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One of the greatest things about traveling in an RV is the ability to see the country on a budget. That said, as RV park prices increase, more and more campers are looking for ways to save on camping fees. The good news? There are ways to go about this. One of our favorite options is called moochdocking.
It might have a funny name, but there are some things about moochdocking that are pretty important. For this reason, we’ve put together a guide for beginners. If you’ve never been moochdocking and are considering it—or if you’re wondering what in the world moochdocking is—this is the place for you.
Let’s get started!
What is Moochdocking?
First, let’s take a minute to address the question many of you are likely asking: What in the world is moochdocking? Also known as driveway surfing, moochdocking is a lot like couch surfing in your RV. Basically, you park on someone’s driveway or land, and you camp there.
The name comes from the word mooch (meaning “to obtain something without paying for it”) and the term boondocking (i.e. camping in the wilderness without any hookups).
This combination of terms makes sense, as you are often camping without hookups when driveway surfing—albeit not in the wilderness. You are also usually “mooching” in one sense or another, though that doesn’t have to mean the setup can’t be beneficial to all involved. In fact, many people enjoy hosting moochdockers!
Why Choose Driveway Surfing?
Now that you know what moochdocking is, the next question is, why do it? Honestly, there are a lot of reasons one might choose driveway surfing over a traditional campground or RV park.
The first and most obvious reason for moochdocking is the one we’ve already mentioned: money. Since you don’t generally have to pay to camp on a friend’s driveway, you save whatever you would have spent on a campsite for the amount of time you’re there. Depending on how long you stay and where your friend is located, this might just save you a bundle!
Spend Time with Friends and Family
When you stay on someone’s property, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them. For this reason, moochdocking is often the best way to go when you want to get the most out of a short visit to see family or friends. Just make sure everyone involved wants to be spending a lot of time together before you dive in!
Take a Break
If you’ve been driving all day long and spending a lot of nights in Walmart and Cracker Barrel parking lots, a driveway in a quiet neighborhood can be a welcome break. Who knows? If you’re close enough to the person you’re staying with, you might even get a real bath in a real bathtub to boot!
Clearly, moochdocking is awesome for us RVers. That said, it is very important that we consider the feelings of our hosts as well. After all, we want to be welcomed back, right?
The best way to go about this? Follow the unspoken but oh-so-important moochdocking etiquette rules—which, to be honest, are mostly just common courtesy.
Know the Official Rules
Before you set anything up, make sure you know the official rules surrounding parking an RV on your host’s property. Many HOAs do not allow RVs in the neighborhood at all. Meanwhile, some cities have rules against RVs parked in driveways. Look these rules up and know them before you park on your friend’s land. After all, you wouldn’t want to be the one to get them in trouble.
Ensure You’ll Fit
Not all driveways are big enough for our homes-on-wheels. Not only that, but some are so sloped they are impossible for an RV to get into or out of. Before you show up at your host’s home, ask them to measure the place where you will be parked to ensure you will fit. You’ll also want to ask about any dips or slopes that may make things difficult for you. A photo of the spot could also help you spot potential problems before you arrive.
Discuss Length of Stay Before You Arrive
One thing you absolutely do not want to do when driveway surfing? Overstay your welcome. You can do your best to avoid this by discussing length of stay before you arrive and then sticking to the departure date that was discussed. No extending your stay, especially not indefinitely.
Additionally, when asking to stay during certain dates, you should try to stick to shorter periods of time. Keep in mind that some people have a hard time saying no, even if they’d rather you didn’t stay quite so long, so keeping your requested dates to a minimum will help ensure you don’t overstay your welcome.
Ask Before You Use
Always, always ask before you use anything on your friend or family member’s property. This includes the water and electricity, of course, but also the dumpster, outdoor toys, and the internet. Even if you know your host will agree to let you use these things, using them without asking is (obviously) extremely rude.
Limit Electricity and Water Usage
If your host does agree to let you plug into their electricity or hookup to their water spigot, be sure to use these resources sparingly. You definitely don’t want to be the cause of an enormous bill for your generous friend or family member. Besides, if all your host has to offer is a 15-amp outlet, you will absolutely flip a breaker if you draw too much electricity.
Dispose of Wastewater Properly
Never, ever dump waste water on the ground, especially not on your host’s property. Obviously, black water is absolutely disgusting and not something someone wants in their yard, and it is always illegal to dump it on the ground besides. Gray water is pretty gross in its own right, and dumping it on the ground is stinky and also illegal in many places.
So what should you do about your wastewater? Some people might have a septic cleanout you can dump into. Otherwise, you will need to head to a nearby dump station.
At the end of your stay, be sure to offer to pay for the resources you used. Your friend may insist that you don’t owe them anything for your stay. In this case, we highly recommend going out and getting your host a nice gift with which to thank them. A gift card or a bottle of wine is sure to leave a smile on your friend’s face!
Where to Find Moochdocking Opportunities
The most obvious place to set up a driveway campsite is at the home of a friend or family member. These are a great place to start, and we love that they allow for such good visits. That said, they aren’t the only driveway surfing opportunities out there.
If you find you love moochdocking and you want to do more of it, you might love Boondockers Welcome. This is a service that connects those who love hosting campers with campers looking for a spot to stop for a night or two. It’s a great way to find free or super cheap stays during your travels, and an even better way to meet new people and make new friends!
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