Boondocking: A How-To Guide

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Self-Sufficiency and Privacy

By Kartk and Sim

 We are Kartik, Sim and Everest, a couple of Indians from Toronto, Canada. We started our vanlife journey in Toronto, Canada and started making our way down south towards Patagonia in August 2020.

Our journey began from a need to experience long-term travel, a change in pace of life, and to escape the traditional path set out for south asian adults. We bought a 1977 Dodge camper back in 2018 and slowly started working on restoring our old lady, which took two years.

The first time we boondocked was on crown lands (public lands in Canada) in an area called Pancake Bay in Ontario, Canada. This was within the first couple weeks of our vanlife journey back in August 2020. The most beautiful spot, by Lake Superior, has had us chasing beautiful boondocking spots ever since then!

Pros of Boondocking

• Freedom is a key benefit of boondock camping. You can get to a point where you are self-sufficient.

• Boondocking can also serve as a great way to test out your build to find out what may be missing, and then go back and implement the changes.

• Furthermore, boondock camping spots – though sometimes hard to get to – often turn out to be less crowded and way more scenic.

Potential Downsides of Boondocking

As early vanlifers without a built-in toilet feature, we struggled to find a private space at one particular camping spot to be able to do our business. The next day, however, we fixed this “con”: we drove back into town and bought a pop-up changing tent to solve our privacy issue.

Another downside of boondock camping for some is that you have to leave the spot at some point to resupply on food, water and any other supplies (as opposed to an established campground where hookups and amenities can be present). Also, finding and keeping cell service can potentially be an issue, for example if digital remote work has to be done, or if you run into any emergencies.

Final Thoughts on Boondocking In Your Rig

Please understand that the vanlife experience or camping out is not meant to evoke the same physical state as being inside a traditional home. We advise that you not always try to figure out ways to feel like you are living inside a traditional house, because simply put, you are not – and that is fine. This is a conscious decision you have made because of the other advantages vanlife has to offer.

Be prepared to get addicted to this lifestyle, as it will be hard to come back to more traditional ways of living.

Find Smriti and Kartik on Instagram @thebrownvanlife!

Photos courtesy of Smriti Bhadauria and Kartik Vasan.

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