The Art of Moochdocking
We've covered boondocking in our previous articles, but another of our favorite forms of free camping is moochdocking, aka camping on the property of friends and family. Since we are full-time RVers, we don't just bring all the comforts of home when we visit, we bring our home. This has a lot of benefits, but also its own set of best practices to consider.
In addition to saving money, moochdocking is a great way to connect and spend time with people you care about, without having to pack a bag. (Not to mention, this is a great time to catch up on laundry). Another perk is that it also lets you have your own space. You have more privacy and it keeps the guest clutter from overwhelming your host. You know what they say about house guests and fish, right? We like to think that staying in our home while moochdocking makes us better house guests, and maybe even lets us mooch a little longer.
Things to keep in mind while moochdocking:
Make sure the place is a good fit. Not everyone's home is set up to handle a larger motorhome or trailer. Your friends and family might not be familiar with just how big your rig really is. They may tell you, "Sure, you will totally fit in our driveway," only to arrive and find it might be fine for their Prius, but will in no way accommodate your width and length. It's a good idea to check Google Satellite View and Google Earth, just to make sure.
Know the rules. If your host's driveway or property won't accommodate your size, you might be able to park on the street. Increasingly, cities are cracking down on RVs left overnight on public streets. Be sure to check local regulations and city ordinances before you do it. If it's fine with the city, you might also ask your host to let their neighbors know you'll be staying.
Pay attention to electricity. If you need to hookup to an electrical connection, most homes will only have a standard 10 or 15 amp. You can quickly overload the connection causing serious damage if you try to run electric-hungry appliances like air conditioners and convection ovens. However, we have family members who have provided us with 30amp and even 50amp service. They get 5 stars in our personal moochdocking rating system.
Think of the tanks. Plan to arrive with empty holding tanks. You don't want to be cousin Eddy from National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation" and drain your black tank in the curb sewer. A longer term solution could be equipping your RV with a macerator that can pump the black tank contents into a clean out drain or a portable waste tank you can take to a dump station. Using the inside house restroom and shower can extend the tanks as well. In a rural area, it also might be acceptable to drain the grey tank next to your rig in someone's gravel driveway, lawn or field.
Be a good guest! Of course, this goes without saying. Help out around the house, share the grocery shopping and cooking, host a meal out, arrive stocked with you and your host's beverage of choice, leave a little hostess gift. Maybe even send a thank you card, and you'll be sure to be invited back!
Hopefully, with these tips, you'll be a successful moochdocker as well!