Tips and Tech for Taking Your RV Off the Grid
|21st Century Boondocking is not what you think it is|
In today’s uber-connected world, it’s tough to find some true peace and quiet. As our lives become busier and less private, people are finding new and adventurous ways to find solitude in nature. In an effort to escape the hubbub of 21st-century life, many people have taken up off-the-grid RV travel — also called boondocking, dispersed camping, or dry camping. Essentially, all of these terms mean the same thing: camping without amenities (like electricity).
Going off the grid means you’re not setting up camp at an RV park; but seeking out an underdeveloped area, instead. For campers who prefer campsite pools, general stores, and pre-determined trails, boondocking isn’t the way to go. For those who long to soak in the serenity that is nature stripped down, off-the-grid camping is an excellent fit.
With the right preparation and strategy, boondocking can be just as fun as “hooked up” camping, with more cost savings and privacy. Let’s take a closer look at what veteran off-the-grid campers suggest, when it comes to your own boondocking adventures.
Boondocking Tech Supplies
When you’re boondocking, it’s all up to you to determine how your energy consumption needs will be met. Some campers rely solely on propane for energy needs, while other camping experts say you can optimize your RV to run on complete solar electricity. By using 12V appliances — like lighting and fans — and making sure everything is shut off when not in use, solar energy can go a long way for an off-the-grid camping trip. Expert camping blog Gone With The Wynns suggests a few other things to pack into your RV, before your first wild camping experience (if you are looking for a gift for a RV owner, this list is a great place to start, too):
- Composting toilet
- Shower head
- 4G cell phone booster (so you can get service even where it doesn’t exist)
- LED lights
- Solar lights, and plenty of flashlights
- UV purifying bottle
- Solar oven
Boondocking Tech Resources
Boondocking tech is also useful for accessing information, to track down your actual campsites. The National Forests and Bureau of Land Management allow people to camp for up to two weeks at a time. By using U.S. public lands, you can camp for little cost (or none at all), without disturbing private property. Technomadia suggests these steps, for tapping technology to find your next great boondocking location:
- Use the US Public Lands mobile app to find exactly where available boondocking spots are located.
- Research the land you find, through a search engine like Google. From there, you can read about the experiences of others, and decide if certain locations are right for you.
- Use satellite maps to see what the terrain looks like in the region where you’d like to camp. This gives you a better idea of what elements to expect when you arrive.
- Map the route to the site, to get an idea of what roads you’ll travel to get there.
- Trust your gut when you arrive. If an area doesn’t seem safe enough for camping, scrap it and look for another spot instead.
|Going off the grid does not mean you're roughing it.|
Benefits of Off-the-Grid RV Travel
Going off the grid in an RV is certainly an adventure, and sure to be a learning experience. Though some think of it as “roughing it,” for avid adventurers, the positives far outweigh the hassles. The benefits of boondocking include:
- Low cost. When you pay for a traditional RV park or campsite, you’re paying for amenities like bathrooms, electricity hookups, and built-in recreation options. When boondocking, you rely on what you already have, and most times the land access is free (if you really want to ensure free land access, research the location in advance). It’s cheaper to boondock, but you get what you pay for – which is nothing, in most cases. You are responsible for your energy consumption and safety, but it saves you a lot of money.
- Less crowded. The only people around when you camp off the grid are the ones traveling with you. When you boondock, there’s no listening to other people tell loud stories around their campfires, or hearing other campers’ dogs barking a few feet away. Boondocking offers solitude and tranquility; plus, you can move at your own pace (no check in or checkout times). The great thing about boondocking is that even if someone else comes to the same area, they won’t want to set up near you, for the same reasons you’re there in the first place: space, peace, and quiet.
- More convenient. When you have everything you need to set up camp anywhere, traveling is a lot easier. When you boondock in a RV, you can stop wherever you like, and live comfortably while there. No more reserving campsites online, and hoping they live up to the photos when you arrive; when you boondock, you pick the space that best fits your travel needs on that day, in that moment.
- Visitor-friendly. If your RV is equipped for boondocking, you can also park in the driveways of friends and family members — and have an automatic place to stay, without inconveniencing them in their homes. In fact, you can even make them a meal if you really want to show off! For grandparents, this provides a great scenario, because you can invite the grandkids to spend a night in the vehicle with you; while they are still close to mom and dad. An RV equipped for off-the-grid experiences is a rolling hotel room, campsite, and guest room all in one.
|You can have the right balance of technology and being off the grid.|
While it’s true that off-the-grid camping isn’t for everyone, boondocking has its benefits. Technology makes it easier than ever to find places to set up camp, and generate energy even when there’s no place to hook up an RV. People who enjoy nature and spending time in their home-on-wheels should give off-the-grid camping a try. Boondocking has the potential to connect campers with nature on a deeper level — and it comes with cost saving and convenience benefits, too!