RV boondocking means different things to everyone, but however you define “dry camping without hookups” one thing remains the same: mind your boondocking manners or you’ll run the risk of having yet another free overnight campsite get revoked from the RVing landscape.
Step 1: Don’t trespass.
Whether you’re pulling into a Walmart or going incognito by parking in a vacant lot behind a truck stop, always do your research to uncover the legal status of staying overnight in that location.
The iRV2 Discussion Forums offer boondocking tips but if you’ll be staying on the lot of a retail or service establishment, it’s best to check with employees in the location to find out if it’s OK.
Also look for parking regulation signs. If you spot any that say “No Overnight Parking,” chances are good that the establishment means it and at best you’ll get a knock on your door at 3 am asking you to leave. Even if you see other large vehicles and RVs parked there, don’t risk it and move on.
Step 2: Show ’em the money.
Smart businesses like Cracker Barrel and Walmart are usually OK with RVers staying overnight in their parking lots because they understand that most RVers will usually patronize the establishment when parking overnight.
Remember, your dollars speak for themselves so whether you just need a cup of coffee or want to get your grocery shopping done, spending your dollars at the establishment where you’re parked shows appreciation and gratitude to management for the privilege of allowing you to stay there.
Step 3: Remember it’s not a campsite.
It should go without saying that a big box parking lot isn’t a great place for setting up camp, but many RVers still don’t seem to get it.
How many times have you seen RVers get comfortable in parking lots by extending their awnings, putting down their leveling jacks, and even detaching trailers?
If you’ve done any amount of RVing from coast-to-coast, you’ve probably seen this behavior and wondered if it’s acceptable. The truth is, just because so-and-so is doing it, doesn’t mean you should too. In fact, it shows poor manners to set up your RV homestead in retail parking lots.
Most store owners want to accommodate overnight RVers, but still need to reserve room in their parking lots for as many paying customers as possible. Once you get permission to park your RV overnight in that establishment, move on within 24 hours unless you have permission to stay longer.
Back in the day RVers could park just about anywhere without getting told to leave. Unfortunately too many blacktop boondockers have left their mark on free campsites by overstaying their welcome, leaving trash, and even dumping their sewer water on the ground.
As a result, city ordinances against overnight RV camping spring up every day, leaving one less area for us to park when we might need it the most. Don’t jeopardize our free camping privileges any more than they already have been. Be a respectful overnighter and share this overnight parking etiquette when you see sloppy boondocking in action.