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The Math is Undeniable: Boondocking Is About To Be Busted

When we left Zephyr in storage last month, we had every intention of returning to her someday. But maybe it is best to wait out the upcoming RVing apocalypse by sticking to the water full time for now.

Please note the publish date of this post, and adjust your humor appropriately :).

Though rushed, our recent RV trip from Florida to Texas was a reminder of just how much we love living on the road, and in Zephyr.

Splitting our time between boat and bus has been our plan since the beginning, as I (Chris) explained last year:

“Eventually we hope to relocate Zephyr back to her original home turf of the desert southwest. Winters boondocking in the desert are heaven, and we think that will make the perfect balance for summers boating in the east.”

And indeed – when we tucked Zephyr into storage, our plan was to return to her in Austin this Fall, and to finish our cross-country trip back to Zephyr’s original home turf in Arizona.

Our goal – to quickly get back to boondocking nirvana out in the desert southwest.

But, what if our nirvana is gone before we even get there?

I’ve crunched some numbers, and things don’t look good.

The Inevitable Future of RVing

The first Xscapers boondocking convergence in 2016 had plenty of space for everyone to spread out…

When we helped found the Xscapers back in 2015, it was really exciting to launch an organization that would appeal to a new generation of RVer.

And ever since then, it has taken off. Like crazy.

When we co-hosted the Xscaper’s first annual gathering in Quartzsite in 2016, we were thrilled to have a few dozen people join us for boondocking in the desert.

For many – it was their first experience with off-grid living, and the spread-out chill vibe of the community was absolutely awesome.

Word must have spread just how awesome it was.

Being tied to the east coast as we embraced our new cruising lifestyle, we missed out on the 2017 and 2018 Xscapers Annual Bash. But from all the rave reviews we have heard the scale and awesomeness of the event has just kept ramping up.

Just take a look at this growth over the years:

If this growth trend continues, future group shots will need to be taken from space. (Photo credit to the Xscapers.)

Awesome, right?

But – what next?

The numbers look a little scary actually…

Extrapolating Out

Here’s the rough head count shared by the Xscapers for attendance each year:

  • Annual Bash 2016 – 75
  • Annual Bash 2017 (2x increase) – 150
  • Annual Bash 2018 (4x increase) – 600

Anyone who has studied math even a bit should be terrified looking at those numbers.

There’s a pretty clear pattern here – a geometric series escalating by powers of two.

It isn’t hard to run the numbers to get a rough idea of how many people to expect showing up wanting to go boondocking with the Xscapers tribe in the years ahead.

Boondocking Forecasts:

  • Annual Bash 2019 (8x increase) – 4,800
  • Annual Bash 2020 (16x increase) – 78,800
  • Annual Bash 2021 (32x increase) – 2,521,600
  • Annual Bash 2022 (64x increase) – 161,382,400
  • Annual Bash 2023 (128x increase) – 20,656,947,200 (!!!!)

Now of course these numbers are not realistic, and at some point the growth will necessarily trail off a bit.

There are only so many people on the planet, after all. And logically, not everyone can be an Xscaper.

Is this what the future of boondocking looks like?

But the trend is undeniable.

Even the most conservative forecasting should make it clear that the Xscapers Annual Bash will surpass the size of Burning Man no later than 2021, and by 2022 there will likely be literally millions of people headed out into the desert to seek boondocking magic.

There will be so many Xscapers out in the desert that escaping them will be impossible!

I fear the wide open spaces and solitude will become things of distant memory.

Instead, we’ll more likely see gang warfare erupt between solar snobs and janky generator folks forced to live in close quarters.

Waiting lists for attending educational sessions.

Sounds wars between dance camps & spontaneous music jams.

Lines for dump stations miles long.

Extreme rationing of margaritas.

And just imagine how overloaded the cell towers are going to be!

It’s NOT going to be pretty.

But The Numbers Don’t Lie

Future RVE Summits will need to be held in arenas instead of tents!

The desert southwest will be crammed awning to awning with RVs, and the spillover into campgrounds, national, and state parks will make getting a decent spot even more difficult than it has been lately.

The RV world is exploding, but just where will everyone go once the last possible boondocking spot is filled, and every campground is booked up years in advance?

We can’t help but notice that the RV Entrepreneur Summit has been growing at a similar clip too, and though there aren’t enough data points yet for a solid forecast – the current trend lines make it clear that inevitably there will be more RV entrepreneurs than fixed location businesses!

The bulk of the American economy will soon be mobile, and I expect this will become a global trend sweeping the entire world.

So What About Us, And Zephyr?

Jim and Chris of the Geeks on Tour let me run a few boondocking simulations on their VR rig, taking into account the forecasted growth of RVers wanting to camp in the desert southwest.

We were loving the idea of getting back to Zephyr and heading west next winter – but once we started running some VR simulations of what life in the desert would be like with millions of neighbors, the excitement around relocating Zephyr to the desert has been steadily fading.

Even with just 10,000 nearby neighboring RVs – a lot of what we love about boondocking in the desert southwest would be significantly diminished.

I spent an afternoon walking around the VR-simulated desert, and it took me hours to even find and make it back to our virtual bus and VR Kiki.

And by the time I made it back, there was actually a line of dozens of AI avatars knocking on the bus door wanting to “pick our brains” for mobile internet tips.

Brains! Brains!

I had to equip a flame thrower and actually fight my way back inside!

Yikes.

Is this the fate the future holds for us?

Based on these simulations – perhaps we should sell Zephyr, stick to boating, and just give up on our winter RVing dreams?

An Alternative Plan:
Reclaiming Suburbia & Breaking Back Into The Cubical

The future of boondocking – finding abandoned suburban backyards to set up camp in. Bonus points for scoring a site with a pool!

If these mathematically modeled patterns continue, we are clearly on the verge of a mass migration away from traditional homes and into RVs.

Suburbs and office parks on the other hand will become empty deserted wastelands.

Vacant of people – but often with pools, and fiber-optic wired internet – all just waiting to be claimed.

So…

While everyone else is cramming into every square inch of desert, I envision a future of sneaking our bus into the abandoned suburban backyards left behind…

Or maybe even breaking back INTO cubical farms to access fast internet and ample snacks.

Or even setting up group campsites in former malls and food courts, perhaps for the first XXscapers rally for the next generation of trendsetters trying to break away from the overwhelming crowd of the boondocking Xscapers pack.

At least until Mall camping becomes the next trend…

For the XXXscapers, I guess we will have to get even more creative. Maybe RVing on Mars?

One Last Hurrah?

We hosted outdoor movie nights on the side of our bus at our last Xscapers convergence. Future events might need an Imax-sized screen!

The numbers might not lie, but they do point to a window of opportunity to get out and enjoy the desert before things get TOO out of control out there.

The forecasted crowds in 2019 should be relatively reasonable – before the madness of 2020.

So we are still planning to head out this winter to party it up with the Xscapers, intending to start with the New Year’s Eve gathering in Quartzsite.

This year it should be manageable – but unless we can find a way to make RVing suddenly seem less appealing (boating is awesome…. get a boat instead of an RV!) – next year, it will rival Times Square.

So – see you out there?

Nomadiversary Thoughts

My nomadivervay last year (2017) was on the water, as we were gearing up for our Great Loop adventure.

Today is my twelfth nomadiversary.

It all honesty, it has been absolutely amazing to see the growth in the RVing community over these past twelve years – particularly being witness to the rise of so many younger full timers who are taking advantage of technology to make a living and even raise families on the road.

Why wait, after all?

We absolutely love being a part of this community, and intend to be RVers for a long time to come.

At least until the margaritas run out, and the last secret boondocking spot gets over-shared.

And then, onto our backup plan…

Suburbs, here we come! Noooooooo!

Live Chat: Join Us This Evening

With so much growth ahead, I can only wonder what the RVing world will look like when my twentieth Nomadiversary rolls around, on April 1st, 2026.

How many Xscapers will there be by then? Will there be anyone left still living in houses without wheels?

Where will Zephyr be?

Will we still have Y-Not?

Only time, trend lines, and VR simultations will tell.

But for now…

Come join us this evening to help celebrate my twelfth Nomadiversary.

We’ll be hanging out on YouTube Live starting at 7pm EDT, talking about the past twelve years on the road – and what the future holds. We’ll then move the party over to our monthly Patreon Virtual Video Happy Hour and interactively hang out with our virtual community for a bit (promise, no flamethrowers).

You can tune in here, or click on over to YouTube Live to interact in the chat room:

Bring your Easter candy to snack on, but be sure to save your Peeps for our latest mobile internet tip!

Memory Lane:

Now that our hopes of enjoying boondocking in the desert southwest have been mathematically dashed, perhaps we should revisit last year’s plan to bring Zephyr with us on the water…

Yep – today (April 1st, 2018) is my twelfth nomadiversary.

12 years (!!!) on the road – wow!

Here are some links to my (mostly) annual April 1st Nomadiversary posts.

Step back in time and check out some of our past adventures:

  • Eleventh Nomadiversary (2017) – We contemplate some innovative ways to bring Zephyr along now that we are living part of the year on the water.
  • Tenth Nomadiversary (2016) – I share my past history traveling with a powered paramotor, and our future plans to renovate a Zeppelin to be a flying RV. Meanwhile, we were actually already secretly starting our hunt for a boat.
  • Ninth Nomadiversary (2015) – Sharing test results of LTTE boosters. Not to be confused with cellular LTE boosting, LTTE boosting (Libation: Technology Tribulation Elimination) is an even more critical element of a technomad’s tech arsenal.
  • Eighth Nomadiversary (2014) – Way too swamped and stressed with launching RVillage and dealing with Millenicom madness to write anything wistful or witty.
  • Seventh Nomadiversary (2013) – At last revealing the real reason I first decided to hit the road…
  • Sixth Nomadiversary (2012) – Reminiscing about all the changes over the years.
  • Fifth Nomadiversary (2011) – Giving up nomadism and buying a condo (not!) in the Virgin Islands.
  • Fourth Nomadiversary (2010) – Discovering the secret prize that comes inside every box of wine.
  • Third Nomadiversary (2009) – Camped on a beach near Malibu, watching dolphins frolic.
  • Second Nomadiversary (2008) – Working with Cherie to custom design our Oliver, moving up from a trailer ideal for one to one made for two.
  • First Nomadiversary (2007) – Preparing to set out with Cherie, reminiscing about my first very eventful year on the road – setting off solo and finding an amazing partner along the way.
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32 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. You do realize that the government owns a lots and lots of land? I believe things will die down again when the most of the new people come back to the reality that maybe this is too much trouble. Or you can get something smaller and get in there deep. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

    Jim

  2. I really enjoy the way both of you present information – it’s always so thorough and relaxing with a sense of humor – thank you!
    This posting went over the top – I started to get sucked into the mathematics and then realized the humor of it! Bravo!

  3. Great April Fools blog but it does inspire some thought. I have RV’s for the last 40 yrs. and over the last two in particular have noticed a that their are many more folks out there enjoying the life style. More reservations are needed, campgrounds and boondocking area’s have more folks. Pre planning a trip is a must. I remember back in the early ’80’s when the economy took a blip their was almost no one out there. The industry suffered. I think a lot of activity in the RV world depends on the economy. Recreation in any form can be expensive or in the case of the tent types pretty inexpensive. It will be interesting to see where things are going the next few years.

  4. I am unclear, was this article a joke? All the people in the world can fit in the state of Texas, I am sure that the RV’s can find boondocking space with privacy. Are you trying to discourage people from RV’ing? That is how the article was read.

  5. Millenial-scapers, anyone? Seriously, loved the goat sim. Happy Easter to you both, and thanks for sharing your lives with us.

  6. Always enjoy your post this time of year, and yet you have a solid point. Things are going crazy out there and where will it end? But I also feel you might have overlooked another solution right under our noses…everyone talks about the desert, or Mars or space, but what about underwater? Why hasn’t anyone looked at Submarine solutions. There are literally millions of miles of good, empty space out there. I tell you, it’s going to be the new boondocking secret.

    Nina

  7. The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous hosted by Bob Wells is showing the same astronomic growth. I think the best hope for less crowded is that many of us leading edge baby boomers are coming back off the road as we age. Hopefully that will leave more room for the rest of you. Then, much like the Escapee’s Birds of a Feather groups, smaller groups will break off from the larger ones so everyone can spread out again. I wish you all well during this process.

  8. e been boating for 8 years, full time cruisers for 3 years while looping, while completing some mechanical updating on our boat (SweetPea) we are at a cross roads ourselves…….
    A portion of live aboards move to land yachts so this is how I found you in my research of the RVing life. I just don’t know if I am ready to buy in yet, for all the reasons you stated in you post, to us boating is getting crowded.

  9. Those telescoping dark skies nerds might come in handy if they can find boondocking for you and FHU sites for me somewhere Out There. Happy Nomadiversary and April Fools Day!

  10. Mall camping Although with many of the malls now half vacant, you might be on to something. We’ve noticed a dramatic change over the past five years of full-timing – it has gotten crowded and many of the free boondocking locations either have been sized down, closed off, or now charge a fee. The numbers are scary and it has put a crimp in spontinaity. Congrats on your nomad anniversary!

    • While the ‘math’ shared in this post is greatly exaggerated, the reality is – there is a boom that has been happening, and it has changed how many of us used to roll. The upside is, so many awesome people to meet!

  11. Loved your post and happy nomad-versary!! As two of those “younger full timers” we are so grateful for how welcoming everyone is in this community. You have blazed the trail for the next generation to learn that you don’t have to settle and that you don’t have to go with the flow in this world. I hope that we will be able to see you on the road one day!

  12. There were enough kernels of truth in the beginning that I wasn’t sure if you were just exaggerating for effect! But that’s what makes it semi-beliveable and good.

  13. Yeah. This is why I just bought off road capability with luxury touches trailer. I tow with off road truck.. I will find peace. No need for road.

  14. This is going to totally screw up our ten year plan. Well, I mean it would if we had one. Which is why we don’t. 10 year plans are like peeps…pretty in the packaging after they’ve been made but once you get into the middle of it, its just a gooey mess and then poof! its gone. 😉

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