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Why You Need to Avoid "Dry Camping" When RVing

I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.

What is Dry Camping and Why You Need to Know defines this type of camping experience for RV owners who have never understood exactly what it is.

Those who practice this form of travel say they enjoy it, but this may be due to the fact that dry camping costs little or nothing to do. Some, of course, do it because they feel that dry camping brings them closer to nature.

Whatever there reasons, certainly it is up to them to decide how they wish to travel. However, the average RVer would do well to stay in standard campgrounds because there are good reasons for doing so.

These work well for people as long as they take the time to research the parks they plan to visit and utilize the many resources and plans that help them to save money.

There are good reasons why people need to avoid dry camping and camp in standard campgrounds.

There are good reasons why people need to avoid dry camping and camp in standard campgrounds.

Comfort

Aside from the financials, the biggest difference in the two forms of RVing is comfort.

One of the great joys of RVing is that you have everything you need in order to function well right in your coach.

To use a camper, travel trailer or motorhome properly, the utilities need to be connected to a source. Dry campsites do not have hookups, but standard campsites do.

This means that when utilities are connected travelers can enjoy the benefits of air conditioning, TV, WIFI services, water and refrigeration and heat that run on electric rather than propane.

Dry campers with generators will have many of these same amenities, but not all of them and only for short periods of time. Furthermore, if they run their generators to supply their electric needs, doing so can easily cost them more than some standard campsite fees!

Staying at a campground gives people access to water, sewer, electric and other amenities that you cannot get when dry camping.

Staying at a campground gives people access to water, sewer, electric and other amenities that you cannot get when dry camping.

Safety

Personal safety is another issue people should consider when deciding whether to dry or standard camp.

Many RV parks offer 24/7 security. This means that they

  • lock their gates after dark an do not open them again until dawn,
  • have an employee drive through the park regularly and at all hours to check for problems and
  • provide emergency phone contacts for campers in the event of problems of any type.

It is very common for these facilities to also provide literature that tells people where the closest hospital is and provides contact numbers for police, fire and other important services.

An Experience to Remember

Many people take this service for granted, but it can be extremely valuable. For example:

My husband and I were once in a situation where the town we were visiting had a fire ban. Some kids staying in our RV Park there decided to light a huge campfire very close to trees and also to our motorhome. It was windy, and sparks were flying all over the place. The office was closed, but we had the phone number of the local fire department. Thus we were able to have them come out and tell the kids to put out the fire.

Had we been dry camping, there would have been no such information available, we likely would not have had cell service and would likely have had to drive away in order to stay safe.

Isolation

Many people dry camp because they want to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

However, real dry camping means going to isolated locations where absolutely no help would be available and cell phones would not work.

Furthermore, when you dry camp, you can easily become victimized by thieves or worse. There are no policemen available to help you and generally no other campers around to do the same.

If you suffer a bad injury, a heart attack or some other serious health problem, you could well be out of luck because you wouldn’t even know where the closest medical facility is located unless you think to ask as you enter an area.

Furthermore, it might be so far away that getting there would be difficult and sometimes life-threatening.

When you stay in a campground, you have none of these worries because you are surrounded by people and are easily able to access any type of help you might need.

Most RVers never think about these types of issues because they focus on having fun. They assume they won’t need help, so they don’t make advance arrangements when planning trips.

However, making sure you stay at a park that is located close to pharmacies, doctors and hospitals is very important.

You don’t have this option when you dry camp simply because doing so isolates you.

Cost

There is no question that dry camping generally costs less than staying in pay to play RV Parks.

However, saving a few dollars may not be worth the problems and dangers people have to deal with when they dry camp.

I strongly believe that if people knew that there were campgrounds with hookups where they could stay for little or no money, they might be less inclined to dry camp and much more likely to stay in standard campgrounds.

Live Rent Free in Your RV and How to Save a Ton of Money on Your RV Road Trips show people how this can be done and also provide resources to prove that this is true.

Paying to Play Is Worth Every Penny

My husband and I have been RV enthusiasts for more than 50 years. We have made a practice of always protecting our safety and our wallets. The way we have done this is to do a lot of research prior to taking any vacations.

Those of you who dry camp in order to save money are giving up a great deal when doing so isn’t really necessary.

Yes, once in a while you find yourself in a situation where you have to stay in a rest area that allows overnight camping, but under normal circumstances you should avoid doing so due to safety, comfort and health issues.

We have literally found nice parks with hookups where we can stay for free, for $11 or $15 per night. That is less than the cost of running a generator for one night!

The bottom line is that we have proven that you can enjoy your RV vacations more and spend less money if you avoid dry camping, and you should, because doing so will keep you more comfortable and safe.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Sondra Rochelle

Comments

Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on January 01, 2020:

I know more than you think! However, I also believe to each his own. Personally, I prefer to have air conditioning, plenty of water and entertainment when I camp, but if you neither want nor need those things, I say to each his own. There are many ways for people to camp, all have their place. As for safety, one is much safer where others are close by than they are when staying alone in the wilds.

drycamper on December 31, 2019:

You obviously know nothing about dry camping on public lands. People do it because they want quiet amidst lovely scenery like mountains, rivers, lakes. There is nothing unsafe about it. We did it almost exclusively for 16 years of full-timing. It wasn't about money at all. We had solar and had all the power we needed. We could stay there for two weeks before having to dump the tanks. By that time we were ready to move on so no big deal. To us, and to most dry campers, RV parks are too confining, noisy and the scenery of looking at other RVs is not pleasant. RVers definitely don't need hookups. Look at all the dry campers in national parks, national forest campgrounds, etc. They are there because of getting the overall great experience of staying IN those places.

Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on February 10, 2019:

Liz Westwood: Thanks for posting this. Things have changed since the old days, so people need to be aware of what they do, where they go and where they park. RVing is still a great way to travel, but it only stays great if travelers are smart about how they do it.

Liz Westwood from UK on February 09, 2019:

This article gives some great advice. I have seen many dry campers parked up in their RVs overlooking the coast in Portugal. I heard of a spate of gas attacks in France a few years ago. A gang would pipe gas in through an open caravan or RV window in an isolated location, sending the occupants into a deep sleep or worse and then break in and take their valuables. You can't put a price on personal security and comfort.