We had never heard of boondocking before getting into #vanlife. We had heard it in context of “you live in the boondocks”, as in a place that’s secluded or isolated and not close to many other things.
Boondocking is different when you’re talking about RVing and camping. People choose to define the term, or use it, slightly differently sometimes, but it’s mostly used to refer to a style of camping where you have no hook-ups, meaning no electric and water coming into your rig. Essentially it’s the RV version of being wireless.
There are several other terms we use to describe types of camping. Some of those terms overlap in meaning and some are not well-defined and used slightly differently from person-to-person.
Here is how I define the different types of camping:
Boondocking – in nature, no hook-ups, no amenities, at allowed sites
Dry Camping – in a driveway or parking lot, with approval or know it’s allowed, no hookups
Stealth Camping – on a street where sleeping in your car is not encouraged, when we are trying to not let anyone know we are in the van, no hookups
Wild Camping – in nature, not at an established camping site, ambiguous if its allowed, no hookups
Dispersed Camping – in nature, no hook ups, allowed, sometimes with established sites
Informal Campsite – established sites with campground host, no hook ups
Equestrian – similar to dispersed camping or informal campsite, but with facilities designated for horses, like stables and troughs
Established Campground – Check-in, paid, any variety of hook-ups (electric, water, sewer, cable)
Full Hookup – could be any combination of site amenities like electric, water, sewer, and cable
Tent Site – at an established campground, but a smaller site and usually without amenities, especially electric, sewer and cable.
You may be wondering how we’re able to stay places overnight without plugging in – that’s all part of the reason why we chose our RV, which you can read more about here. Long story short, we have a battery management system on board so that we literally never have to plug in.
There are many reasons why boondocking and this style of camping appeals to us. One is that it is cost-effective. We try to find as many free nights as possible, but that does get hard, so we’re flexible and stay at paid campsites as well. Explore our RV adventures page and you’ll see where we’ve stayed!