While there is some disagreement over the definition, the term boondocking usually refers to free camping.
The term boondock was first used by U.S. servicemen serving in the Philipines. It is from a Tagalog word “bundog” meaning mountain. U.S. servicemen used it to refer to a rural, remote, or bushy area. The slang term “boonies” evolved from this word.
In today’s parlance the term boondocking is usually associated with the RV community. RVers are said to be boondocking if they stay in a location (such as on public lands) that does not provide utility hookups such as water, electric, and sewer for their trailer or motorhome. This is also sometimes refered to as “dry camping.”
The term boondocking may apply when campers are vacationing in their RV. However, some who live in their RVs may also engage in boondocking as a way to save the expense of staying in an RV park.
There are many boondocking guides available on the Internet, some even listing GPS coordinates of sites where boondocking occurs. In North America, there are many boondocking sites throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
In the U.S., Walmart stores allow RVs to park in their parking lots overnight, free of charge. Some refer to this as boondocking, while others do not.
In rare cases, one may find free RV camp sites that offer electrical hookup, minimizing the need for a generator and the fuel needed to power it.
Boondocking, especially for extended periods of time, requires considerable preparation, including planning a source of electricity such as an RV generator, cooking facilities, potable water source, and more.
Many boondockers are becoming more interested in alternative energy sources and going “green,” such as via solar panel generators that provide gas-free, turn-key electricity to help run appliances such as TVs and microwaves on board an RV.