Boondocking on a Budget

boondocking (noun) — RV camping without being connected to water, electricity, or sewage, usually in a remote or wild location. Synonyms: dry camping, free camping, wild camping.

What Is RV Boondocking? - Gander Outdoors

One of the most exciting ways to go RV camping, boondocking can be a great new way to spice up your summer. But are you prepared to ration supplies, go without WiFi, and camp off the grid? The Dyrt magazine has a comprehensive guide to all things boondocking, check it out below!

At Pete’s RV Center, we’re here for your RV adventures! Find your next RV or schedule a service appointment at petesrvcenter.com today!

East Coast RVing–Camping in the National Parks

RV dealerships all across America are filled with dreamers, those planning scenic road trips of a lifetime to the National Parks. Camping in the National Parks is a major reason why many people purchase RVs, and a fantastic way to spend time in nature. But with 63 National Parks in the United States spanning 84 million acres, how will you ever decide where to camp? Here are some of the best National Park RV friendly campgrounds to choose from.

Elkmont Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Located near North Carolina and Tennessee’s shared border, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park, totaling over 12 million visits in 2020, despite being briefly closed due to the pandemic. This is more than three times greater than the second highest total of 3.8 million visits at Yellowstone National Park.

What makes the Smokies so popular? Its location is convenient for many travelers, being far closer to major East Coast population centers than the parks out west. And its neighboring town Gaitlinburg, Tennessee offers several full days worth of tourist attractions, and several hotels. 

Luckily, Elkmont Campground has 200 drive up sites for a lovely camping experience in the mountains, no hotels necessary.

Schoodic Campground, Acadia National Park

Another East Coast favorite, Acadia National Park boasts Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast, where the sunrise can be seen the earliest in the United States. Its beautiful summit is famous for attracting sunrise spotters for this reason. The park has beautiful ocean views from its place on the Atlantic Coast, and is mostly located on Mount Desert Island, near Bar Harbor, Maine. 

However, Schoodic Campground is Acadia National Park’s newest, and it’s the only campground on the mainland section of the park, located on the quieter Schoodic Peninsula. 

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

America’s newest National Park is still somewhat of a secret, having just gained National Park status in late 2020. While the park “provides opportunities for primitive camping only” according to their website, that won’t stop adventurous RVers from boondocking on the gorgeous riverside! There are several campsites along the park’s main road. 

For more RV campground tips in the National Parks, check out Campendium’s extensive list! 

Essential RV Reads: Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Outside of any neighborhood or standard driveway, often hidden in plain sight with only curtains hiding their presence, live thousands of Americans in vans, cars, and RVs. More people are hitting the highway as permanent residents than ever before, particularly those unable to afford retirement or burdened by financial disaster. Far different than the lifestyle seen in luxury “glamping”-style campgrounds, these mobile nomads go by many names.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century: Bruder, Jessica:  9780393249316: Amazon.com: Books

Perhaps most self explanatory, “vandwellers” typically live in a converted van rather than RV, while “workampers” reside in any sort of vehicle and pursue often challenging seasonal work around the country. Many popular RV conventions host these permanent mobile residents in large gatherings, mostly throughout the southwestern United States.

But make no mistake, vandwellers and workampers do not come from the recent wave of remote workers in WiFi-enabled careers traveling in luxury while they work out of different high-end RV parks. Nomadland by Jessica Bruder tells the stories of people driven to living in vehicles out of necessity, embracing the very real effects of rising rents and stagnant wages. Published in 2017, many of the people Bruder followed had been living in their vehicles since the Great Recession of 2007-2009, with no plans to ever stop doing so. The weight this lifestyle carries is emphasized in one of the book’s many powerful quotations: “The last free place in America is a parking spot,” Said Linda May, a grandmother and former contractor living in a van that Bruder followed throughout the book.

“Some call them “homeless.” The new nomads reject that label. Equipped with both shelter and transportation, they’ve adopted a new word. They refer to themselves, quite simply, as “houseless”. Bruder wrote. The question of what makes someone homeless and the different view society has for people who choose how they live vs. people trapped in a living situation is a grey area explored throughout the book.

Linda May and several other featured vandwellers in the book went on to play fictionalized versions of themselves in the 2020 film Nomadland by Chloe Zhao, which streams on Hulu. The film went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, receiving high praise for its acting, screenwriting, and direction.

Cover art

One of the more famous vandwellers in Nomadland is Bob Wells, a longtime vandweller who founded the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, a yearly gathering of vandwellers in Quartzsite, Arizona where many are taught important techniques about RV living.

Wells is also a popular YouTuber and author who started the website CheapRVliving.com, which has inspired many on the fence about nomadic living to jump into life on the road.

Not every RVer is a vandweller or a workamper, but most RVers would be interested in this book. Camping appeals so naturally to outdoor enthusiasts that even a quick weekend in a travel trailer by a lake has many dreaming of full time RV living and exploration. The next time you’re in camp after a day on the road, this is a great travel book for many interests.

Basic Camping Essentials

Basic Camping Essentials | Pete’s RV Quick Tips

PetesRV.com expert, Randy Murray provides an overview of basic camping essentials and the tools required to make your next trip safe, worry free, and fun!

Video Transcript for “Basic Camping Essentials | Pete’s RV Quick Tips”

Randy: Hey, folks. Randy with Pete’s RV TV here today. Another Quick Tip segment for you. I just want to take a couple minutes and show you some of the things that I bring me … with me when I go camping.

I take a lot of phone calls from customers that have small problems while they’re camping that do arise. and when I direct them on the best way to take care of that problem, they need a couple tools that, they may not have with them. So, if you put together a basic tool kit, when you go camping, leave it right in the camper, no problem whatsoever. We can talk you through most anything.

So, some of the things that I bring with me is, first of all, I always bring some sort of, like, source. Either something I can put on my head, or … This little guy right here in kinda neat. We sell him in the store. It’s got a magnet on the back, so we can stick it to a piece of metal in the camper where I’m working there. It’s got a hook on it and it gives me some light underneath the cabinet or in the front storage compartment or by the battery, cause nothing ever goes wrong in the daylight. It always happens at night, especially if you go camping with me.

So, a couple lights, which are nice to have, or even if you’ve got just a regular flashlight that you store, and keep charge in the camper. Another thing I bring is I’ve got a bag of fuses. So, every fuse … every camper has multiple different size fuses in them. So, I kind of got a bag of … Just, a variety of everything that I run into in a camper and a good thing to have with me. Roll of electrical tape. Never know (laughs) and you can fix most anything with electrical tape, if needed.

I also bring some crimp-connectors, which you can buy in a kit like at, your local, home goods store or something like that. And these are just if I have to re-attach a wire, or we have to shorten something up, or we have a mishap or something pulled loose. Just, to be able to make a crimp connection is nice. That will also work in conjunction with a pair of crimping pliers. And, again, sometimes the kits you purchase will come with an inexpensive pair of pliers that you can use, to get by for the weekend.

Now, most campers are built with, screws, obviously. And the type of screws they use are a square-tip, or a screw had has got a square tip, so you need a special square tip, to go to those screws. And that’s this guy right here, if Josh can pan in on it, and you’ll see I got a Phillips right next to it.

most people have a Phillips, because that’s what we have at home. Campers are a little odd, and they require that square tip. So, this tip that I purchased from, again one of the local box stores. It’s a Milwaukee kit. I think it cost like $20. It’s got everything I need in it. It’s got, screw acceptor for my screw gun. You will need a screw gun as well. and it’s got the square tips, it’s got fill-ups, it’s got a couple torques here, and it’s got spares of all, because if you lose them like I do, nice to have a spare. But anyway, for the cost of this kit, I think it’s just a great kit to (laughs) … I have one at home, and on my carry-around tool box that I do bring with me when I go camping.

Sheet-rock knife, or a box cutter. This one actually folds up like a jackknife. I actually carry this one with me all the time, right in the pocket of my pants, but, good to have. you never know when you’re gonna need that. Wire-strippers, and cutters. Again, if we have an electrical problem … A lot of times, we can talk you through it, or you can find it very easily yourself, but having a good pair of strippers on board, it makes that job a lot easier for us stripping that wire back.

I like to bring a couple pair of channel locks if I’ve got a plumbing issue, and usually I can get by with a bind if I got to tighten something up with a channel locks. And again, this can be purchased at your local box store. Christmas is a great time to pick this stuff up because they’ve usually got kits on sale, relatively low price. And you don’t need the best ones. A lot of these tools are very expensive tools. This is how I make my living. You don’t need the best tools for your basic kit that you keep in your camper.

I usually will carry a Phillips and a regular screwdriver. These are like mid-size so they’re pretty much good for almost every application, unless it’s something specific. we’ve already talked about the crimpers. I do carry a pair of side cutters with me. Sometimes these are just a little easier to make a cut close to something or pull a staple out that may be in our carpet or what have you. But, again, pair of side cutters.

Needle nose. You can always get yourself out of a bind with a pair of needle nose. Especially, when you drop something in that spot that my little fat fingers can’t get into. Needle nose, it makes it very easy for that. there is some neat, small kits out there. Again, the big box store, Sears, all of them have kits that have couple different size open end box wrenches. This is one of the ones I carry in the small kit that I have that’s all over my toolbox cause I left it open. i also bring a couple of adjustable wrenches with me as well. Reason for the adjustable wrenches is, they’re adjustable. We can use them for almost any size, anything to get you out of a bind.

Again, these aren’t tools to, you know, fix the problem per se, but enough to get us by for the weekend before you can get it in for service and get it ap- repaired appropriately. an electrical tested. This particular one right here is for 120 volt power. Pretty much, I’m just going to plug it into the outlet and it’ll tell me if my power is good, tell me if it’s wired properly, and tell me if power is present. So that’s a good one. I take phone calls a lot where, “My TV’s not working.” “Well, do you have power at the outlet?” “I don’t know, Randy.” (laughs) well, I’m gonna- Having you plug something else in, but if you’ve got a quick electrical tester to plug it in, then you can tell me.

This guy right here is for checking 12 volt power. It’s called a stab tester, 12 volt tester. We’d hook this into ground or anything pretty much metal on the camper and then we can test our fuses with this guy here. I’m gonna have Josh pan in on one of these fuses here. This is a great way to test our fuses so if you can pan right in on that and see the two metal tabs on either side of the 40 there, Josh. Each one of those is a test point so I can test if I’ve got power coming in in the fuse and I can test if I’ve got power going out of the fuse.

So when you’re looking at a whole fuse panel and you’re trying to determine which one is the one for your furnace or your LP detector, something like that, which is labeled incorrectly, by testing both sides, as well as the fuses, we can quickly determine whether one is blown or not. And again, we would do that in conjunction with this tester here. This will also test if we’ve got power at breakers and things like that on the 12 volt side of things so when you call me up and tell me that your slide outs not going out, I’m going to ask you if you’ve got 12 volt power to the breaker going through the breaker to the slide out. This is a great way to test that.

This is another tester that I carry with me. Kind of [00:06:00] on the same lines of this one here, but I can actually put this next to any wire and it’ll tell if it’s 120 volt wire and it’ll tell me if I have voltage present rather than putting it into an outlet. It’s called a [wiggie 00:06:09] tester.

Multimeter. This is what I love for customers to have cause we can do all sorts of testing with this guy here. Not everyone’s gonna put this, in their tool box that they keep in their camper because these can be a little bit more pricey, but if you’ve got like an inexpensive version of this and one of these, which aren’t too bad, we can usually get by anything.

So anyway, there’s just some of the tools that I bring with [00:06:30] me camping and, again, enough to get you out of trouble in a pinch. maybe not make the final repair, but definitely continue on with your camping weekend if you are having a small problem. So, just wanted to share that with you guys and if you’re looking for presents for Father’s day, birthdays, or even Christmas, great time to put this little tool kit together and can be done for relatively, inexpensive on the Father Day, on the Christmas side of things, cause that’s when we see a lot of tools on sale at our local box store. So, thanks for watching Quick Tips with Randy today. look forward to seeing you on the road and happy camping.

The video of this presentation by Pete’s RV Center is available at: https://youtu.be/ayHDTJQinGw?list=PL90E8009ADFC48C0F

Pete’s RV Center is an exceptional dealership group serving the United States and Canada since 1952. With multiple locations, Pete’s RV provides sales, service, parts, accessories, and education to our community of RVers all across North America.

How to Program Your RV TV

How to Program Your RV TV
Friday, July 1st, 2016 15:23:13

 

Pete’s RV Vermont Service Writer and Resident RV Expert Randy Murray provides a step-by-step overview on how to program your RV TV.

As Randy explains, as you travel you will begin to pick up different TV stations depending on the region you are in. You will continually need to reprogram your TV as you arrive in a new television marketplace. Randy provides you with a step by step guide on how to set up your TV and boost your reception so you won’t have to miss your favorite shows while on the road!

The steps to programming your TV as you travel explained by Randy include:

  1. If running on open air antenna find your camper’s TV booster and turn on your antennas extra power setting (not necessary to do when utilizing cable)
  2. Open the auto channel search menu on your TV (refer to your owners manual if unsure how to do so)
  3. Select “auto channel memory” on your TV
  4. Start your TV’s automatic search mode and let it run until complete

To learn more from Randy as well as stay up to date on all things Pete’s RV be sure to visit and subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Pete’s RV Center is an exceptional dealership group serving the United States and Canada since 1952. With multiple locations, Pete’s RV provides sales, service, parts, accessories, and education to our community of RVers all across North America.

Going Unhooked: Give Dry Camping a Try

Going Unhooked: Give Dry Camping a Try
Wednesday April, 30th 2014 16:08:03

01-701-RV-boondocking-with-a-fifth-wheel-trailer-in-Wyoming

For those who have not tried it yet, ever thought about giving dry camping a shot?

It means going to a place where there is no electricity, water or sewer hookups and living exclusively off your RV’s internal utilities.

Preparing for a trip where you’ll be dry camping requires a different approach and set of questions before you heading out. If you are new to RVing and leaning more towards dry camping in more remote locations versus full-service campgrounds, it is important to know how well the RV you are shopping is equipped to accommodate your needs. Along with researching online, talking to an experienced RV sales consultant is highly recommended.

Since you will not have an endless power or water supply, or sewage connection, conservation is the key to dry camping. Things, like turning lights on only when they are needed and not running water wastefully down the drain, are a couple of good dry camping habits. Here’s a few more:

  • Learn how much your RV’s fresh water tank can hold and consider bringing a separate supply of drinking water
  • Be crystal clear on your RV’s waste water (black) tank capacity and educate the family on the importance of taking short showers or excessive toilet flushing. Many folks go by the old rule to leave #1 in the bowl and flush when there is a #2.
  • Understand how many hours you will get from a full battery and what it will or will not power. For example, say goodbye to the luxury of an air conditioner and microwave. Most RVs can only power 12 volt appliances when working solely off a battery.
  • Along with hot water and cook tops or grills, many RVs are equipped with dual-power refrigerators. Therefore, you need to know how long your propane tanks will last.

Solar panel battery chargers are becoming more prevalent in the camping community. They can recharge an RV battery during the day when lights and other electric appliance are not being used. Converters can also be purchased that will allow you to use fans, radios and charge cell phones.

One of the best trains of thought you can have when packing for a dry camping trip is not to bring unnecessary electrical gadgets. Bring board games, flashlights with extra batteries, a camping lantern, and Tiki torches. With limited refrigeration and the convenience of microwave cooking, it’s also good practice to think accordingly when stocking your grocery and food supply.

This hardly dry article on dry camping was provided by Chuck Lunberg. See more of what he and others are liking on the TalkCampingNH.com Facebook page!

Walmart App Guides RVers to Overnight Parking

Walmart App Guides RVers to Overnight Parking
Wed, 27 Jul 2011 21:13:25

iexitwlogo120x114For the most part, RVers new and old are aware that a number of Walmart’s thousands of locations in the United States and Canada offer a complimentary night’s stay for their weary bones. The challenge is determining which ones allow, or do not allow overnight parking. AllStays.com removes such guesswork with their Walmart Overnight Parking app for iPhone and Android smartphones.

Well worth the $1.99 (we’ve been using it as a logistics tool for our North American Delivery Program), the Walmart Overnight Parking app is searchable by location and provides remarks from those who actually stayed there. In reviewing this app over the past couple of weeks, we were pleased to see that there are continuous updates on the addition or withdrawal of participating Walmart stores. You can imagine how frustrating it would be to pull into a lot after a long, tiring day only to be turned away. Another nice feature is the ability to toggle an advanced search for Walmart locations with pharmacies, groceries, diesel refueling, or open 24 hours.

If you do not have a smartphone, the AllStays.com website does provide basic information and updates on overnight parking at Walmarts in the United States and Canada.

If internet access is a no go, Walmart Atlas, Second Edition (Roundabout Publications) is available in paperback for under twenty bucks.

Give the Walmart Overnight Parking app a spin!

Pete’s RV Center is an exceptional dealership group serving the United States and Canada since 1952. With multiple locations, Pete’s RV provides sales, service, parts, accessories, and education to our community of RVers all across North America.

Pete’s RV Enjoys Visit to RV Hall of Fame

Pete’s RV Enjoys Visit to RV Hall of Fame
Thursday, October 7th, Oct 2010 19:40:37

By Phil LeClair

HallFame_photoWhen visiting any hall of fame, there’s always the expectation of being up and close to history. Be it Babe Ruth’s baseball bat, a football helmet worn by Jim Brown, or John Lennon’s guitar, if you can’t touch it, you at least need to be close enough to absorb the aura of the historical artifact. Sure the plaques, pictures, and statues are impressive, but let’s be honest, we go to a hall of fame to see the memorabilia!

It was no different on my trip to the RV/MH (Recreation Vehicle/Modular Home) Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN with Pete’s RV Sales Manager Todd McGinnis. While some time was spent paying tribute to Hall’s 300-plus industry inductees, and viewing the pictorial exhibits, we couldn’t wait to see the RV collection. We weren’t disappointed!

Representing 100 years of U.S. RVing, RV Founders Hall houses an impressive collection of early tent trailers, campers, and motorcoaches. The self-guided tour starts with a 1913 Earl Trailer and Model T Ford and winds you through the decades until you reach a 1967 Winnebago Motorhome. Along with the latter, here’re a few of my favorites:

  • 1958 Airstream Travel Trailer
  • 1954 Shasta Travel Trailer
  • 1957 Serro Scotty Trailer
  • 1974 GMC Motorhome

1211rv-02+rv-mh-hall-of-fame+rv-mh-hall-of-fame-road-walkwayBeing able to step into many of the museum pieces is a treat. It really puts you back in the moment when the camper was being used and enjoyed by a family (the sound of chirping crickets coming from the museum speakers further enhances the mood!).

If you are passing through Indiana, I highly recommend visiting the RV/MH Hall of Fame, It is located in the heart of U.S. RV manufacturing, right off Interstate 80 in Elkhart. The RV/MH Hall of Fame is a fun and interesting experience for the whole family.

You’ll notice the first part of the video below was taken in low light. As I explain in the clip, the museum closed while I was still poking around in there. Initially, I thought I was locked in, but that wasn’t the case. Thanks to the museum staff for letting me lag behind and get a few extra minutes to complete my tour!