The concept of boondocking (or dry camping) with your RV isn’t new. In 1958, Wally Byam and Airstream released their International model that came with a factory-installed battery. Byam advertised it as the first Airstream that could boondock with electrical power.
But Boondockers Welcome really isn’t boondocking at all. Bet you didn’t know this but three out of every four host locations offer electric hookups!!!!
Today, many find RV boondocking sites as a way to keep their vacation budgets affordable while traveling. Full-timers use dry camping as a way to keep the dream alive. Yet there are only so many times you can stay in a parking lot or on public land before it becomes less about adventure and more about getting a good night’s sleep.
A few years ago a mother/daughter team brought boondocking to the next level. Boondockers Welcome allows those looking for awesome camping locations to stay at host locations free of charge with a subscription. Our Boondockers Welcome review will show you the benefits of the website, how it works, and why it is hands down our favorite way to find free places (sometimes with hookups) for free!
How Does Boondockers Welcome Work?
It’s really quite simple and easy to use. For those who want the bullet-point version, here it is:
1. Sign Up for Boondockers Welcome
It is Super Easy to sign up. Just CLICK HERE and if you use our special discount code RVBlogger15 you can knock 15% off the annual membership price! just log onto the Boondockers Welcome website and after you are all signed up you can download the Boondockers Welcome App right to your cell phone!
2. Create Your User Profile
Just enter your info about you, your rig and your pets (if you have any)
3. Search the Host Listings
When you’re ready to travel you can search the listings for a host that is along your planned trip route. You can search within a radius around a particular area, or just look at the map of all our locations. And you can filter your search by amenities such as hookups, pet friendly, generators allowed, BBQ allowed, slideouts allowed and more.
4. Contact the Host
Once you find a host location you like you just enter your dates and push the button to request your stay! It is so simple!
5. Enjoy Your Stay!
The host will contact you back and confirm your stay. We always supply our cell number to the host and then we notify them what time we will be arriving.
The Longer Version of Boondockers Welcome and How it Works
Marianne Edwards and her daughter Anne Maste, are the creators of the organization. They began their RV adventures over 15 years ago and learned a lot about small-budget RVing. Through their adventures, they built up a network of RV friends that allowed them to stay on their property for a night or two as they cruised America’s byways.
With Anne’s computer degree, inspiration, and a lot of determination, they brought their dream to reality (we’re pretty sure coffee and caffeine drinks were involved). Boondockers Welcome is a peer-to-peer website. It allows fellow RVers to stay on host family private properties as an alternative to parking lots, public land, and other forms of free rv parking.
It starts with their boondocking website. Whether you’re planning your route or your plans change, you can search the map for registered host locations nearby. As a subscribed guest member, you’ll learn about the host member’s family and if they offer any features like hookups. You’ll also have the chance to read guest reviews and see how the host rates. Hosts clarify their desires and expectations, so everyone can avoid any misunderstandings.
Once you choose a location, you submit your request to stay. Many get back to you within hours of your submission. It’s a good practice to let them know your general arrival time so they know when to expect you. No one appreciates the old “cable guy” appointments.
After your stay, thoughtful reviews are always appreciated. No one expects a 200-page treatise, but a good paragraph of your experience and a rating helps everyone. The host rates you, and you rate the host.
Fees and Tipping
If the hosts allow you to connect to their utilities or wifi, they may ask for a small fee to help them cover their higher-than-average bill. If they do this, they will state this in their profile.
Many guests enjoy their experience so much, they leave a tip. It’s not required but hosts always appreciate it. The point of hosting is to help fellow RVers.
Host Location Amenities
On the RV boondocking site, each host profile will feature a list of icons that show guests the features they offer. During your search, you’ll know if the RV hosting location is as simple as a driveway camping situation or a 100-acre privately owned field.
Number of RVs
This icon tells you how many RV parking spaces the host can accommodate at one time. So hosts have room for many RVs and others only have room for one guest at a time.
RV Size Limit
Each host will show you the maximum length of RV that will fit on their property. Sometimes city ordinances or other factor limit the size of RV.
Maximum Nights Allowed
Every Boondockers Welcome Host allows you to stay a different number of nights. Some only allow you to stay for 1 night and others allow you to stay for several days.
- Parking and Tow Vehicles: Hosts may have pull-through sites, back-in only, or separate parking areas for tow vehicles.
- House Rules: Don’t forget to read through the blue box labeled house rules. To avoid any bad feelings, the host outlines the general expectations they have for their guests. If you’re a courteous, friendly, and mindful RVer (what we’re generally known to be), you won’t have any issues.
Reviews Inform, Invite, and Instill The Sense of RV Community
To allay any fears, Boondockers Welcome is safe. The great thing about the RV community is we look out for each other. The internet has given us the ability to continue that tradition even further. When Marianne and her daughter Anne put their website together, it was part of their goal to help their fellow RVers find safe places to dry camp.
The key to Boondockers Welcome are the reviews. Hosts reviews guests and vice versa. They each receive ratings and reviews. Campground hosts get paid through membership benefits and meeting new people. They are fellow RVers like their guests. Trust is built through building a great rating and receiving excellent reviews.
2 Membership Options – Guest and Host
The Boondockers Welcome guest membership regular price is $50 for a one-year subscription and it offers access to over 2,500 locations to choose from! You can use our coupon code RVBlogger15 and save 15% on your annual membership so you get a full year of free camping locations for only $42.50!
Boondockers Welcome encourages members to become both hosts and guests by providing hosts with half price guest privileges and also crediting each host with 3 months of free guest privileges each time the host a guest.
This helps the network grow and gives host families the opportunity to benefit from their generosity without additional costs or conditions. As a host there are numerous benefits:
- You get to meet people from all walks of life. Share campfire-type stories of RV adventures. Friendships have been established through many overnight experiences.
- RVers of all experiences can share their wisdom. Get inspired by how others have modified/customized their coach through D.I.Y. projects.
- As a host, you receive a 50% discount on your membership fee. Every time you complete a successful host experience, you earn credits for three months of guest privileges that can be used collectively or separately.
- Those that run home businesses like produce stands, gift items, and other products find hosting a great way to attract potential buyers.
It doesn’t take much to become a host. You must be able to host a guest at least part of the year, legally be able to host them on your property, and have minimum space requirement for a small RV. This can be a towable travel trailer with a vehicle or class B campervan. If you can rent your driveway for RVs and are willing to so without charge, you can become a host.
Hosts aren’t allowed to charge a fee for staying overnight, but they are allowed to request compensation for amenity hookups appropriately. For those that run home businesses, you can’t require guests to buy anything, but you can make them aware of your products.
Boondockers Welcome Worldwide
Currently, most Boondockers Welcome locations exist in the United States and Canada. There are locations worldwide. You’ll find host locations in:
- Cayman Island
- New Zealand
- The United States (5 are located in Hawaii, U.S.)
- The United Kingdom
If your RV plans include international travel, it’s possible to take advantage of your guest privileges around the globe. The same is true if you’re planning to relocate internationally.
8 Reasons Why We LOVE Our Boondockers Welcome Membership!
1. Boondockers Welcome is the least expensive way to find free overnight camping with the possibility of hookups so you can save money and camp at great locations for free!
2. Three out of every four Boondockers Welcome Host locations offer Electric Hookups!!!!
3. The Membership cost is really low! And on top of that, you can save 15% using the discount code RVBlogger15.
4. You will meet some amazing hosts who are RVers too!
5. There are over 2,500 host locations! You could literally travel across the country only staying at Boondocker Welcome locations for FREE!
6. No Blackout Dates – Boondockers Welcome is available on weekends and holidays!
7. It is super easy to book your location and keep in touch with the host!
8. Both the Host and the Guest review each other so everyone does their best to have an enjoyable experience.
I would have made a list of Boondockers Welcome pros and cons but I just can’t think of any cons at all.
What Are Boondocker Locations Like?
Here are two examples of places where we have stayed.
The first is just a simple driveway location. The hosts were incredibly friendly and accommodating. They helped us to level up in their driveway on their homemade ramps and then they chatted with us and told us all about the area. We had a great stay with water and electric hookups and we met some super friendly people!
Another location where we stayed was at a huge home on a gorgeous river! We had a private area to park away from their home which you can see in the background. We had full hookups and a gorgeous view of the river! We were also allowed to have a BBQ and make a campfire at night!
There aren’t many RV parks or campgrounds around the country with this kind of view! Why pay $50 or more to stay at a campground when you can enjoy great locations like this around the country for free!
The hosts were incredibly generous and even let us pick some fresh veggies and herbs from their garden!
A Website Built on the Values of the RV Community
Boondockers Welcome is a business built on the values of the RV community. It’s a great example of how friendly and generous we are to each other. Host families provide guests a place to park for the night motivated by helping out their fellow RVers.
With this generosity comes guest responsibility and etiquette. Remember, you’re staying at someone’s home. This is why they’re required to post their ground rules and limitations upfront. Boondockers Welcome also has a Courtesy Contract where guests and hosts agree to prevent miscommunication situations.
Be open and honest with your host family when you request your reservation. Let them know upfront everyone that’s traveling with you, both 2-legged and 4. If it doesn’t work out, there are plenty of nearby hosts with different house rules. The worst thing you can do is put the host family in an uncomfortable position.
We’ve all had those unplanned problems pop up that have changed our RV vacation. Hosts are RVers too. That’s why some allow same-day reservations. Advance notice is always preferred. This allows the host family to save the space for you and work your reservation around their commitments. Keeping the lines of communication open when to expect you and when you leave is always appreciated.
Overall, Boondockers Welcome is a great experience that people have only positive things to say. It’s a great way to meet fascinating people, travel affordably, and give back to the RV community.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which is Better – Boondockers Welcome or Harvest Hosts?
Great question! We actually subscribe to both. Harvest Hosts also offers many great places to park or camp overnight for free. But most Harvest Host locations have no hookups. That’s fine for us if the weather is nice. But if we have to have the generator run all night to run the A/C then it’s a burden.
The other big difference is that with Boondockers Welcome you are staying on someones private property very close to their home usually. With Harvest Hosts you stay at farms, wineries, breweries, museums and more commercial locations.
We really recommend both subscriptions because we use them both all the time! Campgrounds have become so expensive that we like to use these free options to lower our overall campground expenses. And they are available 7 days a week! No blackout dates.
2. How is Boondockers Welcome Different from Passport America?
Boondockers Welcome is a subscription service that allows its members to stay for free at host locations. Passport America is a discount camping club where you can save up to 50% at participating campgrounds.
We also belong to Passport America. But what you have to realize about Passport America is that the discounts are only available Sunday through Thursday nights and in most cases it is not available on holidays. Also, the 50% discount is only available on the first night of your stay and then it’s a 10% discount for the remaining available nights.
3. How is TheDyrt Different from Boondockers Welcome?
We also subscribe to TheDyrtPro which is a camping membership for anyone who wants to camp in a tent, cabin, or RV. The Dyrt has the largest database of campgrounds in the country so we mostly use it to find campgrounds.
But if you are a Pro member it works a lot like Passport America. With TheDyrtPro you can save up to 40% off your first nights stay with premium campground partners and 10% with standard campground partners. But the discounts are only available Sunday through Thursday nights and holidays are excluded.