Free Camping: What is it?
RV Parks have gotten to be quite expensive in recent years. And they have their place in the market. If you want luxury or a resort style of living with your RV, they are out there for a price. If you have kids and want lots of activities, there are KOA Kampgrounds. They also come at a price.
Maybe it’s gas prices stealing your wallet, the desire for solitude, or you just need to save every dime you can. There are a few options for free camping. One may call it dry camping, WalyMart parking (parking in a parking lot overnight) or boondocking. The foundation of it all is that you have no hookups. You have to have your own source of power, preferably by solar and golf cart type batteries. You use very little water to save it until your next chance to fill up.
Free Camping: Where is it?
Originally referring to people living out in the boondocks, boondocking was born. Parking in a parking lot is not really out in the boondocks but it is still dry camping. Dry camping, referring to no water/sewer hookups, can be done in many RV parks, state parks, forest parks or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land locations. And technically, you can park (not camp, no chairs, awnings, etc.) in any public place where signage doesn’t say otherwise. Local ordinances against this however, are becoming more common. If there is not a sign against it, you will probably be warned and told to move along.
Dry camping can also be done at some casinos, Wal__mart (and others) store parking lots and truck stops. At AllStays, we have guides for store parking lots , truck stops and then we have campground listings. We don’t mix them at this time. We do list more remote and primitive camping listings than anyone else but they are listed together with pay locations. So you have all the options for an area at the tip of your cursor. You can buy books and pay to use websites that list free locations. But then they are no longer really free, are they? We provide the information on free places…for free.
We have also found some small towns that allow free overnight parking right in their town parks. This makes sense to us because it keeps you in their town where you will probably put a few dollars into the local economy. (If you are involved in your town or have a chance to suggest this, please do so. Bring RVers into your local stores and restaurants by keeping them overnight.Yes, motels and rv parks won’t like it but the traveler looking for free places isn’t going to stay at those businesses anyway. They just pass on through town.)
Free Camping: Is it for you?
If you like to camp in luxury with all the electronics on, run your AC or your generator and basically camp like you’re at home, then you may want to find a RV Park with hookups and pay for them. A sacrifice is needed in order for most standard RVs to boondock.
If you plan ahead, there are changes you can make to your RV to make free camping more comfortable. With the cost of fuel going up, a generator is costly to run. If you add up the costs of the fuel you put into your generator, you may want to consider the investment in free power. For a few thousand dollars, you can have solar panels, upgraded batteries and LED lighting. Did you know that you can replace a 10W halogen lightbulb with a LED bulb that takes a fraction of one watt?
In our AllStays RV, we put 300 Watts of solar panels on the roof, we replaced all the lightbulbs with LED lights and we use four golf cart AGM batteries. We can run lights as needed, laptop computers, tv/dvd, heat as needed and we are fully recharged by mid morning the next day.
Upfront costs: less than $3,000. Cost of no hookups or generator use for two years now: $0 (Zero).