Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Talkback Tuesday: Boondocking

(One of my favorite boondocking experiences)

Tuesday is "Talkback" day, where I share what other people have to say

Today Sean received an email from Joe, a new reader. Joe asks,

Have you had any bad experiences boondocking?

Sean sent him this answer in email, but I liked what he wrote and will share it with you, too:

I'm going to say "never", but everything depends on your definition of "bad." Actually, some of our "worst" experiences have been at commercial campgrounds (noisy, nosy, and rude neighbors, poor service, dirty, etc.).

When truly "boondocking" (staying far from civilization, on, for example, BLM or Forest Service land), we've never, ever had any problem that was not of our own making (such as crushing our exhaust pipe while barreling through a water-filled wash). The only time we've ever had any kind of issue with staying at a Wal-Mart (or similar), and we have
stayed at hundreds of them over the course of four years, was one night in South Carolina we were hit with four paintballs shot by a carload of drunk teens at 2am. And I'm sure we were not "targeted" -- these guys probably drove all over town (Monck's Corner) shooting paintballs at anything and everything, roughly akin to carloads of teens whacking mailboxes with a bat, an age-old hooligan tradition. Total "damage" was me having to go out at 2am with the ladder to wipe the goop off while it was still wet. I've since learned that paintball goop comes off with water.

That said, we have kind of a "sixth sense" that kicks in periodically and tells us to move along. But in four years of boondocking and Wally-Docking, each of us has said to the other "this place does not feel right" perhaps twice. In that time, we've also been confronted by law enforcement for parking where we shouldn't only three times, and two of those we were allowed to remain where we were.

The key to a successful and happy trip, IMO, is for both of you to be in total agreement about what you are doing. We'd *both* rather stay in a truck stop than a KOA, even though neither of those is our first choice. We also like our solitude, even if it means being miles from help should something go wrong, whereas many RVers are more comfortable with the "safety in numbers" philosophy.

A low-risk way to ease into boondocking is to try some state park campgrounds, national parks, and even Forest Service facilities. Many are no-hookup affairs with fairly wide spacing -- sometimes such that you can't even see another rig from your site -- yet there will be other campers around, and they are usually patrolled. This sort of camping allows you to become thoroughly familiar with all the self-contained
features of your rig, and get the feel for spending the night where it is incredibly dark and quiet.

You can use the "category" feature of our blog to read about our experiences at state parks, national parks, BLM, and also parking lots (usually under "Dry Camping") and true boondocking.

We're happy to answer questions about Odyssey or our travels. Feel free to ask via the blog comments or by personal email.


  1. Very nice camping, boondocking spot in the picture.

  2. ej,

    We really liked this spot, right along the Calcasieu channel, across from Cameron, Louisiana:


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