Holding Tank Waste is a Problem When You’re Boondocking
Boondocking is a wonderfully freeing experience. Like a pioneer, you are roughing it and living off the land. But unlike a pioneer, you have been used to the luxuries of a stationary home. That means you probably took advantage of an existing sewage system, garbage service, and water and electric. You didn’t think about what was coming in and out of your home or where it went. At least not until you got your monthly electric bill – what the heck!
So, you have been thinking about boondocking. It sounds like so much fun – plus, it’s free in some places. But something has been nagging at you in the back of your mind. What am I going to do with all that waste?
Everything that ‘disappears’ so conveniently in your brick-and-mortar home doesn’t in an RV. Where can you dump RV waste when you don’t have access to sewer hookups or a dump station?
Where Can You Dump RV Waste?
The first thing you will learn is you can’t drain wastewater onto the ground or into open containers (nor should you want to). You can’t dump into storm drains, and you shouldn’t dump into pit toilets or sealed vault toilets.
So, where can you dump RV waste? You do have several legal options to service your tanks.
- Know your tanks. This takes some practice to learn what your tanks can handle. The first time you try boondocking, you should have several backup ideas in place. You don’t want to fill your tanks thinking you had plenty of room for a one-week stay, then you have no solutions. Or you may be able to do a full two weeks of boondocking and your tanks will hold just fine.
- Use dump stations. There are several websites that will let you know where free or low-cost dump stations exist. Plan your route with RV LIFE Trip Wizard to easily find them along your route as well as other points of interest such as fuel stations and rest areas. You can also locate dump stations on sites like rvdumps.com or www.sanidumps.com. Learn about how to use dump stations BEFORE you go. You will need to be prepared to move your rig.
- Portable sewage tote. You may not want to lose your boondocking site or want to move your rig. You can also use a portable waste tote to empty your tanks. There is also a macerator system that can help.
Refilling your RV fresh water
Naturally you won’t be turning on the faucet and drawing from city water. You are limited to what your tanks can hold.
Finding clean water will be another issue for boondocking. You will use it faster than you think between showers, washing dishes, and flushing toilets. This also means lots of gray water. So, think about ways you can reduce your use in these areas.
Disposing of trash
When you arrive at your boondocking spot, you will likely not have a dumpster available to dispose of trash. There are several steps you can take in advance to avoid having lots of trash.
- Product packaging. Try to stock your RV with products that do not have packaging or have packing you can use in a campfire. Avoid pre-bottled plastic or glass items. Throw away any extra packing or boxes that you can prior to boondocking.
- Make meals ahead of time so you aren’t using as many resources when you go to boondock.
- Compacting. Fold or smash any trash you can’t burn into smaller items, so it is not necessary to empty a bin as often.
- Locate dumpsters. Find a place to store trash bags safely from animals until you can carry a few to a dumpster. You can use truck stops, rest stops, and other large store dumpsters. Just make sure you ask for permission first.
Electric and fuel needs
You can’t boondock as long as you want if you can’t meet your basic needs. Although there isn’t a tangible waste you need to handle, having no fuel or power can leave you stranded, cold, or hungry. Know what you may need to refill these items on the fly and what your general use is. And have backups!
When you are standing by your RV, viewing the beautiful land and looking at the sunset, you know you are a pioneer. With your skills, your wit, and your work, you are taking care of the land. Without even thinking about it, you have become the greatest ally to earth. You conserve because you have to. Because you need to. And because you want to. Welcome to boondocking!
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