Traditional campsites offer a range of facilities from electricity to water, but none of these come for free. Now paying for campsites over vacations is still viable for families on road trips. But what about the RV community who have taken up the life on the road? Not all RVers have sufficient funds to pay for these services, at all times. Boondocking and Moochdocking come as a relief for such RVers. While for some it’s not about money but for some time in absolute solace in the confines of nature.
The two terms are related to the types of parking that are available for RVs. A cheaper alternative to the paid National Park stays, you’ll find little to no facilities under this concept. This will mean not only a lack of water and electricity services but also without any trace of humans around.
Boondocking is a freestyle camping, in which you can pull over your RV at any free location and stay without much or any facilities. Also known as dry camping, it is the favorite of most RVers as it’s free, and just a few miles away from the city. Or you can also explore the city by staying in areas where overnight parking is permissible.
Moochdocking, on the other hand, is nothing but a type of boondocking, in which you are not only staying for free but in the property of a friend or family. It is a great way to catch up with your loved ones, that too without being cranky guests fighting over attention or the best room in the house.
Let’s learn more about the two concepts and the similarities and differences between them.
What is Boondocking?
To further define the term, boondock means a countryside rough land that’s free for campers to stay in. However, over the years this concept has spread into the mainlands and Walmart like parking areas are the new places to pull over, for an overnight stay. Therefore it keeps the option of camping more viable for most people who have chosen the road life.
The rawest form of camping, boondocking without any access to the basic necessities like water, electricity, and sewer, is no child’s play. But it also the best way to disconnect from city life and the many stresses it carries along. It’s your chance to be closest to nature and its pristineness.
Another aspect of boondocking is that it can sometimes be termed as stealth camping, this is because sometimes RVers spend their night at one place and disperse in the morning without being detected. This happens not only in the forest areas but also in urban sites.
How is it done?
Boondocking is generally done anywhere off the highways or a few miles off the city limits. But as mentioned before, modern-day boondocking is done in open areas in the city, like the Walmart parking lots.
Where it is done?
There are certain points to take into account while you decide to boondock. The location you choose for boondocking has a greater impact on the kind of experience you are going to have. Besides, you need to pick a spot where free parking is allowed, especially overnight. Here are a few locations you can boondock at.
- Parking lots: Parking lots, like that of Walmart, allow free parking for 24 hours. Besides, you’ll get the option to stock up your supplies for the journey ahead. However, you must check with the parking policies before you decide to stay overnight, as not all have the same policies. Some of the parking lots are not okay with boondocking and could turn to be your worst nightmare.
- Long Route Vehicle Rest Areas: Many truck shops and restrooms do not bother much if you park in their area. Just make sure to inform them that your presence, if you do not wish to be woken up in the middle of the night for suspicious reasons. You will find the ones close to the city to be a bit noisy, while in the countryside, you’ll have the option to get a night of better sleep.
- Visitor Centers: Most visitor centers are vacant during night time. But it’s advised to check in with them if you are allowed to boondock in their premises or not.
- National Parks: Yes, boondocking is possible even in national parks too. You will need to find areas in the park which are off the limits or with no facilities for campers. Unless there’s a no-parking zone, you are free to park almost anywhere. At the same time, if the forest guards question in your location choice, you can always give the excuse that you are there to bird watch early in the morning. Also note that the deeper you go into the forest, you may lose mobile network, so keep that in mind.
- Free campgrounds: yes, these exist. Mostly on public land, there are multiple locations where you can stay legitimately though without any basic facilities.
Benefits of boondocking
Needless to say, boondocking has numerous benefits. You will not only save on money but also be close to nature than never before. In addition, the privacy that you can enjoy via boondocking is unbeatable. It’s fun and thrilling as well.
Risks associated with boondocking
There are various risks associated with boondocking, which could hamper your safety. Here are a few things to be careful of.
- Check the weather forecast: while these forecasts are not always spot on, keep a check for rough weather. Especially during rain and snow, if you are not cautious you might get stuck in a no man’s land.
- Wildlife: while you think that you are alone in the woods, there might be some of the other wildlife keeping you company. Be careful of signboard warnings for animal sightings. Especially if the area is inhabited with dangerous animals like bears and cougars, caution is advised.
What is Mooch Docking?
A type of boondocking, mooch docking lets you spend time close to people than nature. You may have better privacy and comfort than the dry docking we discussed earlier. In simple words, in mooch docking, you stay in the property of friends and family.
This way you will get a free place to dock, apart from the facilities of water, electricity and even some fresh home-cooked meals. Also known as driveway surfing, mooch docking generally involves an extension cord supplying power to the RV, for electricity needs. Further, its also an opportunity for easy laundry and land your feet in a comfortable haven.
You can also term mooch docking as urban camping. Also, as in the case of boondocking, you will have no fear of being evicted from the location in case of the parking policy or other law enforcement reasons.
How is it done
Plain and simple, you ought to be invited into the home where you are planning to mooch dock. Then you can come and park your RV in your host’s driveway or park. You can access their water and electricity supply. And also get in touch with your friends and family. Have some snacks and meals together, before you set on your next expedition.
Where it is done
Make sure that there is enough space to park your RV. for this, you must ask the family in whose driveway you are going to park, or perhaps it’s even better to scan the space through Google maps. The best time to mooch dock is when the location falls on your route, or when the weather is not at its best. As a tip, you must grab a fine wine for the family you are being guests for.
The benefits of mooch docking
There are multiple benefits of mooch docking. To begin with, you can dock for free in familiar grounds, and stay close to family and friends. Besides, you can rejuvenate and have the comforts of home, in between your RVing journey. And a refreshed mind will be better equipped for an onward journey.
Risks associated with mooch docking
- The only potential risk is to commit staying at a place and then finding out that there’s not much space to park your RV. On top, in case the area has a strict prohibition on overnight parking, you may also land a fine if you park on the streets.
- You may also not receive an electricity facility, as most houses have lower voltage plugs. In this scenario, if you plug in your ac and heavy-duty appliances you will end up overloaded the electricity plugs of the house.
- Another risk is to overstay and be a burden on your guests. The best way out is to stay in your RV most of the time and also not to overburden your hosts with too much laundry or other supply demands.
- When planning to mooch dock, you might also not be aware of your host house has a leveled driveway or not. In case they have a slopy driveway, you will find it least comfortable to stay in your RV for long.
Then what is the difference between the two?
Now that you have read about the two terms, let’s make clear some of the prominent differences between the two concepts of docking ones RV. So while both of them are free docking options, the most glaring difference between the two is the location.
Boondocking can be done almost anywhere, be it the side of a highway or an uncovered part of the forest. On the contrary, mooch docking is done only when you are invited or permitted by the property owners to occupy their driveway or space for a limited time period.
Secondly, boondocking also keeps you close to nature unless you plan to park in Walmart like parking lots, while mooch docking is more of an urban camping option.
Thirdly, boondocking means the absence of any water or electricity facilities. While mooch docking can give you some respite in the form of an extension cord from your host’s house.
Lastly, though, boondocking is replete with more dangers like that od safety and permission issues. Mooch docking is an easier alternative for free camping close to the people you already know.
Which one is better?
Coming to the verdict of the best alternative, the winner clearly depends on your preferences and the options available to you. There might be instances when you will not have any alternative but to boondock, whereas at other times you may have a family home nearby but not enough space to park your RV. Plus, you might not like the idea to burden your friends by parking in their space and instead prefer staying near the woods.
So it is better to explore both the concepts and live life to the fullest. Besides if you are a full-time RVier, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to boondock and mooch dock along the road. Happy RVing!
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