Uncle Jim has invited you to come to stay for a week on his ranch in Texas. He said he has plenty of room for your RV and wants to see the kids. So you take him up on the offer since it means a free week of camping.
But you’ve never done this before.
What does it mean to moochdock on someone’s property? And what rules should you follow?
Let’s take a look at the seven deadly sins of moochdocking, so you know exactly what NOT to do when you visit Uncle Jim. Let’s dive in!
How Is Moochdocking Different From Boondocking?
Although boondocking and moochdocking are usually examples of dry camping, moochdocking is a bit different. While boondocking entails pulling up to an open area on BLM land or staying overnight in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, moochdocking is staying overnight on someone else’s private property.
Often, friends or family invite their favorite RVers to spend a couple of days parked at their house. There are typically no hook-ups, just like boondocking. But most often, you’re parked in a driveway or backyard.
RVers do this for a variety of reasons. The main reason is to visit family and friends.
For full-time travelers, it’s important to have somewhere to park their RV. It’s quite convenient to park it in a friend’s driveway and then spend a couple of days catching up. It might even give you a few days to get out of the RV and into a larger space.
Another perk to moochdocking is doing the laundry for free. This may seem laughable, but it’s certainly a perk if you’ve been traveling for several weeks. It’s convenient to pull up to a family member’s property, and while you’re giving the kids time with their grandparents, you get all of the laundry done.
Pro Tip: Before you give moochdocking a try, find out Is RV Moochdocking Legal?
Why Is Moochdocking Etiquette Important?
If you’re invited to “mooch” on someone else’s property, it’s essential to have proper etiquette. Your family and friends may not even realize the unwritten rules to moochdocking, but there are certain things you should and shouldn’t do when parked in a neighborhood or private property.
You don’t want to violate any local ordinances or rules, harm the environment, or overstay your welcome. If you do these things, your moochdocking days may be numbered.
7 Deadly Sins of Moochdocking
Below are seven of the worst things you can do while moochdocking. Although your family may not disown you and your friends may not “unfriend” you, they definitely may not welcome you back.
Avoiding these sins will keep your stay enjoyable for all parties and keep the invitation open for future visits.
1. Staying Too Long
No one likes someone who doesn’t know when to leave. During holiday parties, it’s always a hassle to try to get that last guest to realize it’s time to go. Don’t be that guest. Whether staying with your parents or your college roommate, don’t overstay your welcome.
A couple of days is usually long enough unless they invite you to stay longer. It’s also a good idea to work out this expectation ahead of time, so everyone is on the same page about how long your visit will last.
2. Making a Mess
By no means should you ever leave a mess anywhere you camp. This is the whole “Leave No Trace” principle. But this goes for your best friend’s driveway, too. When you leave, your best friend shouldn’t even know you were there. Keep the trash in the garbage can.
Pick up after your pet. Make sure to put anything moved to accommodate your rig back in place. It’s almost a guarantee that they won’t invite you back if you leave a mess.
3. Letting Your Pets Run Wild
Although you love your pet, not everyone else does. This is another expectation that you should discuss before your stay. Is there a backyard where your dog can roam freely?
Does your host prefer for your dog to stay on a leash? Don’t assume that just because your host is a family member or close friend that it’s okay to let Fido go anywhere he pleases.
4. Dumping Tanks on the Ground
This is an absolute no-no. Don’t empty your tanks unless you have a portable waste tank tote. Wait until you can drive to the nearest dump station if you don’t have one. It is never okay to dump your tanks on the ground.
This is dangerous because it’s a health hazard, and you can get into serious trouble.
Pro Tip: Dumping grey water isn’t always illegal, here’s some insight.
5. Ignoring HOA Rules and Local Regulations
Make sure your host checks the HOA rules and city regulations before arriving. If RVs aren’t allowed in your cousin’s neighborhood, don’t expect them to make an exception for you. If the city doesn’t allow street parking, make sure there’s another safe place to park your rig.
Do a little bit of homework yourself to make sure you know what’s allowed and what isn’t. You don’t want to end up with a ticket or a fine.
6. Not Getting the Measurements Ahead of Time
This may be something you haven’t thought about, but imagine pulling up to your brother’s house in your 30 ft travel trailer to find out his driveway is only 25 ft long. He might have said something like, “Oh, yeah, you’ll fit. No problem. I have the longest driveway on the block.”
But without precise measurements, no one really knows. Ask your host to take measurements – length, width, and height. Find out if there are trees or other overhanging obstructions before your arrival. This will ensure you can actually fit and protect your rig from damage.
7. Not Showing Gratitude Before Leaving
Finally, how will you show your gratitude when it’s time to go? After all, you’ve stayed overnight for free when you could have been paying anywhere from $40 to $60 per night.
Regardless of whether or not you think you’ve inconvenienced your host, you should always show thanks. Consider leaving a small gift basket of goodies, a bottle of wine, or a gift card to their favorite local restaurant. Don’t take advantage of your family or friends.
Pro Tip: Unsure if moochdocking is right for you? This is why we think you should Forget the RV Park and Give Moochdocking An Old College Try.
Follow the Unwritten Rules of Moochdocking
Moochdocking is an excellent opportunity to connect with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while. It’s also a way to save money, do some laundry, and get a break from your tiny living space. But you must know the unwritten rules of moochdocking. Breaking these rules of etiquette can mean an end to your visits. Or, at worst, it could mean paying a fine or getting your rig towed.
Don’t be that guy. When you’ve get invited to stay on someone’s property, be thankful, follow the rules, and make your stay enjoyable for everyone.
Have you ever moochdocked before? How was your experience? Were you invited back? Tell us your experience in the comments!
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Moochdocking at my daughters isn’t really legal. The county has a law against people living ln RV’s but I think it’s only enforced if you are a problem. I did see a Sheriffs deputy take down our license number and probably run it. I did make friends with a few of the neighbors while out walking our dog.
2 of her 3 dogs are not friendly so we had to work out a yard schedule.
The free laundry didn’t work out, her machine is small and the traps always heeded cleaning, see the above 3 dogs 🙁 Next year I’ll probably be giving her a new washer for Christmas.
You talk about driveway length but the problem we had was swing room and a narrow gate.
Then where we parked was partial shade so the solar panels didn’t get enough sun when the Sunshine State didn’t live up to it’s name.
Her garden didn’t have a composter for our kitchen scraps so I added one so the free camping wasn’t really.
Now my son just bought 7 acres in horse country and the previous owner installed a power post in the barn 🙂 I suggested they rent that out for RV storage
I have moochdocks once and hooked up to my Brothers 20 amp 110 outlet, water as well. We have a 12 gallon external portable black/grey tank and used it to keep both tanks empty. I called the local police before coming to my brothers place and found out they suggest not parking on the street. So we parked on my Brothers driveway with his car on the street. We stayed just 4 days and had a great time visiting our other relatives as well, with my Brother/Sister in law driving us. When we went out to dinner with my relatives, I payed for my Brother/Sister in law. It’s just common sense.
@Raymond B Clark, What you are talking about is why we went another route regarding what to buy. We borrowed my Daughters and son in laws 30 ft RV to see if that is what we would like to buy. We purposely parked in our driveway living in it for five days and this is what we found out. Yes we had our car to drive to the store but if we would be RVing, we would have to unhook and drive the RV. As I mentioned in my post, I parked on my Brothers driveway and my Brother insisted that I did not unhook my pickup from my trailer rather parking his car on the street. We bought a Rove Lite 14 FD RV trailer that we could unhook and drive as my pickup is a four door. A 7ft 6 inch wide 16 ft long trailer is easier to park than a RV and light enough that if no driveway available, park on a lawn with 1 ft by 1 ft by 1/2 inch plywood I use for soft ground putting one under each tire, one under the front jack and one on each rear supports. On the lawn the pickup unhooked for just a few days will not hurt it. This would not be possible with a RV like my daughters. Just another option regarding Moochdocking????