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Tips for RV Driveway Surfing – Being a Great Temporary Neighbor

When we first hit the road, we started getting invitations to come park in people’s driveways.

I found it odd at first. Did these well intentioned folks think we couldn’t afford to stay where I thought RV’s belonged – in campgrounds? I was on a mission to prove we weren’t moochers, and could pay our own way.

Our first Driveway Surf - with a fellow T@B owner (she claimed she wasn't an axe-murderer in her invite!)

Our first Driveway Surf – with a fellow T@B owner (she claimed she wasn’t an axe-murderer in her invite!)

But it didn’t take much time to really learn, that Driveway Surfing (or as some have come to call it – Moochdocking) is a priceless experience.

What is Driveway Surfing?  The concept is similar to Couchsurfing – a popular way for travelers to stay with locals on their couch or in a spare room. Except with Driveway Surfing, you bring your own couch. And well, guest room. Instead of being a guest in someone’s home, you become their temporary neighbor. It’s usually always considered a fair exchange with no money passing hands – a free place to stay while allowing the host to live a bit vicariously through the visitor.

On June 16, 2016 we hosted a live video chat on this topic  – you can view the archive of that here (careful, it’s an hour long!):

Or, if you prefer text – we’ve written out the main points for you below.

The Joys of Driveway Surfing

While saving campground fees is definitely one of the perks, it’s usually not the incentive for us. Here are the things we absolutely love about the experiences we’ve had:

  • IMG_6964

    Sharing a yard with family allows lots of bonus time together.

    Being Close By – If we’re just passing through town, which we usually are, spending time commuting to hang out with friends or family cuts into that quality time. Being able to stay right next door allows for more spontaneous hanging out.

  • Alternatives to RV Parks – Let’s face it, RV Parks aren’t always the most awesome place to stay. And they’re not everywhere. Available driveways and private property opens up opportunities to explore areas we might not otherwise due to lack of RV stay options.
  • Being A Temporary Neighbor and Not a Guest – When we travel by other modes and stay with a host, you’re a guest in their home. And no matter how much someone says ‘make yourself at home’, rarely do you feel at home. When you bring your own home, you are sleeping in your own bed, have your own space to retreat to, and have everything you need to feel at home.
    This invitation's directions included 'just park anywhere on the tennis court'.

    This invitation’s directions included ‘just park anywhere on the tennis court’.

    It’s just home is now parked next to cool people you get to spend time with too.

  • More of a Local Experience – Getting to stay on the property of a local gives you a different perspective on the area you are visiting. They know their area, they know you and where to suggest you spend your limited time in the area.
  • It’s a Great Way to Deepen Friendships – Some of our strongest friendships over the years are a result of being temporary neighbors. We’ve gotten to live in community with people in ways that a quick dinner meet-up just can’t substitute for.

Being a Good Neighbor

We get the question often from other RVers – ‘How can I be a good guest, and make sure I get invited back? What are the protocols?’

So here’s some tips on making sure you have a great stay:

  • Ask Questions Up Front – Your host may not regularly have RVs in their driveway, and may not be aware of what it takes to park one. Here are some questions we like to have answered before accepting an invitation:
    • It took us 45 minutes to carefully cross this tight bridge on our friend's property.

      It took us 45 minutes to carefully cross this tight bridge on our friend’s property.

      The address, so we can get a satellite view, street view, and virtually navigate our way there in advance. (Don’t trust that your host knows how to drive an RV to their location, or actually has the room they think they have!)

    • Have other RVs or large vehicles been to the property before? (This helps substantially to put our minds at ease that we’re not heading to a potential catastrophe.)
    • How long and wide is the parking space? Can a large vehicle easily turn in? Is there an easy way to turn around? Is it flat enough? Are there obstacles?
    • How are the roads to get to the location – tight turns, narrow roads, steep inclines, low clearance points?
    • What kind of power is available within reach of the parking area, or are there sunny spots for solar?
    • How’s the cell signal, or does the WiFi reach the driveway?
    • What are the zoning or HOA rules for parking an RV? Are the rules enforced? Are there curmudgeon neighbors who will make our stay uncomfortable?
  • Come Prepared –  Come prepared to be pretty self sufficient, not many homes have full RV hook-ups. Here’s some things you can do before arrival:
    • Have your tanks to their optimal levels (fresh full, waste empty). If water is available, a fresh drinking water hose extension might be handy.
    • Power isn't always nearby where you park. Our heavy duty extension cord and 15A adapter gives us lots of flexibility.

      Power isn’t always nearby where you park. Our heavy duty extension cord and 15A adapter gives us lots of flexibility.

      Be power flexible – The closet power outlet might be a standard household 15A outlet fifty feet away. To utilize this you’ll need extra equipment on hand and be on a power budget to not trip breakers. Know what else your host has on the circuit, and if you don’t have an inverter that shows shore power usage, know what things in your RV use!

      Or, like us – design a battery boosting inverter and/or solar setup.

      Here is some simpler equipment we recommend RVers who venture away from full hook-up RV Parks has on board to create some additional power flexibility:

      • Variety of adapters to convert a typical RV 50A or 30A plug*:
        • Have adaptors.. will travel.

          Have adaptors.. will travel.

          30A -> 15A – allows a 30A cord, such as our extension cord below, to plug into a household 15/20A receptacle – handy for driveway surfing.

        • 50A -> 15/20A – allows a 50A cord to go directly into a 15/20A household receptacle.
        • 50A -> 30A – allows a 50A cord to plug into a 30A receptacle, such as what you might find at state parks.
        • 30A -> 50A – allows a 30A cord, such as our extension cord, to go into a 50A only outlet, Can be handy at mobile home parks or RV shop repair centers, which might have 50A only connections way in the back of a site.

      *Reality Check: Using an adaptor only allows you to convert the plug type. It does not also magically provide 50A power out of a 15A outlet. You can only get 15A of power, max, out of the outlet – that power can just now flow through your 50A cord. Manage your energy usage – thou shall not trip your host’s breaker!

      • Heavy Duty Extension cord (get a 10 gauge as a minimum to handle the load of an RV). Options include:
        • 30A 50′ RV Extension Cord – 30A cords are a nice happy medium, they’re smaller to lug around but can still carry a lot of power without voltage drop. They can be purchased more affordably in longer lengths.
        • 50A 30′ Extension Cord – 50A cords are HUGE to store and heavy to lug around, and are much more expensive – but if you absolutely need 50A service and have 50A plugs available, it can be worthwhile.
        • 15A 50′ 10 Gauge Extension Cord – 10 gauge in a 15A cord is a bit rare to come by, thus tend to be more expensive. We ordered one of these in a rush for a driveway surfing stay after melting a 12 gauge equivalent. We ended up modifying it later with 30A female / male ends, using the adaptors with it.  (If we had actually planned our overall electrical kit – we’d have just bought the 30A cord above.)
      • Food to share. Your host will likely excitedly invite you over to dinner upon arrival. We love it, but we personally feel uncomfortable having our host feed us every meal. We make it clear early on that we’d love to converge on creating shared meals, hosting them ourselves and that meals on our own are a-ok.
      • Gifts on board. We always carry some small but meaningful gifts to leave behind for our hosts.
  • Express Your Needs – Many hosts are happy to share their amenities – such as laundry, WiFi, a long shower, power or water. Just ask, for they may not know that an offer would be appreciated.
  • This host had a dedicated RV pull up with private patio and full hook-ups. Sweet!

    This host had a dedicated RV pull up with private patio and full hook-ups. Sweet!

    Be Respectful – We’ve found a wide range of what ‘make yourself at home‘ means. Everything from feeling welcome in the living room when invited over at an appointed time… to truly invited to walk into our host’s home at any time, day or night – with an open invite to raid the fridge, take a shower/bath, do laundry and even browse the porn collection. It sometimes takes getting to know each other a bit before presuming anything.

  • Set Social Expectations – If our stay is just a day or two, we like to make sure we are spending time with our host as they desire. Any longer than that, we need to make sure we are also honoring our own routines. After all, we’re likely not on vacation during our visit and we need our alone time too. We make sure we leave time to spend with our host, but we also make any other obligations we have clear (and give them the opportunity to do the same.)
  • How to even describe this awesome 'driveway' surfing?

    How to even describe this awesome ‘driveway’ surfing? We were given our own peninsula.. with a row boat to visit our host.

    Remember the Permanent Neighbors – You’re not just moving in as a temporary neighbor to your host, but also to their permanent neighbors. And some of them may think it’s odd to have someone living essentially in their street. And some may think it’s incredibly awesome. Talk to your host about the temperament of their neighbors, and if they’ve given them a heads up about your stay. We’ve found it goes a long way to preventing potential calls to the HOA or zoning committee.

  • Don’t Overstay your Welcome –  Make sure you are commutating the expectations for how long of a stay is being offered. Is the invitation for overnight, a couple days or longer?  Be conscious of at what point your stay shifts from being a gift to when you should be contributing in some way.
  • Be Appreciative – This goes without saying. Thank your host for the opportunity to stay on their private property. Whether that be with words, a small gift, cooking them a meal, taking them out for dinner, helping out with chores or something you can uniquely offer.

Tips for Hosts

Hosting an RVer may be new to you, and non-RVers in particular may not be aware of what an RV guest might need to make their stay comfortable. So before you extend an invitation, here’s some things that might be helpful to know:

  • Neighborhood streets and driveways aren't necessarily made for ideal RV approaches.

    Neighborhood streets and driveways aren’t necessarily made for ideal RV approaches. Usually it just takes patience.

    RVs are Big – RVs come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. When you look at your available space to park an RV, it’s easy to underestimate a lot of things. Ask your potential guest how large their RV is, not just the length & height –  but also how wide it is when fully setup (don’t forget slides & awnings and being able to open the door). And carefully consider if they can actually get to your location.

  • RVs are Heavy – If your parking space is on a yard or field, please make sure the ground is very firmly packed. Just because you’ve parked a car there doesn’t necessarily mean that a 15,000 – 30,000 pound RV won’t get stuck or sink right in. If you’re parking them on a concrete or asphalt slab, make sure it is rated to support the weight – or else your visitor may literally leave their mark.
  • RVs Need to Be Fairly Level – Most RVs have a way to level (we personally just have boards) – so a bit of a slope isn’t a big deal. But there’s only so much we can compensate for with boards, jacks and suspension adjustments.
    Our trailer was a lot easier to level than our bus!

    Our trailer was a lot easier to level than our bus!

    It can be really hard sometimes to see how unlevel your driveway or yard is until you park a 40′ RV on it.

  • Invite a Pre-Scouting Expedition – Definitely give the RVer your address in advance, so they can virtually view your property via satellite or street view mapping. And if you’re unsure yourself, suggest a convenient place they can park nearby so they can scout out your property in advance. It can avoid them getting into a prickly situation of getting stuck in a tight turn, quick elevation change, low clearance spot or soft ground.
  • Amenities Available – Please let the RVer know in advance what you might have available for power, water and sewer within reach of the parking space. None of us ever expect full hook-ups, but it does let us know what preparations we should make before arrival.  And extra amenities like hot tubs, gorgeous views and unique experiences always catch our attention to lure us in (*grin*).
  • Oops... we got tagged. Thank goodness it was a warning, and not an immediate tow.

    Oops… we got tagged. Thank goodness it was a warning, and not an immediate tow.

    Know Your Community’s Rules – Not all cities or neighborhoods allow RV parking. Some may have special rules, limitations or complete restrictions. Make sure you know before you invite an RVer to route your way, so they don’t get an unexpected knock on their door, notice posted or woken up by a tow truck. And please do talk with your neighbors before hand.

  • We Really Are Bringing Our Home – Unless there are really unusual circumstances, we definitely prefer staying in our own home on wheels. So please don’t setup the guest room, or take offense that we prefer our own bed (it’s very real).  But we do so appreciate knowing what household amenities are open to us – such as a long shower, hot tub, laundry, WiFi, dishwasher, etc.
  • You Don’t Need To Host Us Non-Stop – Us RVers tend to be pretty self sufficient folks – and it may seem odd at first as compared to hosting a guest in your home.
    • We bring our own kitchen and can feed ourselves (but we do love sharing in some meals.. can we cook for you too?).
    • Navigating new towns is part of our everyday life, so you don’t have to feel obligated to be a full time tour guide (but if you’d like to join us for an adventure, let’s do it!).
    • And we really are ok just staying at home, getting work/chores done and being at home. We don’t need to be entertained.

What we’re trying to say here is… we take this temporary neighbor thing seriously. You have your life, we have ours. Please don’t take time off your normal every day life or other obligations you might have. And let’s definitely enjoy our mutual down time together when it works out.

How to Find Driveway Surfing Opportunities?

Some folks love hosting and make sure they have amenities to host their RVing friends.

Some folks love hosting and make sure they have amenities to host their RVing friends. (This one had full hook-up spots for 2 RVs at once.)

We get most of our driveway surfing invites from friends & family in our travels, or from kind folks like you reading along (we love driveway surfing invites… if you have space, never hesitate to invite us over!).

But if your contact book doesn’t include suitable driveways, here are some ways to hook up with willing hosts (or the opposite, if you’d like to host RVers):

  • Boondockers Welcome (affiliate link) is the Couchsurfing equivalent in the RVing world. Hosts can post their general information & location, and RVers can request to stay with them (hosts have to approve the request before an invite is extended). It’s a great way for potential hosts and surfers to meet. Also, you can sometimes find Driveway Surfing experiences on Couchsurfing too.
  • RVWithMe and HipCamp are the AirBnB equivalents in the RVing world. Hosts list their properties up for rent, and you can book (and pay for) spots with them.You can also post/read on Craigslist for an area for potential opportunities.

So there you go.. some of what we’ve learned over our years on the road about being a temporary neighbor.

Have fun stories to share from your own driveway surfing? Other tips? Questions? Leave them in the comments…

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, we receive a commission. Note that all opinions are 100% our own and we only link to products we personally use and absolutely recommend! Technomadia is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

26 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. Hi. Enjoyed your post! I am new to RVing–I own a 21′ Winnebago Rialta. What’s the best range extender equipment for me to have to get strong and/or fast WiFi from my driveway surfing host’s router (with their permission of course)?

  2. WOW – I saw a listing in Craigslist and googled it and found your site —

    I have a love and passion for an RV , but just don’t have one yet. (was even a Good Sam member)

    I have a great driveway, that I believed would be good for this but didn’t know “surfing” existed. I had plans to put in a sump pump and rent to Class A –

    It has a 25×25 garage a long diveway, with 8′ fenced on all 4 sides for privacy

    Currently it is rented for storage in Gwinnett county, GA (atlanta)

    Our main main house 2 miles away is HOA protected and we have a beautiful pool that we rarely use.

    lets talk off line

    • Hi Glenn.. if you’d like to invite RVers to surf with you, highly recommend joining BoondockersWelcome.com – that’s precisely what they do. For renting out your space, we’re not up to date with the current options out there. Make sure your HOA allows it however.

  3. Hi Chris & Cheri! I just discovered you guys today and am SO happy I did. I was doing some research for my new food blog and your channel on youtube was recommended by youtube. My “boyfriend” (quotes because we are in our late fifties!) and I bought our first motorhome Sept 2014 (a 1994 Chinook) that we are absolutely in love with. We’ve been wondering how to do MOST of the things you talk about and even more that I didn’t know to ask. What a wonderful resource you are! Thank you so much! When I make my first $14.99 on my blog, I am definitely sending you a Bota Box!

    Karin in Arizona

  4. great blog entry…I feel like handing out a flyer with “rules/expectations. last time we driveway surfed we were parked in, making it impossible to venture out on our own schedule.We were miserable but thankfully a hurricane rescued us with an early departure. I think our hosts were also offended that we did not stay in their house etc.
    I think we were good guests but I believe now that very often when people say that it’s fine to camp in their driveway it really isn’t ( kinda the “WE HAVE TO GET TOGETHER SOON” speech at funerals and then not one gets together till the next funeral…
    Now I made a ground rule that I am being brutally honest about our stay…we dont want to be a burden, dont expect entertainment….
    It’s 2016 but there are still alot of people out there that dont understand how telecommute works and that we work the same and very often longer hours than traditional work arrangements.
    I am always getting bewildered looks when they see me with my laptop / ipad and I “claim” to be working…

  5. Great article. We have been both guest and hosts. As a guest I prefer to stay with fellow RV’er’s. They just have a better understanding of our needs (height, length, width, weight and utilities).

    I think weather you are extending or accepting an invitation it is best to establish some ground rules before accepting and arriving. When extending the invitation to someone for the first time I make sure they understand that we still work for a living and even though we are on the property we are working during the work day. It does not necessarily mean we will not visit some but work is the priority. In other words don’t expect us to keep you entertained.

    I think if both hosts and guests think of each other as “Temporary Neighbors” it works best. As neighbors it implies independence from each other and allows each to live their lives as needed. Then plan for meals or other outings to spend time together. It does not rule out spontaneous visits but goes a long way to respecting each others space and privacy.

    With pets as a guest we always make sure our hosts knows we travel with them and we always clean up after them (pets not the hosts). As hosts I make sure guests know that while we are in suburbia we do have predators all around like coyote and large birds of prey and do not recommend leaving pets outside unattended.

    WiFi – As a host I do offer WiFi. Because I do run my business from the same connection I have a separate router that is for my guests use so that I can isolate them easier from other services on my network. Something to consider if you are considering hosting. As a guest and if offered WiFi I make sure that anything I do or may do with the WiFi will not have any effect on our hosts ability to use the internet as they normally use it. As a hosts I have a very robust connection but do reserve the right to limit access in the event it affects my or my employees productivity during the work day.

    I have to admit as both a host and a guest it has been an awesome experience. In our experiences it has really allowed us to deepen and expand our relationships.

  6. great post…we did our first driveway surfing in the 1000 Island where we were going to park in their driveway…we were new at it as were they…long story short…we got luck as we were really too big for the space…after a very hairy parking and leaving we learned that we needed people who were generous enough to send us photos ahead of time…(we did not have google earth at that time)….now when we stay at friends we do it right using many of the suggestions in your article…

  7. G and I just saw your video and really enjoyed it. We always learn something and appreciate them. Thanks again.

  8. I don’t have a good relationship with my dad but when we were going to be passing his neighborhood we asked about stopping. He has been an RVer so we knew we could trust him regarding our ability to get in but we forgot to tell him we had traded our class B for a class C. We had to park at one specific side in front of his garage because their mail carrier uses the other side as a turnaround. We unexpectedly stayed three days and did a lot to rebuild our relationship. Take a chance on this, people, the rewards can be surprising.

  9. We’ve done a little bit of driveway surfing with family and friends over the years, but our rig’s size (or oversize to be more precise) is a big limiting factor. At 19 tons, we can crack concrete, compress hot asphalt, or get ourselves stuck. And 43′ long is too big for a lot of places, except those who have large properties. We have a few friends and relatives who own businesses, and driveway surfing there is great, since we have the abandoned lots to ourselves after closing at night. And being nearby their homes, but not actually AT their homes, helps us avoid being in each others’ space without making a plan to get together first. It’s been most helpful in areas where there simply are no nearby places to camp, but we want to be in the area to visit. The worst thing is still big cities, although we have camped in the street right in front of a cousins house in Seattle several times without a problem, probably due to the great relationship they have with their neighbors. 😉

    Thanks, as always, Cherie & Chris for providing an enjoyable hour+ spent with you virtually, and for adding yet more useful content to help the RV community. Miss & love you both. 🙂

    • So true indeed… with every foot of length or ton, there’s a slight decrease in options in general. But you guys have one sweet setup, and we so enjoy being your neighbor and having ample hang out space 😉

      When we were in our smaller trailers, we had a ton more driveway surfing options than we do now. And getting invited to stay on nearby property is pretty cool too… definitely a fun setup!

      Thanks for joining in live last night, helps makes the miles/kms between us seem a little less.

  10. Just saw your video chat and I would like to add a couple of observations if I might.
    If you travel during hot months be sure to talk to home owners about using your generator if you must for AC. Most home owners and their neighbors are unaware of how loud a Gen will be in a small neighborhood.
    Second you might want to discuss dogs who would love a big yard after months on leash or in small off leash parks; on the other hand a host with a beautifully landscaped yard may not be so enthusiastick about your pup.
    We travel about halftime and have had wonderful visits with
    long lost friends. They have provided really memorable stays, but as you said, preparation is necessary.
    I’m really glad I found your blog and look forward to looking through your old posts. Thanks.

    • Great thoughts… for sure!

      Having lived in neighborhoods post-hurricane, where generator use is pretty much necessary until power is restored – I’d be very hesitant to run a generator in a neighborhood. Maybe on a large multi acre piece of property, but not in a neighborhood – that would be a great way to tick off the neighbors.

      We built a power boosting hybrid system to be able to run our A/C off 15A, solar and our batteries for just such occasions. But if when more than 1 AC is needed, we have moved from our driveway surfing location to the closet 50A RV park a couple times now.

      And great point about checking in on pets and how a host prefers they be handled. We do appreciate also knowing if our hosts has pets that might be a concern for our cat.

  11. Thanks for sharing so much of your life with us. We are in the process of going full time (house sold, living in the RV just cleaning out the remains of life that don’t fit in the RV or the ONE storage unit). After 44 yrs together there is just so much stuff. I hope we can be fancy free by the end of June. We couldn’t have reached this point without the help of great bloggers/vbloggers like the two of you. Best Wishes – Cathi

  12. Love the article. I’ve only driveway surfed a couple of times w/ friends. I have a classmate in VA. that I stop in to see on my way from Maine to points south every Nov. and again on my way back in the spring. I only have a Roadtrek so I fit anywhere. He’s on a hill, all around there it’s hills so if I park at an angle it works. I have a network of hikers that I’ve met over the years so I borrow a yard here an there in my travels coming or going. I boondock a lot in NF’s and RV park it a month at a time when I want a break or a cold snap is in the future. This will only be my 3 yr. on the road for winter, so I’m new to it but find I have no issues, never scared ( travel alone) don’t worry and take back roads and stop a lot. I do my own repairs that I can. I was just in front of you guys by a couple of days when you came across Texas. We unknowingly were traveling the same route. (I hate Texas) Happy trails!

    • Definitely a small nimble setup like yours gives so many more options for parking, and allows you to blend in more as a van. Sounds like you’re rocking it out there (go you!), and hopefully one day our paths might intentionally cross… instead of stalking each other across a big state. 😉

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