The Complete Guide to RV Boondocking Safety & Emergency Preparedness

The Complete Guide to RV Boondocking Safety & Emergency Preparedness

Fern: “I blew my tire.”

Swankie: “Well, go change it.”

Fern: “I don’t have a spare.”

Swankie: “You don’t have a spare? You’re out in the boondocks, and you don’t have a spare? You could die out here. You’re out in the wilderness, far away from anybody. You can die out here. Don’t you understand that? You have to take it seriously. You have to have a way to get help. You have to be able to change your own tire.”

Nomadland (2020) dir. Chloé Zhao

Is Boondocking Safe?

A RV boondocking trip can be an exciting, relaxing, and safe way to travel. However, if you’re not careful, it can easily become a stressful or even dangerous experience. That’s why I’ve put together this guide of how to make sure your RV trip doesn’t become one filled with stress or even worse- an adventure gone wrong.

The idea of RV boondocking is that you are able to find a secluded spot somewhere in the national forest or other wilderness areas to set up camp. There may be certain safety precautions you need to take depending on things like your location or what you’re doing. You should also have a backup plan in place since you never know when something might go wrong and be unprepared which could lead to dire consequences.

Boondocking can be a very safe way to camp, but there are many things you can do to help ensure your safety. Some things that will help include being aware of your surroundings, being prepared for emergencies, and using common sense. Yes, boondocking is very safe, and in fact, it is our favorite way to camp. Despite the occasional unpleasant experience, we have never felt unsafe while camping this way.

Plan Ahead

One of the most important things you can do is scout ahead and figure out where you want to go, what challenges you might face, and how to avoid serious problems. Route planning is also key—make sure you know where you’re going before hitting the open road.

  1. I always start researching my next potential boondocking campsite by going to freecampsites.net. It is an excellent app for finding campsites that are boondocking friendly.
  2. Next I go to the Campendium website. We’ve found some great boondocking spots to stay at on Campendium. I checked out the photos, read the info and all the reviews to find out the details about the campground so we’ll have a good idea of what to expect when we get there. Compendium even tells us if there are any 4G LTE signals available and how strong the signal is. (For more info, “Staying Connected to the Internet on the Road in a RV—The RV Digital Nomad Guide.”
  3. If you are roaming where there is no cell service, devices like a Garmin InReach can be used to communicate with others via satellite. The Bivi Stick 2 is also a popular satellite communicator.
  4. Once I decide on a potential site, I go to Google Maps in satellite mode and search rv boondocking near me so that I have an overview of the terrain. Sometimes I can spot other campers on the map—this is a good indicator that it’s easy to boondock there.
  5. Next, I call up the Forest Ranger Office nearest to the target boondocking destination to find out if there are any “gotchas” we need to know about before we get there. Is the area closed? Are there any nearby forest fires? Are there any fees and or permits required? Are there any other remote/off-grid camping spots available for recreational vehicles nearby?
  6. Also available at the Forest Ranger Office are Motor Vehicle Use Maps which will show where you can find boondocking campsites within the forest.
  7. Finally. always be prepared with an alternative boondocking spot, even if it looks like the perfect boondocking place.

Arrive Before Dark

Arriving before dark will give you time to get set up and become familiar with your surroundings before night falls. The best time to boondock is during daylight hours, when you can easily see what’s happening around you and avoid any bad situations that might arise. In the darkness, things can get a little more complicated.

Trust Your Gut

This is one of the most important tips I can offer you. If something feels off or unsafe, it usually means that it is. Always trust your gut feeling and take any necessary precautions. If you are in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, leave.

Let Someone Know Your Location

When you go out boondocking, it is important to be prepared for any potential emergency. Make sure to let someone know your location and where they can find you in case of emergency. Take some time to prepare yourself and your RV for emergencies. This includes things like having a first-aid kit, extra water and food, and a plan in case of evacuation.

Know Your GPS Coordinates for Emergency Medical Service

When you are out camping and RVing in the boondocks, it is important to be prepared for any emergency situation that may arise. It is also important to have the necessary supplies on hand so you can take care of yourself until help arrives. Make sure you know the coordinates for EMS and local 911 numbers, etc., so when you are in an emergency situation, all you have to do is give them the information they need and you can be helped quickly!

Keep Valuables Hidden or Locked Up Overnight

It is always a good idea to lock up your valuables when you’re not using them. Lock your bikes up, lock your storage bays, lock your vehicles, and don’t leave valuables outside. This will help to deter thieves and protect your belongings.

Barking Dog Helps Discourage Would Be Thieves

Dogs can be a great way to deter would-be thieves when you are RVing. Even small dogs can make loud noises when strangers are around, which can scare away people who are trying to rob or burglarize your RV. If you are traveling alone, put 2 chairs, an extra pair of men’s shoes (size large), or a large dog water dish outside your door. This will give the appearance that you are not alone and someone is home and watching the property.

Note: We don’t have a dog so we use the next best thing: Electronic Watchdog, Barking Dog Alarm. Seriously, anyone coming near the door, “Rex” starts a yapping.

Be Observant

When traveling, it’s important to stay observant of your surroundings. This means being aware of what’s going on around you and who or what may be a threat. Additionally, knowing the layout of the area can help you better navigate and avoid potential dangers.

Keep Bear Spray Handy

When camping or hiking in grizzly country, it is important to be prepared for an encounter with a bear. Carrying bear spray is one way to protect yourself in case of an attack. Bear spray is a safe and legal way to deter bears. Remember that bears are unpredictable and may attack even if you are not near their food source, so always be cautious when in their territory.

Don’t Open Your Door at Night

There are a number of reasons why you should keep your door locked at night. For one, burglars often target RVs when they know people are asleep and the occupants are unlikely to be able to defend themselves. Additionally, it’s important to remember that you never can tell who is on the other side of the door—even if they appear to be friendly, they might actually have malicious intent. Only open your door if you invited the person there.

Have a Plan B (and Even a Plan C)

It’s important to always have a Plan B and even a plan C when boondocking. This means having multiple backup plans in case of emergencies or problems.

Hide Away

We like to park our RV out of sight as much as possible. This makes us less of an easy target if someone is looking for a RV to rob or steal from. It also gives us a comfort to peer outside and assess the cause of any noises we hear. We do this in order to stay safe and avoid any potential problems.

Leaving the RV Unattended

Leaving your RV unattended can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, by following some simple safety precautions and having a plan in place for emergencies, you can rest assured that your time away will be worry-free. Make sure to keep electronic copies of important documents like passports and credit cards saved up in the cloud, and have a friend or family member keep an eye on your RV while you’re gone. Additionally, always make sure to leave detailed instructions for anyone who may need to access your RV in case of an emergency.

Make friends with your neighbors

When setting up camp, it is important to introduce yourself and get to know your neighbors. This gives you a good look at them and they a good look at you. It also builds a sense of community and increases the chances that someone will look out for your trailer while you are away from camp. Boondocking campers tend to be looking out for one another and so the chances of someone stealing your trailer are slim to none.

Final Thoughts

Boondocking does come with risks but these risks can be easily avoided if proper precautions are taken. That said, you are more likely to have problems with raccoons than humans. But regardless of the species, by following the tips in this article you will be able to avoid most of the risks associated with boondocking.

Happy Trails,