9 Boondocking Myths You Need to Know
Have you tried boondocking? Do you know what boondocking is? Well, today we’re here to dispel a few myths that keep many campers from giving it a fair shake!
Boondocking, sometimes called “free camping”, is basically camping off-grid in your RV (or van) for free. Most of the boondocking sites in the USA are on public lands managed by the federal government – also known as BLM Land.
If you haven’t tried boondocking before due to fear or uncertainty, this article is for you! If you’ve tried boondocking once or twice with no success, this article is for you, too!
We know boondocking can be a challenge, but when done with preparation and the right frame of mind, there’s no RV resort in the USA that can compete with a beautiful boondocking spot.
Let get to debunking these boondocking myths!
1: Boondocking Is Out In The Boonies
This is a common misconception (and for good reason). The name boondocking sounds like this type of camping happens out in the boonies. And, the boonies can be a scary place…think “no cell service”, “no nearby gas stations”, & “axe murderers in the woods.”
This is a myth!
While it’s true that some boondocking is out in the boonies, most of our favorite boondocking sites are actually close to town!
For example, we’ve boondocked right outside of Sedona, downtown Natchez Mississippi, on the beach in Texas, and near the entrance to Zion National Park.
Using tools like Campendium, we can make sure the boondocking site we research is close to nearby towns & amenities!
2: Boondocking Means No Internet
This myth couldn’t be further from the truth! We only camp at boondocking spots that have internet availability. Using the Campendium website as our resource, we can see what type of internet other campers have received at each boodocking location.
This isn’t wifi internet. We’re talking cellular internet. You’ll have to have a cell phone or a cellular hotspot to receive internet at boondocking locations…but, really, who doesn’t have a cell phone these days?!
We also use a cell booster to give us a stronger signal and faster speeds.
This isn’t essential, but it can really help. For example, when we boondocked outside of Glacier National Park we received one bar of unusable cell service. Once that signal was boosted, it turned into 4 bars of service that was able to stream Netflix.
3: You Won’t Have Power When You Boondock
This is one of the easiest boondocking myths to bust! We’ll bust it three ways starting with the cheapest method!
- Some boondocking sites offer free electricity! This isn’t extremely common, but it’s still true. Wyoming is one state that you’ll find free electricity at city parks quite regularly. We really enjoyed this boondocking amenity in Glenrock City Park!
- Carry an inexpensive inverter generator. These generators can easily provide you power (some can even run the AC unit), and they’re very affordable. We’ve carried a Honda generator with us for 4 years. Even though we don’t use it often, it’s great for topping off the batteries and cooling down our RV with power for the AC.
- Solar & Battery power! It can cost a little bit more upfront, but it’s great for the camping purist. Solar power is self-sustaining and the battery bank makes no noise!
Having power when you boondock is pretty easy. It just take a little preplanning and a small monetary investment.
4: You’ll Get Murdered & Robbed When Boondocking
We’ve all heard the horror stories…generators being stolen, intruders banging on the RV door and creepy noises in the night. While we can’t guarantee your everlasting boondocking safety, in our experience this myth is far from the truth!
Here’s the rules we boondock by:
- If the boondocking site gives us bad vibes, we don’t camp there. We always have multiple spots in a given area to choose from.
- We don’t leave valuables out in plain sight.
- We lock the door.
- We lock the trailer hitch.
- Most importantly, we listen to our intuition.
In our 4 years of boondocking, we’ve never had a safety concern or been robbed.
To be honest, it did take a little time to feel completely comfortable leaving our camper unattended. However, by strictly following our own rules, we’ve become confident in our safety while boondocking.
5: There’s Nothing To Do When I’m Boondocking
There’s plenty to do while boondocking! We often get the question, “don’t you get bored?” And, the answer is absolutely not!
Sure, there aren’t any organized activities like at an RV park…but, who wants to do those anyways?! We love to hike, explore, kayak (its foldable and travels easily), shop, eat, read, play music, and so much more.
If we want mindless entertainment, we can stream Netflix using our cellular internet.
If you find yourself bored in daily life…sure, you’ll also be bored when camping in nature. However, I highly doubt that is a symptom of boondocking!
6: Boondocking Is Lonely
You can definitely boondock in remote spots with no neighbors. We find this to be the exception, and not the rule. We love boondocking because it draws together like minded people.
There’s a wonderful community of boondockers in America. These people have many of the same desires; to feel freedom, to connect with nature, to satiate their wanderlust.
These are the type of people we want to connect with. Obviously we don’t love boondocking in overcrowded spots. But, connecting with our distant neighbors is one of the joys of boondocking. Give it a try!
There are also many RV groups you can join that help you connect with likeminded campers. We’ve made many friends through the Escapees RV Club. Boondocking with friends it the best!
7: Cooking Is Hard When You Boondock
We cook using a propane stove and oven whether we’re boondocking or at an RV park. The functionality is identical in both cases. Many RV fridges run on propane, meaning the functionality will be consistent no matter where you camp.
If you’re worried you won’t be able to use your microwave – an inexpensive inverter generator can solve that problem.
RV kitchens are built to function off grid. You don’t have to change your cooking habits when boondocking.
The biggest concern you may have is disposing trash. You’ll just have be a little more aware of the nearest dumpster…or create less waste.
8: It’s Hard To Find A Good Boondocking Site
If you know the right tools to use, it’s quite easy to find a great boondocking site. We fully understand, it can take a little while to learn how to use these tools. That’s why we created a step-by-step tutorial for using Campendium.
More import than learning the tools: is learning your preferred boondocking style. There are lots of ways to boondock, and your way will be unique to you. Once you understand how you like to do it, it’ll be a lot easier to find the best site for you!
Here’s a good place to start – these are the 20 Best Boondocking Sites we’ve camped at in the USA.
9: You Have To Be All In
Boondocking purists are the worst! No one cares how many days (or years) in a row they’ve boondocked. Let me be clear – you can boondock a little as you wish.
As with everything in life, balance is key. We want you to experience the joys of boondocking. If that means one trip a year, that’s great! If that means 300 days a year, that’s great too!
We’ve been shamed before for sharing our boondocking experiences, and then living it up at an RV resort. Please, if you feel similar pressure, let it go.
Getting out in nature and feeling unattached from the grid is a powerful emotion.
Find your unique travel rhythm and thrive in it.
The Best Free Camping in the Entire USA
We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.
If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.
Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.
My favorite boondocking is in National Forest campgrounds. The sites are so dispersed in the trees, you cannot even see your neighbors at night without going out in the road and taking a walk. I do appreciate it when outhouses are available. I like to keep solid waste out of my black tank. Even though it can be twenty miles or more to get to a dump station and/or water, it is well worth it to be out like that. As far as cooking goes, I like to use my Dutch Oven and charcoal for baking and my outdoor propane stove for stove top cooking. I love camping but I really really love boondocking!! You got it right!!!
Great tips! I just put up a blog on Dispersed camping (boondocking) in the Flagstaff/sedona area and one tip I have is to make sure your tires are adequate for forest service roads! Finding a tow truck willing to drive out into the “‘wilderness” is a pain!
Kyle and Olivia,
Are you guys going to be presenting at Escapade in July? DW and I plan to attend and would like to meet you two. We been tribe members for a while.
Love ur stuff, thank you – u guys are great!
All true. That these are myths, that is. Been boondocking before you were born. No cell phones or internet or GPS back then. Just paper maps. So while things were harder by today’s standards we couldn’t miss what didn’t exist. In many ways things were easier. With so fewer people there weren’t so many rules about where you could camp for the night. You didn’t have to worry about arriving to find everything full. So many towns had free camping, many even with electricity. Now small town centers have mostly died because of the interstates and the big box stores. Somehow, mostly with family trips to start I had been to all 50 states and across the Trans Canadian highway by the time I got out of college. Then two month long road trips through Europe. All without modern technology.
A few years ago a friend and I were in a wildlife refuge when a man pulled up, lost, asking where we were. We pulled out a map and showed him. He was all confused. He had never seen a paper map before. He asked if we could show him on his phone. We told him if these obscure little roads were on his phone he wouldn’t be lost. Pitiful!
Even back then I always felt safe. Criminals don’t really like the boonies. No place to spend the money they’ve stolen. This comes under the boring part I guess! 🤣