When we took our maiden voyage in our first motorhome we had no idea about boondocking. It just so happened we ended up in the epicenter of boondocking; otherwise known as Arizona.
We had finally arrived in Lake Havasu and proceeded to the Walmart to look for a campground to stay at. Little did I know what kind of task I was undertaking. We planned on spending the night in the parking lot of the Walmart as we had several times on our way down. We were informed by the somewhat bewildered security guard that we were not allowed to park overnight. We got to scrambling and found a spot at Prospectors Campground in the north of the city after having called every other campground in the area to which we were informed in a somewhat comical fashion that they were booked solid for the season. We learned later that Havasu was an extremely popular spot for snowbirds and we got very lucky finding a spot for a couple of nights.
I went into a kind of panic mode wondering what we were going to do; but not so much that I didn't hop on my dirt bike with my husband and go riding around in the desert.
It was during these rides through the desert we noticed something. There were campers everywhere. And I mean everywhere. As far as the eye could see in every direction you could see sites set up with rigs of all sizes.
Back at our campground spot we chatted with a few of our neighbors. Turns out this a very common mode of camping all over the states familiar to what we have in Canada referred to as crown land. The official name of this land is called Bureau of Land Management (or BLM Land). It is land that is free for people to use in a respectful manner for 14 days at a time. Arizona; particularly around Havasu has a large amount of BLM Land and it is all over the country but isolated to more rural areas. In some places it seems that there is not an abundance of this land but it turns out it can be named different things in different areas. For example in Florida I believe it is called Water Management Area and it is located mostly around Florida's many beautiful swamp areas.
After some discussion we decided to go for it. After all campgrounds were expensive, sometimes crowded and as we learned, not as readily available as we thought. We drove around in our pick up and explored some of the areas that I had found on a BLM Land map that I found online which gives you a rough idea of the boundaries of certain types of areas. We picked our spot, packed up the motorhome and were on our way to a new adventure.
Looking back now we laugh at how naive we were but you cannot fault our willingness to learn (mostly the hard way). Turns out Arizona is hot, very hot sometimes and this can make things uncomfortable. This means that the generator was turned on every night to cool down the camper. The second thing we learned that due to our tiny fridge and our unwillingness to lose our spot we had to take our motorcycles to the store almost daily for supplies including drinking water. We have since purchased a Berkey Water Filter so that has eliminated our need for bottled water (I am not sponsored but highly recommend Berkey to everyone; as I am one of those paranoid people who won't even drink tap water anymore). The third thing we learned was that our water tank emptied/filled up very fast. Since than we have learned about water conservation but at the time it meant loading up and dealing with our tanks every three to four days. Now we can easily stay out boondocking for two weeks based on larger tanks and some water conservation tricks we have learned.
One day I will do a blog on on the tips and tricks we have learned to have an enjoyable experience boondocking, as well as some of the purchases we have made to be successful. Like everything; it was a learning experience, some things worked, some things failed miserably.
While our preferred method of camping is now boondocking (you cannot beat the peace and quiet) we have not been brave enough to try it in Mexico yet. I know there are plenty of people who do it; with rigs our size and bigger, but we have not worked up the nerve yet (just search drycamping or boondocking in Mexico on YouTube and you will find lots of souls braver than us).
We have boondocked all over Canada and the United States and I cannot recommend it enough. The only thing is that sometimes you come across a spot that was not treated respectfully but I personally will just clean it up myself while colorfully cursing out whomever could be so ignorant. If you enjoy skies full of stars, solitude and a sense of independence from the norm; go boondocking. Not only will you learn a lot but I hope you enjoy the ride.