The True Freedom of Boondocking

By Rocio and Gabe Rivero

We started van-life in the summer of 2020, as the pandemic was in full swing. We had already been fulltime RVers for two and a half years, but we were stationary in our fifth-wheel for a long time at that point.

 With no place to really go on weekends during the pandemic in the 5th wheel, Rocio suggested trying a van for weekend trips. After searching for a month, we found our perfect van in New Mexico. We put a down payment on the van from almost 1,000 miles away with only a handful of pictures via text to go on.

That next weekend we set off on a road trip from southern California to pick him up. His name is Vincent Van-Go or Vinnie for short. On the way back to SoCal, we did a mini trip through parts of Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, and we were immediately hooked!

We boondocked the entire trip back from New Mexico, and every spot was awesome. Our favorite place to boondock camp on the initial trip was just north of Flagstaff Arizona, in the middle of a national forest. It was amazing how easy finding a spot to park the van was, and the sense of freedom we had will remain with us forever.

Benefits of Boondocking

For us, boondocking is what this life is all about. To begin with, it’s either free or a few bucks to stay in an amazing, beautiful place. The freedom and oneness with nature while boondocking can never be replicated with a paid campsite or city spot.

Boondocking has routinely given us the most gorgeous places to call home for a few nights – and for $0. Those spots also come with no check-in or check-out times, few if any neighbors for miles, and ample opportunity to let the dogs have a great time in nature.

Challenges Faced While Boondocking

We’ve had several challenges while boondocking. From getting stuck, to breaking down and having to get towed over 100 miles, to propane leaks and more.

But you know what? It’s life, and things will inevitably happen. You can’t get around it, but you can learn to breathe and try to be as calm as possible. That is the main thing. Just take a second to relax, and then figure out your next move.

What we can say is that for every headache and setback like what we just mentioned, there are hundreds of amazing memories we wouldn’t trade for anything.

Drawbacks of Boondocking?

Drawbacks really depend on the person and what each individual looks for in a campsite and adventure.

For us, the only drawback is the limited time we can spend in a location, because tank size and supplies are limited. When you are in a campsite, there are usually hookups and stores that you can take advantage of on a constant basis.

Final Advice For Those Interested In Boondocking

Honestly, just go for it and trust your gut. You know your comfort level better than anyone. So, if you don’t feel comfortable somewhere, you can always move.
If you are unsure or nervous, then you may want to start with some easy trips like a state park or national park, so you can get a taste of the boondocking experience in a more controlled and safer environment. Once you realize how amazing it is and you feel comfortable, then you can take that next step.
This life is what you make it, so try not to stress. And if you do get out there, you will find not only some of the most gorgeous places, but also some of the most amazing people, as this community is awesome.

Find Rocio and Gabe on Instagram @ourmixedjourney! All photos courtesy of Rocio and Gabe Rivero.

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