(Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part article about “boondocking.”)
The travel trailer industry is growing with leaps and bounds and putting hundreds of thousands of units on the road this year and next.
Unfortunately, the campgrounds are not growing nearly as fast as campers are being built. We will have to find alternative camping areas other than commercial campgrounds.
The following information may help.
What is boondocking?
Boondocking, or dry camping, is a term that means that you will be camping in an area that is off the road and/or being without normal city hookups, like electric, water, sewer or possibly pavement or hard surface.
There are so many places to travel to in North America, you could go to a new place every two days and never finish your list.
You can travel interstates, state highways, county roads, gravel roads, or dirt roads.
The further you get from the unconventional, nontraditional route the more interesting and exciting.
Traveling alone does add on a layer of experiences in your life and possible problems, but those are not insurmountable.
My intent is to develop more interest among drivers to become competent off-the-asphalt drivers. Some travelers just go and stay where they stop and that looks convenient or beautiful.
Where to camp
Find travel magazines, talk to fellow campers, contact AAA or travel clubs and find interesting, beautiful places to drive to.
Once you have found a place to travel, plan the route. Depending what type of rig you have is dependent where you go and how you get there.
Know the limits of your rig: the height, width, and length of your rig; traction of your tires and transmission drive; road clearance of your TV (tow vehicle) and trailer; and the shape of your rig (meaning how close do you want to get to the sticks and brush to avoid “cowboy pinstripes.”
You can’t learn all of this in one trip. There is a learning curve and the lessons should be learned gradually.
Don’t go down a trail that gets narrower the further you go. If you haven’t been down that road before, hike it and see if you can actually turn around at the end of the road. Is there an end of the road other than a washout or deep mudhole?
You must remember that traveling 7 to 10 miles per hour in a motor vehicle takes you a considerable distance from the main road or your home camp and help.
It is conceivable that in three hours of leisure driving you could put yourself two to three days’ walk away from the main road. If you are injured you might be stuck for a lot longer.
Always set up an itinerary and try to stick with it if possible. If you get into trouble you will want someone to start looking for you where you conceivably could have made it so the rescuers and you have an even chance in finding you.
I remember when I was younger there was no chance that I could get lost or hurt. It is amazing that things could change in 50 years where things were not dangerous then but now they are.
When you go on a trip into the wilderness always try to be safe, make an extra effort! Not only should you not take chances like daredevil things but you should take safety equipment, like helmet, gloves, extra clothes, blankets, and personal protection.
A weapon has always made me feel safe even though I have to retrieve it from a safe, (it is available). A gun might be necessary for a food collection or emergency signaling. I would rather have one than not.