The word is a bit off-putting. And nobody wants to mooch, especially when finding a comfortable and safe location to park your RV. But when a friend or neighbor allows you to RV for free on their property, moochdocking can be an easy, cost-saving win.
Finding affordable or free places to camp is an invaluable skill in an RVer’s toolkit. Boondocking offers off-grid or parking-lot access to free camping without hookups — often in a remote or public space. Meanwhile, campgrounds offer campsites with full or partial hookups at a reasonable, yet considerable, expense. Moochdocking is a comfortable and affordable middle ground. Done correctly, it’s a great way to visit friends and family, learn to get the most from your RV, and save money.
What Is Moochdocking?
Moochdocking refers to RVing on a friend, neighbor, or family’s property to avoid fees and, in some cases, still have access to water, electricity, or internet. Moochdocking merges the cost-effectiveness of boondocking with the practicality and ease of staying at a campground with hookups.
You’ve likely already participated in some version of moochdocking, even if you’ve set up your RV in your driveway to host guests – r at a friend or family’s property that was spacious enough for RVing to be a natural fit.
Moochdocking is easy in some locations and trickier in others. It’s the difference between a friend’s fifteen-acre rural property and an urban neighborhood where you’ll have to negotiate a tight driveway. Here, we’ll cover what you need to know about moochdocking to determine whether to moochdock at a location or play it safely at a nearby campground.
Albeit a grovel-sounding term, moochdocking typically benefits the property owner, too. If guests are visiting, they retain their privacy during their stay, have easier and quicker access to guests now that no drive to a hotel is involved, and there’s no additional cost to the trip.
How To Moochdock
Moochdocking starts with getting permission from the property owner. Usually, this is a friend or family member you are visiting. Even so, remember this is an invitation onto their property – and possibly something they haven’t done before. Never assume.
Once you have permission, consider the protocol for moochdocking to ensure everyone is clear on expectations. Remember, moochdocking is different than at a campground. Your host’s property likely isn’t set up for an RV. Be as courteous as possible, and don’t assume your host knows anything about RVing. It helps to explain well-known processes like “hooking up” so your host knows what you are asking and what that means for them.
First, determine whether you are hooking up to water and electricity. If so, consider the following.
Assuming that your host does not have RV hookups for shore power (30 or 50-amp), you may still be able to use their home’s standard connections with a 20-amp adapter to power small appliances in your RV. Bear in mind that drawing too much from the home’s electrical power can trip a circuit breaker if you’re not mindful of power consumption. ,
If you hook up to a standard connection, identify a breaker/outlet not already drawing heavily from appliances inside the home.
If you want to power the A/C or other large amenities in your RV, you must use a generator, solar, or an alternate power source.
Aim to arrive at a moochdocking location with a full freshwater tank. This should provide plenty of water for your needs inside the RV for shorter stays. But if you need to fill it up again, simply ask permission to refill your freshwater tank or connect it to their water with a potable drinking water hose.
You shouldn’t plan on connecting to a sewer outlet when moochdocking. Show up with empty black water and gray water tanks, and plan to dump at a dedicated dumping station when you complete your trip. In some cases, you may have to pay for access, but it’s a small price to pay for the convenience of camping for free.
Remember that moochdocking relies on the generosity and openness of your family and friends. If hooking up, be courteous and conscientious about the resources you are using. Consider
If you are not planning to hook up to any amenities, simply boondock as usual. But think through the following items to ensure your RV is safe. Also, check and follow all local rules and policies associated with RVs.
Where Should I Park?
Set up your RV as you would at a campground or boondocking site, taking precautions for overhangs, limbs, or potential hazards. Find level ground, then check with your host to determine any other inconveniences or problems the location may cause before leveling.
If parking in a neighborhood, you may have to adhere to local ordinances, especially if attempting to RV on the street. Typically, your HOA, city, or county will have regulations or restrictions. (More on this later). If possible, park on the property itself. In residential areas, keep an especially close eye on low-hanging power lines.
Level your RV just as you would at a campsite. The common misstep here is to assume that if you are parked on a driveway, you won’t have to worry about leveling as much. Play it safe and level as you would when camping anywhere else. Moochdocking is convenient, but it shouldn’t change any of your typical safety precautions.
Is It Legal? And For How Long?
Limits on campground stays and boondocking sites are more commonly known in the RV community. After all, that’s where most of our camping occurs. But what about on the private property of a friend or neighbor?
Moochdocking might still require you to observe specific ordinances regarding where and how long you camp. Check with your host for any information from their neighborhood’s homeowner’s association to see if they allow or have restrictions on RVing.
Furthermore, research policies on RV living within the limits of the county or city where you plan to stay.
Your host won’t likely have this information, so look online or contact the city or county office.
Additional Moochdocking Considerations
If you are courteous and demonstrate the same responsible RV practices you would at a campsite or on public land, moochdocking should be an easy win for you and your host.
Accessing your host’s high-speed Wi-Fi can be a perk of moochdocking. However, too many devices and too much bandwidth can slow down the speed for everyone. If you plan to work remotely or use Wi-Fi frequently, consider using an RV Wi-Fi hotspot. Otherwise, communicate with your host about how the internet works once you access their Wi-Fi.
Length of Stay
Discuss the specifics of your stay with the host, including when you plan to arrive and when you plan to depart. If outside factors change and your other plans fall through, communicate early to see if extending your stay is possible. Otherwise, you put unnecessary pressure on your host, who may be less likely to repeat the experience.
Equipment for Moochdocking
Plan ahead so you aren’t missing any equipment, supplies, or tools you may need when staying at a friend or family’s property. Below are a few items to ensure you have with you, but also reference our comprehensive setup checklist for more ideas.
- Surge Protector
- Potable Water Hose
- Power adapters (or Dogbone)
- Propane (Full Tanks)
- Waste Water Hose
- Portable Waste Tank (Optional)
Where Can I Park My RV To Live For Free?
Moochdocking answers a common question among RVers: how do I RV for free? After all, many of us RV as a cost-effective way to travel, see new places, and visit family and friends. Moochdocking provides those benefits. Just keep in mind the essential considerations regarding the legality of your stay and the approval of your hosts.
Do you have experience with moochdocking? What would you recommend for someone trying it for the first time? Let us know in the comments below.