.

Robert: We boondock nearly all the time. Water has never been an issue nor have we ever paid for water. Gas Stations, parks, a few stores, and a brewery have helped us out. You also need a Water Bandit

RV Gear info

We have a full page of all the products Jennifer and I use and recommend, including the water bandit and that collapsible water container. Just go to RVLifestyle.com/gear and you’ll see everything in one spot, all the products and gear we personally use and talk about here on the podcast.

Do you have a question you’d like us to answer, or a comment on the things we’re discussing? If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990.  If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.

This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Battle Born Batteries, maker of quality, safe and reliable lithium batteries that can be installed in just about every RV. Get in touch with Battle Born to find out what lithium batteries and an upgraded energy management system can add to your RV Lifestyle. Check them out at https://rvlifestyle.com/lithium

RV PODCAST INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK – Moochdocking resources

You surely have heard the term moochdocking by now, a variation on the boondocking trend that is so popular with RVers these days. While boondocking is typically off-grid camping in remote areas, moochdocking is camping – usually without hookups – in people’s driveways or the back of their property.

This week, we’ll learn about a new website called Moochdocker.com that will help you find places for moochdocking, offering still another resource for RVers who want to avoid overcrowded and overpriced campgrounds. One of the moochdocking spots available on the site is shown in our featured image at the very top of this post, a moochdocking spot in Montana. 

Our guest is Suzann Lankford, who founded the Moochdocking site. Here is a transcript of the interview:

photo of suzann lankford founder of the moochdocking website moochdock.com
Suzann Lankford, founder of Moochdocker.com

Moochdocking – Boondocking on private land of friends and family

Mike Wendland:           Well, on the other end of our podcast line is Suzann Lankford. She is the founder of moochdocker.com and we’re going to learn all about that in the interview of the week now. Suzann, welcome to the podcast.

Suzann Lankford:          Thank you so much, Mike. I’m happy to be here.

Mike Wendland:           Well tell us, first of all, a lot of people don’t know that term, they’re still figuring out boondocker. What is the term moochdocking all about?

Suzann Lankford:          We kind of came up with that concept from moochdocking… and moochdocking is typically when you stay on somebody else’s property, normally a friend or a family member and you’re kind of mooching off of their land or their driveway and not paying. You’re kind of just mooching off their land. That’s how Moochdocker came about. We wanted to include a normal name from RVing that everybody kind of knows, but also want to ingrain that into getting paid, the host getting paid for putting up their land or even driveway.

Mike Wendland:           It’s kind of like the concept that, of the VRBO and all the peer to peer rentals. We just had somebody who started one similar thing with church parking lots.

Suzann Lankford:          Oh yes, Faithful Parking.

Mike Wendland:           Yeah, tell us, first of all, a little bit about you and how you came to form moochdocker.com.

How Suzann’s appreciation of moochdocking led to her website

Suzann Lankford:          Absolutely. I like many others, wanted the dream, a dream road trip and dream, go all around the United States and explore. And of course that would be in an RV for me. And I saved all my pennies. Saved probably for about almost five to seven years, saving up for my dream RV. And it’s actually happened finally in 2016 and I bought my first RV and was a Chinook, classic Chinook and I renovated it. But with buying that I had to drive it from California to Montana and it was kind of last minute, it was a great deal. I found it and the owners were selling it within a week. I kind of had to act fast.

                                    And on that drive back from California, I was having such a hard time finding parking or an overnight stay or even a campground. Anything to feel secure, to feel safe as a single woman, driving alone and traveling alone. A lot of Walmart parking lots and a lot of Cracker Barrels or any of the overnight spots lately and even gas stations or truck stops are not allowing overnight spots for RVers anymore. It’s that dreaded 2:00 o’clock in the morning, knock on your RV, asking you to leave or even just not feeling safe and not having a restful night of sleep as a single female traveling alone. Go ahead, Mike.

Mike Wendland:           Just I’m looking at your website now. You started the thing, but what gave you the idea for a site for moochdocking then?

Suzann Lankford:          I wanted a platform that even if you’re traveling last minutes or even if you’re wanting to spend the night at a farm or spend a night in the wide open on somebody else’s property or even get close to a city where there’s not a lot of RV parking and people have these driveways that you can just overnight park in. I wanted to have the opportunity for RVers that is presently not available. And even with these sites that you have to book out six months in advance near national parks or near hotspots, I wanted to create that opportunity to one, have hosts actually make money because it is kind of a peer to peer platform. And then also give RVers that peace of mind, that having a spot for the night and not having to worry about it, not have it in the back of your mind of not knowing where to park that night.

How many moochdocking spots are on Moochdocker.com?

Mike Wendland:           Now, how many host sites do you have? And where are they located? I’m on your site now. Very, very nice easy site to look at, but it looks like to me, most of them at this point seem to be out west a lot in Montana, the Pacific Northwest of course, key destinations for every RVer. But where do you see this growing? Are you adding new sites every week? Help us understand.

Suzann Lankford:          Absolutely. Right now we have 50 sites available and you’re correct, most are in the West and we are based in Montana. A lot of our spots are in Montana right now. We have some, actually we only have one in Florida and it’s quite funny if anybody’s seen the Tiger King on Netflix, it is right near the Big Cat Rescue. If you want to stay there and visit Big Cat Rescue or get involved with that more than love them. But we are growing, we are trying to get more hosts. If anybody has people that they know that have land or driveways that they would love to make extra money by just hosting an RVer, we will gladly get them onboarded and up on our site.

How much does it cost for moochdocking with the hosts?

doMike Wendland:           Give us an idea of the cost involved. Now there’s no membership fee for anybody using moochdocker.com, right?

Suzann Lankford:          Correct. Correct. No membership fee and you get most of the money that you make for that night. We only take a small percentage and you make the rest of that money as a host.

Mike Wendland:           And what are the fees that the host charges? Is there a standard fee? Does it vary from location? Is it whatever the host wants to set?

Suzann Lankford:          It’s whatever the host wants to set. Let’s say if you’re near a national park, you want your rate to be a little bit higher, just because you are more in demand and even if you have electricity on your site or if you have wifi available for RVers, you can actually charge a premium. Or if you want to sell firewood, it’s whatever amenities you want to add on top of your fee that you set yourself.

Mike Wendland:           Can you give us an estimate ranging from what to what per night as you’ve put these different sites up?

Suzann Lankford:          Yeah. Right now we have $20 a night all the way up to $60 a night. And I assume if you’re closer, once we get more hosts, closer to more attractions and more city based, I would assume those would go up as well.

Mike Wendland:           Now, if somebody says, “This makes sense to me, we’ve got a couple of spots.” Do they have to have any particular kind of insurance? Or are there any hoops they have to jump through to become a moochdocking host?

Want to be a moochdocking host?

Suzann Lankford:          That’s a great question, Mike. We as Moochdocker, the company actually has an insurance plan so nobody on the host side needs to have insurance.

Mike Wendland:           That’s a great thing.

Suzann Lankford:          Exactly.

Mike Wendland:           For example, I have a little spot in my yard, wherever 30 amp and a pad and all that stuff. All I do is I’m not going to do this case to any of our fans think I’m going to because my RV is out there. But if I were going to, I would simply open up that spot, give it a description and I could list it with you and it would be up there. It’s a great way for people to make a little extra money with their property.

Suzann Lankford:          Exactly. Just contact our onboarding specialist and we’ll get you set up right away.

How do you find a moochdocking spot on Moochdocker.com?

Mike Wendland:           Now, let’s go back to the RVer who this year in particular has been extremely frustrated as they’ve traveled the country and they have tried to find a place to stay in campgrounds overfilled, many still partially open. How do they find a spot? Walk us through the moochdocking procedure when you go to moochdocker.com, how does the RVer find that spot?

Suzann Lankford:          Absolutely. Just go to our website, moochdocker.com and then go to find a listing and you can actually browse. There’s two ways you can browse on the map or you can browse within, you can just select your city or your zip code and browse that way. And you can visit it on your phone or just a regular computer as well.

Mike Wendland:           And then you just contact the host and say, “Hey, we’ll be there tomorrow night at 5:00 o’clock.” And that’s all you have to do.

Suzann Lankford:          Exactly, yep.

Mike Wendland:           Now, differentiation between the other sites, moochdocker.com and places like, well there’s like Harvest Hosts and Overnight RV Parking and Boondockers Welcome. How does moochdocker.com differentiate between those other sites like that?

Suzann Lankford:          Yeah, absolutely. Harvest Hosts, definitely I love Harvest Hosts and they definitely want you to stay one night and then be on your way. And of course spend some money at the winery or golf destination that you’re at and that’s how their business model works. The host only gets money when you spend money at the winery or whatever and then the Boondockers Welcome, we kind of compare it to couch surfing. It’s very communal based and that’s a subscription model. Whereas with ours, it’s a peer to peer and both the host benefits and the RVer moochdocking benefits. The host makes money every time a RVer comes, whereas Boondockers Welcome, they do not.

Mike Wendland:           Right. And Overnight RV Parking, that’s kind of an aggregate site that just list all sorts of places. And they’re all very helpful sites. I like all of them.

Suzann Lankford:          Absolutely.

Mike Wendland:           Harvest Hosts of course is also a membership site and Moochdocker, you are not a membership site. Costs us nothing to go on and find a great spot. I’m looking at the site now and I see some fabulous moochdocking photographs of some of the places that you have in areas that I would like to visit. As you visit national parks from Yellowstone, Glacier, Montana, you’re not that far from any of them.

Suzann Lankford:          Exactly.

Mike Wendland:           And then I see some of them that are literally a driveway and somebody has a driveway that you can stay in.

Suzann Lankford:          Exactly.

Mike Wendland:           While we are going to recommend that to our folks to check out, as they’re looking for places to stay. Moochdocker.com is the website. And if you have some property as well, that you want to make available and become a part of all of that, you can go to the site and there’s information on how to become a host as well. Suzann Lankford has been our guest. And thank you so much.

And I know you’re sitting by the side of the road in your RV right now so I’m always kind of worried that I’m going to cause somebody to get into an accident there. When you head back on the highway, just look both ways, but thank you very much and I know you’re going to get lots of check outs from our audience as they look at moochdocker.com. Thank you, Suzann.

Suzann Lankford:          Thank you so much, Mike. Have a great day.

The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new  motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT  – The Land between the Lakes

Tom & Patti Burkett of the Rv Podcast
The RV Podcast off the beaten path reporters Tom & Patti Burkett

BY TOM & PATTI BURKETT

If you drive a long, narrow, dirt and gravel road, without  name, almost to the edge of the Cumberland River, you can just get to Saint Stephen’s Church.  The trim white one-room building is surrounded by a neat picket fence and presides over a cemetery that has been just as carefully put back in order. That it’s here at all is bit of a miracle.

In 1944 the Tennessee Valley Authority completed the Kentucky dam on the Tennessee River and Kentucky Lake began to fill.  It’s the largest lake east of the Mississippi if you measure by surface area, and has a shoreline more than two thousand miles long.  Its creation swallowed up more than a dozen towns and settlements and forced the relocation of thousands of residents.   

St. Stephens, Land Between the Lakes

In 1966 Lake Barkley, on the Cumberland River, finished filling behind Barkley Dam and created the same scenario just a few miles away across the ridge.  For generations, the area had been called ‘land between the rivers.’  President John Kennedy worked with the TVA to purchase nearly all of it, more than two hundred and fifty square miles, and it was renamed Land Between the Lakes.  

It was turned over to the US Forest Service in 1998, designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 2005, and removed from the World Biosphere program by the Trump administration in 2016.

The biggest town in the strip was Golden Pond, a regional settlement along US 68.  The growth of Kentucky Lake had brought fishing and hunting businesses to town, and things were looking up when the purchase was announced and, within a few years, it was a ghost town.  

Inside St. Stephen’s

Now there are no residents in the entire park, all the buildings have been removed, and the site of Golden Pond is marked by a set of interpretive signs at a turnout.  How did the church survive this purge?  As the story is told, it was somehow omitted from the maps that were in use during the transition, and the road to it was erased by the flooding.

Twenty years ago it was rediscovered by hikers and, through an extraordinary effort, descendants of those buried in the cemetery negotiated with the Forest Service to restore the building.  Thousands of work hours later, the church is again usable and the closest forest service road has been extended, sort of, to allow access.  

Our high clearance Roadtrek had no trouble negotiating it, but you might not want to try it in something that rode lower to the ground.  The building and grounds are lovely in the late afternoon light, reminiscent of some of the iconic locations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Elk at the Land Between the Lakes

Another thing that makes Land Between the Lakes a great destination is its dark sky designation.  Find a spot away from the many, many trees to look up at night for one of the best views of the heavens in the Eastern USA.  To add to your astronomical pleasure, the Golden Pond Planetarium in the middle of the park offers lots of programs and regular nighttime viewings with their telescopes.  One of the best programs is ‘Tonight’s Sky Live’ which gives pointers on where to look and what to see tonight.

While you’re at the visitor center, don’t forget to buy a token for the elk and bison prairie, a few miles to the south.  As you drive along the loop, you’ll likely see all or part of the park’s herds wandering among the trees or grazing in the fields.  Both of these animals were once native to most of the Eastern USA and The Trace, the name of the main road running through the park, is reference to the buffalo trace, an ancient migratory path used by both bison and Native Americans for thousands of years.

Farther south still you’ll find the Homeplace Farm, where costumed interpreters work the land just as they would have in the mid nineteenth century.  You’ll see mules, sheep, pigs, chickens, and a variety of crops being harvested. And the church isn’t the only little-known wonder in the park.  A long chat with one of the park’s rangers may well set you off on your own adventure of discovery, out here off the beaten path

 

 

Mike Wendland

Mike is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, kayaking, video editing, and all things dealing with technology and the outdoors. See and subscribe to his RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube, where he has hundreds of RV and travel related videos. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations.

1 Comment

  • Moochdocker is duplicating what Hipcamp is doing.

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