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How Do You Get By Without Hook-ups?

THANK YOU for all the tips; we are going on our first ever RV road trip and I find your website insanely useful.

Q. I am looking at free campgrounds but was wondering on how to sustain without electricity/hookups.

Marianne's Reply: The quick answer is that virtually all RVs are built to be used without hookups for a least a certain period of time.....with a separate (deep cycle marine) battery that runs all camper aspects. Both the fresh water and waste holding tanks will, with some conservation, hold enough to last at least two to three days.

Those who are serious boondockers with larger RVs have found other ways to increase this time...solar panels and generators are examples.

We drive a small RV and the batteries charge every time we drive. As long as we drive a bit every 3 days or so, our battery holds plenty of power for our requirements - lights, radio, water pump, ceiling fan (and furnace as long as it's not constantly running). The stove is propane and we always run the fridge on propane as well.

Hope this is somewhat helpful.

Comments for How Do You Get By Without Hook-ups?

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Oct 01, 2009
Response to Anonymous
by: Marianne

Conservation is the biggest key but also knowing where to find RV dumps and water fills without paying for a campsite is important.

We don't use more water than necessary - we don't shower daily, far from it. Like our grandparents did, we get our "everyday clean and fresh" with a sponge bath - a bar of soap and a washcloth and very little water is used. An outside shower in our campsite is an infrequent luxury when we have reliable water access nearby.

We use public toilets whenever available to save on our black water capacity. When boondocking, our dishwater and hairwashing water gets dumped outside, just as if we were tent-camping.

If you look for them, you can find a lot of free or less expensive places to fill with water or dump your tanks. Most of the National and State parks that we visit have an RV dump located outside of the campground gates and using this service is included in the price of a day pass.

Flying J and other truck stops often have free dump stations for truckers and RVers. We've found countless other free services at visitor centers, town parks, community centers, and service stations - they're all listed in my Frugal Shunpiker's Guides. When we can't find free, then we pay. Many private RV campgrounds that charge up to $30.00 for a night of camping will charge only $5.00 or $6.00 for a dump and water fill.

When traveling in new territory, we never know where our next opportunity will come so we never pass by a free dump without using it.

One advantage of driving a smaller vehicle - when we ask, almost anyone - store owners, laudromats, vistor centers, will allow us to fill our "small" 10 gallon water tank with fresh water. In fact we also carry a separate 7 gallon tank as well.

With conservation, we find we can go about 5 days before we need to take on water and about 10 to 14 days between dumps. I would think that many, with larger holding tanks, should be able to go longer than that.










Sep 29, 2009
Dumping Waste and Taking on Water
by: Anonymous

Since you don't stay at pay campgrounds, how do you manage to dump waste and replenish water supply? Holding tanks are only going to hold so much, especially if you take daily showers.

Jun 19, 2009
Response to Mike R's Concerns
by: Marianne

Thanks for your input Mike R. and for raising that concern. Here's a quote from Steven Fletcher (one of my favorite RV gurus) that pretty well sums it up. Steven says:

"There is an ongoing debate about whether or not to travel with the refrigerator operating on propane. After hearing both sides of the debate, I can tell you that there is no real consensus and both sides are adamant in their beliefs. As far as I can tell there is no right or wrong answer, it's up to you to decide. Here are the arguments: Many RVers can see no danger in running the refrigerator on propane while on the road. They say they have traveled for years with no problems whatsoever. They point to the safety of propane powered vehicles and argue that we travel with tanks full of gasoline which is much more dangerous. Generally it is legal to travel while using propane, but keep in mind that it is illegal to have any open flames while near a service station fuel pump. And some tunnels and bridges may have restrictions too. Other RVer's, claim that traveling with the propane on is a disaster waiting to happen. They argue that in an accident a broken propane line could increase the possibility of fire, even an explosion. For them the only safe way to travel is with the propane tank valves closed!"

While I certainly don't want to advocate convenience over safety, I agree with Steven that everyone will have to make their own decision on this.

I am told there may be a few states or provinces that have made it illegal to travel with the propane appliances running. If any readers have more information on this, I'd be interested in hearing from you.


Jun 18, 2009
Rethink
by: Mike R.

If you do run into a problem running your fridge on propane full time, it may be your last. An accident that breaks your tank connection could cause a massive explosion. If I were you I would rethink this.

I find your website excellent and think you are completely okay charging for your ebooks.

Mike R.


May 29, 2009
Propane Fridg
by: Terry

Q. You mention that you always run your frig on propane. Do you keep it running that way while you are driving or only once you have stopped?

Thanks

Marianne's Reply: I've heard different points of view on this but we always run ours on propane except for the rare occasion when we've paid for a site with electric hook-ups. Yes, even when we drive.

We just have to remember (which we do diligently) to turn off the fridge every time we stop to gas up and of course whenever we fill the propane tank. When we're on a ferry crossing we're usually asked to turn it off as well.

If we drive in a big cross-wind we need to check periodically to see that the fridge flame hasn't blown out but, otherwise, we've never had a problem with running on propane all the time.






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