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Old 10-15-2016, 02:01 PM   #1
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FT Challenges Boon-docking

I bought my first RV and went full time after selling my house because I'm retired. I wasn't prepared for the hassles of trying to park overnight. I don't have the income to stay in a RV park each night. Many Walmart's and other stores are restricted by local ordances against overnight parking. Lots of places allow you to park and shop but then you must move on. How do you FT people do it? I stop and visit my grandkids and the whole neighborhood goes nuts. Sometimes I'd like to stay a few days in one spot and avoid all the driving. I wasn't aware or prepared for the hostility towards RV people. Being referred to as a vagrant really is disturbing. Really, my RV when new costs more than many people's homes. I wanted to travel the country at a leisurely pace and not make it a driving marathon. Any advice for a kind and harmless old man trying to live his dream?

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Old 10-15-2016, 02:26 PM   #2
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Are you aware that the monthly rate for almost all RV parks is much much lower than the daily rate? For example - Coyote Ridge RV park in Bouse AZ - 35 miles from Quartzsite AZ charges $160 per month for full hook up with metered electricity extra. In that same area there are many BLM (Bureau of Land Management ) areas with free camping.
Also go to HERE and scroll down to "Campgrounds". You can buy a book that lists a lot of free campgrounds all over the country. It's compiled and sold by Nick Russell a full time RVer and author.

This is his description of the book.
"Taking advantages of boondocking can really stretch your RVing budget. We’ve assembled a list of over 500 city and county parks, public locations, rest areas, scenic viewpoints, RV-friendly businesses and other places across the country and in Canada where you can park over-night free or for a very minimal cost. Some allow more than one nights stay, some include full or partial hookups. RVers who have purchased this booklet report saving hundreds of dollars with these money saving camping opportunities. $8.95. *Due to shipping costs, this book is not available for Canadian addresses."

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Old 10-15-2016, 02:39 PM   #3
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Hey Buddy!

I think this is just a learning curve issue. You'll be able to find places. You may get hassled once in a while but don't take it personally, the cities with those ordinances have probably had a good share of trouble with actual vagrants in RV's.

Maybe if you post where you're headed here, people can chime in and tell you some good spots.
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Old 10-15-2016, 02:54 PM   #4
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You are overreacting by about 1000%
There are web sites listing thousands of free or low cost sites, many of which allow extended stays

Just for Colorado for instance -- https://freecampsites.net/#!Colorado&query=region and there are enough pretty nice free ones that you should never have to pay. I know because we have used a lot of them over several months. And that is just one state and there are a heap more to go. And plenty of free dump points too - again, there is a web site listing thousands. As for Walmarts - you could stay a couple of nights in every one that allows it and you wouldn't stay in the same one for at least three years. And Home Depot too. Live free just about forever.

Few of ours at https://get.google.com/albumarchive/...aDxXw-TqICg7hF and of course the US ones are the Airstream
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Old 10-15-2016, 03:12 PM   #5
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Cheapest area to boondock is likely the southwest US - NM,NV, AZ,CA. Lots of BLM land and National Forests. We stayed in that area one winter for an average cost of $11/night. And that's staying at an RV park once in a while. A person could spend far less.

Another winter was spent in Texas for an average of $22/night. One winter in Florida was around $35/night. These rates are with heavy traveling, where the longest stay was 10 days, but usually 3-5. This winter we are staying at a site in a Florida resort that we rented for the entire year at $10/day. Will stay 7-8 months.

A wide range of camping options are available at a wide range of prices. Traveling costs because of gas and and short term camping. Staying in one place can save you a lot of money.
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Old 10-15-2016, 03:29 PM   #6
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we've traveled EXTENSIVELY, and probably drycamped overnight at over 100 walmarts Countrywide and never had an issue. We were asked politely by an assistant manager one time to move a little bit farther down, and another 'security' officer to move over a couple of lanes, but neither of those even mentioned not being able to stay overnight, matter-of-fact, they kind of EXPECTED it, and welcomed it. All the signs were posted in both of those situations as well.
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Old 10-15-2016, 03:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by rvftnewbie View Post
I wasn't prepared for the hassles of trying to park overnight. ...... I don't have the income to stay in a RV park each night. ...... How do you FT people do it? ...... I wasn't aware or prepared for the hostility towards RV people. ......Being referred to as a vagrant really is disturbing.
I think the majority of full-timers stay in campgrounds, RV parks or on designated public lands such as national forests and BLM lands.

It sounds like you're trying to staying on public streets. Granted, some folks do that but they have much smaller RVs than you do and it's probably easier to 'blend in'. You have a 40' motorhome towing a truck. You are not going to blend in. Many cities are cracking down on parking on the streets. WalMarts and the like aren't meant for more than an overnight. They aren't campgrounds.

Now that winter is approaching seek out the BLM lands in southern Arizona and California for your boondocking. Those are the places you can stay long-term.

Good luck!
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Old 10-15-2016, 03:54 PM   #8
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also, as we've all found ways that we like to help keep cost down, the overnight cost at 'rv parks' and 'campgrounds' sometimes is higher than any of us would like. While we joined PassportAmerica(PA) for $44 per year, and get 1/2 price on many parks around the country, you hope that one is in the area you are driving toward. Planning is a large part of the experience. Sometimes we even make the next PA park our destination point.
It sounds like you are more concerned about the overall FT costs, versus the RV PARK experience and amenities as some are. You'll start to create routines that reflect your situation - maybe drycamping more often and using parks and campgrounds less often, maybe just to dump the tanks and refill the water.

We have found in our extension travels that many things are not as 'off limits' as most might assume. For instance, Churches are a great source - they typically have large open parking lots, are not being used much of the time, have typical 'hook ups' such as water spigots, 110v outside electrical outlets, and many have the sewer cleanout plug. If you contact someone there at the church, especially the pastor, most would probably never mind you staying overnight during your travels, ESPECIALLY if they have a service that night! We've taken advantage of this many times, and most are not nights during any kind of service. Asking nicely goes a long way.
We've also used corporate parking lots, many times behind large multi story building, especially on weekends when workers are not present. It's a little more iffy because some could employ security firms to drive by from time to time, but mostly we've always been quiet and never been bothered. The one time we were approached by a vehicle with a 'flashing light' on top, I struck up a nice conversation and the officer decided that we weren't an issue and he told us to 'have a good night'. Nice.

Have we been asked to move before? yes. and it was a single situation that didn't seem to make much sense. We stopped overnight in a very retail oriented side of town right off the interstate, saw a mall next door, and other businesses with large lots, but what really caught my eye was a very large unused parking lot well away from any other buildings and didn't seem to be impacted by any business - it seemed very unused and desolate.
We parked as well as we could in the very back corner, under a tree, and not a sole in sight. We weren't in the front of a business, the lot was not connected to any business, and there was no signage to make you thing that it was even currently used.
11oClock at night, while asleep, there was a loud rap on the door ! I immediately saw reflections of 'flashing yellow lights' while getting up, and opened the door to find a nice young lady, in uniform(I think), standing outside my door - she quickly pointed out to me that parking overnight was not allowed(!) and I must move on immediately.
Hmmm... I wanted to argue the point, but decided that in her state of mind, nothing was going to change her mind, no matter how nice I might come across. So we did.
I learned later that the mall and several larger big box type stores hired a security firm to police the lots - not the police, not the sheriff, but a private firm. It's their position if they choose, and I respect that.
We drove across the road, down the street a short way, and behind another retail strip building - stayed all night with no issues.
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Old 10-15-2016, 07:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by rvftnewbie View Post
..... Any advice for a kind and harmless old man trying to live his dream?
There are plenty of places to park overnight without being hassled. There are also plenty of places where being hassled is more likely. The trick is to learn the difference. Yes some cities have regulations prohibiting it, but many more do not prohibit it. Go where you're welcome, not where you're hassled. But accept that where you're welcome may not be near your family, friends or grandkids neighborhood. That doesn't have to mean 1000's of extra miles, it just means an appropriate spot for the rig may be 10 miles from their house; that's why you have a towed vehicle.

Fulltimers who do not use RV parks for extended durations are usually found out in the boonies on BLM or USFS land. There are some urban fulltimers who stealth park on streets but they're usually in smaller rigs and move frequently.
Most RV'ers who use WalMart & similar lots, are usually traveling down the road and just stop for a night or two on their way to the next destination.

A lot depends on what specific area and what type of neighborhood. If you're trying to overnight park in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, etc, I'm not surprised you're running into issues. But 90% of the rest of Colorado will be more open to it. Residential streets and downtown city streets are not where you look to park a 40 footer overnight. With a 40 footer, you'll always be more limited in your choices, than smaller class B & C units.

The hostility is not against RV'ers in general, its against those who try to turn a parking lot or neighborhood or city street into a campground. You bought a rig that most people expect to be parked in an RV park. Unless you're out in the boonies, don't treat an overnight spot like a campground; you're parking not camping. Unless you're in a parking lot that openly allows overnight parking; arrive late and leave early and be discrete, it goes a long way to preserving those spots.
If you want to break out your awning, patio, chaise, BBQ and such, then head for the boonies or an RV park.
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Old 10-15-2016, 07:54 PM   #10
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Quartzite, spend the winter there , speak to other full timers , they will be your best source of advice.
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Old 10-18-2016, 07:33 PM   #11
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Since you list Colorado as your base, in the summer there are thousands of spots to boondock on BLM and USFS lands during the summer, preferably at elevation to beat the heat. When winter comes one can move to thousands of possibilities on BLM and USFS lands in New Mexico, Arizona and California. Motor Vehicle Use Maps show dispersed camping areas in National Forests. Referenced to Google Maps satellite layer can reveal possible sites. Local BLM offices can help with sites on BLM land. Check out RV Travel Guide Also get a Federal America the Beautiful Senior pass for $10. Gets you into virtually all Federal fee areas and makes a $12 National Forest campsite a $6 site.
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Old 10-18-2016, 07:50 PM   #12
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Colorado also has a problem with the marijuana migrants moving in and buying cheap trailers and parking anywhere they can.
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Old 10-20-2016, 11:12 AM   #13
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I am only a part timer but do travel extensively visiting family and friends. Most of the problems are solved by planning. Such as, when traveling to California to see my daughter I plan my trip to stop and stay overnight at casinos, then pay the more exorbitant KOA fee to stay longer then a few days to visit and maximize my time with my daughter. I am a disabled vet that can only travel so far in one day, and since I am on a fixed income I try and watch my expenditures. This means planning, taking what I can afford to travel from location to location, deducting gas expenses first (MIles to destination divided by TV MPG times gas price along the route), setting aside food costs per day, lastly I try to minimize the lodging night expenses so I can have a little bit over to play at a casino. My main objective is that I am not struggling to find a place to sleep while the sun is setting. I know where my trailer is going to be parked before I move it. This may not work for everyone but it works for a me, a person who wants to enjoy his trips, time left alive, and has to do it on a budget.

As I was always reminded in the service the 5P quote: Proper planning prevents poor performance.
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Old 10-21-2016, 06:51 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by rvftnewbie View Post
I bought my first RV and went full time after selling my house because I'm retired. I wasn't prepared for the hassles of trying to park overnight. I don't have the income to stay in a RV park each night.

I'd be surprised if you could drive around much for the price of a monthly site.

I've seen lots of places with monthly rates of $180 - $200 / month. That's only $6 or $7 a day.

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