Friday, December 8, 2023


If RVs are made to “hook up,” why camp in the dirt?


Here’s a question from a reader of about boondocking. 

Dear Bob,
My husband has been trying lately to talk me into boondocking, rather than staying in comfortable campgrounds and RV resorts that seem to me to be much more comfortable and predictable. If RVs were made to hook up to utilities why would we want to give that up to camp out in the dirt somewhere? —Trixie

Dear Trixie,
When the first self-contained RVs appeared on American highways, the concept of a full-service RV resort had not yet become the seed of an idea. Even the concept of a recreation vehicle, or house-car, for transportation as well as housing, completely independent of electrical, water and sewage systems, and self-sustainable while seeing the wondrous scenic landscapes of this great and diverse country, was scoffed at and likened to itinerant gypsy wagons. But the self-sustaining independence for many of us would become the beauty – and lure – of RV camping.

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Arizona

But then campgrounds and hookups came along and the new mainstream RVers evolved from wanting to be free of tethers to RVers demanding campgrounds with hookups (and even more comfort amenities) wherever they wanted to “camp.” Campgrounds turned into crowded resorts with attractions to rival luxurious vacation hotels and spas – with price tags to match. And, in a very Darwinian evolutionary process, many RVers lost their ability to camp without life-supporting appendages.

But RVs did not lose their ability to camp without the life-supporting tethers. In fact, they became even more adaptable, efficient, and practical for camping independent of support systems – well beyond the dreams of the early adapters.

Giant water tanks and waste tanks, generators, solar panels, high-efficiency electricity-storing batteries, full-size refrigerators, massive amounts of storage and pantries, efficient heating and cooling systems – and many other improvements – now make camping without hookups (boondocking) about as easy as staying in a full hookup campground.

But many owners, though they know that their rig has these systems already built in, stay wary of camping away from the ease and predictability of the grid. Many new RVers are convinced something unpleasant will happen to them if they become too adventurous.

The truth is, if you don’t venture out away from conventional overnight options, you will miss out on one of the most fulfilling features of the RV lifestyle – the option to camp just about anywhere you want to on America’s public lands – in its forests and deserts, by streams, rivers and lakes, on Indian Reservations and Fish and Wildlife properties, on state and federal wildlife and forest preserves, and at water properties managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Read more about boondocking at my BoondockBob’s Blog.
Check out my Kindle e-books about boondocking at Amazon.

Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) .





0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Glenda (@guest_6781)
6 years ago

One thing that I find to be strange/funny is that some people with nice RV bathrooms don’t use them for that purpose. They use the public bathrooms and use their on-board bathrooms for closets or storage. One time I asked a couple about their reasoning and they said that they wanted to keep the bathroom clean!

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.