Poll Results: How do you define Boondocking?

Walmart: Boondocking or Not?The results are in. This poll asked if true boondocking involved overnighting at a Walmart, casino, or campground. A total of 156 readers took the time to weigh in on this sometimes contentious topic. A total of 129 readers (83 percent) answered False, while just 27 readers (17 percent) answered True.

The purpose of this poll was to determine how RVers define and use this term. Being out in the boondocks or boondocking used to mean that you were out in some wild and remote location. But a small segment of the RV community, about 17 percent according to this poll, seems to think differently and have associated the word with being off the grid only. According to this group boondocking can occur anywhere including a Walmart parking lot. I don’t know about you, but I don’t associate Walmarts with boondocking. Never have, never will.

Some will say, “what does it matter what we call it? Who cares?” Well, I’m one who thinks that words mean things. Does it matter how their, they’re, and there are used in an article and how to, too, and two are used? Do you cringe when you hear Irregardless or close proximity in a conversation or when somebody says mute instead of moot? If you answered yes to all of these, then you probably care how boondocking is used. If you answered no, then you probably couldn’t care less.

I’ll never forget the time back in 2006 when a young Asian professional and his wife and pulled up in a sedan next to our campsite near Lake Ashurst in Northern Arizona. My family watched as the couple pulled out a small ice chest filled with food and drinks and sat down on a small blanket spread out on the grass. Soon thereafter the young professional got a phone call from a work associate. The wife and I smiled and looked at each other when we overheard him say that he was out camping and having a great time. It was pretty funny. It became even more so, when the couple packed up their ice chest and blanket and drove home after eating their picnic lunch. That, of course, isn’t camping. Never has been, never will.

About Mello Mike 909 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.


  1. IMHO, the definitive word it “TRUE” – (true boondocking). True boondocking is in an RV (not a tent), outside of a campground (no facilities at all), and without a camping fee.
    If you’re in a tent, it’s not TRUE boondocking, if you’re in a campground with any type of facility, it’s not TRUE boondocking, if you’re paying a nightly fee, its not TRUE boondocking.
    But, if you define it as “only in the boonies”, what qualifies as “boonies”? Does a dirt parking area on the side of a rural road qualify but not if it’s under an Interstate highway bridge? Does a small PAVED trail head or boat launch parking area qualify if it’s truly out in the boonies? This, is where I think the definition can get murky.

    • I absolutely agree. I mention “in the boonies” because that what out in the boondocks means. True boondocking doesn’t always have to be out in the boonies. Quartzsite is a perfect example. Lots of BLM land there where you can boondock but all of it is within 10 miles of town and some less than 1 mile.

  2. That’s a funny story – I would say they were on a picnic, not camping.

    I agree, words are important. I'm always reading books and articles with misused or misspelled words and poor grammar. I’d love to be a proofreader. Speech tells a lot about a person.

  3. Besides, there's already a word for staying overnight at Walmart: parking.

    When we call ahead to a Walmart to ask permission, I'm always reminding myself not to call it "camping."

    • That got me in trouble once. I called and asked a casino if we could park overnight in their lot and the answer was, "Yes." When we got there we checked into security to be sure the spot we took was OK. Again, they said, "Yes." Later that night we were rousted out by different security. Yes we could park there overnight. We just couldn't sleep there overnight! Apparently we were supposed to park our RV then stay up all night gambling or check into their hotel for sleeping.

  4. I could not agree more, WORDS DO MEAN SOMETHING. As we continue to DUMB DOWN we seem to lose more of what this country and socioty once was. I often think how lucky I have been to have lived in what WAS a great place and time, do not believe we will ever recapture it.


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