If you have attended any of my boondocking seminars at either the Seattle RV Show or Puyallup RV Show you know I am passionate about camping in the sticks. No reservations are needed, I enjoy the solitude, the price is right, it's quiet, no neighbors, etc.

However, contrary to popular belief, you will also find my wife and I occasionally staying in private RV parks. When we do stay in a RV park, you will never find us rolling in at 8PM in the evening, ignoring the hook ups and hitting the road at 6AM the next morning. This is something the thrifty Norwegian in me would never permit.

Let's take a look at how to maximize the value of your overnight stay in a private RV park:

1) Arrive early and plan on staying until check out time the next day allowing yourself to take full advantage of the amenities offered. As I mentioned above, there are those that will pull in late in the evening to a $40/night RV park, not hook up to the utilities and leave early the next morning. To me this is a total waste of money as I could have accomplished the same thing for free at a WalMart, casino or any number of private property locations that permit free overnight stays. Be just the opposite; arrive before the posted check in time (I have never met an RV park owner that wouldn't rent us a space at ten in the morning) and stay until the posted check out time the next day. This will give you plenty of time to rest and enjoy all the services offered by the park.

2) After pulling into your space, dump the black tank and close the valve.

3) Once hooked up, switch all your appliances to operate on shore power. After all, you are paying for the electrical service, why not use it and save your propane. In addition, if you aren't already carrying one, purchase a small electric heater to heat your RV when needed using the parks electricity rather than your propane.

4) Plug in any rechargeable devices that need charging; cordless drills, lap tops, etc

During your stay - When you use the toilet in the RV flush with lots of water with the goal of having the black tank nearly full when you are ready to break camp the next day.

5) Next put on a swimsuit, gather up the laundry and head to the centrally located area of the park that features the coin operated laundry and swimming pool. Once the coins are inserted into the washer and you put the lid down, grab some of the reading material that abounds in RV park laundromats and head for the pool. If you are traveling with kids they are already there!

While you are folding your fresh laundry from the clothes dryer, strike up a conversation with other travelers that are doing their laundry. Odds are one of them just came from where you are headed and can share valuable tips on things to see and do along with the best places to camp.

6) While you make use of the community grill to cook dinner, send the kids off to the play ground to expend some energy.

7) After dinner, enjoy some family time watching TV via the provided cable TV hookup or free DVD rentals available in the park office.

8) Once your TV time is over, don the swimsuits and head over to the spa for a relaxing soak in the hot tub before bed. Upon exiting the hot tub, take a long hot shower at the RV park restrooms.

The next morning, plan to make use of any of the amenities you didn't visit the day before.

Make Use of the Sports Facilities
Make Use of the Sports Facilities

As check out time nears:

A) Dump the, by now nearly full, black tank. The generous amounts of water you have been adding during each flush have been soaking all the crud off the sidewalls and monitor probes. Being the contents of your black tank are approximately 95% water, the rapid draining will carry sediments out of your tank that might stay behind during a typical dump.

B) Rinse the black tank thoroughly using the parks water.

C) Fill your fresh water tank. (This step is most important if you are heading into the boondocks)

D) Empty your trash including the trash bag in your tow or towed vehicle.

 If you planned your stay correctly, upon leaving the park the next day - you will have:

- Stayed in excess of 24 hours

- Used every amenity the park offered

- Consumed little, if any, of your propane

- Fully charged batteries on your RV and other rechargeable items

- A full freshwater tank

- Clean clothes and your trash is empty

- Gained some information

- Been refreshed and well rested

- An appreciation for the park and the value you just received

Maximizing your stay at a RV park, is just one of many ways to stretch your RVing budget.

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.

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