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Unplug and Explore: Make Better Dry Camping Your New Year’s Resolution

Published on January 18th, 2024 by Dave Helgeson

As RVers usher in the new year, there’s a unique opportunity to enhance the nomadic lifestyle by embracing the art of dry camping. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just beginning your RV journey, resolving to become a better dry camper can open up a world of possibilities for adventure, self-sufficiency, and connection with nature on the open road. 

A Guide to Get Better at Dry Camping

Follow this list of boondocking tips (Image: Shutterstock)
Follow this list of boondocking tips (Image: Shutterstock)

Here’s a checklist to help you add better dry camping skills to your new year’s resolutions. Learn to save money by boondocking for free or camping at inexpensive primitive campgrounds, national parks, and other great destinations. Some of them may become your favorite campsites!

1. Learn to Conserve House Batteries

Learn and understand what the daily consumption of electricity is from your house batteries and ways to reduce them. Start by looking for parasitic loads that are always nibbling on your 12-volt system. Items to look at include: The clock radio, indicator lights, LP gas leak detector, monitor panel, TV antenna booster, and any central “command” systems. Then ask yourself, can these loads be reduced or eliminated while dry camping? Next review essential items like heat and interior lighting and consider alternatives like a catalytic safety heater, that requires no 12-volts or switching incandescent light bulbs to LED. Here is an article that will help determine your 12-volt needs and how long your house batteries last while dry camping.

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2. Invest in Solar Power

Make 2024 the year you harness the power of the sun to fuel your RV adventures. Investing in solar panels allows you to generate your own electricity, reduce dependence on traditional hookups and enables more extended stays in beautiful, remote locations. Get the power you need to boondock in your preferred comfort zone. I have been field testing portable solar panels while dry camping and found they supply all the power I need at the campsite. Add a solar generator to your array and you are set up for boondocking!

3. Upgrade Your Water Conservation Skills

Challenge yourself to become a water-saving wizard as conservation is crucial for successful dry camping. Practice mindful water use, install a water saving shower head, learn to take navy showers, pre-cook meals ahead of time and consider disposable plates and silverware to save water. Mastering the art of water conservation extends and enhances your dry camping capabilities. Here are some expanded water saving tips from the author.

4. Perfect Your Off-Grid Cooking Skills

Take your culinary prowess to the next level by mastering the art of off-grid cooking. Explore camping gear cookware like portable grills, camp stoves, and Dutch ovens to create delicious meals without relying on full kitchen amenities. Elevate your cooking skills while savoring the simplicity of open-air dining. One of the authors favorite off-grid meals is pork chops grilled / smoked over a maple wood fueled campfire fuel.

5. Embrace Minimalism

Simplify your RV life by embracing the principles of minimalism during all camping trips, but especially boondocking adventures. Minimalism means making an effort to de-clutter your RV, carry only the essentials, and adopt a mindset focused on experiences rather than possessions. A minimalist approach not only makes dry camping more efficient but also enhances your connection with the natural world.

6. Learn Navigation and Map Reading

Challenge yourself to rely less on GPS and more on old-school navigation when RVing. Learn to read maps and use a compass to navigate your rig through remote areas. Strengthening your navigation skills not only adds a sense of adventure to your travels but also ensures you can find and enjoy secluded spots with ease. Part of the joy of dry camping is hiking out and about in the scenery that surrounds you. Possessing map and compass skills allows you to successfully navigate if electronic navigation systems are unavailable and is a big confidence builder.

Better dry camping in the boondocks. (Image: Dave Helgeson)
Social distancing in the boondocks. (Image: Dave Helgeson)

7. Explore Primitive Campgrounds

Make it a goal to seek out primitive campgrounds and boondocking locations. These off-the-beaten-path sites often don’t require reservations, offer serene surroundings, and give you a true connection with nature. By embracing primitive camping but not having to sleep in a tent or cabins, you’ll discover a sense of freedom and self-sufficiency that full hookup RV spaces can’t replicate. If you are lucky, you will exceed the boundaries of your cell phone carrier service! Learn how to find free and low-cost places to dry camp on public state and federal land.

8. Contribute to Leave No Trace Boondocking

Resolve to be a steward of the environment by practicing Leave No Trace RV camping principles. Minimize your impact on natural spaces and public land destinations. Pack out what you pack in, and leave the landscape better than you found it. By becoming an advocate for responsible outdoor activities, you contribute to the preservation of pristine back country dry camping areas.

9. Upgrade Your RV and Skills for Off-Grid Camping

Invest in upgrades and skills that enhance year-round off-grid living. Consider adding an auxiliary freshwater tank, as well as these alternative items to save power. Learn the skills to maximize the capacity of your gray tank and black tanks, and learn how to make the most of cold weather camping. Upgrading your RV and new skill sets for off-grid adventures ensures comfort and convenience in remote locations.

10. Learn Basic RV Repairs

Having some RV maintenance and DIY repair skills can be a game-changer when dry camping. Carry a basic tool kit and know how to use it for maintenance of your RV. Have a backup plan if an essential system in the RV fails and be ready to employ it. Being self-sufficient in these areas ensures optimal performance of your RV. DIY skills also enhance your ability to address unexpected challenges on the road.

11. Join Dry Camping Communities

Connect with like-minded RVers who share your passion for dry camping. Join online communities like iRV2 or the RV LIFE Facebook group, attend gatherings, like the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, exchange tips and tricks with fellow part-time and full-time RVers. Building a network of new friends who love dry camping provides support and hacks inspiration for dry camping during your next camping trip and beyond.

12. Document and Share Your Boondocking Adventures

Capture the magic of your dry camping experiences and share them with the world. Start a travel blog, create a social media account, or document your adventures in a journal. By sharing your stories, you inspire others to embrace a better way; the beauty of dry camping and off-grid exploration. I know that many people live vicariously my travels I spotlight on social media and  satellite messenger check in feature.

Dry camping doesn’t have to be difficult.

Conclusion for Better Boondocking

As you embark on a new year of RV adventures, resolving to enjoy better dry camping opens the door to a world of self-sufficiency, exploration, and connection with nature. Embrace the simplicity of off-grid living, refine your skills, and savor the freedom that comes with a more independent boondocking lifestyle. Here’s to a year filled with unforgettable dry camping experiences and the joy of discovering hidden gems in the great outdoors.

Happy dry camping in the new year!

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.

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