Thursday, September 21, 2023


RV for free in 2023: Four styles of boondocking

If you are considering boondocking, or perhaps think it is not for you, know that there are more ways to RV for free than the stereotypical far-off-the-grid scenarios many people think of.

Kristin and John, the team from No Ordinary Path, a YouTube channel focusing on working as a traveling nurse while RVing, outline four types of boondocking. One of them is bound to pique your interest.

The term boondocking seems to mean different things to different people, but what they all have in common is no or low-cost campsites. The video covers the four styles of boondocking and what you will need to successfully RV for free with each of them.

Short-term boondocking

Boondocking myth #1 is that you have to do it for a long time. But it is easier to boondock for 1-2 nights at a time as opposed to planning for longer-term off-grid living. The couple considers anything over three nights long-term.

Longer-term boondocking requires different knowledge, skills, and gear than what you can comfortably get away with for just a night or two.

How to RV for free short-term

  • Overnight parking: Most of us have done this, especially en route to destinations. It might be in a rest area, truck stop, etc. For this type of boondocking, you will need decent enough batteries and possibly batteries and propane, to keep your fridge running. Watch the video for additional overnight power tips.
  • Lot docking: This is staying overnight, where allowed, at establishments like Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, etc., as well as casinos. The video gives some best practical tips for this type of short-term boondocking.


This can be short- or longer-term and involves staying, with permission, on someone’s property. I write more about the etiquette of moochdocking in this post. Besides staying with friends, you can find other moochdocking opportunities through Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome.

Dispersed camping for longer-term boondocking

This is the type of boondocking most people are familiar with and it’s a classic for a reason. It offers gorgeous off-grid campsites with privacy, for free!

The video talks about various gear options including a generator, solar power stations, water management, and more.

I like how pragmatic the couple is with their boondocking advice. Sure, they talk about gear, but they also stress that you may not actually need any of it. To get started you just need a full water tank, empty black and gray water tanks, and good batteries.



  1. Boondocking refers to be total off grid in ur rig with no services, u have to provide everything to survive. It always cracks me up when I hear people talk about boondocking at Walmart, Crackel Barrel, rest stops etc. 😎

  2. Thank you, Cheri! We have often tailgated at college football games (2 or 3 nights sans utilities) and over-nighted at Cracker Barrels. We lack solar and lithium, so the standard sort of boondocking (7 or more nights sans utilities) is outside or normal RVing.

  3. I frankly dislike the word “moochdocking”. It implies that RV’er are always looking for something for free or unwilling to pay for services rendered. I’d rather look at it as staying as a guest on somebody’s property instead of implying we are “mooching” something from them. There may be a few RV’er who do what the word implies but that is not the norm. Most RV’er I know are generous, respectful and always willing to pay their way or thank the host in some way. Just my two cents.


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