Can You Still Go RVing Without Camping Reservations?
COVID has made the nomadic lifestyle more popular than ever before. As a result, many long-time RVers believe that it’s now impossible to go RVing without camping reservations ahead of time.
But is it really? If you’re willing to think outside the box, I believe that you can still travel spontaneously around North America.
The line between “peak season” and “off-season” no longer exists at RV parks and campgrounds thanks to the pandemic. With so many people working and roadschooling remotely, the endless summer vibe blurs into winter. Most RV parks still shut down in cold northern climates.
But when new full-time RVers chase warmer winter weather, expect crowds wherever you roam. You can still enjoy a spontaneous RVing lifestyle without camping reservations. Just follow some common sense travel tips.
Be flexible about your destination
North America has plenty of bucket list RV destinations wherever you roam. But most people still gravitate to the most popular camping areas like national parks or sunny Florida in January. The key to avoiding insane crowds and going RVing without camping reservations is to stop thinking like everyone else.
Don’t have your heart set on camping inside places like national parks, or near a popular theme park, and you won’t be disappointed. For the most choices of places to stay, focus your search on scenic camping spots on the fringe of popular destinations. You can often stay within easy driving distance of popular destinations, for a lower price with fewer crowds and more hospitality.
Go remote camping on weekends and holidays
More people are working remotely than ever before, but their need to escape somewhere on weekends and holidays still exists. Most RVers have the same idea. Don’t try to head to popular destinations at those times or you are guaranteed to be annoyed.
Save America’s best RV camping areas for Monday through Thursday and use popular apps like RV Life Pro to help you find an off-the-beaten-path place to stay from Friday through Sunday.
Look for alternative places to stay
Campground memberships can give you many options for places to stay. But not all places to stay are campgrounds. The last few years have seen an abundance of out-of-the-box camping directories for RVers with a more adventurous spirit. Membership-based clubs like Boondockers Welcome give you more options to go RVing without reservations.
These clubs connect camper members with private and commercial property hosts like wineries, farms, and museums that don’t mind self-contained RV owners to stay overnight, sometimes for many nights. You’ll sleep better too; their safety factor is much better than asphalt camping in a big box store parking lot!
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“We arrived in Stephentown, NY this afternoon where we will be boondocking until Saturday. We are so grateful to all the amazing people who open up their properties to those of us living the nomadic life. We are so excited to be staying here and are excited to explore the area over the next few days. Stay safe out there. Live to wander ¤ Wander to live.” Thank you to @livetowanderbus for sharing your story! Tag us in a post with your Boondockers Welcome experience by using #ThisIsBoondockersWelcome to be featured on our social channels. . #boondockerswelcome #hospitalitycamping #payingitforward #friendsmadeontheroad #rvliving #rvlifestyle #rvtravel #travel #rvparking #rvcommunity #rvcamping
Outfit your RV for dry camping
Is staying in RV parks is your preferred way to go RVing? Then be prepared to practice extreme patience when looking for places to stay. New RVers often stick to full-hookup campgrounds when learning the ropes. But with so many on the road during the pandemic, camping reservations in many places will be harder to obtain.
If you’re more adventurous, enjoy getting away from asphalt campsites, and have extra money to spare, outfitting your RV with solar power opens up an entirely new world of camping possibilities.
Solar power systems aren’t required to dry camp. But having a robust system makes camping more enjoyable. For instance, you don’t have to run your generator all the time. You also won’t pollute the air with gasoline or generator noise when you do camp.
“I’ve been full-timing for six years in an Arctic Fox fifth wheel, mostly in the West, and boondocking most of the time. I agree with what a lot of folks say that things are getting crowded. I fully expected this to happen because I’m a baby boomer and everything’s been crowded with all my brother and sister baby boomers my whole life. So having us all buy RVs at the same time didn’t come as a surprise to me.
Having said that I hardly ever make a reservation and I’ve always found a place to stay mostly because I boondock. And even though BLM land and other free places to stay are more crowded than I’ve ever seen it they’re still plenty of room to camp.
And I agree with you completely, if I had to live every day making schedules reservations and itineraries at RV parks I would quit full-timing too. But don’t worry, Internet research, Google earth, and a little imagination, and just like me you’ll always have a place to stay.” — iRV2 Member TheBoonDork
Great RV camping memories happen in quirky places
Many years ago in 2007 when I was new to full-time RVing, I couldn’t imagine staying anywhere but a nicely landscaped RV park or public campground with picnic tables and barbecues. But even back then, going RVing without camping reservations in popular areas proved difficult during peak season months.
With more miles under our wheels, we became less tolerant of sticking to itineraries for the sake of a reservation. Today, we know that our fondest memories often happen when we are more accepting of quirky, unconventional, and available places to stay at a moment’s notice.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.