The Boondocking Life: Preparation

Boonbocked at rest area at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

Boonbocked at rest area at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

Until 2009 I was only an occasional boondocker, a weekend or a week here and there. In February of 2009 I decided to take an extended trip – 5 months on the road. Preparation took four months and included selling, gifting or trashing: my house, all of my furniture and decorations, kitchen wares, over 3000 books, eight large garbage bags of clothes and a shed full of yard tools that I never used. Lastly, I sold my beautiful Infiniti for an old minivan. My car was just too small to live in for five months. When it was all done all I had left for my move to Florida was what would fit in my van. At the end of the five months of adventure I just couldn’t give up the lifestyle. By the time I returned to ordinary life nearly two years had passed.

Whether you go for a weekend, a week or make it a lifestyle, planning is the key to experiencing more freedom on the road. Here is some planning I did for the trip. Some was necessary, some a waste of time, and of course there were some things I couldn’t foresee, especially hygiene issues.

  • I took a realistic assessment of my needs; both material and non material needs. How I would maintain the lifestyle I wanted?
  • I needed a place to stay so I chose to buy a minivan, it would be big enough to transform into a minicamper, big enough for one camper and a small dog yet small enough that I could park anywhere undetected as a camper.
  • To make my van into a livable camper I took a seat out and put in a homemade bed, kitchenette in the back, storage in the front and under seats and eventually a shower and toilet.
  • I needed money if I wanted to travel longer so I found a great way to make money on the road which I still do from home.
  • I thought hard about my daily life, my daily needs. What in my day needed to find its way into a much smaller home? I scanned photos and documents. I burned my audio books, music cd’s and dvd’s to an external hard drive. I needed clothes for a week, cooking supplies, laundry and cleaning supplies, and food; enough for a week. Once a week I would restock at Wal-Mart.
  • Hygiene and places to stay every night became my biggest issues and required continual rethinking. My hygiene practices evolved over the months until I finally developed a shower and bought a travel toilet.
Looking out my window.

Looking out my window.

Not only did my hygiene practices change but technology too. I began with a standard flip phone and ended with a smart phone. I began hunting down places to fax my work I ended with a travel scanner. I started with hot spots and paid Wi-Fi at truck stops to getting a Wi-Fi plan. While you’re traveling always look for better, more efficient way of doing, way of living.

After you’ve made your own preliminary plans here are a few points for research.

Places to stay:

Wal-Mart
Sam’s Club
State and national forests
RV World (if you have an RV)
Bureau of Land Management
City camp grounds
Rest areas
Truck stops

And if you’re in a minivan or a minicamper you have more options like hospital parking lots, parking along neighborhood streets and apartment complexes.

In the countryside some people with many acres of land allow boondocking, just check first.

Eating & shopping:

This was the least of issues I encountered. I kept a cooler and stored plenty in my kitchenette. The biggest problem keeping enough ice. Also I became a fan of Wal-Mart’s deli. I started the trip without the internet so I kept a list in my computer of Wal-Marts. Allstays.com has a helpful list of Wal-Mart locations with info on whether overnight stays are permitted. They also have an app for this too.

Hygiene:

I can’t count how many times I prayed “God, give me a sink, any place I can wash my hair”. Early on I saw a woman striped to her underwear washing in a rest area sink. I did cut my hair short because I knew I’d have to wash my hair in a lot of sinks but this woman gave me a new way of thinking about cleanliness. Here are a few options:

Rest area sinks and family bathrooms
Campground bathrooms
Truck stops have shower
Private bathrooms in businesses
City park bathrooms
Spigots at parks
Wipes
Dry shampoo
2 “Tupperware” with lids for water (one for washing, one for rinsing) for washing and brushing teeth

In later posts I’ll go into more detail on each of these as well as share information and my adventures.

If you have a fun story, challenges or advice to share I would love to have you write a guest post. If you have some helpful links or have a blog dealing with boondocking or extended travel I’d like to add the link to this page.

If you would like to write a guest post contact me at geophiliaphotography@gmail.com

Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer

Death Valley National ParkQuestion of the day:

What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?

Leu Gardens, OrlandoI love travel, all types of travel, but I’m particularly fond of my days happily wandering the US; boondocking and exploring…the life of adventure. But I also love planning for a trip. I spent weeks planning my first extended trip west and months planning for my “jubilee journey“. I love planning, I’m a planner and while I do use GPS to find an exact street address I prefer maps for seeing the bigger picture. I love the feel of paper in hand and seeing where a highway begins and ends. I map out trips to new places, this is just part of the journey; planning what beautiful places to visit, when and how long to spend at each.

Great Dunes National Park, CO

But all this planning is just a guide and I rarely, ok never, make it to all the places I planned on. With map in hand and itinerary packed away only to be found when I return home I set out with eyes wide open and observant of any enticing distractions. I love the freedom of traveling the open road and a rigid itinerary takes away from that freedom. With caution to the wind and wind up my tailpipe I head to my first destination but I ALWAYS get sidetracked. Allowing myself the freedom to follow the signs along the road guiding me to some unknown adventure awaiting me in some unexpected place is the sheer joy of travel. In the end locations change, a one night stay turns into five, places are left out to only be regretted later, new jewels in the landscape are found and I always arrive home wondering how soon I can leave again.

Grand Teton National Park, WY

Check out more daily prompts at The Daily Post

The Next Challenge: Backs of Things

I’ve not participated in this challenge but I saw Cee’s entry and my thoughts went to this image. Check out other entries for this weeks challenge at Sunday Stills.

I came across this interesting site driving on the Wendell H Ford Western Kentucky Pkwy more than a year into my own journey. I found it refreshing to find another adventurous soul living the life they’d always dreamed of. I cheered them as I slowly passed and they smiled and waved back. Such are the brief encounters while traveling, some you never forget.

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Ride on my friends from “Two Mules and a Wagon”

 

 

There’s no place like home

With all the worries of handling dog and baby, family meeting our wild one and whether or not the van would make it the 2000 mile round trip to Indiana, we are finally home…and I’m so glad to be home again! I loved visiting family and friends but there’s no place like home. I’m sure thankful for my own kitchen and bed, my own routine and for WiFi!

I’ve missed blogging and reading all of yours, I have so much to catch up on.

Here’s a small glimpse of the place I once called home, a place that is now strange to me. Unfortunately I worked most of my time there so I was only able to get out one day and then I quit early. It was so hot I thought I was back in Florida.

Center Lake Beach

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Warsaw Biblical Gardens

Maise Gardens at Center Lake Park

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Travel theme: Mountains

Mountains, another of my favorite subjects!

 

Check out this and other Travel Themes.