RV Mold And Mildew

RV Mold And Mildew

Many RV owners are concerned about preventing mold and mildew in order to avoid potential health problems and financial loss. Unfortunately, many RV owners simply assume their RV insurance covers against mold and mildew, but in fact, that is often not the case.

What Causes Mold Growth?

 

Molds are found in damp and dark areas like

  • air conditioners
  • bathrooms
  • carpets
  • garbage containers
  • mattresses
  • old foam rubber pillows
  • places with standing water
  • refrigerators
  • under sinks
  • upholstery

Problems Associated With Mold

  • Medical: Mold spores are microscopic organisms that can float through the air and cause problems with allergies, asthma, infections, and other respiratory issues. Anyone can suffer from medical issues related to mold. However, infants and children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems may experience more severe reactions. People with breathing problems like asthma or who have weakened immune systems should stay away from moldy sites.
  • RV: If your RV has mold, everything that has been contaminated must be cleaned properly and dried. Items that cannot be properly cleaned and dried must be removed and thrown away.

A few tips on how to prevent mold and mildew

  1. Routinely check gaskets and seals. Making sure that your RV is well-sealed is one of the first steps to preventing a future moisture problem that could lead to mold or mildew.
  2. Allow air to circulate. Air circulation is critical in preventing mold and mildew in an RV, especially in humid environments. Keep air filters clean and maintain proper circulation at all times.
  3. Keep it clean. Use a simple solution of bleach and water when cleaning showers, sinks, or other areas associated with high humidity.
  4. Prompt repairs. Make sure all repairs are performed promptly and by a reputable service provider. Be sure to test the seal for window, vinyl or other repairs where moisture could become a problem.
  5. Leaks. A potential source of leaks includes sinks, hook-ups, and toilets. Schedule a routine leak inspection.

How to Remove Mold and Repair Your RV

Mold removal and repairs are serious projects that may be difficult or dangerous, so it may be best to get help from a professional. If you must remove the mold yourself, follow these steps:

  • Wear Protective Gear: If you are removing any damaged property on your own, make sure you wear protective eye masks or goggles, filter face masks, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and waterproof boots to avoid contact with the mold.
  • Dry the Structure: Clean and dry the structure as quickly as possible. If your RV has been empty for several days, open the doors and windows to let the RV air out for at least 30 minutes before you stay for any length of time. Open inside doors, especially closets and bathrooms. Open kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity doors, and wipe them clean.
  • Circulate Air: When electricity is safe to operate, use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture. Position fans to blow air out doors and windows.
  • Remove All Contaminated Materials: Ensure that you have located all contaminated materials and personal property. Remove and dispose of anything that was wet and can’t be cleaned and dried completely.
  • Cleaning: Clean with water and detergent. Remove all mold you can see. Dry right away. If you use cleaning products, do not mix cleaning products together. DO NOT mix bleach and ammonia because they can create toxic vapors.  After you finish cleaning the RV, shower and change your clothes as soon as possible. This will help you avoid carrying mold and other hazards back to your current living quarters.
  • Repair: Painting or caulking over mold will not prevent mold from growing. Fix the water or moisture problem completely and clean up all the mold before you paint or caulk. All mold must be removed and all areas must be disinfected before repairs can begin.

Remember, mold and mildew are preventable problems that are rarely covered by your RV insurance but could substantially reduce the appraisal of the RV.

Apps that Make Traveling Easier

Apps that Make Traveling Easier

Gas Buddy Logo

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

GasBuddy– When it comes to fuel, we are all looking for a way to save money. This social app allows users to share the prices they are paying at the pump.  This makes it easier to find the best value in a given area. This is also a great resource for finding the closest gas station and nearby parking.


Image Credit: TJ DeGroat/ flicker

Hotel Tonight Logo

HotelTonight– Usually when planning a trip, the destinations and stops are usually predetermined. There are times, though, that you could find yourself needing to stop to rest to avoid falling asleep behind the wheel. This app is designed to allow you to book discounted rooms in just a few minutes at the last minute.

TripAdvisor LogoImage Credit: Wikimedia Commons

TripAdvisor– TripAdvisor is a great app that has countless recommendations for different things such as hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more. This is perfect for those on a road trip as it is easy to not be aware of what’s around you if you aren’t familiar with the area. In addition to giving you recommendations, it allows you to book tables and restaurants in the app and compare prices for hotels and flights.

ParkMe Logo

ParkMe Parking– Specifically designed to check parking in any location, it is the world’s largest and most accurate parking database. Through the app you will be able to compare prices and buy your parking spot. It includes street parking and meter rates and parking lots. Real-time updates will be given to you on parking spots. The only thing to keep in mind is that the rates and hours may be inaccurate in some locations. This is a beneficial app to use when taking a road trip in the US, Canada or Europe.

Open Table Logo

Image Credit: Wikipedia

OpenTable– If you are looking for somewhere to eat while on the road that isn’t a well-known fast-food chain, this is the app to use. It allows you to search local restaurants, check out the reviews and make reservations all within the app. There are filters for you to choose your preferred settings and you will be able to access images of the dishes as well to help you make your decision.

Image Credit: Sean MacEntee  / flickr

Hotels.com– This is another great app to help you look for a last-minute stay. Perfect for when your plans change unexpectedly, you will be able to find and book somewhere while you are on the go. You will be able to filter through hotels and see what amenities they have included as well as compare prices and see what rooms are available.


Image Credit: Dominic Alves  / flickr

RAC’S Motoring Service- Safest driving routes is the name of the game with this app. They believe safety is the top priority and assists you in helping to avoid accidents. It is also extremely conscious of current weather conditions. You will be able to find hotels, and it has a fuel cost calculator included to ensure you aren’t overspending on gas. Unlimited stops are possible without a subscription in this app unlike some of their competitors.

TravelSpeed

Image Credit: OpenClipart-Vectors / Pixabay

TravelSpend– This app allows you to keep track of your budget. Simply input your budget and expenses for the length of your trip to keep yourself accountable to avoid overspending. If you are travelling with friends, you will be able to pay debts, split bills and check balances all within your app. TravelSpend is perfect to keep you accountable while you are out having fun.

 

 

Late Fall RV Camping in Ontario

Late Fall RV Camping in Ontario

RV travelers love fall at Ontario Parks even after Canadian Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October). Some even camp in winter. Park staff affectionately call these campers ‘winter warriors’ since staying warm and maintaining the water systems in your RV in Ontario’s winter temperatures is a challenge.  These four Ontario Parks are your best bet for late fall camping in an RV. Know that trailer fill stations for water are normally closed later in the season, based on weather.  However, three parks have campgrounds offering electrical service and comfort stations with hot showers that are open year-round. The fourth, Killarney Provincial Park, does not have electrical service.  The park also closes its comfort stations and turns off its water systems following the Canadian Thanksgiving, but the bathrooms outside of the main office remain open along with a tap so campers can access water to fill large jugs. Don’t forget that you need a park permit to camp in any season at Ontario Parks. More detailed RV information is on the Ontario Parks web site.

Mew Lake Campground is in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario’s oldest provincial park and its most famous. It’s about 3.5 hours north of Toronto at km 30.8 on Highway 60 which runs east-west through the southern portion of Algonquin.  You can get cell phone reception at the Algonquin Visitor Centre which is open on weekends. Algonquin’s legendary fall colors generally peak in late September. Late fall colors known as the ‘golden encore’ are worth experiencing too, especially on the park’s many hiking trails. Ian Shanahan, a former Algonquin Natural Heritage Education Specialist, describes the ‘golden encore’ in this Park Blog post. In winter, Algonquin’s cross-country ski trails are fantastic. They’re groomed, well-signed and include heated warming huts. Pine Tree Loop, one of Algonquin’s Leaf Trails is regarded by many as the finest cross-country ski trail in ‘southern’ Ontario. For Algonquin’s news, follow @Algonquin_PP

MacGregor Point Provincial Park and its year-round Birch Boulevard Campground are on Lake Huron near Port Elgin, about 4 hours northwest of Toronto. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served or reservation basis, depending on the time of year. Birdwatchers ‘flock’ to this park especially during spring and fall migrations. Visit in spring for the park’s annual spring Huron Fringe Birding Festival which celebrates the return of songbirds. And in the fall, Wild for the Arts art festival is another popular park event. Electrical sites in Birch Boulevard are large, level, and well-treed. Staff suggest you pack an extra-long electrical cord to ensure you can reach your site’s electrical outlet. Park hiking trails range from easy to moderate. Mountain biking is also permitted on some trails so pack your bike. In winter, the park’s heated yurts are popular for overnight stays. Eleven kilometers of trails are groomed for cross country skiing, and you can ski or snowshoe many more kilometers of unplowed park roads. If you love to skate (weather-permitting).  MacGregor Point’s cool skate path through the woods is worth the drive. For the latest park news, follow @MacGregorPoint on Twitter.

Cedars_Trail_Pinery_Provincial_Pk

Sunsets at Pinery Provincial Park on Lake Huron are rated by National Geographic as “among the top 10 best in the world’. This popular beach park is booked solid in summer but in late fall it is far less busy and offers some good year-round recreation in its rare Carolinian forests and rolling dunes. There are 10 kilometers of walking trails, a 14-kilometer bike trail and 38 kilometers of groomed ski trails (weather-permitting). Thousands of Tundra Swans pass by the park in spring. In winter, Red-tailed Hawks and Tufted Titmice hang out at the park’s Visitor Centre feeders. The park’s Riverside Campground Area 1 stays open all year and has electrical outlets and a winterized comfort station with flush toilets and showers. Heated yurts and a winterized cabin are also available for rent in the campground. Get Pinery’s latest news on Twitter @PineryProvPark

Chikanishing_Trail_Killarney

A wild Lake Huron- Georgian Bay coastline, the LA Cloche quartzite mountain range and 50 sapphire-colored lakes are what you can expect to see at Killarney Provincial Park. Fall hiking trails range from two to sixty kilometers in length and their degree of difficulty runs from moderate to strenuous. You can also bike Killarney’s roads or the bike trail which runs along the Chikanishing Creek to the Chikanishing Access Point. George Lake Campground is open year-round but as mentioned earlier in this post, it does not have electrical sites and turns off its water and closes its comfort stations following the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday (second Monday in October). Park staff do leave the main office outside bathrooms open and have installed a tap specific to fill large water jugs. In winter, George Lake campground is walk-in only. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers rent the campground’s heated yurts.  Park staff provide toboggans so campers can haul their gear to a heated yurt. Staff say winter campers love the walk-in since it gives them a sense of “remoteness”. The trail is between 500 and 700 meters long.

Featured Image Credit: ZIPNON / Pixabay
In Post Image 1: Tony Webster / flickr
In Post Image 2: Wikimedia Commons
In Post Image 3: Wikimedia Commons
In Post Image 4: Wikimedia Commons

The Best Places for Boondocking in the United States

The Best Places for Boondocking in the United States

The notion of primitive camping in wild places is not for everyone, but for adventurous, intrepid travelers that don’t mind the mystery and gentle grit of off-the-grid living, the United States offers boundless opportunities for campers and RVers to experience some of the country’s most impressive natural areas- all without dipping into your wallet. From BLM public land (Bureau of Land Management) and National Forest service roads to wildlife areas and state parks and everything in between, here’s our roundup of some of the best places for boondocking in the United States.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image Credit: Carrie Kaufmann/ flickr

Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California

California is one of the most traveled-to and populous states in the country, so it’s no surprise that free dispersed campsites can be a bit harder to find. Boondockers traveling to Southern California can find solace in Anza Borrego State Park, though: the state’s largest state park, and the only one that allows permit-free and fee-free primitive camping. With hundreds of miles of slot canyon hiking trails and remote dirt roads that truly make you feel like you’re off the beaten track- and sometimes, on another planet! – it’s quite the dose of solitude, yet you’re still under two hours from the bustling San Diego coast. Our insider tip: try and go during Spring to catch the park’s rainbow carpet of wildflowers!


Image Credit: My Public Lands Magazine via Wikimedia Commons

Quartzite, Arizona

Quartzite, a small Arizona desert town halfway between Phoenix and Palm Springs, has a bit of a legend’s lore attached to it. While there certainly may be more scenic places to boondock in Arizona, part of Quartzite’s allure is the community it attracts, especially during the winter months, when the town’s population swells tenfold, and it hosts several mineral and gem shows, quirky swap meets, and a handful of notable rendezvous geared toward those living on the road. It’s nearly all primitive camping, and you can park as close or as far away from others as you wish, but the most memorable part of your stay will probably be the conversations and connections with like-minded travelers and characterful rubber tramps, so don’t stray too far from the action

Lake Whitney Rainbow
Image Credit: RamiLudo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lake Whitney, Texas

Located right in the heart of Texas and less than 90 minutes from the cities of Dallas and Waco, beautiful Lake Whitney is a boondocker’s hidden treasure. Maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, the entire lake- which is a controlled reservoir on a section of the Brazos River- offers several different areas of free primitive campsites, most of which come with a fire ring, a shaded picnic table, and a spectacular view of the water. The public access is superb, with endless opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating, and the abundance of trees around the sites makes you feel like you have your own slice of lakefront paradise. It’s a fantastic retreat for campers looking to beat the Texas heat.

San Juan National Forest
Image Credit: Stefan Serena / flickr

San Juan National Forest, Colorado

Colorado makes a strong case as one of the very top states for truly epic boondocking experiences, and for good reason: the dispersed camping is often very dispersed, and the storybook views you’ll find from many sites are hard to beat. Some of our favorite areas lay within the rugged, awe-inspiringly beautiful San Juan National Forest, close to the towns of Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. The forest service roads you’ll have at your disposal are seemingly endless, and you can take your pick based on what your vehicle can handle.

While trickier during the snowy winter months, summer and the shoulder seasons offer crisp high elevation air, and more outdoor activities to keep you busy than you’ll know what to do with.

MOAB
Image Credit: Antrell Williams / flickr

Moab, Utah

Moab leaves quite an impression with its stately red rock formations and towering desert buttes, and the boondocking options are bound to do the same. From the La Sal Loop Road in Manti La-Sal National Forest- oh, the views! – to Klondike Bluffs Road on BLM land just outside of town, places with dispersed camping are far and wide, and often offer a gateway to adventure right outside your doorstep, which is probably why you’re in Moab to begin with! Although a bit further from the city, there are plenty of accessible public land pull-offs right outside of Canyonlands National Park, too, if you’re looking for a quick gateway into the park.

Coconino National Forest
Image Credit: Kevin Dooley / flickr

Coconino National Forest, Arizona

Coconino National Forest blankets an expansive area in and around the flourishing cities of Sedona and Flagstaff, and you could probably spend years trying to explore all the boondock- able service roads in the area and still not see them all. Depending on how far you’re looking to stray from the main trailheads and attractions- and more importantly, depending on the off-road capabilities of your home on wheels- you’ll find something that suits your style and comfort level. The closer to Grand Canyon National Park you get, the tougher it may be to simply pull up and snag a spot, but if you look hard enough, trust us, you’ll find something.

Buffalo Gap Grasslands
Image Credit: Bri Weldon / flickr

Buffalo Gap National Grassland, South Dakota

It’s hard to grasp the vastness of Buffalo Gap National Grassland until you’ve spent a few days camping within the area. With sweeping prairie vistas, alienesque rock outcroppings and slingshot views of neighboring Badlands National Park, this sprawling piece of nature in southwest South Dakota is a boondocker’s delight, and camping seclusion at its finest. A couple of the most desirable areas to drop anchor are Badlands Overlook and Nomad View, sections of dusty, bumpy roads teetering alongside cliffs that offer surreal vistas of the Buffalo Gap and the distant Black Hills. It’s a great place to truly unwind and feel the scope of endless skies and grasslands on the horizon.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest
Image Credit: Intermountain Forest Service, USDA Region 4 Photography / flickr

Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Idaho/Wyoming Border

Both Wyoming and Idaho have their own long lists of spectacular boondocking areas- like the Sawtooth in Idaho or the Bridger-Teton Wilderness in Wyoming, for starters- but one of our favorite under-the-radar spots is the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, which extends its sprawling woodlands, winding rivers and granite peaks into both states. The primitive campsites which straddle the Idaho-Wyoming border near Moose Creek are especially inspiring and are bound to offer a solitary wilderness experience- and perhaps even some wildlife sightings! – you won’t soon forget.

Featured Image Credit: RV Hive/ flickr

Stealth Camping: The Essential Guide

Stealth Camping: The Essential Guide

What Exactly Is Stealth Camping?

Stealth camping, or ninja camping, is like regular van or RV camping, except nobody should know you were ever there after you’ve left. The goal is to attract as little attention as possible to avoid getting spotted and told to leave.

Why do people stealth camp? One of the main reasons that people stealth camp is to avoid expensive campground/parking fees. Others stealth camp out of exhaustion after driving a long time, or to be near a special attraction when they wake in the morning.

Consider this article your one-stop shop for all things related to stealth camping, including which locations are best, how to prep your van, what to do if you’re caught, and more.


Image Credit: Neil Turner / flickr

How To Prep Your Van for Stealth Camping

To avoid unwanted attention when stealth camping, consider these tips on preparing your van:

  • Tinting your van’s windows is a great way to add a bit of privacy and should also help keep the cabin cool in the summer. Just don’t tint them below the legal limit, or you may get stopped and given a ticket.
  • Another option is to soundproof your van. Check the weatherstripping around the doors and windows, as age can cause cracks that allow more noise. You may also consider adding sound-deadening “acoustic” curtains.
  • Electrical hookups aren’t usually an option for stealth campers. You can combat this by installing solar panels in your van and/or carrying extra batteries.
  • Leaving your RV’s door open is another thing that may draw attention, especially if the radio is on or you’re cooking something. Installing an RV vent fan is a much more subtle alternative for keeping the cabin cool.

10 Places That Often Work For Stealth Camping

  1. Legal Street Parking: Street parking is usually paid for until late afternoon. So long as you show up after the paid period is finished and leave before it begins, you should be good to go.
  2. Hotel Parking Lots: Many hotel chains, like Best Western, Holiday Inn, or Mariott, make solid stealth camping locations. Just make sure parking is not enclosed and that a parking pass isn’t required.
  3. Walmart: Yes, Walmart does permit overnight RV parking. Savvy stealth campers have even given this a nickname: “Wally Dock.”
  4. Cabela’s: Many Cabela locations allow overnight parking. However, rules differ between stores, so you might want to inquire first. Look for trailer parking too, which suggests overnight stealth camping is allowed.
  5. 24-hour Businesses: Gyms, laundry mats, and casinos are just some of the 24-hour businesses that should make for a solid 12-hour stay. These places usually see lots of traffic no matter the time of day, helping you to blend in.
  6. Mall Parking Lots: Mall parking is ideal due to having minimal policing. They are also usually well-lit. If you’re lucky, there may even have a designated area for overnight parking, so be on the lookout for signs indicating an overnight parking space.
  7. Truck Stops: Most truck stops tolerate RV camping. Moreover, you’ll usually have access to bathrooms, vending machines, and even water-refill stations. Just be sure to avoid parking in designated spots reserved for passing semi-trucks.
  8. City Parks: Parks can be hit or miss for stealthy campers. Some communities will post signs refusing overnight parking, while others encourage it and even offer free electrical hookups and water.
  9. Big Box Stores: Home Depot and Lowes do allow overnight parking. However, some state laws about sleeping in vehicles may supersede this, so it’s best to call ahead and check before setting up camp.
  10. Church Parking Lots: Religious establishments tend to be understanding of others and will likely permit your RV if you ask permission first. As a rule of thumb, though, parking at a church without permission is now allowed.

Places To Avoid When Looking For Stealth Camping

 

Government Buildings

Usually, government buildings are heavily surveilled and do not allow overnight parking. You’re also far more likely to leave with a fine if you park illegally at an embassy, DMV location, or any other government building.

Privileged/Underprivileged Neighborhoods

An unknown vehicle might be seen as a threat in upper-class neighborhoods, which may lead to someone calling the cops. While you might be able to get away with camping in a lower-class neighborhood, you also up the odds of getting robbed.

Airport Parking Lots

Other than the fact that airports are loud throughout the night, they also require a parking pass for anyone hoping to stay any amount of time. In terms of places to avoid when stealth camping, airport parking lots aren’t a reliable option.

Change Locations Frequently

While you shouldn’t have too much problem finding a place for a night, the last thing you want to do is overstay your welcome and get banned from future visits. For this reason, changing locations frequently is your best bet.

In general, if you can find 10 or so places in the area that let you stay overnight, and rotate between them, you should be set for a longer-term stay. Just be sure to clean up after yourself when leaving so you can keep the location on the list.

Porta-Potty
Image Credit: Ray_Shrewsberry / Pixabay

How To Find Bathrooms & Showers Stealth Camping In The City

 

    • Truck Stop Facilities: While you won’t typically find a truck stop inside a city, they are often found in the outskirts. Truck stops are not only friendly to respectful overnight RV parkers, but they also tend to offer public bathrooms and showers.
    • Add A Portable Toilet: If your RV doesn’t have a toilet, you may consider adding a portable one. Portable toilets are simple to set up/dismantle and typically start under $50. You can also bring a few “Waste Alleviation and Gelling” (WAG) bags as a last resort.
    • Gas Station Bathrooms: Sure, gas stations don’t usually have the cleanest bathrooms, but if you’re in a pinch, they do serve their purpose. For the best experience, check out this 2019 report by GasBuddy, which details which gas stations have the cleanest bathrooms in each state.
    • Body Wipes/Dry Shampoo: There are several personal hygiene products to consider when stealth camping, including body wipes and dry shampoo. If you haven’t heard of dry shampoo, it’s a powder that absorbs dirt, oil, and grease from your scalp without needing water.
    • Public Beach Showers: Many beaches offer public showers for people to rinse off salt and sand. While the water is usually cold, and you’ll likely be out in the open, beach showers do make a reliable option for stealth campers needing a wash.
    • Fast Food Chains: There’s almost always a Chick-Filet, Starbucks, or McDonald’s nearby. These fast-food chains have the best bathrooms, per Business Insider. If the lights are on, you can walk right in.

How To Cook Food When You’re Stealth Camping

 

Avoid Cooking Smelly Foods

For carnivores, there’s not much better than the smell of a sizzling T-bone or drumstick over a hot flame. Yes, BBQs go together with camping, but they also give off an aroma that can draw crowds.

Consider shelf-stable foods like canned tuna, protein bars, and peanut butter as protein-rich alternatives.

Consider Opening a Window

Cooking food when stealth camping in a van or RV does have its hazards (i.e., small spaces, open flames, poor ventilation). Before cooking, consider cracking a window or opening a vent.

You should also check that the kitchen is uncluttered to avoid a potential fire, as a van engulfed in flames isn’t exactly stealthy.

Keep Recipes Simple

The last thing you want is to have to hastily pack and leave when in the middle of cooking a complicated meal with many ingredients. Instead, keep recipes simple so that you can quickly put things away, move to a new location, and then finish preparing your meal.

For a few simple (and tasty) meals to cook when stealth camping, check out these recipes from Harvest Hosts.

Park Ranger Vehicle
Image Credit: DrFrank / Pixabay

What To Do If Someone Knocks

The occasional knock on the door is common when stealth camping. If someone does show up unannounced, don’t be surprised if it’s a security guard or the police telling you to leave. In some states, getting caught means an instant ticket. In others, you may just have to relocate.

Ignoring a knock on the door from law enforcement is not suggested as you may end up getting towed.

If someone knocks on your door at night and they don’t have a badge, you might do best to keep the door closed. Instead, slide a window open to communicate, which should at least keep you safe from someone with malicious intentions.

Finally, if you are told to leave, make sure to notate the location on a map so you don’t return. While you may not have gotten a ticket the first time around, the officer might not be as lenient on the second.

Plan Your Escape Route When Stealth Camping

There are a lot of things that can go wrong when stealth camping, like getting told to leave at 2am, having a bear show up to nibble on your tires, or getting harassed by an aggressive stranger.

For these reasons and more, your best bet is to prepare an escape route ahead of time so you can speed off in a hurry.

First, consider where you’ll go. Police stations, 24/7 businesses, or even just the nearest highway are all more secure than a secluded campsite.

If you’re camped somewhere without cell coverage, a health scare can be disastrous. For this reason, try to keep track of coverage quality before going too far into the wild, as you may have to return to a hotspot in a hurry.

To avoid stumbling, you should always keep the path to the driver’s seat is clear. Moreover, knowing where the ignition key is at all times will ensure you don’t waste time. Consider designating a place to store the keys that’s close to the steering wheel.

Stealth Camping in The Wilderness

Wild camping is essentially setting up camp in an undeveloped wilderness site. Camping in the wilderness is inherently sneaky, making it a perfect option for confident stealth campers.

Of course, there are downsides to wild camping, like not having electrical hookups, cell coverage, or toilets. There’s also the possibility you encounter some larger wildlife, like a coyote or even a bear.

When done right, stealth camping in the wilderness can be an extremely rewarding experience. To ensure your trip is a success, check out the wilderness stealth camping tips below.

 

Wilderness Stealth Camping Tips

              • Don’t Get Lost: You do not want to get lost when wild camping. For this reason, keep track of where you’re headed, notating any landmarks or signs along the way. If directions are not your forte, you can pick up one of the best handheld GPS devices for just $300.
              • Leave No Trace Behind: With the goal of stealth camping being to go unnoticed, you surely don’t want to leave behind a mess. Building a fire pit is fine, but leaving trash is not only bad for aesthetics but can harm wildlife as well.
              • Wear Bright Colors: No, bright-colored clothing is not ninja, but doing so does tell hunters you aren’t a target. According to the International Hunter Education Association, between 700 to 1,000 people are accidentally shot each year by hunters. Wearing bright colors may be what keeps you out of this statistic.
              • Pick A Safe Campsite: Before picking a site to camp, give the area good once-over, scanning for potential hazards like landslides, flooding, and predatory animal droppings. While you can’t prepare for every occasion, you can minimize the chances of a dangerous situation occurring.
              • Be Cautious of Bears: Encountering a wild animal is possible when wild camping. Bears, black or brown, are the biggest threat. If you aren’t sure of how to handle a bear encounter, you may want to brush up on best practices, like staying calm, not running away, etc.

           

          Apps & Websites To Find Stealth Camping & Boondocking Sites

          Having troubles finding a good stealth camping or boondocking site? Well, there’s an app for that, several actually, plus a handful of helpful websites. Below we’ll cover some of the best apps and websites for stealth campers in 2022.

          Apps For Finding Free Stealth Camping Sites

                    • FreeRoam: While FreeRoam has only been around for a year or so, the app has a large directory of campsites with user reviews that you can browse through. FreeRoam also allows you to create a profile so you can save your favorite locations and share them with friends.
                    • Gaia GPS: Gaia is a detailed GPS app that helps users find free camping locations. The unpaid version offers lots of value, but upgrading to Premium allows for map usage even without Wi-Fi. The app also has options for off-roaders, backcountry skiers, and mountain bikers.
                    • Avenza Maps: This offline map app offers nearly a million available maps for you to download. Avenza also allows you to measure distances and plan routes. You can also save locations if you find somewhere interesting that you want to return to.

          Websites For Finding Free Stealth Camping Sites

                    • FreeCampsites: As one of the oldest campsite finding tools, FreeCampsites offers a massive collection of free (and paid) campsite locations. The search feature has many filter options to help you find the perfect spot, including for things like fishing, hunting, rock climbing, and more.
                    • Recreation: A popular camping website that lists over 4,200 government-owned camping facilities and 113,000 individual sites throughout the US. You can even buy entry passes for national parks through the site, as well as sign up for tours.
                    • The Dyrt: Last, but surely not least, is The Dyrt, a camper-friendly site with a detailed map showing campsites across the US. Helpful map icons indicate things like what type of camper the site can accommodate, if pets are allowed, and whether bathrooms and/or shows are available.

          What About National Parks?

          Many national parks allow backcountry campers, but only in designated areas. These camper-friendly locations are usually displayed on trail maps, so be sure to take a gander before starting your search for a campsite.

          Yes, camping in a national park has a cost, typically ranging between $20 and $130 depending on location. Those seeking a day pass can pick one up for around $15 per person.

          Are you allowed to pay for a day pass and then camp overnight? No, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t done. If you attempt to stealth camp in a national park, at least follow the basics to avoid curious eyes, like arriving late, leaving early, keeping noise to a minimum, etc.

          Hammock in Woods
          Image Credit: independentwolf / Pixabay

          Alternatives To Stealth Camping

          If planning escape routes and searching for bathrooms isn’t your thing, you may want to consider an alternative to stealth camping.

          Hammock Camping

          Hammocks are a great stealth camping alternative. These are easy to set up (find yourself two trees in proximity) and they aren’t intrusive. Sure, you’ll need to watch the weather forecast, and safety may be iffy (i.e., thieves, wildlife, etc.), but done right, hammock camping is very rewarding.

          If you don’t yet own a hammock, you can purchase a good one for as low as $20. Spending more adds things like bug nets, a base, and rainproof covers. Check out some of the best camping hammocks in this online review from NYMag.

          Campground Discount Memberships

          Another stealth camping alternative is to sign up for a monthly campsite-discount membership. Depending on the provider, as little as $29 per month can save you as much as 50% at participating locations. Good Sam, Passport America, and KOA are some of the options available.

          Memberships are best for those that camp often, as you’ll surely save a lot vs. paying for single nights, which run as much as $150 in peak season.

          Woman with VW Van
          Image Credit: Victoria_Borodinova / Pixabay

          Final Thoughts on Stealth Camping

          Not everyone enjoys stealth camping, but those that do usually swear by it. If you don’t mind having to occasionally relocate at 2am, and you keep the TV volume low, stealth camping can be extremely rewarding.

          In general, if you are respectful to those around you and clean up after yourself when you leave, you shouldn’t have too many issues. What’s more, thanks to the plethora of available apps and websites, finding a place to stealth camp, and researching the location, is easier than ever.

Featured Image Credit: Michel Curi / flickr