The word “off-grid” takes on a lot of different meanings these days. For some, it may mean using solar power and saying goodbye to utility bills. For others, it might mean complete and total freedom from everything. But, no matter what your version of off-grid living is, there will be an adjustment period. Whether downsizing to live in a tiny home, learning self-sufficiency, or figuring out how to use solar panels, you can expect a bit of a learning curve. RVing is a great way to practice off-grid living and get ahead of that curve.
Know Your RV – What Type is Best for You?
Even just renting an RV for a week or so is a good way to familiarize yourself with a lifestyle change. Just make sure you rent the right type of RV so you don’t end up feeling cramped or overwhelmed. There are tons of different RV classes, but these are the most common rentals (and why they might work for you):
- Class A RVs are the big ones. They also tend to be the most luxurious. Here are the pros: they can fit up to eight people comfortably, they have every amenity you could possibly need to feel at home, and they’re perfect for families who aren’t ready to simplify just yet. Cons? They can be tricky to drive, and larger ones won’t fit into tight campgrounds.
- Class B vans are small and straightforward. They can fit just about anywhere while still being self-contained. I wouldn’t recommend trying to squeeze more than two or three people into a Class B van, though. Also, keep in mind that most smaller vans won’t have onboard showers, so if that’s important to you, look for a larger model.
- Class C’s are the best of both worlds; they’re easy to drive, yet spacious and full of amenities. If you’re traveling with a big family, definitely think about getting a Class C. It’ll have a bedroom in the back, a bunk over the driving cab, and several sleeping areas throughout the cabin.
- Travel trailers and fifth wheels come in every shape and size imaginable. Smaller trailers, like A-frames and teardrops, can be towed by regular cars and SUVs. They’re great for a lone wolf or a traveling couple that just want the basics. Fifth wheels can be as big as 45 feet long and have ample space to stretch out and relax. However, you’ll need an appropriate tow vehicle, as well as towing expertise.
Going Off Grid in an RV
RVs offer a ton of freedom as it is, but when you stay at campgrounds, you’re still tied to the grid in a way. If you really want to disconnect and pioneer your own path, you should try boondocking for a night or two. Boondocking, AKA dry camping, is camping without hookups; no water, electric, or sewer connections.
It’s a challenge, to be sure, but a rewarding one. You’ll be able to camp in some of the most interesting, most beautiful locations in the country (and you’ll spend next to nothing). Sleeping in a lush forest, under the stars, with no one around for miles? That’s true off-grid living if you ask me.
Tips for Boondocking
Boondocking in an RV is very much like off-grid living in a house. You have to be mindful of everything you do, including how much water and energy you use, how much food you consume, and how much waste you create. It’s an excellent way to change your perspective on your family’s footprint, whether you go for a weekend or a few weeks. Here are some tips:
- Solar panels help you avoid using your generator. Many modern RV models already have solar panels attached.
- Conserve water every way you can. Taking military showers (when you lather with the water off, then switch it on to rinse) or timing your showers is an easy way to do this. Use a bucket to catch excess shower water so you can flush your toilet without wasting the clean stuff.
- Plan your meals so that you only have to reheat food or use just one pan. Skillet meals that you can cook or reheat over a campfire conserve energy, use less water, and create less trash. Plus, it’s always nice to have fewer dishes to clean, right?
- Use the environment to your advantage. If it’s a colder area, park your RV so that it absorbs midday sun, then close your shades at night to trap the heat. If it’s hot, stick to the shade and face your windows toward the breeze.
- Avoid using appliances that require your generator, like microwaves and air conditioning. Your generator uses gas, which runs out quickly. You also might incur generator usage fees if you’re renting an RV.
Where to Rent an RV for Your Off-Grid Adventure
It seems like RV rental companies are around every corner these days. RVshare, in particular, has a nationwide network of RV rentals, all by owner. Peer-to-peer RV rentals like theirs tend to be more affordable than rentals from commercial companies. You’ll get a lot of variety, too, so if you’re looking for a specific type of RV (like a custom mod with solar panels), check their online listings first.
The Great Outdoors Awaits You
RVing is an exercise in getting back to basics and learning to live sustainably and intentionally. In other words, it ties in perfectly with the off-grid lifestyle. Whether you want to spend a weekend off-grid, or you’re planning a more permanent escape from the norm, renting an RV is a fun and affordable way to dip your toes in the sustainability stream. And hey, even if you end up not wanting to stay off-grid, at least you can say you went on a pretty cool vacation.
Have you boondocked in an RV before? Did it change your opinion on off-grid living? Share your story in the comments!
Megan is the Editorial Director at RVshare. She has a background in content marketing and enjoys sharing travel tips, RV advice, and other relevant information with her audience of travelers, helping them to make the most of their journeys.