Ok, let’s be honest, we are definitely no boondock professionals, but we do think we can give you some awesome tips. Ever since we are on the road, our goal is to find beautiful free camp spots. And we are dying to share some with you!
The reasons why we love to free camp are simple:
a) We don’t like overly crowded RV parks/campgrounds
b) We don’t like to pay
c) We love nature
d) We love adventure
e) We have a motorhome, so we don’t need hookups for many days
f) We love freedom ( or at least the feeling of it)
At the moment we are travelling through the USA and so far we can count our nights stayed at a campground on one hand. If we are deciding to spend the night at a campground, we want it ALL. That means, a gorgeous place with trees, good wifi reception, a laundromat, maybe even a swimming pool, RV full hook up and somewhere not too far from a town or city so that we can do groceries. These are for us good reasons to spend those dollah bills and sit back, relax and don’t think to much haha
H O W T O S T A R T ?
First of all, it’s very helpful to have I N T E R N E T access. Either it’s at a Starbucks ( their wifi is awesome) or you can buy, just like us, your own portable internet device.
In the USA we bought from eBay a jetpack device with a Verizon unlimited data sim card. It’s a bit shady as we just pay a random guy 150 US dollars a month, but so far it works great. In the beginning we had some trouble with not receiving the whole package and a guy who didn’t activate the SIM card he sent us, but fortunately everything worked out.
For Canada it’s a little different when it comes to portable internet. You can’t get unlimited internet data nor can you buy it from eBay. The easiest way is to go to a phone/internet company and buy their internet plan and device. We chose Bell, as they have the best coverage in all of Canada. We pay 120 CA dollars to only get 20 GB. When you exceed your data limit, you pay a lot of dollars for every 5 GB extra. Depending in which province you buy your internet plan, you can get (a little) more data for less money. We know, it sucks…it has everything to do with Canada being such a big country with a very small population.
If you want more info about internet in the USA or Canada , just send us an email.
When you have internet access, you need to know H O W and W H E R E to find beautiful free spots. These sites and searching methods work the best for us:
– campendium.com or their Instagram account where you get very inspired by beautiful photos. The website shows on a map RV parks, campgrounds and free camp spots. They have a lot of variety, from parking lots to gorgeous spots in the nature. Plus this site works with reviews, which we find helpful and important. Our rig is pretty long, so it’s great if we know ahead that the camp spot is ( easy) accessible and spacious enough.
– freecampsites.net shows a little more free camp spots than campendium, but the site is a little less fancy. It works most of the time but once in a while the page and map don’t load. Overall good and mostly people have written reviews.
– Follow bloggers as a lot of people travel with their RV nowadays and have some good stories and tips for you. Just like us.
– Google if using google search, you can enter terms like boondocking, free camping, wild camping, dry camping or dispersed camping + the area you are planning on visiting. We figured out that dispersed camping is most commonly used term. You can also use google maps to search for campgrounds, national forests etc, but most important to check out the roads, elevations, accessibility and chosen area.
– MVUM Map this is something we’ve only read about online, but not yet have used. The Forest Service started a program to gain more control over where and how we use national forests. The Motor Vehicle Use Map is an effort to prevent the damage caused by ATVs jeeps etc, by creating a map of every road under their control which clearly marks them as open or closed to vehicle travel. Plus it clearly shows where you are allowed to dispersed camp and gives you the rules for dispersed camping. Sounds pretty cool right? Apparently you can find these maps by using google search, entering ‘ MVUM + chosen national forest’ or go to the US forest service website. They should have all the completed maps.
– Ultimate Campground app we downloaded this app recently, and used it only twice. So far it seems to show offline maps plus campgrounds and boondock spots throughout all of North America. It costs only 4 US dollars and it shows some different campgrounds and free spots than the two websites mentioned above. Our first experience with this app is positive.
After you’ve found your awesome free camp area, it’s time to P R E P A R E. Honestly, we might not be the best example, as we don’t plan too much. We normally know to which area we want to go and be sure there are a bunch of free campsites not too far apart. If a camp spot doesn’t feel really good ( you know, Feng Shui and stuff) we can easily continue to the next spot in that area. This works good enough for us, but we do understand that there are also people out there who like to plan and need some structure. If you are one of those peeps, check out other websites like for example 188sqft.com. They have an awesome way to plan their boondocking trips.
Of course we do prep before we go off grid for a couple of days, but it’s not that systematic. We make sure that we have enough fuel and propane, that the water tank is filled up, that the batteries are full, the grey water tank empty and we have enough groceries. This all happens randomly. We quite often decide on a time to hit the road, and then leave 4 hours later hahha. As long as we arriving by daylight everything is fine. We have time, so we don’t see a reason to stress.
For FUEL we use the gasbuddy app to find the cheapest gas station on the way to the campground. Our built in PROPANE tank is giant, and without using the furnace, it lasts for about 5-6 weeks. To fill up our WATER tank, we try first to find free water which is mostly found at gas stations. Either they have a RV dump station thus also a water tap, or they just have water only. Always be polite and ask first if you are allowed to fill up your tank. Sometimes RV dump stations cost money, but if you only need water ( like us), just ask with your biggest smile if you can get the water for free. Persuading definitely is a good strategy hahaha . If you can’t find free water, you can always go to the nearest campground or RV park. Most of them do have water and dump, and you pay an average of 5 dollars. Make sure you fill up an extra jerrycan with water, just to be on the safe side. You don’t want to be out of water in the middle of nowhere.
We only use our GREY WATER TANK, as we built our own composting toilet. This saves water and you don’t have to empty the smelly nasty black ‘shit’ tank. Because we are using only biodegradable products, we can theoretically dump our water everywhere in the nature. The only thing you have to consider is that in a lot of national parks and forests it’s not legal to dump anything. Mostly we look for a place outside parks and forests but if there is no way around, we make sure to spread out our water evenly by slowly driving with the tank open. In this way the water dissolves fast and you don’t really harm any plants or ground with excessively water.
The BATTERIES can be charged while driving and take about 3 hours if completely empty. In another post we will talk more about the batteries, composting toilet and water preservation.
As we said before, we are not prof boondockers, but we just love to share our experiences. Still lots to learn…. Maybe you have additional tips for us? Anyways, we hope this post helps you with your next adventures.
🏔 | Love life, enjoy travel and embrace adventure | 🏔