Free Camping 101 or Don’t Pay to Park
There are a lot of campsites in North America at a real variety of prices. There are RV parks, many of which resemble car parks, which can charge up to $50 a night. You get hook-ups with electricity and water and most of them have WI-FI. However the setting is horrible and you are on top of each other. We avoid these as much as we can.
There are also State run campgrounds which are often in really beautiful spots and provide minimal facilities – usually a table, firepit and some pit toilets. These range in price from around $10 to $20. National Parks have similar campgrounds but these can be more expensive.
However I think what marks a true Overlander is Free Camping. What some call boon docking or bandit camping. This is finding spots to camp for the night which are free and it is this that we have learnt to do.
In fact some of the most beautiful spots that we have stayed at have been free campsites. They can range from turnouts by roads (most of which have minimal traffic late at night) to unmarked unpaved roads leading to viewpoints or other interesting places.
The only disadvantage to free camping is the lack of toilets. However it is possible to even find places with access to toilets which make great overnight stops (such as rest areas).
The key things are to look for the NO CAMPING signs or NO OVERNIGHT PARKING and if you see these then roll on by and look for somewhere else. There is always somewhere near by.,
Now this strategy has worked great in Canada and Alaska – we will see how we get on as we go further south.