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Boondocking tips

by Tom Jones

We were having a tough time figuring out how we'd be able to boondock at places like Quartzsite for an extended time, so I asked how forum members did it without running out of fresh water or filling their holding tanks to capacity. Here's a summary of their responses, most of which we've since used successfully to boondock for two weeks at a time. More tips were added as a group activity at the 2013 RV Forum Quartzsite rally.

  • One word, conservation.
  • Do not let any fresh water run down the drain until it has been used.
  • Use an inexpensive 'Instant Off Energy-Saving Aerator' that screws onto a faucet. It's available at Home Depot and other hardware stores.
  • Capture the initial cold water from the shower in a pitcher and use it for other purposes e.g. drinking water for the dog.
  • When taking showers wet down, then turn water off at shower head. Wash and then turn water on again to wash off soap.
  • Shower every other day and use a wash cloth the other days.
  • In dry climates wet wash cloths or baby wipes work good.
  • Use inexpensive cleaning tissues.
  • Use bottled water for drinking and coffee.
  • Since the grey water tank fills faster than the black water tank, use a dish pan to wash dishes, then dump the dishwater in toilet.
  • Use paper plates to minimize dishwashing.
  • Use a paper towel to pre-clean items such as forks, knives and spoons. Wash them later with other things.
  • When brushing teeth, use a glass of water to first dip the toothbrush in, then use half to rinse the mouth and the rest to rinse the brush. Don't run water while brushing the teeth.
  • During the day put some water in the hand bowl and use it to rinse the hands in; Just add to it when rinsing the soap off.
  • Have enough changes of clothes to be able to go two weeks without having to do laundry. If and when necessary, use laundromats.
  • If in a location that has bathrooms, extend the gray holding tank capacity by doing dishes in a bowl and dumping the water in the bathroom. Extend black water tank capacity by using the campground bathroom instead of your own.
  • Use a percolator on the stive instead of using an electric coffeemaker.
  • Purchase shelf milk, also known as Paramilk, found in most grocery stores. Lasts longer than regular milk.
  • Pack items like macaroni and cheese/jello/pudding/instant foods in zip lock bags. Remove items from their original boxes, place as much as you can in the zip lock bags and store. Be sure and cut directions out to go with products for cooking.
  • Solar-powered reading lamps stay charged for a long time.
  • Use a dedicated inverter for CPAP machines.
  • A tea kettle kept in the oven with the pilot light on provides 'instant' warm water.

Contributions to this list came from forum members Betty Brewer, Terry Brewer, Jeff Cousins, Bill Dane, Bernie Dobrin, Ardra Fitzgerald, Jerry Fitzgerald, George Jannini, Al Goggins, Doug Jardine, Wendy Lawrence, Ned Reiter, Ron Ruward and Fred Thomas.