Harvest Hosts: A Frugal Choice or Budget Blunder?

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AI image of an RV parked on a winery in harvest hosts

Many Harvest Hosts users join in hopes of saving money while RVing. Unfortunately, many quickly discover that the locations aren’t always budget-friendly.

If careless, you could spend more than at an RV park or campground.

So, is Harvest Hosts a good option while RVing on a budget? The answer is more complex than you might think.

Let’s get started!

RVer Complains About Costs of Harvest Hosts Stays

One full-time RVer recently turned to the community to complain about the hidden costs of staying at Harvest Hosts. The post was in a Facebook group titled “Full Time RV Living with Kids,” which currently has over 68,000 users.

While these posts typically turn into a debate, this was completely one-sided. Every single comment agreed with the individual. Some shared how they didn’t renew their memberships because it was more expensive than staying in campgrounds.

While the annual Harvest Hosts membership is between $99 and $179 per year, it’s not the only expense you’ll incur. When staying at hosts, the expectation is that users will purchase something to support the establishment. While many offer some inexpensive options, that’s not always the case.

Multiple commenters shared how they’ve unexpectedly dropped $100 or more at Harvest Hosts sites. Whether buying alcohol, farm-fresh meat, or various other products, the costs can add up quickly. They’ll end up spending two or three times what they would have if they had booked a $40 campsite at a nearby RV park.

What Is Harvest Hosts?

Harvest Hosts is a popular alternative to campgrounds and RV parks. It was initially founded in 2010 by Don and Kim Greene. They modeled the business after the European model, where campers stay overnight at farms and wineries.

The couple began gathering hosts throughout Oregon, California, and Washington. It was only a short time before their list of sites grew to approximately 600. The program’s usefulness attracted the attention of Joel Holland, an RVer and entrepreneur.

Holland has grown the company to over 5,000 farms, wineries, breweries, and other attractions. Since no two sites are the same, each location provides a unique experience. If you want to spice up your adventures, this can be a great way.

Benefits of Harvest Hosts

Staying at Harvest Hosts locations can be an unforgettable experience. Let’s examine some benefits and reasons you might want to consider joining.

Unique and Scenic Locations

As mentioned, no two Harvest Hosts sites are the same. Once you become a member, you can stay at wineries, farms, museums, and golf courses. These are opportunities for new experiences that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

The experiences and views can vary significantly from one location to the next. However, in our experience, they’re some of the best you’ll find. It can give you a taste of something new and allow you to broaden your experiences.

Airboat tour at a Gator Farm Harvest Host

Social Interactions

One of our favorite things about Harvest Host locations was the social interactions. The individuals operating the various businesses were always so incredibly friendly. They were often more than willing to provide insights and information into their operation. We got several behind-the-scenes tours of facilities because we were staying the night.

During these tours, we’d often hear about the establishment’s history and what goes into running it. Hearing directly from the owners and managers was always a fun experience. We’d often share a beer or two with them as they told us about their business, and we’d share about our travels.


Another benefit of Harvest Hosts is that reservations are typically very flexible. Because RVing can be unpredictable, we often research several options along our route, especially for long travel days. Once we have a good idea of where to stop, we’ll call the Harvest Hosts location and request to stay.

With this strategy, we generally had no trouble finding a place to stay for the night. Only a couple of times were locations full or unable to accommodate us. In these instances, we moved on to the next best option. You’ll want to do a bit more planning if there are few options in the area.

Support Local Businesses

One of the most significant benefits of joining Harvest Hosts is to support local businesses. While some campgrounds and RV parks are family-owned and operated, that’s not always the case. By staying at Harvest Hosts sites, you put money in the pockets of local business owners.

These are men, women, and families living in the surrounding community. You’re helping them to pay bills, sponsor local athletic teams, and grow their business. We support local and small businesses as often as possible.

Disadvantages of Harvest Hosts

While Harvest Hosts may sound like the perfect solution, it has disadvantages. Consider both sides before you rush out and become a member.

Lack of Amenities

One of the most significant disadvantages of Harvest Hosts is that very few locations offer amenities. It is a requirement that guests be entirely self-sufficient during their stay. You shouldn’t expect to find water, sewer, or electrical hookups.

In our experience, some sites offer limited amenities but typically charge guests to use them. Finding a nearby campground or RV park may be more economical, depending on the fees.

Additionally, if you need to run a generator during your stay, you’ll also want to factor these costs into the equation. Depending on the fuel efficiency of your generator and how long you plan to use it, you could burn through a tremendous amount of fuel. Again, this is another expense that can make Harvest Hosts sites more expensive.

No Guaranteed Stays

While we were rarely turned away when requesting to stay at Harvest Hosts, it was always a possibility. Some locations may only have room for one or two guests per night, meaning they often operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Additionally, because these are businesses first and RV hosts second, their needs get prioritized. They may have special events or other happenings, causing them to be temporarily unable to host guests. As a result, you’ll need to move on to the next option on your list. Unfortunately, in some areas, this can mean a much longer travel day than you had planned.

Limited Stays

When registering, Harvest Hosts communicates to users to limit stays to a single night. These are to be overnight stops for users traveling from one destination to the next.

While some may be gracious enough to accommodate a more extended stay, it shouldn’t be something you expect. Finding a campground is best if you’re hoping to stay several nights. 

Potential for Crowded and Noisy Locations

The final disadvantage of Harvest Host locations is that they can be crowded and noisy. Remember, these are businesses, and some operate on irregular hours. Their workers may make noise early in the morning or late at night while you’re trying to get some rest.

Additionally, because there’s a lack of amenities, other guests may choose to run their generators. This will be especially true if they’re trying to stay comfortable inside their campers or charge their RV’s battery bank. If you’re hoping for a quiet night of sleep, it’s not always guaranteed at Harvest Hosts sites.

It’s Easy to Spend More Than a Nightly Rate at Harvest Hosts Locations

The user who created the post on Facebook has a valid point. Spending more at a Harvest Host than the average nightly rate in an RV park is easy. However, supporting local businesses and enjoying a unique experience is nice.

Personally, one of our favorite Harvest Host locations was a gator ranch in Louisiana. We were able to take an airboat tour that the site offered. Additionally, because we were staying on the property, we hopped on the last tour of the day. We had the entire boat to ourselves, creating a private experience where we saw gators and other wildlife.

The costs of this adventure were much more than what we would have paid at an RV Park. However, it is one of our favorite memories during our years of RVing adventures.

Is Harvest Hosts Worth It?

Harvest Hosts can be a great way to save money while RVing. You’ll gain unique experiences and meet some interesting people. However, if you’re not careful, it can quickly get expensive. Plan your stops and purchases wisely so you don’t blow your budget. We love using Harvest Hosts during our travels and encourage others to consider joining.

  1. This is a very good analysis of the good & bad aspects of HH/BW. We enjoy the unique locations @ meeting new friends. When planning our travels I always check HH/BW locations first. It does save us money for the most part. When we are staying at wineries I often spend too much on bottles of wine but I probably would have bought the wine whether or not we were camping there.
    We’ve had some great experiences. Golf courses are great because there is usually a food venue & bar. Huge parking lots are great over night. I highly encourage people to join HH/BW.

  2. In our almost 3 yrs on the road we’ve found Harvest Host s to be a fun perk in our travels. Yes, we’ve spent more at times, however the experiences have been worth it.
    Currently, we are at the Mystic Farm & Distillery in Durham, NC. Fun place, learned a lot about making award winning spirits. Hosts were outstanding!

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