02/26/2020

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Parked in the driveway of a friend in Nova Scotia.
Parked in the driveway of a friend in Nova Scotia.

 

Hey, if you are ever in Connecticut, look me up.

-My New Friend

They say it’s not what you know, but who you know. Through living on the road, our pool of “who you know” has grown in ways I never anticipated for my life. One thing that we have learned to love about traveling, in a way that’s different from a normal vacation, is the people we meet along the way or reconnect with – and we find there is no better way to do this than to moochdock.

What is moochdocking? Moochdocking is the RV equivalent of crashing at a friend’s place for a while. You park on their land or driveway and (usually) hook up to their power and water. If you are lucky, you might even be able to tap into their sewer or septic tank. If you get a macerator you could almost always make sewer a reality.

Easter egg I painted with our logo while moochdocking with family for Easter. I used Legos to represent the houses that the rocket is launching out of.
Easter egg I painted with our logo while moochdocking with family for Easter. I used Legos to represent the houses that the rocket is launching out of.

TERMINOLOGY

A mention of the terminology. When RVing at a regular RV campground, usually there are “hookups” which are any combination of power, water, and sewer connections. The term “boondocking” means you are camping (usually not at a traditional campground) without any hookups. You are either making due without the utility or are figuring out other options on how to get by (like generatorssolar panelslithium batteriestrucking watercompost toiletgrey tote, etc).

The term moochdocking is derived from boondocking. It’s like you are boondocking, but you are mooching land and utilities off of a friend. We consider it different from what you do with Boondockers Welcome (which we also love) in that with moochdocking you are staying with people you already know (or at least have been introduced to by someone you know).

First time we moochdocked - with friends in Tennessee.
First time we moochdocked – with friends in Tennessee.

 

Moochdocking is a great way to experience an area in a personalized way.

You get to hang out with your friends or family in a non-intrusive fashion

One benefit of fulltime traveling in an RV is that you bring your house with you everywhere. This means that you can visit with family or friends (old and new) in a way that doesn’t impose too much. You aren’t sharing a bathroom – you have your bathroom. You aren’t sharing a kitchen, bedroom, family room – you have yours. No one is sleeping on a couch to make room for you. It’s like you live next door to a friend … but next door is really really close.

It’s not that it’s NO imposition at all, because there is some. The RVer, might be blocking the usage of aspects of the property or driveway. If not careful, they can trip a breaker – maybe at an odd hour (though there are tricks to make that less of a problem). Also, just the fact that there is someone on the property can be a bit of a mental/social imposition.

But there are good things for both parties where you get to spend time together at times of the day that would only be rivaled by actually staying in their house.

Having a mid-day campfire with our friends.
Having a mid-day campfire with our friends.

When we have moochdocked with both family and new friends, we have stayed up late with great backyard fires and had breakfast together too. In Connecticut, with some friends we met at a campground in Nevada, we had huge bonfires. In Tennessee, our kids played in a sandbox with my friend’s children and then rode bikes around the property together. We ate meals together and played board games. This style of hanging out is different from visiting friends back when we were in the suburbs. In a way it reminds me of living at the apartment complex where I met Tabitha where there were several apartments nearby with friends all over. You stay up late, share meals, talk about important things and just enjoy being around each other – and when it’s time to go home, it’s steps away.

Sharing a meal with family while moochdocking.
Sharing a meal with family while moochdocking.

 

You can help each other out

Maybe there are some projects around the house that could use another hand. Maybe some trading of babysitting so you or them can go on a possibly rare date. Are there repairs to be made on the RV? Moochdocking can provide the environment to knuckle down and fix something that needs more attention than can be given in a typical campground.

When we were moochdocking in Illinois, our hosts needed to pick up a large freshwater tank, but they had no truck. I took the Andersen Hitch out of my truck and he and I drove 30 min and picked it up at a farm. In Connecticut, our host knew someone who needed a hand cutting some trees down, I gave him a hand. Our hosts in Prince Edward Isle took a mini-vacation and we house-sat which included taking care of new kittens, and feeding the chickens. We went one step above and hedged their bushes and mowed the lawn with their riding mower.

Brother-in-law and I rigging up water collection contraption for a project while we moochdocked with them.
Brother-in-law and I rigging up water collection contraption for a project while we moochdocked with them.

 

Cutting up tree stump for our hosts after using my truck to pull it out of ground.
Cutting up tree stump for our hosts after using my truck to pull it out of ground.

 

Also, on PEI while staying with newly discovered extended family, my 5th cousin helped me deep clean my radiator, had a piece of aluminum manufactured and helped me install it to reinforce a plastic tray in the RV that couldn’t hold much weight.

In Nova Scotia, our hosts made us an incredible fish taco dinner as well as scones and muffins for breakfast.

Go on local outings together

In Illinois, we went hiking with our hosts, took a trip to the zoo in St Louis, and we all took a trip to the CAT Museum in Peoria which was much cooler than I would have thought. In Tennessee, our host’s brother personally knew an Amish family where the dad manufactures the most incredible wood furniture. We stopped by to say hello and he gave us a tour of his wood shop.

Going on a walk with the extended family when moochdocking.
Going on a walk with the extended family when moochdocking.

 

The friends we stayed at on PEI took us to their favorite beaches and we even went camping on the other side of the island with them. In Nova Scotia, our hosts took us down to their local beach which was different (in a good way) from any other beach we’ve ever been to. Such a great experience.

In Connecticut, our hosts took us hiking to see the fall colors. We all went to a handful of local events including The Big E, a hill climb (where modified jeeps and trucks race to the top of a big dirt hill), and a very interesting old engine rendezvous sort of thing. We also visited the USS Nautilus submarine together. Tabitha and her got to have a mom’s day out and me and him went ocean fishing – leaving from New London and casting our lines off the coast of Long Island. You don’t get this stuff staying at a KOA.

You get plugged into the local social scene

This benefit of moochdocking is one that can’t be recreated or bought any other way. Many of times RVing can be a little bit … well … detaching from the real local scene. You go from campground to campground and from attraction to attraction, but you can go a long while between making many good connections or friends (especially local people). This is where moochdocking can really change your experience.

It’s not that there are not ways to make friends on the road, there are. Certainly if you spend a winter in a popular place like Florida and stay at some of the Thousand Trails parks you will make lots of friends, but for the most part they will be other travelers and not give you a taste of the local social scene.

While moochdocking, we have been blessed to have our hosts plug us into the local social pipeline. We have gone to church with our hosts which has resulted in meeting more people with whom we enjoy spending time with. We went to the beach several times with friends and friends of friends. In the case of our daughter, she was invited to the 3-night church young women’s camp in Prince Edward Island where she made very close friends. Our boys went to chess club in Connecticut where they played chess with others their age.

Fishing off the tip of Long Island while moochdocking with my friend (the one in the white shirt).
Fishing off the tip of Long Island while moochdocking with my friend (the one in the white shirt).

Staying with the extended family in PEI meant we were around long enough for even more family to come by the home to meet us. In Tennessee, our hosts were part of a large extended family that all came over and we got to meet all these great local people.

Staying on my 4th cousin once removed's property in PEI. Also spent time with his sister and his son (my 5th cousin).
Staying on my 4th cousin once removed’s property in PEI. Also spent time with his sister and his son (my 5th cousin).

 

Moochdocking is all that and more.

There are lots of ways to RV. Some are good for seeing sights, some are good for relaxing, some are good for working, some are good for saving money, some are good for getting away from it all, some give you a very unique camping experience (like with Boondockers Welcome or Harvest Hosts), some are good for making a lot of traveling friends. But, in the case of moochdocking, you will solidify relationships you have maybe lost touch with, or grow close to someone who invited you to stop by if you are ever in the area.

That’s how our Connecticut moochdock took place. My new, very close friend introduced himself to me after I arrived at Valley of Fire campground in Nevada – and unfortunately it was the day he was leaving. We hit it off in that brief moment talking about RV gadgets and he said, “If you are ever in Connecticut, look me up. I have land you can stay on, and homeschooled kids that would love to play with your kids.” So very glad I took him up on the offer.

Fireworks while moochdocking with our Connecticut friends.
Fireworks while moochdocking with our Connecticut friends.

So often we are prone to be given an invite and feel that we shouldn’t actually accept the invitation. Too often we are the “No Men” of the world – that’s a reference to the Jim Carey movie Yes Man. The more we say “yes” to invitations, the better and more fulfilled our lives become. As this relates to us accepting “come park your RV and stay with us” invitations, we have found it to be a very rewarding experience.

We hope to meet more people who offer for us to moochdock at their home or property. If that’s you, drop us a line. As it stands now, other than invites to come back, we only have an invite to moochdock in Casper Wyoming from someone new. With moochdocking, we always love the people, the experience and feel that we bring something to the table for them too (in some cases it’s 7 willing kids to play with). It has become our favorite way to experience an area.

– Matt

PS.
A Note on what not to do: Don’t over stay your welcome. Try not to impose on the hosts normal routine (especially homeschool routines).

And whatever you do – DON’T coil up the excess extension chord that brings power to your RV (like on a reel or anything like that – even if the chord comes with it). Chances are you will consume power to the point that the chord will heat up … and … it will be 10:30 at night and you will wonder what that smell is and upon investigating outside you will find a nearly combusted dripping with plastic insulation melted wire – and you might melt right through your glove when you try to unravel it to dissipate the heat and prevent it from lighting on fire. Chords need to be thick gauge and don’t coil them up as the heat they generate has no where to go. Trust me on this!! I learned the hard way (the very first night I ever moochdocked) and almost caused a fire. Spread that excess chord around so the outside air can cool its surface area down – and keep it away from things that could light up.

Aftermath of the melted power chord that had been spooled up and gotten melting hot.
Aftermath of the melted power chord that had been spooled up and gotten melting hot.

 

Moochdocking on Prince Edward Island.
Moochdocking on Prince Edward Island.

 

Visiting a nearby cove with hosts while moochdocking in Nova Scotia.
Visiting a nearby cove with hosts while moochdocking in Nova Scotia.

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