Cheap Travel

Living out of your Vehicle (Boondocking)

You, too, can live in a van and wake up to a new view every morning.

I want to introduce you to a new method of traveling called boon-docking. Actually it is not really new at all. The RV crowd has been doing it for a long time. Lots of outdoors people bought truck campers or RVs to drive to the woods to camp, hunt or fish. While they were there they said they were “boon-docking” because they were out in the woods and not hooked up to utilities. While they were on their way out to the woods, they discovered they could stop in a WalMart parking lot overnight to sleep and not have to pay for an RV park space rent. This also came to be know as ‘boon-docking.’ Purists insist, however, it wasn’t, that you had to be back in the sticks to be truly boon-docking. Whichever way, living out of your vehicle provides a very unique kind of freedom.

I learned about this quite by accident. After a divorce, I could no longer afford to pay for an apartment so I bought an old beat-up contractor’s box van and moved in. The first night I had no idea where to park and sleep so I just parked in front of the store where I worked. To my surprise, no one even noticed me there. Everyone just thought I was a delivery truck parked over night waiting to be used the next day. I lived in that van for the next 6 years and never once paid to park anywhere, nor was I ever hassled about where I parked. As I had time and money, I fixed up my new home until it was a very comfortable and pleasant camper. I loved living in it. Later, as I learned more about RVs I came across the term boon-docking. Perhaps the term should be reserved for when you are away from civilization, so even better: I prefer to think of what I did as stealth parking. My van was a Stealthy Urban Vehicle. I was camping in the middle of a city and no one knew or even suspected it.

Turns out I had also discovered a great way to travel. I have always wanted to explore North and South America but could never afford it. Airfare is very expensive and the cost of lodging and transportation once you arrive at your destination is prohibitive. Whenever I did travel, I never felt relaxed or like I had really gotten to know an area. I was always in a hurry to cram everything into a few weeks. Boon-docking solves all those problems. If you drive your car/van/truck, instead of flying, everywhere you go is your destination. I drive the back-roads slowly and get to know an area. Sometimes I stop in one place, get a job and really explore that region. Suppose I want to be in New England for the fall colors, or Machu Pichu for solstice. All one has to do is drive there!

The editors of Road Junky have asked me to provide a short guide on the how-to’s to boon-docking, so take a read and learn how to access this great way to travel yourself. For more information, you can check out my website:

Bob Wells