Van Life Guide To Moochdocking
What do you do when you need a place to park your traveling home, but all your typical options are full or closed? You phone a friend…with a nice big driveway (or dock)!
This nasty virus is affecting everyone and especially our fellow nomads both on wheels and keels.
Campgrounds and Marinas are closing or kicking out transient travelers. Which has left loads of people scrambling to find a place to stay where they have access to fresh water and a dump station.
Moochdocking or Driveway Surfing might be the best bet for #VanLife & RV camping right now! Plus it’s our favorite way to visit friends & family.
Here are our top tips on how to Moochdock like a boss and keep your hosts stoked. So they invite you back!
The information works for boaters too! Because the gear we installed in Mom’s Van is the same gear we have on our boat. And, the scenario is similar whether you’re parked at a limited-service marina, a friend’s dock, a limited-service campground, or a friend’s house.
Plus, if you’re wondering how all of this self-distancing and quarantine is affecting us (and it is!)…we mention that too.
If you want to keep up with us in real time, follow us @the_wynns on Instagram. We also post to and check in on the conversations happening on our Facebook page.
You can also follow Mary @Marys_Van on Instagram too.
Things to consider when moochdocking
Make sure your rig will fit!
We forgot to mention this one in the video because Mom’s van is pretty small, but it’s seriously important.
Everyone likes to think they have a BIG driveway. But just how big is it? We need measurements because every inch counts. Ask your friend to bust out the tape measure and give you the length and width. (Just a reminder guys, we are talking about the size of a space to park your rig…Never mind, moving on.)
Then, ask them to look around that space for obstacles. Are there any trees you might hit on the way in? Even if they appear to be ‘way up there’ according to your friend, tell them to go out and measure it one more time. Basketball goals, shrubs, overhanging trees, and eaves (that’s part of the roof that overhangs) are your worst enemy while driveway surfing. Once you have the measurements, double-check the location on Google Earth or the map Satellite view just to confirm.
Ask about local regulations.
Some neighborhoods allow street parking for a certain amount of days…others don’t…or sometimes you can simply request a special permit for your stay.
If you hook up to an electrical connection, first check the breaker box to confirm how many amps that connection is and what other devices are sharing the connection.
Set your inverter an amp or two under what you think you can pull just to be on the safe side. You don’t want to be overloading the connection or popping breakers. Trust us from experience, on a hot night in TX you don’t want that breaker popping at midnight when you don’t have a way into the garage to flip the breaker! And, make sure you have that dog bone and surge guard.
Power Set Up On Mary’s Van:
- Flexible Solar Panels: gonewiththewynns.com/product/flexible-solar-panels
- Solar Controller: amzn.to/2UpfJLe
- Lithium Batteries: bit.ly/GWTWBattery
- Battery Monitor: gonewiththewynns.com/product/battery-monitor
- Power Share Inverter: gonewiththewynns.com/product/2000-watt-inverter
- Soft Start (for running the AC on battery or limited shore power: gonewiththewynns.com/product/air-conditioning-off-grid
- $25 off discount code: GWTW
- Dog Bone 30A to 15A: https://amzn.to/3dhX2Sh
- Circuit Analyzer and Surge Protector https://amzn.to/3di3QiY
- Thick Heavy Duty Outdoor Extension cord https://amzn.to/3bkBpz9
If you don’t have a composting toilet (why not?!?) and your friends don’t have a sewer dump, you may want to ask to use their toilet and shower during your stay.
We didn’t have time to swap out mom’s toilet for a composting head…but that is next on the list as it makes a huge difference in how long we can live off the grid. Learn more here: gonewiththewynns.com/product/marine-heads-accessories
We’ve stayed on friends’ farms/ranches where we could sprinkle our greywater. But, that is a rare experience. Most likely you’ll need to be conservative with water usage inside your tiny home.
One last tip, be mindful of your trash and recycling. Confirm with your friend what’s cool and what’s not. We’ve accidentally dumped our recycling in the neighbor’s bin because we didn’t ask first. The neighbor wasn’t so happy.
Water tap locations & quality have varied greatly for us over the years. We use a basic carbon-based filter at the tap to filter water before it goes into our tank….and then we have our LED UV-filtered drinking tap. Zero concerns ever!
Water Filtration Set Up On Mary’s Van
- Basic Inline Hose Filter: https://amzn.to/2UbUE8d
- Acuva LED UV Filter: gonewiththewynns.com/product/water-purification
- $100 off With Discount Code: WYNNS
This nifty little device helps us find and connect to WiFi hotspots from long distances. Like a coffee shop, campground main office or our friend’s house when we’re driveway surfing!
Wifi Booster: wifiranger.com/shop/product/158-converge-denali
- 5% discount code: WFRWYNN
Be a good neighbor!
We always offer to help out around the house, make a grocery run, and of course, I love cooking for others. A surefire way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach. If you’re not a cook, purchase something to share! Wine, cheese, chocolate, coffee…everyone has a vice. Happy Moochin 😁
🎥CAMERA GEAR USED To Film THIS VIDEO📷
- Sony A7iii: https://amzn.to/3ah833V
- Drone: https://amzn.to/3c1lkzq
🎶Music In This Video:
- Source: http://bit.ly/artlist-gwtw
- Artists – Luke Melville
🙏 MADE POSSIBLE BY YOU!
Ups, downs, and all around, we share it all. We’re able to do so because people like you show up each week, read, watch, comment, share, shop our gear store, and put tips in our production jar. If you like what you see, there are lots of FREE ways you can show your support. Thank you for being a part of the journey!
This is so helpful for me as someone about to set up a spot in my own driveway for the “Instant Neighbor Program” (aka family holidays). Are there any tips or tricks or design recommendations for those of us on the other end (aka the homeowners)? We want to make a comfy spot and have electric/water hookup at the very least. Bonus points for ideas to make it adorable. 😉
Buy a heavy gauge outdoor-rated extension cord that can reach the boondocking spot and that’s really all we need. We’ll bring our own hoses for water (rated for drinking water). We also love access to a spare bath for some luxurious showers and, if you really love us, access to your laundry room. As for making it adorable, do a quick search for “glamping” and look at the images that come up – something is sure to strike your fancy!
Thanks for sharing the post on the surge protector. I had never seen this video post. What a great resource you have made for me and all my new Airstream friends. 🙂
Ausbin G Pippin, Jr.
As a RV owner I have really been enjoying this series since you have been back in the states. It has provided information on a lot of areas that I was not aware of. Being with your mother is times that you always hold dear to your heart. Be safe and enjoy you trip here in the states until you can return to the sea.
Ryan: Your comment was insensitive and insulting to people who may not have a choice in the matter. Censorship stands.
While we don’t want to go overboard with this PC stuff, we are all friends here. And you care about friends feelings. I feel certain you are welcome here, but not all comments are. I don’t remember a comment being censored before, so, play nice.
Very useful information as I’m slowly upgrading my 5W for longer and longer trips… Thanks folks, very generous of you to share this knowledge. Stay healthy !
This sounds like Boondockerswelcome.com That’s a really cool site to park your rig at someones home for free! We are host on the central coast of CA. And it is such a cool way to meet people from all over the world and during these times, there is minimal contact…so everyone stays safe!
If you’re going to do it by choice, be self sufficient. Isn’t that sort of the whole point…?
Absolutely! But being self sufficient doesn’t mean being a hermit. As Nikki said, make yourself as useful as you can, so your hosts are glad you came. It is always good when company leaves, but you want them looking forward to you coming back. Bring something to the party.
Great knowledge and knowhow. Exciting gadgets to be had. Aaamazing February weather..
That’s so cool how you mooch off everyone and try and make them think it’s all cool for them and the neighborhood
They pay for the house n driveway
You just show up for the good times
Take off when you get bored and need new stimuli for you and your crew
Throw them a potluck dinner and call it even . So nice of you
What’s not to like ? Why be tied down ? Just use other people’s stuff , you know … like a mooch
Look up the definition if you are confused man…
Well presumably these are people who like you and have invited you to stay in their driveway. One of the best things about full-timing in an RV is that it allows you to reconnect with friends and family in a way that you cannot do if you have a traditional lifestyle and only get 2 or 3 weeks of vacation a year. My family and friends have been delighted to have me stay with them for a few days or more. I’ve been able to stay with relatives while they recover from surgery or to give a full-time caretaker a much-needed break. The key is to offer to pitch in for the electric bill, buy some groceries or help out with chores around the house. Each time I’ve moochdocked it’s been a great experience for everyone and I’ve always been invited back. It’s not mooching off society – why so angry?
Almost anybody is welcome here if they bring there own house.:)
This is mom. No confusion here, even if I am a newbie to this lifestyle. The people we mooch off of are friends so I would not consider it mooching. Just because we moochdock does not mean we are inconsiderate of our hosts. The way I look at it is we (and I) have been asked to come back and moochdock anytime.
We contributed everywhere we stayed and it was more than just a potluck dinner. I would hope that you would do the same unless you are a MOOCH.
“Thicker the cord less amperage you loose”…. actually not correct. The smaller cord has more resistance so for the same current, the voltage drop across the cord is greater. You don’t actually loose amps but will have less voltage at the end of the smaller cord. For example, With a smaller cord and lower voltage it could take longer to heat up your water.
But you have the correct idea…..Keep the cord length as short as possible and use a larger cord when available.
I enjoy your travels!
Love watching you help your Mom! FYI…I was just poking around the Thousand Trails website and saw a picture of you two around a campfire in Arizona!
We don’t have a wi-fi booster, however, we do have a cell booster for our unlimited data plan and solar for keeping batteries charged, even on cloudy days. We also have a 1500 watt pure sine wave solar generator with a 200 watt briefcase solar panel to keep that charged if we need it.
Your videos are excellent. I can’t believe the amount of time and effort that you put into them. They really appear to be professional production quality. I’m sure practice makes perfect, but there are plenty of other people putting out videos, who have more experience, that don’t touch the product you put out. So, thank you. Keep up the good work. I hope you are able to find somewhere safe to ride out the virus scare. Looking forward to your next adventure.
Getting “conflicting” messages over the airwaves here (Ohio). On TV the last few days they put out stories about people going out camping. But, in reality, they ordered closed all the state park campgrounds. The neighboring state / states ordered closed “all” private and state campgrounds. Are not campsites far enough away to satisfy “Social Distancing”.
Many of the grocery stores have ended 24 hours operation. Others have reduced their hours they are open. If my math is right, doesn’t that pack more shoppers into a tighter amount of hours available to shop? Maybe its some sort of new fuzzy math calculation. If I was living in a high density apartment complex, I would rather be out full timing in a RV “IF” I could secure a site for 30-60 days till this thing passes. I’m going to assume the coasts which are getting hit the hardest will be hard for full time RVers to get a site.
Isn’t the concept of “social distancing” exactly the opposite of crashing in grandma’s driveway, and using her bathrooms and kitchen and making merry with her and old friends ?
Wouldn’t it be more responsible – until Corona has subsided – to isolate yourself wherever you safely can ?
Between Walmart, Kmart, Target, Kroger, and all the farmland, dirt roads, empty Mall parking lots, and apocalyptically abandonded manufacturing sites across America ,,it would seem more responsible to set up camp there than at Grandma’s
You missed the point where RV, Vans, Boats also need access to water and dump stations…just like everyone else. Walmart parking lots and such will not allow long term parking and everyone needs to do just that, park it. Not be moving around. (You are most likely not an RVer, otherwise, you would know why public parking lots and privately owned farmlands are not an option. You can’t just park it where ever you want, there are rules and regulations around that.)
The whole idea behind driveway surfing is that you may have a friend or family member with ample space who is willing to hunker down with you for this self-quarantine period. Meaning you all quarantine together. You have your own space and can help each other through this time. Especially if it is Grandma! Maybe grandma needs you to do the grocery and pharmacy runs.
I know Jason’s grandma would love nothing more right now than to have us quarantine with her, stay in her driveway, have the company and be there to help.
It’s all about being responsible, parking somewhere safe, legal and being able to spend time with our loved ones during these crazy times.
Where is limbo , I’ve looked all over the globe and I can’t find limbo 😁 , keep in having fun .
Ha ha, I bet there is one. 🙂 We’re in Fiji self quarantining.
I really really do appreciate what you guys are doing… And I want to stay connected because I am thinking about doing what your mother’s doing… I also will need your help immensely!!! Thanks again! God bless you both!!!
Cindi from WI
Our term for this is
“The Instant Neighbor Program”.
It sounds better than “Moochdocking”
He he, I like that too.
Thanks for all the great info! FYI, the link you provided for the WiFi ranger is dead. 🙂
Woops, thanks! We’ll get on that. Check back in a few hours.
T C Spencer
My Solution – Sell your 15 year old sail boat
and trade your Mom’s RV into a longer RV
Jason and Nikki can travel together with Mary
Love my kids dearly but NO! 🙂
Thanks for all the awesome info! It’s so great that you share your knowledge snd experiences with us and especially with your Mum! Stay safe and healthy! Good luck to you both and Mum! 🙏💝⛵️🚐🙏
What is a “dog bone”? It isn’t the obvious… Is it?
Ah, RV lingo. A “dogbone” is an adapter that lets you link two electrical cords together and usually it has 2 different ends on it. For the situation in the video, the extension cord coming from the house ends in the typical 15 amp plug that we’re all familiar with, but an RV draws a lot of power and so the electrical cord for an RV is either 30 or 50 amps and the prong configuration is a bit different. So the thing Jason used with the purple ends on it has a 15 amp plug on one end and a 30 amp socket on the other end. It’s called a dog bone because of the shape. Here’s a link from the post so you can see what one looks like.
Pro Tip: If you will be staying for more than a couple of weeks, consider hiring an electrician and adding a 30 or 50 amp outlet outside your friend’s garage to plug into. This could run from $100 – $300 but can make a world of difference.
Plus doing that at your expense endears you to your friends or relatives and will probably mean they will welcome you back the next time.
We live in a tiny house in someone’s yard and did just that. It’s been nice to not worry too much about amp pull and made it easier on the home owners.
I’ve had the experience of living in a condo in an urban setting, and on a 37′ Valiant sailboat. With regard to the former, you can be independent and choose to be self sufficient. As for the latter, you can’t. You need people for business, social, and support. The naive dream of living off the grid, alone, and independent is not a reality. It’s more of a reality living in that urban condo then on wheels or keels. Keels especially requires constant, consistent dependence on others.