Do you use your RV the way it was designed to be used?
By Bob Difley
Many new RV owners drive off the dealer’s lot, head for a campground where they hook-up to water, waste, and electrical appendages not realizing that the original intent of RV manufacturers (camper vans, house cars, and other names were used before the industry settled on recreation vehicle or RV) was to build a vehicle that you could “camp” in comfortably and completely independent of outside assistance. That is why they built in large fresh water tanks, waste tanks, and batteries to supply 12-volt power.
The goal of camping in those days was to get out into and enjoy the wonders of nature, it was an escape from the cities and crowds and choking smoke of the industrial age, and to visit America’s parks and landmarks without incurring the expense of pricey hotels (motels hadn’t caught on yet).
But it seems that the tables have turned with the majority of RV users staying most of their nights in full or partial-service campgrounds or RV resorts, often within hearing distance of your neighbor’s coughing, TV, and conversations. Fewer than 20% of RVers “boondock” away from any neighbors or dry-camp (camping without hook-ups) in no hook-up campgrounds with widely spaced sites like the forest service or BLM provide at least some of the time.
One would think that the trend would be in the opposite direction, since water tanks and systems have become larger and more like “home” and waste disposal stations have proliferated beyond campgrounds to rest stops, state welcome centers, truck stops, and other convenient locations making it easy to dispose of waste–unlike the early days of house camping.
The greatest developments, though, were in the power supply, where 12-volt and 6-volt golf cart batteries improved to supply much more and better distributed electrical supply than the original starter battery that supply all the power in addition to hoping there was enough left to start the vehicle after a night or two of camping.
So camping has become a lot easier, more comfortable (often like bringing “home” along with you), more efficient, and with better and readily available support services like campgrounds, designated boondocking areas, RV mechanics and parts stores, books (like my own ebooks) that taught novices how to camp and where to find campgrounds and other camping areas.
So why do most RVers choose to “camp” in little crowded clumps (campgrounds and RV resorts), spend almost as much to stay in RV resorts to sleep in their own house-on-wheels as it does in a motel, and in dense urban locations like Phoenix, Tucson, and Palm Springs in the winter where you can’t even tell by your surroundings that you are even in a desert?
Now don’t get me wrong. Boondockers are not urging the rest of you to necessarily join them, even if there are thousands–millions–of places you can camp on public lands that are opposite of those in the above paragraph. “The more the merrier” is not the mantra of boondockers, who camp the way they do because they don’t want to camp like sardines in a can.
So if you are a boondocker, why do you boondock–or camp without hookups in “primitive” campgrounds–instead of hooking up each night?
And if you don’t boondock, what are the reasons why you choose partial or full service campgrounds all the time instead of spending some nights without hook ups?
It will be interesting to find what you all have to offer, so if you have the time–and inclination–please add your comments below. Thanks.
For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.