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A dry camp

Dry Camping: 12 Budget-Friendly Tips for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Published on December 6th, 2021
Updated on January 30th, 2024

Recently, we downsized our RV rig from a one-ton pickup pulling a 27′ fifth wheel to a 20′ camper-van.


Many reasons, but the major one was simplicity.

We can now take roads and campsites that we couldn’t consider before.  Our new (to us) rig fits in the same parking spot that our pickup once used, yet it has all the features of our trailer — albeit smaller.

And we can now dry camp.

Dry camping is finding a nice spot away from the paved campgrounds where we can set up camp and stay for a few days.

Fortunately, our new rig has a generator, so the tank size is the limitation. Freshwater is just 24 gallons, gray water is 16 gallons, and black water is 12 gallons.

Tips for Extending Stays

To dry camp

Even so, the dry camp limit is about four days — unless we get creative. With advice from experienced dry campers in our RV group, we came up with the following tips for extending our stays.

Here they are:

  1. As available, select campgrounds offering showers and toilets so you can minimize the amount of your water you need.
  2. If showers aren’t available, or to clean up between showers, use facial wipes and/or baby wipes, available in quantity at discount stores.
  3. When cooking with pots and pans, wipe them out with paper towels rather than wash them.
  4. Use paper plates and cups to serve meals.
  5. To reduce black water content, place used toilet tissue in sealable bags (such as pet waste bags) for later disposal.
  6. In primitive campgrounds and remote areas, you may be able to dump gray water using a garden hose (not your fresh water hose) and run into nearby bushes as long as the water has no detergents. Also, ensure there are no food particles in the water that attract animals.
  7. Consider casino camping as an opportunity to adjust your campground budget — and have some fun.
  8. Make sure you have good maps for finding your way to a dry campsite — and back home.
  9. Bury compostable food waste away from campsites.
  10. If streams have potable water, consider using them as a water source if you have filtration equipment or purification tablets.
  11. Use a solar shower bag to heat up water for showers, washing up, or for hot beverages.
  12. Consider a simple 100-watt solar power system for recharging the RV battery.

I will add more tips as I discover them. In the meantime, remember that these tips depend on what you are doing and where. “Dry camping” is often defined as camping in or out of a campground without using any services you didn’t bring with you.

To “boondock” usually refers to dry camping outside of a designated campground or paved location.

Either way, you can enjoy camping more if you plan ahead.

20 Dry Camping Tips (Video)

Related Questions

What is the advantage of having a generator in your camper van? A generator can provide power for your camper van, allowing you to use electrical appliances even when you’re dry camping or away from powered campgrounds.

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Why might an RV camper prefer to use paper plates and cups during dry camping? Using paper plates and cups can minimize the amount of water required for cleaning, thus conserving the limited freshwater supply in the RV during dry camping.

Why is it important to have good maps for dry camping? Good maps can help you locate dry camping sites and navigate your way back home, which can be crucial in remote areas with poor or no cellular signal.

How can a solar shower bag be useful for dry camping? A solar shower bag can be used to heat up water using sunlight. This can be particularly helpful for tasks such as showering, washing up, or making hot beverages when dry camping.

What is casino camping, and how can it be beneficial for RV campers? Casino camping refers to camping at a casino’s parking lot, usually for free or at a low cost. It can be an inexpensive way to enjoy some of the amenities and a chance to enjoy the entertainment in the casino.

How does using sealable bags for used toilet tissue contribute to extending dry camping stays? Using sealable bags for used toilet tissue can reduce the content in the black water tank, thus extending the time between the need for dumping and allowing for longer dry camping stays.

What are the differences between dry camping and boondocking? Dry camping generally refers to camping without using any services not brought with you, either in or out of a campground. Boondocking, on the other hand, specifically refers to dry camping outside of a designated campground or paved location.

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