One thing many new fulltimers and extended time RV travelers are surprised to discover is that they do not have to stay in an RV park every night. There are many alternatives to a traditional campground, and a lot of them are free, or almost free. Or at least a lot less expensive than a campground.
Over the years we have spent many nights in casino parking lots, small town parks (many have RV hookups), fairgrounds, and boondocking at RV friendly business. Not to mention Elks and Moose lodges, and VFW posts. We sell several guides to free campgrounds, RV friendly casinos, fairgrounds with RV parks, and also a 7-in1 E-book with all of our money saving guides on them, which is available on a CD or e-mailed right to your computer. Both are available in our RV Bookstore.
Another option is driveway camping. That’s where you park in a friend or relative’s driveway. Sometime this includes an electrical outlet (usually 20 amps) and a handy water bib on the side of the garage you can hook your hose to, or sometimes you will find yourself dry camping. Either can be quite comfortable, as long as your hosts have a good relationship with their neighbors and they don’t object. (Not running your generator at night goes a long way to keeping peace with the neighbors.)
We have spent a lot of time driveway camping at a cousin’s house in Traverse City, Michigan, where we return every year for Miss Terry’s oncology checkup. We have received many, many invitations to stop at peoples’ homes and take advantage of their driveways over the years. Until a recent visit to Daryl and Cheri Lawrence’s place in the Yuma Foothills area, we’ve only done it twice that I can remember, partly because we are usually pretty busy and we don’t have the time to do more than pull in and sleep, and don’t want to be rude or seem unappreciative of their hospitality. The contrast between our two experiences were as different as day and night.
One was a delightful experience, when readers Al and Ann LeClair invited us to stop at their home in Salem, New Hampshire. We only planned to spend a couple of nights, but had so much fun that we ended up being there nearly two weeks! We hit it off with their neighbors, who were also their best friends, and the three couples sat up late many nights playing Mexican Train and telling jokes way into the wee hours of the morning. Their home is only about 30 miles from Boston and they took us into the big city to give us a guided tour one day, then showed us where the metro station was (a few miles from their home) and turned us loose to explore on our own. In fact, Al and Ann had reservations to take the grandkids to Disney World, and we were working getting an issue of the Gypsy Journal ready to go to press and planned to go to a nearby RV park. They wouldn’t hear of that, and gave us a key to their house, told us to treat it like our own, and left town. So when we were ready to leave, I held a yard sale, sold everything they had, and hit the road. 🙂
By contrast, our second driveway camping experience was a nightmare. A couple who were also vendors at a rally we were working invited us to stop in for a visit, and quickly did a Jekyll and Hyde transformation when we would not be lured into a couple of scams they were working. I’ve said goodbye to ex-wives with less reluctance than we bade those two adieu!
A while back, Marianne Edwards contacted me with a link to her new endeavor, an online community called Boondockers Welcome, where travelers can connect with other RVers who have a location to dry camp for the night, be it in their driveway or a field on their farm. Check it out and see if it might work for you.
So have you done any driveway camping? If so, what have your experiences been, good or bad?
Thought For The Day – Don’t put a period where God put a comma.
Register Now For Our Ohio Gypsy Gathering Rally
We have done it a couple of times, and both times (at my sister’s house and at a friend’s house) we have offered $10 a night to hook up to their electric and their garden hose. We stayed about a week each time. It is a savings for us and more than covers the costs of the electricity and water, so the host makes a couple of dollars a day. That way we didn’t feel guilty running the air conditioning for our (quiet dogs who stayed behind when we went on 1/2 day trips. Both times the hosts suggested we just take them out to dinner, which was fun and ended up being cheaper for us! We were invited back, so I guess it was a win-win all around!
We driveway camp at 3 locations every year for extended periods up to 4 months. Mother-in-law, Father-in-law and daughter. They have all installed 50 amp hookup and have water and sewer hookup available. Sewer is easier than you might think. Most homes have an exterior sewer cleanout that will double as a dump site if close enough to RV (not more than about 100 ft level). We take them out to eat regularly and I give them $30/wk which all have repeatedly stated is way more than the cost of utilities.
We’ve camped in family driveways lots and have been on the receiving end of campers in our driveway. One couple stayed for TWO months–we had to plan a trip and leave in order to get them to leave! We are a tad gun shy about putting out those invitations now!!
Our favorite driveway camping experience occurred when we were traveling in Nova Scotia w/another couple, both of us in fifth wheels. We had found a local Walmart and were prepared to overnight there, with permission, when a perfect stranger invited us to come park in his yard – he hated the thought of blacktop camping when he had room in his yard. He and his wife lived on one side of the street and on the other side, a converted boathouse with hookups for one. He even offerred us the use of the boathouse (a kitchen, bath and sitting area) and the beer in his fridge – this from a perfect stranger. We had such a ball getting to know him and his friends, we stayed two nights and would have loved to have stayed longer had we had the time. And we’ve got an open invite to stop in again in the future. This was definitely one of the highlights of our Maritimes tour.
We were planning on staying at the Elk’s Lodge when overnighting in Tyler, TX. Called first to confirm that they still allowed parking. The had moved and had not yet developed the parking for rv’s. Quickly got out the SKP overnight book and found a place. We parked in the field next door and they told us to stay more than one night and what not to miss siteseeing in Tyler.
we have never driveway camped but we have backyard camped, when we go from a to b we use the normal stop point. We are on our way to Minnesota and will spend two weeks in my sisters backyard once again, the rig fits nice with just a bit of maneuvering, because of their camper also parked there, John put in an outside electric hookup it only 20 amp but we do fine. They refuse any money we offer to help cover electric but we do take them out for dinner a few times we are there. What we consider a bonus point is the business that is on the corner across the alley from them we let them know we are coming and roger makes sure none of his employees block the driveway so we can get in the easy way, when we leave he makes sure that he does not put any of his equipment or cars in front of the business so we have a very easy exit. This way we get to spend some quality time with my sister and her family.
We’ve stayed in family’s driveways in several states. At one they had just moved into their new house but had not torn down the old house so we had an electric meter for just us. We stayed a weekend and used less than $1 electricity which I insisted I could afford to pay. They framed that dollar as the first income from their soon to be developed RV campsites. They now have full hook-ups but we haven’t been back yet to check those out.
Just enjoyed browsing through Boondockers Welcome and joined. Thanks for the heads up!
Did the driveway camping thing numerous times. Camped in the long term parking lot of the Toronto, Ontario, Canada airport one time and never heard a single plane. It was cheaper than any camp ground that was far away from where we wanted to visit.Have also stayed in hospital and nursing home parking lots over night as well and never had a problem. Many times there are others there visiting very ill people and they stay in the lot to be close at hand in case of an emergency.
We just left a delightful visit with friends in the Los Angeles area. They invited us to camp in their driveway, but we passed. When we got to their house, it was a trick just to get our Jeep Liberty into their driveway (with narrow concrete walls on both sides)! Of course, they are not RVers:)