Boondocking: Top Tips For Free Camping In Your Van Or RV


It’s a funny word that doesn’t really describe what it means when you first hear it. But, when you have a camper or RV, you will quickly realize what a great thing it is.

When you want cheap camping and being close to nature, then boondocking is going to become a regular part of your vocabulary.

Some people resist RVing as they feel like they are forced to have to camp out with hundreds of other people. It isn’t much different than being home, in other words.


When you learn how to boondock, you open up an entire world of camping possibilities.

With some planning, you can get started and never stay in another campground again!

Be aware of your water

The most important part of boondocking is always having a water supply. You should always be checking your freshwater tank to make sure you have enough water to drink. Bathing and doing the washing up can be done with lake or river water if you are truly off-grid.

To make sure you are being economical with your water use a water pump when boondocking and use low flow fixtures. Fill up when you are on the road and make sure to dump your waste water even if you feel like you still have room in the tank. You don’t know when your next opportunity will be.

Do your research

When you are planning your route, look for potential boondocking spots and mark them on your map or GPS. 

If you are traveling in a camper, then it is easier to find potential places as they take up less space than an RV.

But, common areas where people boondock are at:

  • Trailheads – It’s not uncommon to see campers and RVs in areas where there are hikers and wild camping allowed.
  • Visitor Centers – Another spot where it is expected to see people traveling are visitors centers. Check to make sure it is allowed before arriving.
  • Truck Stops – There are always trucks, campers, and RVs coming and going. No RV would look out of place boondocking in a truck stop overnight.
  • Wilderness – Out in the middle of nowhere, you are free to boondock in many areas. Check the legality before heading to those spots first. 

Dry camping vs boondocking

There are many free or heavily discounted campgrounds scattered throughout the US and Canada. 

They offer no real amenities aside from a clean, safe space to settle down for a night or week or however long you have provisions for.

They are usually on public land and are set up just like an ordinary campground. You just don’t have any water or electrical hookups. You will have to rely on your generator and water tanks just as you would when boondocking. The benefit is being somewhere that is not remote like being out in the wilderness. 

If staying in parking lots or trailheads doesn’t appeal to you then dry camping is your best option for cheap camping.