One of the worst moochdocking experiences was when Clark Griswold hosted Cousin Eddie and his family in the 1989 movie Christmas Vacation. It’s a prime example of how not to behave when visiting friends or family in your RV. If you do half the things Cousin Eddie did, don’t expect an invite to stay again anytime soon.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at this style of RVing so you can avoid being a terrible moochdocker. Let’s get started!
What Is Moochdocking?
While RVers have been doing it for years, moochdocking is a relatively new term. The term describes a style of RVing where you’re parking either in the driveway or on the property of a friend or family member.
This is a great option when visiting friends and family because it provides both parties comfort and privacy. You can enjoy each other’s company during the day and still have your own places to relax and unwind at night.
How Do You Moochdock?
To moochdock, you first have to have a friend or family member willing and able to host you. It’s essential to make sure that you’re legally allowed to moochdock on their property and that they have the space to host you. Check for any low clearances or obstacles along the route to their location.
Make sure you communicate with them about what they can offer you for your RV. If the host is familiar with RVs or has an RV of their own, they may be able to provide you with full hook-ups.
If your hosts aren’t familiar with them, they might not have any amenities. You want to have a good idea of what to expect when you arrive to plan accordingly. This may require filling up your freshwater tanks and emptying your wastewater tanks before arriving.
It’s good to communicate your arrival time with your host. They may need to move vehicles or arrange their schedule to be present when you arrive. Once you arrive and park your rig, you can enjoy your time with friends and family and know you have your own place to retreat to when needed during your stay.
Did You Know: Moochdocking isn’t the only type of free camping there is! How many of these 15 Types of Camping do you know?
Can You Moochdock Anywhere?
Many people errantly think they can do what they want on their land because they’re homeowners. However, Homeowners Associations (HOAs) and local rules and regulations often have something to say about that.
Depending on where you live, you might run into issues while moochdocking. If that’s the case, you’re likely not going to be able to do so, and your host could receive a fine or warning letter in the mail. You don’t want to cause legal troubles for your host being hospitable.
Are You a Terrible Moochdocker?
You may think you’re not as bad as Cousin Eddie, so you’re not a terrible moochdocker. We’ve come up with several things you can do (and avoid doing) to not be a terrible moochdocker.
Let’s take a look.
Don’t Arrive Unannounced
No matter how close you are to your friends or family, it’s likely not a good idea to surprise them. Showing up unannounced is rude, and it could cause a tremendous inconvenience for the potential host. They may not be able to accommodate you at such short notice, and there’s always the chance they’re out of town.
If you discover that there’s a chance you’ll be passing through their town or in the area, reach out to them. They may be able to request time off from work to visit with you and enjoy your company.
Don’t Stay Too Long
One mistake that many people make when moochdocking is staying too long. While your host may at first be very hospitable, they’re eventually going to want to use the space where you’re parking your RV.
The closer you are to a friend or family member, the longer you’re likely to stay and not be an inconvenience. However, only you know your relationship with the host enough to know how long is too long.
A general rule of thumb is to keep your stays less than three to five days. However, you may have a very close relationship and a situation where you can stay for weeks or months in some cases.
Know How/When to Empty Wastewater Tanks When Moochdocking
Depending on how long you’re staying, the time might come when you need to empty your wastewater tanks. If you’re lucky, your host will have a sewer connection that’s easily accessible for you to use. If that’s the case, make sure to chat with them about the logistics of using the connection. However, in our experience, these are typically few and far between.
It’s more likely that you’ll need to plan to dump your tanks elsewhere. If this is the case, you’ll want to arrive with empty tanks and possibly use your host’s facilities for showering, dishes, and restroom use. You can use apps like Campendium and iOverlander to find dump stations in the area, but it may require you to hitch up and tow your rig to them.
If the time comes that you do have to dump your tanks while moochdocking, be mindful of your host’s neighbors. It might not be the best time to dump your tanks if they’re outside having a BBQ or some other outdoor activity. All it takes is for the smell of your tanks to find its way over to them, and you’re creating an angry neighbor for your host to deal with later.
Keep the Noise Down
Whether it’s because you’re running your generator or have kids outside playing, you must be mindful of your noise level. You don’t want to create a tense situation by disturbing your host or their neighbors. This is especially true at night when people may have their windows open to keep their homes cool. Be mindful of the time and your noise level, and you can avoid an awkward conversation with a neighbor or your host.
Pick Up After Your Pets
If you’re planning to bring a pet with you while moochdocking, it’s good to mention it to your host. You don’t want to arrive and find out that your host is allergic or has a fear of whatever type of pet you are bringing with you. If your host doesn’t mind that you bring your pet with you, the least you can do is to clean up after them.
Make sure your pet does their business in the appropriate place and that you immediately clean up after them. It’s likely not good to let your pet use the restroom in a neighbor’s yard. Either way, clean it up immediately to avoid any issues.
Pro Tip: TDon’t be an annoying moochdocker! Make sure you know The Rules of Moochdocking: How to Be a Good Driveway Surfer.
Be Mindful of Power/Water Usage
Your host might be generous and allow you to connect your RV to their water or power. While this is very generous of them, you want to be mindful of your usage. It’s typically easier to keep track of your water usage, especially if you don’t have a spot to dump your tanks. However, your electrical use is much more difficult to monitor.
Some RVs come with multiple air conditioners and electric heaters so you can stay comfortable. However, these appliances use a tremendous amount of power. RVs aren’t typically isolated very well, and thus during extreme temperatures, these appliances can constantly run. If you’re staying for several days, this can cause your host’s utility bill to increase substantially.
If you use a generous amount of power, it’s a good idea to offer to compensate your host. You don’t want to take advantage of their generosity by letting them foot the bill for your RV’s electrical usage.
Don’t Leave a Mess
Avoid leaving a mess behind after you leave. If you have trash, ask for permission before tossing your bags into their trash can. Some trash services require certain bags or customers to buy special bags for their trash.
Before you leave, double-check and make sure you’ve gathered all of your belongings. You don’t want to leave behind camping chairs or any camping gear for your host to find later. Take a few minutes to walk around and thoroughly check the area before pulling away from your host’s property.
You must show gratitude and appreciation to your host. You can offer your guest a monetary gift for hosting you, write a note, take them out to eat, or help them around their property.
Make sure you clearly communicate your sincere appreciation for their hospitality and allowing you to stay on their property.
How to Find Moochdocking Sites?
If you don’t have an extensive or evenly dispersed network of friends or family whose driveways can accommodate you, don’t worry! There are programs like Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome that offer a moochdocking-like experience.
Harvest Hosts are typically businesses that allow guests to stay in their parking lots in exchange for supporting their business. However, Boondockers Welcome are typically private residences opening their driveways and property to guests passing through the area. Both of these programs require an annual membership to join, but they can help you meet some incredible people all over the country!
Pro Tip: On the hunt for somewhere to sleep for free? Use these Best Boondocking Apps and Websites for Amazing Free Camping!
We Love Moochdocking During Our Adventures!
Moochdocking is one of our favorite styles of camping. We love pulling into a friend or family member’s place and spending time with them during our adventures.
Whether you’re moving from campsite to campsite or just want the ability to have your own space while visiting for the holidays, moochdocking makes spending time with friends and family much easier!
However, make sure you follow these moochdocking rules, or you might not receive an invitation back.
Do you have a friend or family member that lets you moochdock at their place? Tell us about your moochdocking experience in the comments!
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