Just curious how often most fulltimers camp for free? This winter we spent nearly 6 months on the road and found free places to stay almost 50% of the nights. (Casinos, rest areas, BLM land, Walmart, truck stops and a few nights on the street in front of friends' houses.)
We spent as much as a week at a time in RV parks and a week at a time boondocking.
Good job! We try to avoid rest stops, truck stops & Wal Marts but have stayed at all 3 a very few times in 6 years. We look for city/county parks, BLM land, casino's and sometimes friends & relatives driveways. Right now we are parking on brother in law's side yard in MT, waiting for his daughter's wedding on the 14th then will head to MO and park on our friend's driveway for a few days until we head to my sister's side yard in AR. We are very good tenants, don't make a mess, offer to pay for electric use and help with chores. We stay for free 6 months of the year when we volunteer for CA state parks.
A LOT of our "free time" was casinos. Some of those are more RV friendly than others. WalMart was on the occasional "travel day." I think we only did a couple nights at rest stops. Those were usually when we were traveling and it was the first place we found when we got tired.
The BLM land is something we'll have to figure out better if we do more of this. :-)
Good for you volunteering at the parks. You may not pay cash, but I'd question whether it's really "free!" I appreciate ALL the work that state/federal volunteers do!! Too many people take what you do for granted. I'll have to say that we haven't been that generous with our time. At least not yet. Maybe when/if we truly go to full-time it will be nice to have a place to call home for months at a time.
we do a lot of primitive camping on gov. lands and use walmarts too. and we camp host at a nice little state park once a year for about a month.
as you do, we alternate our boondocking with campgrounds with water and dump station, and also to enjoy a long shower once in awhile.
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Since we full time, we don't need to travel all day, stop at wally world and drive some more in the morning, so those types of stops are out for us.
We've done a few casino stops and occasional forest land but if you work the system with weekly and monthly stays, we find it's usually more hassle than it's worth if you are just trying to save money.
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In 40 + years of Rving and over 7 years of full timing we only stayed once at a Flying J and once at a Cracker Barrel, and that was in two emergency trips. We boondock in BLM lands. We don't stay at unsecured places like rest stops or WalMarts. We are usually off the road when traveling by 2-3 and not willing to sit in a parking lot till next moring. But this is our take, others may be ok with rest stops etc. We do stay at Casino's, but so far the one's we stayed at all had RV parks.
Unless it's a family emergency and we need to haul it quickly, we never stay anywhere less than a couple days. As retired FTers, what's the point? Get to know the area a bit so we can rule it in/out for future travels.
So, few to no 'free' stays for us. CG's, COE's, and mostly our membership parks have served us well for 7 yrs.
(No, I don't boondock and please don't try to encourage me. Not my cuppa tea.)