Boondocking: Stay longer and cheaper

By Bob Difley
Boondocking (living with no hookups) several days simply requires that you approach water conservation differently. Whether you just want to stop for a night’s sleep while meandering cross-country or stay longer in Death Valley National Park, boondocking is easy. Your RV is self-contained – you have everything to live comfortably.

Boondocking photo by Bob Difley

Boondocking does not mean living primitively – not at all. We enjoy daily showers, a toasty-warm furnace, our TV, great meals, perfectly chilled wine, and consider these a natural part of boondocking. Yes, we use paper plates, cups and plastic utensil

You encounter two problems boondocking – using too much fresh water and your gray tank capacity. The biggest problem with boondocking several days is that your gray water tank fills too rapidly – it will fill two to four times faster than the black water tank. But, unless you only enjoy watching water running down the drain, you can easily boondock for four to five nights and, with practice, stretch that to seven to eight nights. Some of that time is dependent on your RV capacities. Try these:

  • Carry a few gallon jugs of drinkable water with you. Use these in the kitchen for cooking, filling the coffee pot, refilling drinking bottles, etc. This leaves more water in your fresh water tank for showering, flushing, etc.
  • As the jugs are emptied, carry them in your car. When you get someplace where you can refill these with potable water, do so. A plastic milk crate holds four jugs securely.
  • If your family uses lots of ice, take an extra bag with you.
  • Purchase condiments in squeeze bottles to save utensils.
  • Use a zip-locking plastic food bag for mixing foods. Pour in the ingredients, close it, hand it to your spouse, tell them to entertain themselves. Toss the bag.

When washing dishes, use two plastic tubs – one each for washing and rinsing. Don’t empty these down the sink into the gray water tank. Flush this water down the toilet. Don’t forget to turn off your water pump when flushing, so you don’t waste more water while emptying these. Your biggest waste of water is waiting for the shower to warm up. Catch this cold water in a pot. When the shower is hot, shut off the diverter and take your shower. Use the clean water for making coffee or heat it to wash dishes, but don’t waste it.

Convenience and cost savings are great reasons to boondock – that is, just park overnight. If you boondock just one night per week, you will save an average of $1,500 or more (based on $30/night) annually in campground fees! Please note, I have nothing against campgrounds, but I do not go to the gas station if I don’t need gas and don’t go to campgrounds if I don’t need to camp.



One Thought to “Boondocking: Stay longer and cheaper”

  1. Karen

    Hubby and I don’t like the paper and plastic waste involved in using paper plates to eat and plastic bags to mix stuff. We simply use a rubber spatula to scrape away food scraps, then spray the plates and bowls with a mixture of mostly water and a bit of dishwashing liquid that we keep in a spray bottle., then wipe with one half of a paper towel. We put the dishes in a dish tub, let them pile up until we’re ready to wash, spray again with the bottle, use the sponge, then rinse with boiling water. Works like a charm, saves water and paper. Boondocking is the best way to camp! 🙂

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