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It can be tough to find a great spot to park your RV. It gets even more challenging when you want to camp on a low budget in popular areas. A Boondockers Welcome membership can help add more options to your camping possibilities. Is it the right choice for everyone? Today we’ll look at a handful of regrets Boondockers Welcome members have shared. Let’s get started.
What Is Boondockers Welcome?
Boondockers Welcome is a membership program for RVers. The program allows members to spend a few nights dry camping on a host’s property. All members must travel in a self-contained RV. This means you don’t rely on amenities.
Each RV should have running water, including a toilet and waste tanks. While some hosts do offer electricity, it sometimes comes with a suggested donation. Plus, they have over 3,100 hosts worldwide, according to their website.
How Does It Work?
Boondockers Welcome works by matching hosts with travelers. Travelers can search the website for hosts in their desired location. Users can filter their search by location, rig length, and amenities. Then they can use a map to browse the options available to them.
Once the user has found a host that meets their needs, they send a stay request for their dates. Hosts will either accept or deny the request. At this point, the host and member can communicate back and forth via the app regarding additional details.
This program works similar to Harvest Hosts but instead of businesses like wineries or museums, you stay at people’s personal homes.
5 Regrets of a Boondockers Welcome Membership
While Boondockers Welcome has some positives, it isn’t without its negatives. Here are a few things that might deter you from the program.
1. Limited Stay Length
Length of stay limits can cause some Boondockers Welcome regrets. Some who become members don’t realize you can only stay at a host’s location for five nights.
Hosts can choose to only allow for single-night stays while others offer the full five nights. While this is adequate time for some RVers, many prefer to camp longer.
2. Remote Locations
Because you choose to camp from the host’s personal property, they may not be in ideal locations. They didn’t purchase their property with RV tourism in mind like RV parks. You’ll find some spots in urban areas and others hours from a populated city.
Because many of the host locations are in remote areas, you may find it inconvenient to get to some services such as fuel and food. You may need to travel a considerable distance to visit the sites you’ve come to see.
Keep In Mind: Finding campsites can sometimes be tricky, find out if you can boondock in a national park.
3. RV Size Restrictions Vary by Host
Not all Boondockers Welcome sites are one size fits all. Some hosts have minimal room. Others may have plenty of space but with limited accessibility, making their property off-limits for larger rigs, causing some to regret their Boondockers Welcome membership.
Those traveling in smaller Class B RVs will have more options than larger rigs. For large fifth wheels and motorhomes, you will have to consider if you can fit your 40-ft rig and if you have room to turn around.
Double-check the length restrictions, so you don’t find yourself in a damaging situation.
Pro Tip: Before heading out with your rig, check out our 5 tips for boondocking with a big RV.
4. Rules Vary by Host
You are a guest on someone else’s personal property. It makes sense that they each have their own set of rules and expectations for their guests.
Some hosts have rules like no generator use, no pets, and in some cases, no children. These rules are often in place to protect their property, respect their neighbors, and even protect the guest.
While you may understand the host’s rules, you might find yourself frustrated if you feel they limit you.
5. Not Using It More
One Boondockers Welcome regret is allowing the membership to go unused like many gym memberships. Even though the program has great benefits, it’s a waste of money if you don’t use it often. Purchasing a membership and not using it can cause frustration for many.
Some RVers join and then fail to use their membership for many reasons. Maybe their travel has been postponed. Other times members can’t find hosts in the locations they travel to, or the hosts they want are already booked.
Is a Boondockers Welcome Membership Worth It?
Boondockers Welcome currently offers 3000+ incredible Hosts across the US and Canada, offering great places to stay wherever you go! This membership grants you access to boondocking for free on private property.
Locals invite traveling RVers to spend the night, share their stories, and save their money for the real adventure. Make new friends and sleep soundly.
Don’t let these downfalls discourage you; we still think a Boondockers Welcome membership is worth it. The benefits outweigh the cons. Having the opportunity to stay for cheap or free at a host’s location is hard to beat.
Some sites even have electricity, water, or full hookups. While many do ask for a donation to use these amenities, some hosts refuse offered payment.
You can snag a few great locations where RV parks and public land camping aren’t available. Plus, hosts often have room for more than one traveler at a time, so you might even create lifelong friendships.
Will You Get Boondockers Welcome?
Are you unsure if there will be any locations that’ll work for you? Thankfully Boondockers Welcome allows you to do a bit of research on the general areas of host sites before purchasing a membership. This will save you from signing up only to discover you can’t find a place to stay.
Are you a happy member, or do you have Boondockers Welcome regrets? If you have a membership, will you be renewing it?
Have had a BW membership for over a year – just renewed!
It has always been amazing to us that there are so many people who are willing, able and desirous of sharing their property with RVers. Yes there are limitations – but look at the cost – free in most cases. But the biggest benefit is that we have met many fabulous people who are the hosts. In fact – every single host has just been phenomenal in that they are warm, sharing, very friendly, and seem to be very glad to hear about and help us on our travels. But to address some of the “concerns” above:
(1) Stay Length – 5 nights max is not at all unreasonable, and I can easily understand why there are limits. Just remember Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying – “guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days”.
(2) Remote Locations – This is NOT a negative – but one of the great positives. This is because it encourages – and forces – us to travel to different towns and locations we would not normally take ourselves to. Not only that the hosts are very willing to share local attractions, restaurants and places worth visiting in their area.
(3) RV Size Restrictions – These are necessary – as the property / driveway size differs with each host. We have found that most ore overly generous in their size limits. But the property which each host wants to share is different. No one should have a problem with this.
(4) Rules – If each host is willing to share their property they certainly have the right to have specific rules. But we have not found them unreasonable. Many do not want smokers, or ask that their guests refrain from running their RV generators if they are offering electrical hookups. But to abide by the host rules is understandable and quite fair. We have not encountered any rules, at any host, which we disagreed with.
(5) Not using it more – Not a negative either as it is totally dependent upon each RVer’s travel schedule and destinations. Use the subscription when and where it makes sense.
Again – it is amazing to us that there are so many wonderful hosts out there sharing their property. We greatly appreciate them.
And BTW – one great thing about BW is their web site. Very detailed and informative, and we greatly appreciate the calendar system – there are many RV parks and government CGs which could use something that works this well. Just hope that their sale to Harvest Hosts does not change or remove the wonderful BW web site we have been using.
You are absolutely right on all. But they did take our wonderful site and move us into their Harvest Host site. What a mess they made of a good thing.
I would like to speak as a Host on Boondockers Welcome. When we first signed up in 2015, you had to host to get a membership so everyone who stayed with you also hosted. We have found that since Harvest Host bought the site, we are inundated with requests for stays by people who do not host. While most are very nice, some feel like since they paid their membership fees to Harvest Host (who is making a lot of money off of the kindness of the hosts} they are entitled to do what they want! Also, I always brought a small gift for the people who hosted us in the past. Many do not bring anything and since we are not charging for electric, I feel that this has become just a way for freeloaders to camp for free. Since I host and also travel and stay with hosts, I have continued to host, but I have gotten pickier about who I allow to stay with us. I prefer people who also host, but I find that they are few and far between!
They had a good thing going until teamed up with harvest host
I’m a Boondocker’s Welcome Host (Mt. Rainier View).
I’ve been a grateful part of Harvest Hosts + Golf and I’ve seen the merger betweeh HH and BW.
It’s an incredible novel way to go about traveling and seeing America. I see nothing but positives for you folks who are members of Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts.
Both organizations thrive on the hospitality and basic goodness of people.
By the way, a cost of membership–even if not used a lot–is made up of a night or two of free camping.
My modest home has hosted many BW and HH guests. I am grateful to help families, husbands and wives and other travelers experience an aspect of traveling on God’s earth that doesn’t always have an exhorbitant price attached.
Both of these organizations bring out the best in people.