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Old 07-19-2014, 04:22 AM   #1
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Best way to plan for CG/ boondock staying costs?

Ok, so we're new to this RV thing (I've been a boater/ cruiser my whole life) but I already bought our tow rig (two gasser first, then changed my mind and went diesel) and our FW. Originally I planned to start around July 10th but the endless projects of getting the FW up to my cleanliness standards is proving to be more than I anticipated.. almost done though. Maybe I should've gone "new" afterall. Oh well, too late now.

I'm hoping to leave TX by August 1st. We have reservations at YNS and Grand Teton in August (5 days at YNP, 8 days at GT). Prior to or beyond that we're just planning on winging it. The plan is to see those two NPs then head West and cruise down the coast (WA, OR and CA) for 2-4 months, finishing up around November or December at which time I should be good to return to work. I'm on medical leave from work at the moment so we're living on savings, hence the need to watch my spending (especially after all the money I spent getting set up for this trip. OUCH!). I thought this would be a good idea to show my kids the country and hopefully bond with them one last time before they become teenagers (), which arrives next year for my eldest.

I was a bit taken aback when I saw the nightly CG prices, for example, the local KOA in my area is $42/ night. What is the best way to approach this from a "value-for-money" standpoint? We're going on the trip regardless, so if I have to pay that amount then it is what it is. But that seems a bit high to me. Am I wrong? I expected those prices at the NPs due to peak season demand, beauty, and popularity. But $42 in my area for a basic CG doesn't seem like fiscal prudence (not much going on other than a 22 mile-long lake). Then again, I have chatted with snowbirds who pay $6-800/ month in the winter at that KOA CG (I think that was the price they mentioned). So I know they offer deals if you stay longer. In our case, however, we want to travel and show the kids the world, as it were. I don't envision staying in any one area for longer than 10 days at a time, more like 5 only because we have a small window to work with (Aug-Nov) and a lot to see!

So a few questions:

1) Boondocking: Should we strive to boondock for 25-35% of the time to mitigate cost? Is that hard to accomplish? I have 34' BHS FW. I am a pilot by trade so my mentality is to always plan for any eventuality/ worse-case scenarios. Hence I automatically assume the worse that we'll get harassed about setting up my FW in some area that I'm not suppose to be in. I'd rather pay to stay at a CG than deal with being questioned by local authorities or property owners. I know about the Walmart deal but that's only to be used in a pinch, or when transitioning an area.

2) I only have one Honda EU2000i. I guess I could buy another one and parallel it (when I started this plan I was told I didn't really need a gen as all/ most CGs, including SPs and NPs have hookups so I didn't bother requiring a gen in my buyer search). But will I really need it/ use it all that often?

3) Is storing your RV for a short term a viable option when on the road? I need to return to TX for another knee surgery in the Fall, I'm guessing two weeks following that operation until I can walk around and put load on my leg again. So we would temporarily suspend our trip at some point, leave our RV and truck, and head home for a couple of weeks. I know storage facilities work for long term leases. Anyone ever done it for a few weeks?

Thanks all for any advise on this subject. I enjoy this forum immensely. So much useful information!!!
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Old 07-19-2014, 07:58 AM   #2
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Ok here goes on a few of the questions. As far as boon docking with a 5'er it's doable depending on how much compromise you'd like to make. Most SP/NP's have no hook up spots that are less $ than full hook up. You didn't say if your 5'er is 30 or 50 amp, sometimes that makes a difference in the per night stay, and it always makes a difference with generator hook up. Walmarts/truckstops/Cracker Barrels, are all overnight options, but as you know they aren't for camping or even multiple night stays. There are websites that you can search about boondocking. I've never heard of anyone doing short term storage, but I'm sure someone out there has.
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Old 07-19-2014, 08:04 AM   #3
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As you surmise, you cannot expect to boondock anywhere you please, even on public land. Most places have land-use restrictions, even state and national forests, so make sure overnight stays are permitted. That applies to interstate rest areas too, by the way.

That said, yes you can boondock to save some bucks on campgrounds, but you are more likely to end up in a truck stop or Walmart parking lot than an idyllic retreat by a lake. There are probably more public lands available for boondocking in the Western US than the Eastern half. Many Walmarts allow overnight stays, as do many casinos, some wineries, and similar places that like to attract customers.

Here are some resources for free/cheap overnights:
Overnight RV Parking
https://www.boondockerswelcome.com/
Overnight Parking | Overnight RV Parking

Sadly, $42/night is becoming the norm for a full-hook-up campsite in a decent park. It's even higher than that in many places. If you can do without sewer, or 30A power instead of 50A, you can reduce that somewhat. And if you shop around in most areas, you will usually find some bargain places that will range anywhere from a little jewel to a dump. Caveat emptor. State and local parks are typically less expensive too.

Leaving the rig for a only couple weeks typically means you need to have power cause there is stuff in the fridge. Leaving it on an RV site is the practical, but expensive, solution to that. Some places may give you a price break if you aren't actually there, especially if you will place the rig in one of their least desirable sites. If you don't need electric power, some campgrounds have no-power sites or an "overflow" area where you can leave a rig inexpensively.

Using a generator when boondocking is a personal choice. If you choose to boondock in hot places, you will need it for a/c. And if you boondock for very long, you need to re-charge batteries as well. How often depends on the size of your battery bank and how much power you consume (do you have an inverter?)
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:00 AM   #4
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Passport America is useable in your situation. It has 1/2 off parks, but as usual, some restrictions apply. For one night stays during the week, it works well, if you can find a park that takes it.
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:42 AM   #5
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You may want to browse these sites:
http://www.bandofboondockers.com/
http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en.html
http://www.camphalfprice.com/
http://www.escapees.com/
http://www.forestcamping.com/index.htm
http://freecampgrounds.com/
http://freecampsites.net/usa/
http://www.frugal-rv-travel.com/
http://www.fs.fed.us/
http://www.harvesthosts.com/invitation.htm
http://hasbeenthere.com/
http://www.overnightrvparking.com/
http://www.recreation.gov/
http://rvthereyetdirectory.com/
http://www.seeya-downtheroad.com/InformationPage/ThisLand.html
http://www.uscampgrounds.info/
http://www.gypsyjournal.net/Unfriendly.html
http://msstreets.com/2011/04/12/poi-megafile-rv-unfriendly/
http://www.radiobrandy.com/RV-Unfriendly.html

The average campground cost we've come across was around $25 a nite. Do you have AAA? Are you prior military? Ask the campgrounds if they give a discount. Sometimes they will "find" one to give you just by you asking politely. There were some parks that were in the $45 to $65 range but those were few and far between for us.
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:53 AM   #6
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Elks member? Many of there facilities have RV accommodations.
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:55 AM   #7
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Thousand Trail member? If their CG locations work fit you it can be a good savings.
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:55 AM   #8
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X2 on Passport America.
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Old 07-19-2014, 07:43 PM   #9
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That's great that you're going to get to spend the time with your children. Everyone in today's world needs to get a break from the internet, I Pads, etc.

If you're a pilot, you're going to be very detailed in your navigation. You've been given enough info above to turn you completely OCD.

On your itinerary, you should find some government lands where boondocking is allowed. I always start with a new WalMart Rand McNally Atlas every year, as it has locations of every Walmart in North America.

You should have no problem finding good locked storage facilities with security cameras, etc. They're in every town. You might want to check with campgrounds close to airports to see if they'll let you store your vehicle and fifth wheel there. They need all the income they can get.

And have a great time.
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Old 07-19-2014, 08:52 PM   #10
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I believe you are going to need the air conditioning most likely, so you should plan on getting that second honda generator and the parallel kit. One by itself won't run an A/C. Some solar panels would have been a good idea also if extended parking without electricity is anticipated or desired.
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Old 07-19-2014, 08:54 PM   #11
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You will find this useful as well. Places to stay for FREE.

http://harvesthosts.com

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Old 07-19-2014, 08:59 PM   #12
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More good info about camping on BLM land

http://www.angelfire.com/ia3/camping/blm.htm

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Old 07-19-2014, 10:00 PM   #13
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Whatever time you think that you will need to see Y’stone NP you better double it!

Remember that Y’stone Park itself is about 50 miles E/W and 70 miles N/S (2.2 Mil Acres) and the Grand Loop (figure 8) road is about 140 miles around. With a 45mph speed limit (radar controlled), all the thermal attractions, the Bison think that they own the road and will sometimes back up traffic for 1/4 mile or more and the altitude (Canyon Area is 7918 ft, Old Faithful is 7365 ft and Mammoth Area is ONLY 6239 ft) it will take a full day for each loop. When walking take it easy, carry/drink lots of water as it can be very exhausting, then you will only see the highlights. If your luck is like mine I guarantee that Old Faithful will have gone off just minutes before you arrived and will have to wait about another hour and 10-15 minutes for it to go off again kill time by walking around the upper geyser basin. When you are at Old faithful be sure to go into the Old Faithful Inn and look up when inside. When in the visitor center, Inn, Snowlodge etc they will have a sign displaying approximately when the next eruption will occur (+ or – about 10/15 minutes)

We have lived about 110 miles from the West Y’stone entrance for 50 years and go there a couple of times each summer and I still haven’t seen everything yet.


When in Jackson be sure to see the Bar J Chuckwagon dinner show! I guarentee that it will be the best $ you will spend on your trip. We see them 2-4 times every summer, once already this year.
Tim, their fiddle player has won the Idaho mens fiddle championship 6 times and the US Open championship 2 times!


Bar J Chuckwagon


Discaimer- I have no fininacial or other interest in the Bar J!
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Old 07-19-2014, 10:09 PM   #14
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Do you have a NP Annual Pass, Golden Age Passort? if not purchase one when you enter your first NP. 1/2 price camping and free entrance etc. It is good in any NP and many other US rec. areas.
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