When you are dry camping or boondocking it means that your RV is not connected to a water source or any other utilities. It means that you have to carry your water supply in your RV whether it is in your freshwater tank and, if you desire, in additional portable containers. For the sake of this article, I’ll talk about the water conservation aspects of dry camping as opposed to power/electricity/propane conservation. I’ll cover those topics in other blog posts at some point.
Not everybody enjoys dry camping, but by partaking in it you get to enjoy so much more of the peace and quiet of nature, more out-of-the-way places and wilder destinations that go beyond the mainstream campground with hookups. As well, you can overnight park/camp on the streets, in parking lots and at other non-campground locations.
I recently completed a 12-day dry camping trip where I was boondocking both in urban areas and in rural campgrounds that didn’t have hookups (potable water or electricity). My RV has a 42-gallon freshwater tank and I was traveling solo. It is filled up with potable water through the hose, that I carry with me all of the time in the RV. For this particular trip, I filled my tank at my permanent RV lot, left on the trip for 12 days and returned with more than half of the water tank still full.
Not everyone enjoys dry camping, but by partaking in it you get to enjoy so much more of the peace and quiet of nature, more out-of-the-way places and destinations that go beyond the mainstream campground with hookups.
Each trip is different, but I have determined that I can probably dry camp for at least 14 days without concern for running out of water when I’m traveling solo. Add another person and it’s likely that the water supply would last 7 days based on equal usage for both people. On this trip, I also managed to take only two showers inside the RV during the 12 days. And boy, did I stink for the entire trip! Just teasing. Although I often skip a day or sometimes even two depending on the activities that I do or don’t do during the day and whether or not I “need” to shower or not. Sometimes a sponge bath is good enough to get you going without offending anyone that you come in contact with. On this particular trip, I went to a couple of different gyms to workout and then I took showers after my workouts and when I was in a campground, I would use their shower facilities. By doing this I really was able to cut down a lot on my water usage. Showers are the biggest water hogs, especially when you have long hair like I do and you need to get all of that shampoo out of it.
…I have determined that I can probably dry camp for at least 14 days without concern for running out of water when I’m traveling solo.
When I shower in the RV, I always use the water cut-off valve on the shower head. This will stop the flow of water in between soaping up and rinsing off. Most, if not all RVs come with this type of shower head and if they don’t you can easily get one. You can also choose to get a low-flow shower head which is designed to conserve water, preferably one with a cut-off valve also.
Another way that I conserve water is in the kitchen. When I’m dry camping, I intentionally let the dishes pile up in the sink. It’s not so pretty looking at dirty dishes piled up in the sink, but if necessary I will throw something on top of it to cover up the eyesore. At the point where I can’t stand it anymore, I’ll do the dishes. I’ll literally allow only a small stream of water to flow from the tap when I begin. Then I’ll shut the tap off after giving the dishes a light rinse over. Next, I’ll soap them all up with the tap still off. Once washed, I’ll turn the tap on with the same small stream of water – just enough to rinse everything off. It’s really quite amazing how little water you actually need to do the dishes. Tent campers would know all about this already.
As far as drinking water goes. I never drink the water from the taps in the RV. I just don’t trust that the water tank and water sources are always dependable as far as water safety goes. Eventually, I would like to have some type of filtration system in place, but for now, I only drink bottled water that I purchase and stock inside the RV. I always try to have a couple of gallons around if possible. Camping stores and outfitters sell larger water storage devices that collapse that can also come in handy when traveling with other people. Water can also be boiled on the stovetop when in dry camp mode. I only use this method as a last resort since I need to conserve propane, which is used for cooking, and for other uses in the RV, like heat and operating the fridge/freezer when in dry camp mode.
On this particular trip, I went to a couple of different gyms to workout and then I took showers after my workouts and when I was in a campground, I would use their shower facilities.
Now, the toilet. I saved the best for last. The water that is used to flush your toilet also comes from your freshwater tank and can also be conserved. Maybe you don’t want to hear about pee and poop, but here goes. It’s a part of life and pee and poop management is even more of a conscious reality when living and traveling in an RV where you drive around with your pee and poop for days on end. As far as pee management goes, you don’t have to flush every single time you go. Collect your pee. Water it down with some water if you need or want to and then flush it every few times instead of every single time. I use my foot pedal to add a bit of water from time to time by stepping on it half-way to water down the pee without actually sending it into the black water tank. Sometimes, as a back-up, I’ll fill up a one-gallon water bottle at the campground or a rest stop for use in the toilet if the water tank supply is low. Thankfully, when I travel solo, which is often, I don’t have to worry about how others feel about my pee collecting. But, if you’re traveling with pee-collection-fearing companions you can always adjust to their needs.
As far as solids go, I always flush solids down right away. No need for ‘splaining.
I was so happy to have completed 12 days with only half of my water tank depleted. My previous record was 10 days, so I think I’m getting better at my water conservation techniques. Living the RV life really gives you a different perspective on conservation and makes you realize just how much water is used unnecessarily in day-to-day life. It even makes you appreciate having any amount of water in the first place. •
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