In my research about fulltime RVing, I found a lot of people saying that going fulltime is as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. Obviously, I have been aiming for the latter. It wasn’t until after my departure that I truly cut down my expenses.
Before my departure, I planned out my route and all of my accommodations through December 31, 2020. I added the monthly cost of my RV payment ($600) plus the average cost of campgrounds ($600) to calculate $200 of savings on “rent” per month (compared to my $1400 monthly mortgage). Not bad, right?
After my first campground experience and subsequently, my first boondocking experience, I decided to try to boondock as much as possible.
Boondocking is essentially camping without hookups. You may also hear it referred to as ‘dry camping’. Often, dry camping means staying in a campground without hookups, whereas, boondocking typically means staying in a completely undeveloped area.– Read more here
So how do you boondock? Until just last month, I had no idea. I knew my RV was outfitted to allow me to boondock, but I figured I wouldn’t explore that option until I was in the Western US, where boondocking spots are more readily available and it’s therefore more prevalent. But after taking a stab at it for a weekend at a Harvest Hosts location, I felt confident that I could do it more often. And that’s how I lowered my rent by $650! Thanks for coming to my TED Talk!
Just kidding. Here are some swaps I made going from staying at a full hook-up campsite to staying pretty much anywhere I wanted for free (+/- … I’ll get to that later).
…A water hook-up (hose connects to an inlet on my RV on one end and to a spigot on the other), I use my 50-gallon onboard water tank. I fill it up maybe once every 2 weeks at a campground or friend’s house. To use it, I flip a switch for the water pump inside my RV and magically my sinks, toilet, and shower work!
…An electric hook-up (plug from my RV connects to any electrical outlet), I use my generator when needed. The generator uses gas from my gas tank and will automatically shut off if the tank goes below 1/4 full. I try to only use my generator when absolutely necessary, since it’s loud and uses gas, but you’d be surprised how little you need it! I usually run it for a few hours in the morning to charge everything (laptop, phone, etc.), then leave it off the rest of the time. I also have a house battery that powers small things, like my 12V lights, as well as a 16-gallon propane tank that runs my fridge, oven, and hot water heater. The house battery charges while I’m driving and there are a bunch of different places that will fill your propane tank for you. I have only done it once so far, when I went to an RV service center and they filled it for $30.
…A sewer hook-up, I have a 29-gallon black tank and a 32-gallon grey tank. All toilet water goes into the black tank while shower and sink water goes into the grey tank. I have found that I can go about 2 weeks before my sensors show my tanks as full, which means I have to go dump my tanks. To do that, I use websites such as https://rvdumpsites.net/ to plug in my current location and find nearby dumpsites. For example, last week I stopped at Cabela’s in Scarborough, ME on my way to my next destination. To dump, you connect a sewer hose to your RV, open the black water tank by pulling a lever, wait for it to drain, close it, then open the grey water tank by pulling a different lever. It’s surprisingly a lot less gross than it sounds! Plus, it usually only costs $0-$20, depending on where you go.
Okay, now that I told you HOW I boondock, let me get to WHERE I boondock, which will also explain how I’m saving so much money.
Here are my resources, which I utilize in this order:
|Resource||How It Works||Price|
|Boondockers Welcome||Landowners offer up a spot on their land for you to stay for up to 5 nights. Some even have hook-ups!||$50 per year|
|Campendium||Users submit places they’ve camped or boondocked and report how much they’ve paid. There are a ton of boondocking spots on here, in addition to parks and campgrounds, depending on the filters you choose.||Free|
|Harvest Hosts||1175+ participating wineries, breweries, and farms that allow you to stay for a night on their property.||$80 per year|
|HipCamp||Basically AirBnB for campers. Tent camping, RV parks, cabins, treehouses, and glamping. I filter for <$25 per night and only use this if I can’t find a free spot from the previous resources.||<$25 per night|
|FreeCampsites.net||Users submit places they’ve boondocked. Basically the same as Campendium but only for boondocking spots.||Free|
|Moochdocking||Parking in a friend’s driveway||Free|
|Wallydocking||Parking in a Wal-Mart parking lot||Free|
As you can see, my first few options cost me $130 per YEAR! With that said, it’s not always that easy to find a spot in an area that I want to be in for the amount of time I want to be there, etc. So now that I’ve planned my next 4 months utilizing the above resources, my new monthly average is…
Add in my monthly RV payment, and my new “rent” is $750. In other words, I’m saving $650 per month by boondocking and planning ahead. Add that to all the other benefits of full-time RVing and I’d say I’m making out like a bandit 🙂