If you are like we were, you have probably heard of Boondockers Welcome, but have so many questions that you haven’t taken the leap and gotten a membership.
I hope this post clears up your questions and leads you to become a guest at a Boondockers Welcome site and perhaps even welcome other Boondockers Welcome RVer’s onto your own property.
Recently Jack and I finally got up the nerve to try Boondockers Welcome and now regret not having entered into this part of the RV lifestyle sooner. Read on as I share what we learned about Boondockers Welcome and what we thought about our first stay with a host.
Boondockers Welcome–Your Questions Answered: What Is It? How Does It Work?
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Jack celebrated a big milestone birthday not too long ago and to celebrate, I told him to pick any location he wanted for our date weekend the month of his birthday. He chose Gettysburg National Battlefield in Pennsylvania.
I hopped online to book a campsite and discovered that the only campsite left in the entire area was $68 a night before fees and taxes. The campsite was a strip of grass with a power pole and not much else.
I was willing to book it, despite the high price since it was, as I said, a BIG birthday, and my babe wanted a weekend in Gettysburg. Then I remembered that we had been wanting to try out Boondockers Welcome, but had yet to actually sign up and book a site.
I jumped over to the Boondockers Welcome website and within minutes I found a great site near Gettysburg National Battlefield. It didn’t have hookups, but the hosts were willing to give us a 15 amp extension cord should the nights of our visit be brutally hot, causing our soft glamping selves to want air conditioning. And the membership for a year to Boondockers Welcome was less than one night at the remaining campsite I mentioned.
1. What Is Boondockers Welcome?
I couldn’t find exactly when Boondockers Welcome was created, but I did find out that the website was the brainchild of Canadian Marrianne Edwards and her daughter Anna Maste. It is now owned and operated by Harvest Host (more on how that could affect the future of Boondockers Welcome later).
Boondockers Welcome allows private property owners to offer up fully self-contained RVers a place to boondock on their property through an online platform. There are currently over 3,000 property owners doing just that in the USA, Canada, and a handful of other countries.
2. How Does Boondockers Welcome Work?
- Take some time on the Boondockers Welcome website or in the app and see where the various hosts are located and see if there are some in the areas you want to travel to. If there are, move on to step 2.
- Grab a membership.
- Fill out your user profile (this took me around 15 minutes as you need a picture of yourself and your rig).
- Pick a campsite and send the host a request.
- Wait for a reply (for us, this took roughly 12 hours).
- Pack for your trip and enjoy your stay.
- Leave a review.
- Repeat steps four through seven as often as you desire.
3. Do I Have To Host To Be A Member Of Boondockers Welcome?
You do not have to host to become a member of Boondockers Welcome, but now that I have tried the service out –if I could, I would. Unfortunately, we live on a hill and the only place with a long enough flat spot for an RV is our back alley, where our own travel trailer is parked.
If you and your family live in a place unsuitable to have campers spend the night, don’t worry about it. You can still enjoy the benefits of Boondockers Welcome. Just return the hospitality by being a kind, courteous, and generous guest.
4. How Much Does Boondockers Welcome Cost?
A membership for a year to Boondockers Welcome at the time of writing this blog post costs $50 annually. Members are wondering if that price will change now that Harvest Host owns it. I found this article in which the current owner of Harvest Hosts says it will not, but that there could be a creation of a package membership in the future that would give you a discount when you sign-up for both memberships.
There are a few ways to extend the length of your twelve-month membership, and you can find those in the “Where Can I Find A Promo Code For Boondockers Welcome?” section of this article.
5. What Type Of RV Do You Need To Use Boondockers Welcome?
Boondockers welcome is not for tent campers or those who sleep in their minivan or DIY truck-topper camper. It is for people with self-contained RVs. That means that you must have a toilet (and there are requirements as to what type) and a sink with a grey water tank attached to it (and the tank has to be sealed). You need to be able to cook safely inside your RV and have a designated sleeping area (it can be a convertible area such as a dinette that becomes a bed). You can read more about Boondockers Welcome self-containment requirements here.
6. How Do I Find Out If There Is A Boondockers Welcome Host In The Area I Am Traveling To?
Finding a place to spend the night on the Boondockers Welcome website is simple. You can also use the app, but I prefer the website version for picking out a site. Enter where and when you want to travel into the search bar and then click “search hosts.” On the next page, you can narrow down your search, including the parameters of how far you are willing to be from the area you want to visit, how many nights you want to stay, the size of your rig, and the size of your tow vehicle.
You can use the filter section to narrow down your search even further, including only sites that include electricity or those with water hookups. You can even be as specific as wanting a host willing to let you set up lawn chairs and use a generator.
When adding how many nights you want to stay, you need to know that Boondockers Welcome is meant for short stays. The maximum amount of nights in a row you can stay with one host is five nights. Not every host offers a 5-night stay, however; some offer only one night.
If you enter five nights into the “duration” search area and no camping spots pop up, try taking your duration down to four, three, two, and finally, one. You might have to move around a little during your trip in the area you wanted to explore, but you will save money and meet some friendly locals.
7. How Far In Advance Can I Request A Site From A Boondockers Welcome Host?
Boondockers Welcome has a maximum two months in advance booking window, but not all hosts offer it. Hosts get to set their own booking window within the site maximum of two months. For some, it could be a month or as little as two weeks.
And if you are wondering if you can reserve on the fly–it again depends on the host. I previewed many spots as I was writing this article and some hosts are okay with the same day, others want at least two days, and some want a week.
8. How May Nights Can I Stay With A Boondockers Welcome Host?
Boondockers Welcome has a 5-night maximum stay at any one host. And then they do not want you to return to that host for 90 days.
If you want to stay in one area for more than 5 nights, you will have to stay either at several hosts or split your time between a Boondockers Welcome site and other RVing campground options.
Not all hosts offer a 5-night stay. Some only offer one night, others two, others three, others four.
9. Can I Get Hookups Through Boondockers Welcome?
What kept us from trying out Boondockers Welcome for the longest time was that we thought we couldn’t get power if we needed it. Our truck camper has one small battery that recharges while we drive. It doesn’t take long for that battery to drain. We are okay overnight as long as it isn’t too cold (our propane furnace requires electricity to turn off and on) or too hot (we are addicted to A/C on hot and humid nights).
Had we known that you could get hookups from Boondockers Welcome hosts, including water and power (typically 15 amps, but some hosts do offer 30 or 50), we would have purchased a membership a lot sooner. If you do ask for hookups, do consider the cost to the host. Be energy and water frugal. Some hosts do request a small fee to offset the cost. When researching this article, it seems like the average fee for hookups is a reasonable $10 per night.
10. Is Boondockers Welcome Only For Extroverts? Will An Introvert Survive?
This was my biggest question before joining Boondockers Welcome. And it stopped me from joining several times until I was faced with paying steep prices for a minimal campsite. Frugality won over my introverted nature.
When we arrived at our Boondockers Welcome host, they did invite us to their backyard fire pit, but told us we didn’t have to join them unless we wanted to. My husband, who is more extroverted than I am, said sure, “We will be there in a minute.”
You guys, I had a great time chatting with our hosts around the fire pit! These people already have something in common for us to start a conversation with–RVing. We were able to talk about the places our RVs have taken us and our different rig setups. That common interest made an icebreaker.
The second night, the host did come out to ask us if we had enjoyed our day exploring the area, but after that, he went back into his house and we went into our rig and spent the night introverting with our books.
11. Do Boondockers Welcome Hosts Get Paid?
Boondockers Welcome Hosts are not paid. Currently, hosts do receive half off the one-year membership, plus they receive guest privilege credits each time someone stays at their camp spot. Boondockers Welcome also provides hosts with a Protection Program that you can read more about on their website.
12. What Is The Difference Between Boondockers Welcome And Harvest Hosts?
The biggest difference between Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts is that when you stay at a Boondockers Welcome site, you are staying at a homeowner’s private property. In contrast, when you stay with Harvest Hosts, you are staying at a place of business.
With Boondockers Welcome, you are not required to give the hosts anything in return except for your gratitude. When you stay at a Harvest Host site, you are expected to make a purchase of at least $20 at the business you are staying at.
You can stay up to 5 nights with a Boondockers Welcome host. You can stay only one night with a Harvest Host, with rare exceptions.
Currently, a membership to Boondockers Welcome is half the price of one to Harvest Hosts, but that could change now that Harvest Hosts has bought Boondockers Welcome.
9. Does Boondockers Welcome Have An App?
Yes, it does! I found the desktop site more user-friendly than the app, but it makes it easier to communicate with your host while you are in transit to their home. You can look at site availability in the app, but to sign up and complete your profile, you do need to visit the website.
12. Where Can I Find A Promo Code For Boondockers Welcome?
I could not find a coupon code to Boondockers Welcome, but if a friend invites you by email, you both get a month added to your subscription. With a membership costing $50 at the time of this writing, that is like saving a little over $4 on a membership. The extra month is added to your account once you enjoy your first stay. If you don’t have a friend to invite you, message me through Instagram and I will be happy to email you an invite.
Come back soon as I will be sharing a review of our first time using Hipcamp.
WHERE WE HAVE TRAVELED LATELY
POSTS TO HELP YOU TRAVEL MORE FOR LESS
Want to know how we afford to travel so often? It is because we have developed thrifty living principles that allow us to live a full life for less money. You can learn exactly what those economical living principles are when you read my book, Thrifty & Thriving: More Life For Less Money. You can stop dreaming about travel and start traveling when you apply the 40 thrifty living principles shared in this book.