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Issue 8: 3 Awesome & Easy Cities to Boondock in

Ay! I'm reviving The Weekly Nomad & changing its purpose: from here on out, I'ma just hit you with useful info I've gathered since I started living the Nomad life. Stuff I wish I'd known before I just dove in head-first. Let's kick this thang off with somethin' fun: 3 sick, friendly, & easy cities to boondock in!


& I'ma tell you now, at least 1 of 'em is gonna surprise you... boondocking in cities has been way easier than I thought it'd be.



Hold up... what's boondocking?

Boondocking is the same as living 'off grid' which means you're living without connections to a water source or electricity. In a camper, it means you're not plugged in to shore power or a water source; you're powering things with your camper's batteries and using your fresh water tank for water.


I boondock 95% of the time because it allows me to post up anywhere, from beaches to trailheads to city streets... & speaking of city streets, let's look at 3 awesome & easy cities I've boondocked in:


 

Denver, Colorado

probably the least surprising of the 3


Let me start by saying this: Denver is sick. There is a very short list of places I've visited where I thought to myself, "yeah, I could live here full time." The Denver area is one of 'em.


Denver is an awesome place to boondock because there's so much to do and the culture of the city makes you feel kinda 'on-brand' for being there in a camper. The people are outdoorsy & active, extremely friendly, and generally unfazed by campers. If you throw on a trucker hat, Patagonia jacket, & Teva sandals... they'll think you're a local.


I spent ~2.5 weeks there: over a week in the Five Points neighborhood of Denver, then ~10 days in Boulder. I worked from a bunch of amazing local cafes, hiked Rocky Mountain National Park a few times, saw a concert at Red Rocks Ampitheatre... it was an amazing time.


A lot of the city streets throughout Denver have no parking restrictions which is golden for a boondocker. You can just show up, drive around for a few minutes, and pick out a street that looks good to you. I parked in 3 different places while in the city and had zero issues. While in Boulder I camped overnight in the parking lot of an AMAZING park/sports complex. Basketball & tennis courts, soccer fields, public bathrooms, the Rocky Mountains in the background.... man I miss that spot!


If you want the perfect mix of city & nature in a place where getting 'the knock' is NO concern... go to Denver.




 

New York, New York

an incredible spot if you're a confident driver


Every time I go to NYC I become a full blown New York guy. The energy of the city sweeps you up and brings you along for the ride as soon as you step outside & I LOVE IT! It's also incredibly easy to boondock there.


When I tell people I've boondocked in New York City, specifically Manhattan... they're shocked. I get it though, it's wild to think about driving through the busiest city in America in a bigass camper. I've done it many times and I'll tell ya, it's not for the faint of heart. You have to be an extremely good and supremely confident driver to maneuver the streets of NYC in a camper. With that being said...


NYC has pretty camper-friendly parking laws, making it an incredibly easy city to boondock in. I spent several weeks in Manhattan & Brooklyn where the only parking laws are for street sweeping (for example, Tuesdays & Thursdays 10am-12pm). What I learned very quickly is that the street sweepers rarely come so you never actually have to move. The ticket issuers DO make their rounds regardless though, so the locals trick is to sit in the driver's seat of your vehicle during street sweeping hours. If the ticket issuer sees you in your vehicle, they don't ticket you. Other than that, it's free & easy to park all over NYC.


I don't think I need to sell you on NYC as a great place to visit, I mean... it's NYC! ENDLESS things to do, amazing food, there's no other place like it. I stayed in Manhattan's Upper East Side and Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhoods while boondocking there and had zero issues. I can't wait to go back.




 

Washington, D.C.

where it's fully legal to boondock


D.C. is the very first place I took my camper so it has a special place in my heart. I must admit though, I'm kinda cheating by saying Washington, D.C. because I was technically parked in Arlington, VA. It's just a few miles from downtown D.C. though and I learned very quickly that parking there was an INCREDIBLE decision.


D.C. might be the most underrated city in America. I had zero expectations when I got there in my camper; I only picked D.C. because it was only a few hours from home. I ended up staying for 3 weeks. There is SO much to do, every neighborhood has its own unique charm that's worth exploring, and getting in trouble for boondocking is an absolute non-issue (if you park in Virginia).


A wild experience taught me that sleeping in a vehicle overnight is perfectly legal in Virginia. You can read the full story here, but the sparknotes: I'd been parked in the same exact spot in Arlington for over a week when a neighbor apparently called the police on me. A cop showed up, knocked on my camper, and proceeded to tell me I have nothing to worry about because boondocking is legal in Virginia. He even gave me his card so I could call him if anyone else gave me trouble!


There's no better feeling than boondocking somewhere and being 100% confident that you won't get 'the knock.' Like I said, Arlington is only a few miles from D.C. so I rode my bike there every day in under 20mins; you're basically in D.C. I worked from a ton of cool cafes and hotel lobbies, caught a Nationals baseball game, went to a couple concerts and endless museums... D.C. is a vibe.



 

If you're thinking about the camper life, just getting started, or even a seasoned vet... don't be afraid to boondock in cities. I've done it all over the place and while it might seem intimidating, it's nowhere near as difficult nor dangerous as you'd think.


It's actually a blast!




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