Moochdocking, ever heard of the term? It’s the kind of RV camping you do when you park on a friend or family member’s property, and whether just for the land you’re occupying or using any other utilities, you mooch! And that is what we’re currently doing. Let’s tell you more about it.
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Planning For Moochdocking
In previous posts, we described what a typical RV moving day and RV arrival day look like for us. In this case, we traveled to a family member’s property where we’ve been parked so we could enjoy the holidays together.
That’s typically why you would moochdock, to see people you know and hang out for a bit. Friends or family have a piece of property on which you can park your RV for a period of time, and use the property and potentially utilities while there. The only real requirements are that they have the space for you, and they’ve given you permission to come. We recommend that part!
Make Sure There Is Enough Space
You want to make sure they actually have enough room for you. We have a big RV and sometimes people don’t understand what that means. When people insist that we can fit, we’ve taken to asking them if a semi-truck can fit and if not, then we can’t either. People seem to be able to visualize that better. So just help them out with more specifics about the size of your rig and how much space you need.
Check Local Regulations
Also make sure there isn’t an HOA or anything else prohibiting you from parking your RV there. Sometimes HOAs don’t allow RVs to be parked in the community at all, and sometimes there are time restrictions. Other zoning or local regulations. You wouldn’t want your host to get in trouble or get a fine because you came to visit with your RV.
Check For Any Obstacles
In addition to the space needed to park, make sure there is enough space to get into the spot and that there aren’t any major obstacles that will make it difficult. They might have a wide open space for your rig to be, but it could be tricky to get into. Like the s-curve driveway we had to navigate to get into our moochdocking spot here! Have some discussions about what the entry to the property looks like, if there are any problematic turns or tight spaces, walls or fences, overhanging rooflines, powerlines or trees for example. It can be good to try to look at the location on Google maps in satellite view as well or ask for pictures from your host.
The first time we moochdocked at our current location, we had to trim some overhanging trees in order to be able to back down the driveway. We also move a few more rocks each time at one of the curves in the driveway which I think makes it easier to navigate each visit. At another location we had to hold up a powerline in order to get under it!
Your host can probably also give you some tips on which route is the best one to take to get there. Do all your normal travel planning, but you can get their input on road sizes, traffic, turns, trees and so on to find the best way in. Also think about how you’re going to get out of there as it might be different and maybe more difficult than the entry (or not).
Decide if you can go, or if you need to pass. Hopefully you can, but you might have to make that call. Of course if you are in a smaller RV, some of this might not apply to you at all!
Now let’s talk about potential hookups. You might have no hookups and it’s basically like boondocking. Or you might have full hookups or something in between.
In our current moochdocking location, we can reach the water spigot at the house to refill our fresh water tank using a hose and an extension. If you don’t have access to water close by, you could get a longer hose extension to potentially reach. Or you could get a water bladder to get water locally and bring it back to your rig. If you’re not staying too long, simply showing up with a full water tank might be sufficient.
Here we have a 50 amp electrical connection. If you don’t have the RV electrical hookups you need, you could see if your host could install the needed hookups and you could pay for that or contribute. In one location Kevin was able to install a connection because they had an extra 50 amp breaker from an electric range that was no longer used. Here Kevin’s dad worked with a local electrician to install the electrical hookups we needed.
Another option we’ve used in the past was using a 50A to 15A electrical adapter to be able to plug into a regular outdoor outlet to supplement our RV solar system. We’ve also used a Y-adapter to be able to utilize to two 15 amp sockets. This can work by connecting the 15A side of the Y to a regular household outlet. Next, you use a 30A to 15A adapter to connect the other half of the Y-adapter to an outlet on a different breaker. This only works if both outlets are non-GFCI, otherwise the GFCI will immediately detect a ground fault, and will trip. Using this on two separate breakers means we can use up to 40A total (if both breakers are 20 amps each) and it’s enough to run our two AC units if needed.
In this moochdocking spot, we have no sewer so we periodically pump out using our portable waste water tank. This allows us to fill our 40 gallon waste water tank using a macerator pump and hose into the tank in the bed of the truck. Then we take it to a local dump station.
On a previous visit before we had the portable waste water tank, we rented a 300 gallon tank locally and had periodic pumpouts. It was a much larger tank but it was also more expensive to go this route. But those are two options if you don’t have sewer.
Or you could see if it’s possible for your family/friends to install sewer and you could pay for that or contribute. That was the situation at one of the locations we’ve moochdocked at. It did take 50 feet of sewer hose to reach the connection. But it was well worth it to have the full hookups!
When moochdocking, it is always good to have a talk about expectations with your hosts. How long will you be staying? How often will you all visit with each other and how frequently will you potentially take turns cooking and so on? Figure out what works for everyone and how not to overdo it, so everyone can also still get their day to day things accomplished.
It is always good to ask if you can contribute toward utilities as well if you are using any since they may see an increase in their utility bills from what is normal during your stay. Find some way to thank them, give them a gift, take them out, or otherwise make it known you are thankful.
Other Moochdocking Benefits
In addition to having a great time with your friends and family, other benefits typically include access to the house. As RVers living in small spaces, now we get bigger rooms and more space to hang out in. We can use the house kitchen and put more in the oven at once. All of us can fit around the large dining room table in the house together as a bigger group. We have a large yard to play in and a swing to use. It’s great!
Since we don’t have full hookups here, we also use the laundry in the house. It’s nice that we can get a lot of laundry done more quickly in a load or two. The same amount of laundry would take at least four loads in our RV washer & dryer. But we do have to carry back and forth. That’s not much different than if you were using campground laundry facilities though.
Same goes with the dishes. We’ve been trying to use more disposable items here temporarily while moochdocking. But we do also take some of our dishes over to clean. That way we don’t have to use too much of our water and then have to refill and pump out again.
We’re still staying in RV but when you moochdock with people, it’s possible you might even stay in their house depending on the situation. We love that we can come in and take super long showers. Though we can take pretty good showers in our RV when we have full hookups, it still doesn’t totally compare. And the kids love having a real tub for a while.
We also have access to great reliable internet while we’re here. We’re able to connect to our family’s WiFi and use their internet while here. It’s nice to have more stable, reliable, and faster speeds than we often experience while traveling on the road!
In the end, have fun, enjoy your time with your friends or family, be a good guest, clean up after yourself and contribute, and don’t wear out your welcome! We’re super grateful our family graciously invited us and keeps inviting us back, so we must not be overstaying our welcome!
So that is little overview of what moochdocking is, what it can look like, and how we’re currently experiencing it here. We hope this helps if you ever plan to give moochdocking a try yourself!
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If you’d like to read about our RV and other RV adventures, then check out some of our other posts :
- RV Solar System Lessons Learned
- RV Tank Sensors Not Working? We Use An RV Water Flow Meter Instead!
- Portable RV Waste Tank, Freshwater Tank and Pumps
- A Complete Guide To Visiting The Wallowa Mountains
- Sunrise at Mount Rainier National Park, A Must See!
- Top 5 Things To Do In The West Tetons
- Cost To Live In An RV Full Time: Monthly Costs From Our 1st Year On The Road
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