Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Wife is sleepless thanks to hubby’s “stealth camping”


Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
We have just started living the RV lifestyle and immediately the price of camping caused sticker shock. My husband now wants to do what he calls “stealth camping.” He likes to park in crazy places when we are traveling that cost little or nothing. I know many people spend nights at Walmart and other retailers who seem fine with short-term camping, but my husband is now starting to look at hospital, church and VFW Hall parking lots as his personal KOAs. He claims “we pay our taxes” and pulls off into fields that he thinks are government-run public lands.

I am as nervous as a squirrel in a bird feeder most of the time. I can’t relax when we are parking in suspect spots. Maybe I watched too many horror films when I was young. Every time I hear a noise I think it’s Eddie Scissorhands at the door asking us to leave. I swear, one night in Texas I heard a chainsaw outside our rig. I keep telling him, “If we can’t afford to stay in RV parks we shouldn’t be traveling.” Oftentimes I don’t think we are safe. Please give me some ammunition to argue my point. —Sleepless in Seattle

Dear Sleepless:
Stealth camping, boondocking, or whatever else you want to call it, is fine to a point. It sounds like your husband might have an addiction to free camping. Safety should be your first priority. Walmart is a great pit stop when making time and looking for a safe harbor for the night. Most have security and welcome RVers for overnight parking.

If your husband is insisting on staying in areas you feel are not safe, and it makes you feel uncomfortable, you need to let him know that you are not going to continue this practice. My suggestion would be to become efficiently involved in finding reasonably priced RV sites. Use or Overnight RV Parking, various campground books, and start a database of nice places you find and places other campers tell you about. Most are not actually free, but very reasonable.

Invest in discount camping services, get your senior camping pass from the government if you are seniors and U.S. citizens. Some states, for example New Mexico, sell reasonable annual passes for state park camping. There is a whole host of ways to save money and camp in amazingly beautiful, safe places if you work at it.

There is a difference between frugal and free. There is safety in numbers and usually if it’s a good idea, some other RVer has already figured it out and will be there camped alongside of you. If you are nervous about being asked to leave in the middle of the night, ask in advance. Many Walmarts will not allow overnight parking because of a city ordinance.

You have to help your husband understand that there is a difference between an RVer and a person who is homeless. Don’t let your husband sleep soundly while you are up all night worried about every little sound you hear. Wake him up and say, “Did you hear that?” He didn’t, of course, because he was sleeping and there was no noise. After you do this a dozen times a night he will think twice about parking in places where you can’t sleep. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.




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david hard (@guest_5517)
6 years ago

We always had good luck with Passport America. Cheap annual fee and maybe 700+ campgrounds for 1/2 price.

Alpenliter (@guest_5486)
6 years ago

I also suggest Overnight RV Camping as an excellent resource for finding places to stay. A yearly subscription pays for itself in one night of free camping. I have used it extensively and found wonderful free places as well as small town city parks that have hookups and just ask for a donation.

Robbie (@guest_5473)
6 years ago

We’re boondockers, and spend a lot of time researching ways of avoiding paying anything for the night stay. In 10 years, we’ve stayed in a Walmart once….hated it. We carry tons of maps, use our computers and after getting parked, we always look for a new or better place to move to, or save for next time we come through! We have found so many special places that we call “14-dayers”, here in the west, that we are never more than 200 miles away from a 14-dayer. We have very little RV park expenses. We feel more secure boondocking than we do in RV parks…..and there’s the beauty, and solitude which to us is priceless.

Joannne (@guest_5543)
6 years ago
Reply to  Robbie

Have you done any boon docking in the east and mid country? Hear most
n best are in the west. Love using maps. Thanks .

Das Blade (@guest_5471)
6 years ago

I have had conversations with several men and women on RV safety and what they can do to protect themselves legally while in their trailer or motorhome. The simple fact is that every state views your home as your safe zone or area and you can protect yourself while inside it whether it be an RV, Trailer, or stick and brick. You can if needed take lethal action against any wrongdoers. In the talks, I go over “Sounds in the night, Strangers in the distance, What to do when” and a few other things that come up during our talks.
Sounds in the night are mostly made up sounds in your head that you can not prove to be real. Our brains make up many unexplainable things during our lives from the time we can first talk to the time we pass into the next partition many of these things are sounds. Once you realize this your brain will stop making them and your life will be much more peaceful.
Strangers in the distance can not hurt you but it may be wise to keep a watchful eye open for their activity. Most of the time they are no different than you are just looking for a safe place to camp and stay for a while a few days or perhaps longer depending on the area.
I go over self-defence and we practice various moves a person can make in small areas like your trailer or coach. So many people come up with the idea that they need a gun to be safe but fail to realize what will happen if they use it in a small area. Never mind the holes it will leave in your traveling home but most people will be arrested and detained for many days while they get the story straight all this for trying to save a few bucks its not a wise choice for most people who have never had firearm training. So carrying a firearm is my last choice most of the time for newbies. Even though I carry full time I am trained and have carry permits in nearly every state that is why I carry. But even so, that is my last choice of staying safe. I would much rather use a baseball bat, steel pipe or a baton is I need to subdue any attacker. The firearm comes out only if and when it is my last choice or they have firearms and I see them clearly with the intent to use them. If they feel a weapon like a pistol or gun is their only choice I tell them to go home to their original state and a take the carry course get their permit and then take at least 5 hours of private lessons which can range anywhere from $50 an hour to $150.00 an hour depending on the instructors qualifications and abilities. The hunters that think they can handle a weapon in close quarter combat are the worse students if you ask instructors. They need more training than a newbie because they need to be deprogrammed.

My advice for this person would be to sit down and have a real long heart to heart with their partner. Tell them they are not having fun and enjoying the trip which is why they are out there in the first place and that this can not continue. They need, to be honest, and let the other one know they still do have choices. Such as going home by greyhound bus or a flight and staying with family until they can find work and get back on their feet. This is probably the most drastic choice they can make but putting it on the table will certainly make the other realize how much the current situation bothers them. Sometimes a long talk like this is needed to get things done so you can both move on to enjoy your life. Also, let them both know they did not plan out this adventure very well and they may need a break to go home and get it under control so they can leave and start all over again. Only this time having a better game plan down that they both can accept will be needed. I know many people who have planned poorly and ended up selling everything and returning to their old life. Nothing wrong with admitting failure and moving on. If it is still your dream after a year it is ok to do it again and have more research and better planning behind you for this next adventure. Your first was not a total loss you have gained some very valuable knowledge that can be used and shared with others.

I hope they work through this problem and move on to enjoy their life together once again in peaceful harmony.

bisonwings (@guest_70987)
3 years ago
Reply to  Das Blade

This the best reply of all of the comments that I have read over the years and the R.V. Shrink should take note.

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