Boondocking Answers

Last Updated 3/17/17

Are you wondering where to find good boondocks? What you should do to prepare before arriving? How to stretch your resources for a longer stay? How to stay safe out in the boonies? Well this is the article for you.

I’ve written about most of these subjects before, but the individual posts eventually fall off the main page of my blog and become harder to find for those looking for answers. So I’m fashioning this as a reference article that’ll link to all the how-to stuff I’ve written about boondocking. I’ll pin this post on my “Useful Stuff” page where it’s easier to find and update it as I come out with new articles so that it stays recent.

Are you ready? Here we go!

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Finding Locations

The three websites I use to find most my boondocks are (in order of use):

All of these websites work in a similar way: users are presented with a map with camping locations pinned on them. When you click a pin, it pulls up the details about that particular site with reviews from other users. You can enter in a town or park to find boondocks in a specific area that you’re planning to visit or pan through the map and zoom in and out. Freecampsites.net is exclusively for free camping, but Campendium lists all camping – there are filters for the map so you can make it display only free/cheap options. These sites are typically where I start my boondock hunt.

Sometimes the information given on these sites is spotty though, or there may not be any reviews to help judge if it’s a good place or not. As a secondary measure I’ll do a search through the blogs of other boondocking-savvy RVers to see if they’ve written anything about a location I’m looking at (I write about all the locations I visit).

boondocking-answers-9The blogs I check most often for location reviews are (in no particular order) WheelingIt, Technomadia, RV Sue and Crew, and Cheap RV Living. Just about every blogger has a Search bar on their website where you can enter in the name of a camp or location, and everything they’ve written about that subject will be pulled up.

Another good resource is a map or atlas that shows public lands, like the Benchmark series. Most boondocking is on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land or in National Forests (NF), so an atlas (or a phone app that shows public lands) will let you see where the roads and boundaries are.

In most places there are rules that you have to stay in previously established campsites (look for a clearing with a homemade fire pit) and have to stay within a certain number of feet from the road. There is also always a limit to how many nights you’re allowed to camp in a spot, and it varies. When in doubt, call the ranger office that manages the area you’re planning to boondock at and ask what the rules are.

Preparation

By their very nature, boondocks won’t have easy access to amenities. You’ll want to dump/fill the appropriate tanks ahead of time, and stock up on food and propane if necessary. You’ll also want to check the forecast to see what kind of weather to expect and plan accordingly.

Upon arriving, I recommend walking down the road to your boondock before driving your rig down it, in case the road isn’t in good shape or there isn’t room to turn around.

For more on locating boondocks and preparing, see Finding a Boondocking Rhythm.

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Safety

I’m of the opinion that boondocking isn’t any less safe than any other kind of camping or living. In fact, it might be safer because criminals are less likely to put forth the effort to drive out to the middle of nowhere just for the chance there will be a likely target there when towns and cities offer guaranteed pickings.

Still, there are precautions that should be taken. For safety tips and more musings, see Boondocking Safety.

boondocking-answers-6Water

My Casita has a 16 gallon fresh water tank. For many people water is the limiting factor for how long a boondocking trip can last, but it isn’t for me. Here’s what I do to conserve:

  • I don’t use my shower. Once a week I’ll pay for a shower at a truck stop or campground (or laundromat). In between showers, I’ll sponge bathe and use baby wipes to keep myself presentable. I’m not worried about being spotlessly clean while out in the boonies, it is ‘roughing it’ after all.
  • I wipe my dishes off with paper towels to remove the majority of the debris before cleaning them with water and clean my dishes immediately after every meal – otherwise the food dries on and it takes a lot more water to clean.
  • I carry six, 1 gallon jugs for my drinking and cooking water. This increases my water capacity and they can be taken to town and refilled without having to move my whole house.

Waste

The gray tank in my Casita is 30 gallons, I never come close to filling it while boondocking since I carry less water than that. If the gray tank is a limiting factor for you, reducing the length or frequency of showers helps a lot.

Most boondocks have a rule against dumping the gray water on site, but not all. My biggest concern with dumping gray water at a campsite is the environmental impact. If you’re in a place where it’s legal and you’re going to do it, use biodegradable soap for showering and dishes so that you’re not leaving any residues behind. I have a bottle of Campsuds which is specifically marketed for camping, backpackers, and travelers and is good for cleaning anything. I haven’t had to use it yet since my gray tank capacity is large enough to last between dump station visits, but I’ve heard good things about it.

The black tank in my Casita is 15 gallons, and for me this is the limiting factor for boondocking. To stretch it, I put all my paper waste in a trash bag, this reduces the volume that goes into the black tank and also makes it possible to use less water without worrying about solids getting left behind while dumping. I don’t flush after doing #1 (unless it starts to stink), but do flush after #2.

Most boondocks are pack in, pack out, so you will be carrying your garbage around with you – I’m fortunate to have a truck as a tow vehicle because the full bags can sit in the back of the truck and I don’t have to smell them between garbage runs. I use plastic shopping bags as trash bags for a couple reasons. They cost nothing to get, by tying the handles everything inside is fully contained, and they’re a good size for dropping into garbage bins at gas stations and the like.

boondocking-answers-5

Food

I’m surprised by the number of people who’ve asked me what I eat while boondocking. This one is going to be radically different for everyone, I can only share what I personally do. I do my major grocery shopping every two weeks, between those trips if I need something in a pinch I can usually find it at a convenience store.

I don’t like cooking. Really. So my boondocking menu lacks imagination. But it doesn’t cost a lot ($80-$100 every two weeks depending on food prices), doesn’t take up much space (important in a small RV) and doesn’t take much time or effort.

Breakfast is sometimes cereal, sometimes breakfast bars.

Lunch is my big meal of the day, the meal I use my stove for. When I go shopping I buy 4 cans of hearty soup, and 3 frozen meals for two people (the kind you cook in a skillet). I alternate between them and have tupperware containers for the leftovers to store them in the fridge. So it’s the first half of soup 1 on day one. The first half of frozen meal 1 on day two. Then the second half of soup 1 on day three, and the second half of frozen meal 1 on day four. Then I move on to the next can of soup and the next meal. The next time I go to the store, I’ll buy 3 cans of soup and 4 frozen meals to continue alternating.

boondocking-answers-4The frozen meal is a full meal in itself, but with the half a can of soup I have cheese and crackers, I also usually have a can of soda with lunch.

In July of 2016 I started using dehydrated soups to replace the canned soups on my lunch menu as they were cheaper, lighter, and took up less space. You can find more on RVing Experiment: Dehydrated Foods. When I don’t have the dehydrated soups in stock, I go back to canned soups.

Supper is a sandwich or wrap with chips and a fruit or vegetable of some sort, or sometimes it’ll be chips and hummus with a fruit and vegetable. Usually the first week it’ll be something fresh like salad or carrots that’ll go bad first, and the second week is something packaged like applesauce or yogurt. Dessert is usually cookies or chocolate of some sort.

I keep trail mix and granola bars on hand for hikes, or for when I feel hungry between meals. I usually (but not always) go out to eat once a week which provides some variety.

Propane

My fridge and stove both run on propane, my water heater would too if I ever used but I don’t (no showers remember, and washing dishes in cold water really isn’t a problem). So far, one 20 lb propane tank has lasted me 20-21 days consistently. This is using it once a day for cooking for no more than 12 minutes or so. I also try to park so that the side of my RV that the fridge is on does not get the hot afternoon sun so that it doesn’t kick on as often and saves propane.

I carry a second 20 lb propane tank secured in the back of the truck (my Casita was modified so it only has one on the tongue) so when the first runs empty I switch them out and put the empty in the back of the truck, and take it to get refilled next time the opportunity presents itself.

boondocking-answers-8

Power

The entirety of my electricity needs while boondocking comes from my 100 watt Renogy portable solar kit. It works very well for me, but I do not use a lot of power. My lights are all LED, I charge my laptop and phone daily, I power the water pump to flush the toilet and my fantastic fan when it gets warm and that’s about it.

For more on my solar (and heating) solution, see Solar and Heat for Boondocking.

boondocking-answers-7Keeping warm/cool

The best solution for staying comfortable while boondocking is to migrate with the seasons. Stay down south in the winter, and up north (or higher elevations) in the summer.

It’s all but impossible to power an A/C unit with solar, you’ll have to get a generator if you want to boondock in hot places. I have a fan in the roof of my Casita that can blow air in or out, and it has a vent cover on it so it can be used when it’s raining. When it gets warm, I’ll open all the windows and set the fan to blow out so that the warm air by the ceiling leaves and pulls cooler air through the windows. When it gets hot, I leave or find hookups.

As my RV does not have a furnace, I have a Mr. Heater Little Buddy propane heater for when it gets cold, but I only use it when it gets truly cold – below freezing where my plumbing is at risk. Otherwise I wear thermal underwear and put a sleeping bag under the covers of my bed. I never run the propane while I’m asleep for safety reasons.

For more on my heating (and solar) solution, see Solar and Heat for Boondocking.

Staying connected

There isn’t any free WiFi out in the boonies. I have 5 GB of data with my Verizon phone plan, and I use my phone as a hotspot to get online with my laptop. Often boondocks are remote and getting a phone signal can be a challenge, I look at reviews and make sure I pick places where there is a usable signal and if I end up somewhere with no signal, I don’t stay long.

For more on staying connected, see Getting Lucky with Mobile Internet.

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Phew, I think that about does it. So how long can I go boondocking? 21 days is my maximum before my black tank needs dumping, which is plenty long enough. Since most BLM and FS sites have a max stay of 14 days that’s the number you want to aim for as an RVer, anything above that is icing on the cake (for vandwellers or campers who don’t have tanks, the strategy is different).

With my 3 week limit I can easily stay at two or three different locations before I need to locate a dump station and take on water. Depending on the cost and availability of dump stations, it sometimes makes sense to pay for a night of camping somewhere with full-hookups between boondocking stints. Besides filling up on water and dumping tanks this grants the opportunity to charge all of your electronics (and battery) completely full before relying on solar again and gives you access to a shower and laundry facilities without having to drive elsewhere.

Have any questions? Information to add? Tips you’ve learned from boondocking? Part of what makes these kind of articles so special is all the additional things readers share in the comments, so feel free to pitch in!

Today’s pictures were all taken around Sawtooth Canyon Campground in Lucerne Valley, CA within the past couple days. I’m leaving here tomorrow (Wednesday) and it sounds like I won’t have a good signal where I’m going next. I’ll answer the comments and e-mails that I can in the morning before I go but after that may be silent for a day before I respond.

Other Links

(Other blog posts written about boondocking that haven’t been mentioned in the main body above)

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96 Responses to Boondocking Answers

  1. Jeff May 24, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

    Great advice Becky! I also use the same Renogy Solar Suitcase, works great! Your recommendation of the Benchmark atlas is also spot-on, the Delorme series are also good choices.

    Not yet a full-timer, still mostly a traveler, but your advice also applies to those of us who are some-timers. Thanks!

    • Becky May 24, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

      You’re welcome Jeff, I wrote this for anyone who boondocks, whether they live in their RV or just vacation in it.

      Thanks for the Delorme atlas recommendation!

    • Rick Martin, Tampa, FL May 24, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

      Casita owner here. Haven’t boondocked, but it’ll probably become an eventuality when I head out from FL to the West. Thanks for the thorough write-up.

      • Becky May 24, 2016 at 7:00 pm #

        You’re welcome Rick, boondocking is definitely easier out west. 🙂

      • Rick Wodicker November 7, 2016 at 11:13 am #

        Rick, My name is Rick also… you should check out the Florida Water Management Districts in Florida and do some close at home boondocking. They were my first boondocking experience after 2 years of hearing that you can’t find free boondocking places in Florida, which is not true. They are some of the best I have found, most better than pay sites!

  2. Connie May 24, 2016 at 6:52 pm #

    Great post… I’ve just started looking in to boondocking. Thanks for taking the time to put all of your info in one place!

    • Becky May 24, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

      Glad you found this helpful Connie. Boondocking is a lot of fun, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

  3. Jonny May 24, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    The BLM also offers GeoPDF maps you can download to your Apple or Android device. Once downloaded they can work without cell service once you’re in the boonies. The maps can be a bit technical but they are outstanding for showing paths or roads not on the usual online map apps. They can also be in HD. Some of the maps are free but others have a price. It’s a great resource to supplement research.

    • Becky May 24, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

      Good suggestion Jonny, thanks for sharing.

      • Mr Wheat June 22, 2017 at 7:58 am #

        As a supplement to a pdf of an area I like to use Google Maps to look at an area in satellite mode before I go boondocking. I will pick out a place that looks good from an aerial view and print the screen. Then that spot will get entered into my car GPS unit. There is no substitute for being on the ground, and I may change plans when I get there, but I really like having the exact position in my GPS before I leave my driveway (OCD).

  4. Milly May 24, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

    It’s mind-blowing to me that you can go 21 days between dumps. We’ve been boondocking three months now (after living a year in various RV parks). FOUR DAYS. That’s all we get with 70 gallon fresh tank. 35 gallon Grey. 35 gallon Black.

    Yes, we’re two people, but dang. We don’t shower in our RV either! We use Passport America to book a cheap RV park stay to dump, water, shower, trash, and laundry. GAH! What am I doing wrong? We don’t let it mellow when it’s yellow, because it’s two people and splashes, but we do wipe dishes with paper towels also and we still fill up the grey in four days. x_x I need to learn how to stretch this out…

    I’m one of the people who asked what you eat before. Because…I needed ideas for microwave withdrawals. I think I’ll grab some skillet meals too. That’s a good idea for stovetop cooking. Maybe all my cooking is the problem…I just made pork fried rice tonight and the pot is crusted up. And yesterday I made coconut cauliflower curry one-pot-wonder and it crusted up the pot too. :/

    Speaking of stretching stuff out…3gbs?! I have 20gbs and I keep going over. ;o; We also had to expand to a 480 watt solar set up in order to have enough power every day. Wow…we suck compared to you.

    Oh well. Teach me, sensei.
    Milly recently posted..Camp MillyMy Profile

    • Becky May 24, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

      I’m frugal Milly, what can I say? Haha.

      When you think that I have 30 gallons of gray for one person and you have 17.5 gallons of gray each for the both of you, it makes sense that you can’t get 3 weeks, but I should think more than four days would be doable.

      You might be right with the cooking idea, it sounds like your dishes require a lot of cleanup and filling up the sink with water to wash dishes twice a day adds up fast. If you do dry the two person skillet meals, I’d be interested to hear if your gray lasts longer…

      As for the 3GB thing, I never stream, ever. No Pandora music, no YouTube videos, skip the ads on Facebook, and of course no streaming videos on Netflix. I don’t aimlessly surf the internet, when I get online it’s always with a purpose. I never update or download anything on my data, I’ll drive into Starbucks or McDonalds for that. I also am still on 3G and not 4G, which I’ve been told might also make a difference. Because it’s slower, webpages don’t have time to fully load before I click a link to load the next thing so I use less data that way.

      As for power, I don’t have a TV. My primary form of entertainment is reading and hiking which uses no power. I only keep one light on at a time, don’t stay up real late, and my laptop is tiny (11″ screen) and doesn’t use much power, I only have to charge it once a day.

      You don’t suck, I just treat boondocking more like tent camping than RVing. I do without a lot of things.

      • Reine in Plano May 25, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

        Milly, we aren’t full timers but we do enjoy dry camping (boondocking in developed campgrounds without hookups) in Forest Service and National Parks. Our Casita has a 17 gal fresh tank, 40 gal gray (after installation of a vent) and a 13 gallon black. Your 70 gallon fresh tank doesn’t provide enough incentive to conserve usage. My suggestions are: 1. Use a small hospital type dishpan instead of your sink for washing dishes or or wipe out your large cooking pot and put the soapy water in it. It soaks while you do the rest of the dishes. Be sparing with rinse water. Then when the dishwashing is done, dump the dirty dishwater down the toilet. This conserves the gray tank capacity for showers and helps the black to empty better. Our Casita has a gravity type toilet drain and we added a cut off to the water supply to the toilet. When we’re dry camping we shut off the water to the toilet and use water from half gallon jugs to “flush” the toilet. Our shower head has a cutoff so we take showers by getting wet, shutting off the flow, soaping up then rinsing off. My guess is that changing how you wash dishes and what you do with the dishwater will at least double your boondocking time. Hope this helps.

        • Milly May 25, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

          Thank you guys. I need to get better. I will switch to a basin for the sink. Flushing with grey water might be too much to ask of my mother. :/ She is handicapped and can’t lift a half gallon jug with her arthritis. She doesn’t mind how much we dump cuz daughter milly does all the work and pays for it. :p But yeah…we’re still living like sticks and bricks way too much…
          Milly recently posted..Kitt’ns!My Profile

          • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

            Well, hopefully these ideas (thanks for sharing Reine) will help, Millie. Take care!

          • Reine in Plano May 27, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

            Milly, we actually don’t flush with grey water. We fill the half gallon jugs from any available water source and they ride in the floor of the bathroom. And if you want to use that method, there’s no rule that you have to fill the jugs. It only takes about a cup of water to rinse the bowl.

  5. Ron May 24, 2016 at 7:58 pm #

    Great post Becky, you certainly are a thrifty boondocker. Lots of great tips. I’ve spoke to many people that find it a challenge to boondock for more than 3 to 4 days. You could teach them a thing or two. Safe travels and may your Adventures Continue. Ron

    • Becky May 24, 2016 at 10:32 pm #

      Thanks Ron and I’m glad you enjoyed this. I think the end of my response to Millie above about sums it up:

      I treat boondocking more like tent camping than RVing. I do without.

  6. Lucy May 24, 2016 at 9:07 pm #

    Great information young lady !
    It surely seems your know your material, are well & smartly organized and the best you’re having lots of fun.
    Keep those wheels turning girl, keep enjoying life for is short. Happy trails !

    PS: To clean dishes, cooking pans & silverware U may go about without soap & water…here it goes, spray these items ( shortly after been used ) with white vinegar, let the vinegar set for about 1 – 2 minutes, whips them off with a paper towel & voila…they’ll spotless clean as a result !! If they grime is heavy let the vinegar set @ bit longer before wiping it off.

    • Becky May 24, 2016 at 10:36 pm #

      I am having lots of fun Lucy, it’s true. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this.

      I’ve heard of using vinegar (or baking soda) to do other kinds of cleaning so it makes sense that it could be used for dishes too. Good tip, thanks for sharing!

  7. Cherie @Technomadia May 24, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

    You’ve come a long way since the beginning of the year in your boondocking skillsets! Well done.

    All of your tips and tricks sound fine and dandy. I mean, who needs power, food & water, really. What still boggles our minds is how one person survives on just 3GB of data 😉
    Cherie @Technomadia recently posted..Travel Like A Local? or Travel Like a Tourist?My Profile

    • Becky May 24, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

      For everyone reading the comments, Cherie and Chris showed me the boondocking ropes at the beginning of this year, they’re awesome people!

      Yes, my 3GB of data can’t hold a candle to that night we spent streaming Mama Mia on the projector in your bus, this is the real reason I befriended you two. 😉

  8. Cathy myers May 24, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

    So, why don’t you use boondockers welcome.com? I know it adds some complications, but also adds convenience while on the road. I’m not full time, but travel 4-5 months every year. I’ve had great luck with both boondockers and harvest host. There is a small cost annually, but well worth it for the hospitality and the gorgeous sites. Thanks for all,of this info. May try out your sources come fall.

    • Becky May 24, 2016 at 10:55 pm #

      You’re welcome Cathy, glad you found this post helpful.

      The fee is part of the reason I don’t do Boondockers Welcome, I’m on a pretty strict budget so if I can find locations without having to pay, that’s what I do.

      Another part of it is that I’m still working as I travel, so I like locations where I can stay at least a week, to give me time to settle in and focus on my writing.

      The third reason is that I’m a strong introvert and being social with people I don’t know is often uncomfortable for me. I have to be in the right mood for it.

      Thank you for mentioning them both though, others who read these comments can benefit from this information. 🙂

  9. Teri May 24, 2016 at 10:25 pm #

    How do you manage on so little internet? What is the secret to tuning out and turning it off?

    • Becky May 24, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

      Millie asked about internet above, you can see my answer to her for how I stretch my limited data.

      As for the second half of your question, I have an ever-changing backyard just full of wonders to explore. That’s a pretty good incentive for me to get out of the RV.

      I’ve consciously trained myself away from the habit so many people have of turning to the internet or TV as a time-filler. Life is too short to waste on such things. I’d rather spend my precious time on gaining experiences and memories. I’d rather spending my life Doing than Observing.

  10. Linda Sand May 25, 2016 at 12:42 am #

    My daughter once attended an EcoCamp where the signs in the restroom said, “If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.” They would be proud of you.

    We once hosted a family campfire evening at a park with full hookups where I had to teach family how to use an RV toilet. (Push the pedal halfway down to add water just until any solids float then quickly push the pedal the rest of the way down and release.) I got lots of compliments on how eco friendly RV toilets are. Sure glad we didn’t have to drive to dump by the time every family member tried it, though. 🙂

    I like the idea of a vinegar spray for “washing” dishes. Have to try to remember that one. I’ve been using Campsuds for hand washing lately but I wonder if they reformulated it; I don’t remember it sudsing up so much when we were tent campers.

    • Becky May 25, 2016 at 10:18 am #

      Yeah that’s a fun saying Linda, I’ve seen it before too. RV toilets are pretty good at conserving water. Mine works a little different, I pull the lever up to add water, push down to flush. Good for you for helping show that family the way, haha.

      The Campsuds says it’s concentrated and not to use much which made me wonder how it’d work for hand washing when you really don’t use much water and don’t need much soap.

      • nikita June 5, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

        You can also use water in a sprayer when doing dishes to conserve when you wash and rinse – goes much further than running or dipping in a tub. I also keep diluted Dr. Bronner’s peppermint or Campsuds in a spray bottle for washing/cleaning stuff and myself! 🙂

        • Becky June 6, 2016 at 9:47 am #

          I’ve heard of the sprayer technique before Nikita, good idea.

  11. Joy May 25, 2016 at 5:14 am #

    My toilet has a two-way flush lever. Single level drops contents down only, double lever drops and flushes Real handy

    • Becky May 25, 2016 at 10:19 am #

      Fancy Joy! Mine isn’t that spiffy. 😛

  12. Judy May 25, 2016 at 5:51 am #

    That is amazing! I’m taking my little featherweight sewing machine to sew! We are planning for next year and plan to visit lots of state parks. We will be paying every night. Hoping for less than $1,000 a month in camping but we are retired. I will boondock once a week but when our money is gone guess we find a house! Thank you for the tips. I don’t care about food as long as I have cookies. We plan to walk some but we are both near 70!!

    • Becky May 25, 2016 at 10:28 am #

      State parks are great Judy, I hope you have a good time.

      Cookies do make everything better, don’t they? 😉

    • Reine in Plano May 25, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

      Judy, check the boondocking sites that Becky listed. We also purchased the AllStays app for my iPhone for $9.99 so we could use the filters to find city and county parks. We’ve found many that charge $10 or so for a site with water and electricity. Also look for Corp of Engineer parks where you can use your Senior Access Pass for half price camping with water and electricity – usually about $11 or $12. Although we love state parks we’re finding that they are running closer to $25 – $30.

      • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

        Unless you’re in California apparently, where the county parks are still $30, haha.

        Thanks for sharing though Reine, good advice. 🙂

  13. Scott Hinckley May 25, 2016 at 7:17 am #

    Great article & beautiful photos!! Thank you 🙂

    • Becky May 25, 2016 at 10:29 am #

      You’re welcome Scott, glad you enjoyed this.

  14. Tanya May 25, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    I have a sprayer attached to the toilet water line (before the turn off lever) to use as needed. It always has a little bit of water in it if you use your pump. I turn the water off to the toilet and use sink water to flush. I have a rectangular plastic food storage container I keep in the sink and run water into as I rinse, wash hands, wash or rinse dishes, etc. Then I pour part of that water in the toilet to flush as needed. You can use very little compared to what a flush uses.

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:26 pm #

      Good ideas Tanya, Reine above mentioned something similar. It would be hard to put a cut-off like that to my toilet because of how the water lines work, but it’s easy enough to just turn the water pump off altogether when I flush and turn it back on afterward.

      I’ve found with my Casita that it takes time for the water to start flowing when I flush, and if I’m quick with the flush pedal it doesn’t use much water at all.

      At the risk of TMI, my biggest problem comes when I’m, err, on my monthly. I have to flush frequently (and well) when that’s going on because anything left behind in the bowl gets nasty quick.

      • Milly May 26, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

        I can relate to the monthly situation. -_- so inconvenient.
        Milly recently posted..At Borax Bill’s in California CityMy Profile

        • Becky May 27, 2016 at 7:27 pm #

          The joys of being a woman…

          • Diane Ely May 31, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

            Here’s something to look forward to if you’re still fulltiming when you hit 50 – no more TM!

          • Becky May 31, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

            At the cost of a new range of issues surrounding menopause, haha. Oh well. It is what it is Diane. 🙂

  15. Diane May 25, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    Wow! Thanks for all the great info!

    I hope to get a Rialta RV in the next few weeks, then head out West and really appreciate all the sources you’ve mentioned. I will definitely check them out!

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:27 pm #

      Aww, I love Rialtas, they’re so cute and that big back window is fantastic! Glad you found this post helpful Diane and I wish you all the best. There sure it a lot to see out west and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. 🙂 Safe travels and happy trails.

  16. oakeshott May 25, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    Becky,

    How do you balance the need for direct sunlight to charge solar with the benefits of camping in the shade?

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

      I have to park in the sun (the 10 foot cord on my portable solar kit can’t take it far from the trailer) so my strategy is to watch the forecast and pick places where it isn’t hot Oakeshott. Sometimes I do better at this than others.

  17. Rene Kipp May 25, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

    Great article with lots of useful tips. I’ll be sharing this one with my husband. We’re hoping to hit the roads in the next couple of months and we definitely want to give boondocking a try. You might also check out Emily’s blog at Roads Less Traveled. She and her husband boondock the majority of the time (if not all the time).
    Rene Kipp recently posted..Painting Doors Made EasierMy Profile

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

      Oh yes, Emily’s blog is a good one too.

      Glad you found this helpful Rene, have fun boondocking!

  18. J Lewis May 25, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    Campsuds is great; used it for years. HOWEVER, it is extremely concentrated. I have no doubt a medium bottle properly diluted could easily wash a 747. Therefore, just a few (very few) drops is all you need. If you put so much in that you actually SEE SUDS, you used way too much. If you do that and cannot afterwards drown your dishware and pots in enough rinse water, preferably twice, BE WARNED: diarhea is in your near future. Plus, its concentrated effect continues in the intestines. It will take longer than the usual day or two to absorb ot flush it out. It can be used for hands, hair, and body; but I much prefer Dr. Bonners for that, peppermint scented.

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

      Haha, thanks for the warning J Lewis. I wondered about it being so concentrated too and brought that up in an above comment.

      I’ve heard of Dr. Bonners, but have no experience with it. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Judith Blinkenberg May 25, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

    Thank you Reine in Plano! Is that Texas? We are hoping to stay with our daughter sometimes. She is in Allen. She will be storing a lot of my fabrics and machines. I will follow your advice and that of Becky’s.

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

      Yes, Reine lives in Plano, TX Judith. I’ve had the pleasure to meet her at Larry’s shop for Casitas a couple times now. 🙂 Glad you found this post helpful.

  20. Gary May 25, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

    Becky,

    I noticed your photos in this post look more HD than usual. Are uou experimenting with your photography? Great photographs.

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

      Nope Gary, same camera and same editing in Photoshop that I usually do. May just be the lighting was better – I’ve noticed that makes a huge difference in how my photos turn out. Thanks.

  21. Jodee Gravel May 25, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    Very comprehensive! Thanks for putting it all in one place. Love that dark arch – great colors.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..The Adult Children of Full-Timers Are So Lucky!My Profile

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

      I love that arch Jodee, it’s the biggest one at Sawtooth (that I’ve found) and isn’t on any trail, you gotta wander around a little to find it. Glad you enjoyed this!

  22. Mike May 25, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

    Thanks Becky.
    I appreciate the detailed information about boondocking.

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

      You’re welcome Mike. 🙂

  23. Jim May 26, 2016 at 1:02 am #

    Thanks for the great info. I agree with you about safety from bad people and don’t worry at all about that, but what about serious illness or injury?

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

      That’s why I have an emergency fund Jim (which I guess I could have linked in this post as well, but it’s up on my “useful stuff” page): http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2012/06/11/rving-emergency-fund/

      • Jim May 26, 2016 at 11:47 pm #

        I was wondering more about getting injured or a medical emergency while out alone. Not so much paying for it, but getting help and probably no cell service.

        • Becky May 27, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

          Most of the places I stay do have a a usable phone signal that I could call for help, even at my site here while the signal isn’t good enough to get online it’s good enough to send texts. I tell people where I’m out camping (and hiking), but you’re correct that if there is no signal they wouldn’t know if something happened to me until it would probably be too late to help.

          It’s a risk of the lifestyle. To me, the risk is slim enough to be worth the reward of getting to live and explore in places like this. Everyone has to decide for themselves though. 🙂 If it’s something a person is concerned about, I’d say only camp where you have a good phone signal, don’t go hiking if you don’t have a buddy to go with, join a caravan of campers to park with, etc.

          • Boaz June 1, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

            You could get a PLB (best to get one with GPS). PLBs will work anywhere if you can see sky, and are ideal if you like to hike solo. hiking.http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Personal-Locator-Beacon-Reviews/ACR-ResQlink-406-Personal-Locator-Beacon

          • Becky June 2, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

            A good suggestion for someone who has the money Boaz. Hopefully the prices will continue to come down on those like it has on solar equipment.

          • nikita June 5, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

            Ditto the PLB. I bought an ACR brand in 2008 and carry it on all my trips as a solo hiker/camper. At that time it was the only brand that worked in tree cover, but I think the SPOT has been upgraded to do that as well. (I’m in the southeast, so open skies are rare when hiking.) ACR’s historically produces marine beacons, and you’ll usually hear of them used on the America’s Cup and round-the-world sailing vessels. This page on their site describes how a distress signal works: https://www.acrartex.com/info/search-and-rescue/.

            It was pricey, but some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I confirm my personal info and emergency contacts with NOAA annually, test the device before heading out, and notify them on my membership page when I’m travelling out of state so they know the out-of-area signal isn’t a fluke. I wear it on my belt so it’s always on my person, even when removing my backpack.

  24. Shelly May 26, 2016 at 3:40 am #

    Thanks for this post, Becky. Lot’s of great info packed into it. Enjoy the next bend, can’t wait to read about your next adventure. Have a great Summer.

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

      You’re welcome Shelly, glad you enjoyed this. Thanks, and I certainly will have a good summer. Take care.

  25. Vanholio May 26, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    Vanholio would add: 1. Arrive by early afternoon. 2. Have a backup plan.

    Many times I’ve arrived at a well-reviewed site to find it inaccessible or something else is wrong. Roads have been closed by rain. Unsavory types have been camped there. Etc., etc.

    So now I get there by about 2 p.m. and I have a nearby safety place, like a Walmart, state park, or developed campsite to go for the night if I need to.

    • Becky May 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

      Two very good suggestions Vanholio. I mentioned those things in the “Boondocking Rhythm” post that I linked to in the article as well.

      I actually like to arrive in the morning if at all possible, before the day gets too hot so that I can walk and scope out a good spot without getting all sweaty at the beginning of a boondocking stint, haha.

  26. Wheelingit May 27, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    What a wonderful, detailed post. Thank you so much for the mention too!

    Nina

    • Becky May 27, 2016 at 9:43 pm #

      You and Paul have been such an inspiration for my boondocking endeavors Nina, so thank you right back!

  27. Jim May 30, 2016 at 8:04 pm #

    I don’t boondock much any more, but when i did I always had one of those 5 gallon Home Depot buckets with me. They are great to keep odds and ends in and before bed I always thought it was a good policy to make sure my fire was out. I would fill the bucket from my gray water tank and dump it in the fire ring. The water filters through the ashes so any food particles are burned up the next day when you have a fire. It really extends the capacity of your gray tank and in my opinion is an acceptable way to dump gray water.

    • Becky May 30, 2016 at 8:25 pm #

      Neat trick Jim, thanks for sharing!

  28. David H. May 31, 2016 at 12:49 am #

    Thank you for such an very detailed article! (and the many valuable poster comments). With no air conditioning have you ever had issues with your laptop getting too hot? A subjective thing I suppoe, maybe you’d only know if the life of it was very short? If you know the temperature inside the Casita how hot has it gotten without affecting the laptop as far as you know? Heard of any tips for keeping a computer cooler without an AC?

    Thank you, happy trails.

    • Becky May 31, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

      When a computer overheats, it’s suppose to shut down to keep damage from occurring, in the normal course of things this only happens when an internal fan fails for whatever reason. So I suppose if your laptop turns itself off randomly when the weather is hot, a likely cause would be overheating. I’ve never had a problem with mine: it gets too hot for me to want to sit inside on the computer before my computer displays overheating problems and I never just leave the computer on when I’m not using it in any weather because that’s a waste of battery.

      I use to be an avid computer gamer and some games make a computer run hot because they use so many resources. To keep the computer cooler, I’d point a desk fan on the tower to aid the internal fans in circulation. As a boondocker, maybe a small battery-run fan would provide some relief?

  29. David H. June 1, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    Appreciated your thoughts, am still in the information-gathering stage, only want/afford a small rv, and some of my work will be computer-based.

    • Becky June 2, 2016 at 3:51 pm #

      You’re welcome David, best of luck to you. A lot of younger full-timers work from their computers, it’s a great way to make a living.

  30. Rob June 8, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    Thanks Becky, I really appreciate your fact filled Blog! You give so much practical advice. Would you mind telling us what your favorite Soups and Frozen dinners are? I love the dehydrated Soups that Health Food Stores sell in bulk, that you add boiling water to, but they are bloody expensive. I also use the individual Brown Rice bowls that Costco carries in combination with the Soups. How do you prepare the Frozen Dinners if you don’t have power for the Microwave? I am a lazy Old Guy and probably have a Beer and Peanuts for dinner more often than I should. There is something so satisfying watching the Sunset while cracking Peanuts and sipping a Beer. Almost as satisfying as sitting on your Trailer step sipping Coffee and watching the Sun come up.

    • Becky June 8, 2016 at 7:56 pm #

      Normally I buy Campbell’s Chunky brandy soups, most grocery stores carry them. The frozen dinners I buy are made for skillet cooking on the stove, as you’re correct I can’t use the microwave while boondocking. Brands vary, I mix up pasta ones with rice ones for variety.

      I don’t wake up early enough for the sunrise, but I do enjoy sunsets and am happy I get to see a lot more of them now than I did living in an apartment. Take care Rob and thanks for reading!

  31. Jenn June 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

    Thanks so much, Becky! My hubs & I bought our first camper last week, and I’m reading everything I can to learn. I appreciate your easy going, conversational style. Your pics are gorgeous, and you really pack good information in!
    I wish you many safe travels and happiness!

    • Becky June 13, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

      You’re welcome Jenn, I hope you get a lot of use out of your camper and have a lot of fun! RVing is a great way to travel.

  32. John Warren Simpson June 24, 2016 at 2:11 am #

    Thanks for all your information, Becky. I will be full-timing in a year (Escape 19). There is so much to learn between now and then. Your website is very helpful. I like your writing style. It is a story for sure. I am definitely looking forward. This is the only reasonable pathway to follow. Best wishes always.

    • Becky June 24, 2016 at 3:44 pm #

      You’re welcome John and I’m glad you’re finding IO helpful and entertaining. Escapes are great little trailers, hope you enjoy your “egg” as much as I’ve enjoyed mine. Take care.

  33. Ethan July 2, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    Becky, you brave soul! I admire your adventurous spirit. I have been, I guess, living vicariously through reading your blog. Thanks for the experience and all the helpful information. Two sides of me been fighting with each other after being here for a little bit. One side wanted to buy a 4Runner and just go, the other side is throwing all the doubts and uncertainty (i know, you have a post talking specifically about that). Being a backpacker who had gone on Appalachian Trail for a week long, I am ashamed to admit that I am afraid of leaving the modern convenience on a longer term, and afraid of change ( I know, you have a post on that too!) Just want to say thanks, for showing the possibility and how you are enjoying other side of life (I know.. life is what you make of it). I guess like the movie Up, I need to fill up those balloons and cut the anchoring lines.

    • Becky July 2, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

      Gee Ethan, you’ve kinda done my job for me here. 😉

      Actually, it’s a good thing that you’re aware of both sides of the issue and seem to be weighing your options carefully. It’s not good to be too afraid to change your life for the better, but neither is it good to fly off half-cocked without a plan. The balance between planning and action is different for everyone and I’m sure you’ll figure out where you fall along the spectrum eventually.

      I’m glad you’ve found IO helpful and I do hope I hear from you on the road someday since that seems to be what you want. If you need to borrow some helium for those balloons, this blog will be here to supply the inspiration. 😉

  34. John July 19, 2016 at 8:26 am #

    Thanks this is another great post. Thanks for all the good posts on this blog.
    John recently posted..Kuang Si Waterfalls, LaosMy Profile

    • Becky July 19, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

      Glad you found this helpful John!

  35. Joanna Fridley July 27, 2016 at 3:19 am #

    Thank you for educating us dreamers..looking forward to becoming a full timer.

    • Becky July 27, 2016 at 10:29 am #

      You’re welcome Joanna, glad you found this helpful.

  36. Steve P July 27, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    I’m looking for information on how to get mail while out on the road. That is the only thing that is holding me up right now. I am a VET and get my meds through the mail so it’s important to get mail for me. Any hints? Thanks Becky, your doing a good job out there

    • Becky July 28, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

      A mail forwarding company Steve, preferably one located in your domicile state. For a fee you’ll get a mail box you can put down as your address, and when you’re going to be in one area for a while you tell them where you are and they forward your mail to you. With some things though you can have whatever you need mailed directly to the RV park you’re staying at, or a post office in town. I don’t know if your med company would send it direct to your or not you’d have to talk to them about it. I talk about the South Dakota mail forwarding options in this blog post: http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2012/11/12/setting-up-south-dakota-residency-for-rvers-1/, if you live in a different state, just do a Google search for “mail forwarding . Hope this helps!

  37. Bobby Keeland February 17, 2017 at 7:25 am #

    Becky,
    Two things come to my mind while reading your blog.
    First is the Blackwater capacity. Have you considered the possibility of a composting toilet? They work great, and by separating the #1 and the #2 there is not much smell. What little smell there is can be vented through the wall, ceiling or floor using a 12 volt solar powered fan. A blogging RV couple (cannot remember their names but I think that they recently switched from their RV to a boat – mind of like Technomadia are getting ready to do) had a great post on their composting toilet. By dumping the urine container often you might get rid of the monthly stuff that you mentioned. Because urine is such an excellent fertilizer you can dump it just about anywhere, but a little water does help to dilute it. If you are low on fresh water you can use a little grey water or act like a wolf and pour a little here, there and many other places. Get rid of a waste and Mark your territory. We have a Nature’s Head brand composting toilet in our house (actually our house is the upstairs of a horse barn but that is another story). We do not yet have a composting toilet in our Jayco Greyhawk RV.
    Second is your stated love of getting out for a hike plus you interest in reading. I enjoyed a book called “Last Child in the Woods” or something like that. It discusses the many benefits to your mental, emotional and physical health of getting out into nature quite often. Yea, the book kind of goes on and on at times, but it is a very good read. While I’m on a soap box I’ll also recommend “Our Stolen Future.” It is about endocrine disruptors that are in MANY foods that we get at the stores. As bad or worse than cancer causing pollutants discussed in Rachael Carson’s book “Silent Spring.” Another good book (and I’ll stop with this one) is “Rising Tide.” It is about the 1927 (I think) flood on the Mississippi River. An interesting book about a somewhat natural catastrophic dent mixed with the incredibly stupidity and cold heartedness of some people and our government.

    • Becky February 17, 2017 at 4:40 pm #

      Heya Bobby,

      I’ve looked into composting toilets before, but since you still need to dump the liquids it doesn’t seem worth the expense of converting to me. I can go 3 weeks boondocking without dumping as it is and that’s really as long as I want to stay in one spot anyway, it’s really not a big deal to me. Thanks for sharing though as other readers might find composting toilets intriguing. I’ll take a look at those books when I have the time.

      Take care.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Blogs I like - In the wheat - June 18, 2017

    […] Interstellar Orchard. Took till #9 to get to a non FI blog. Becky documents her full time RVing in a Casita trailer. I don’t plan to full time but I’ve gotten some great tips on buying an RV and traveling. Favorite post: “Boondocking Answers”. […]

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