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Boondock through Harvest Host


ewacowboy
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With plenty of solar and battery we are considering joining Harvest Host as an alternative to boondocking at Walmarts and Cabelas.  Does anyone have experience with this group?  Our travel style is to leave by 9:00am for our next destination and I'm not sure we could give the host the necessary gratuity in a short 18 to 20 hour stay.

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I look at their website every so often, but so far, they don't have any hosts in areas where we travel.  I think it's a great idea, though, if they're located along your route.  While I haven't read all the details, I didn't realize you're supposed to give the hosts a gratuity.

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6 hours ago, LindaH said:

I look at their website every so often, but so far, they don't have any hosts in areas where we travel.  I think it's a great idea, though, if they're located along your route.  While I haven't read all the details, I didn't realize you're supposed to give the hosts a gratuity.

It's not really a gratuity....HH just asks that you make a small purchase from the hosts to show your appreciation.

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7 hours ago, LindaH said:

I look at their website every so often, but so far, they don't have any hosts in areas where we travel.  I think it's a great idea, though, if they're located along your route.  While I haven't read all the details, I didn't realize you're supposed to give the hosts a gratuity.

 

50 minutes ago, ewacowboy said:

It's not really a gratuity....HH just asks that you make a small purchase from the hosts to show your appreciation.

Just buy a bottle of wine from them, and tell others if it's good!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/14/2019 at 8:06 AM, ewacowboy said:

With plenty of solar and battery we are considering joining Harvest Host as an alternative to boondocking at Walmarts and Cabelas.  Does anyone have experience with this group?  Our travel style is to leave by 9:00am for our next destination and I'm not sure we could give the host the necessary gratuity in a short 18 to 20 hour stay.

While we have not joined or stayed at a Harvest Host location, we have visited some wineries that participate in the program. The available overnight parking varied from dirt to paved parking lot. This is what their website says about arrivals. 

 

Quote

 

Can I arrive after business hours?

Not only do you need to call ahead to arrange your visit, you must arrive during business hours, unless the Host says otherwise. Interacting with the Hosts and supporting them with a purchase is an integral part of the Harvest Hosts program. Make your stop your destination, arrive early enough to enjoy your visit and make new friends.

 

Another section states:
Quote

We recommend spending a minimum of $20 to support your Host–that way everyone wins!

While, I think it is a good value if there are locations that you can use, I think their assessment that your cost can be recovered in one night is overly optimistic. We have on very rare occasion spent $79 for a single night. Walmart, Lowes, Cabela's, Casinos, Flying J and many others are free. There are also free overnight or longer dry camping opportunities on a variety of local, state and federal public lands. With an America the Beautiful Senior or Access Pass, a wide variety of campgrounds including some with water, electric and a dump station are available for $20 or less per night. 

Edited by trailertraveler
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We joined last year before the price increase to give it a try. I thought I'd rather do something like that than a parking lot en route since I don't like expensive campgrounds for overnighting.

Our first HH use will be next month. We plan to overnight at an antique car museum. They ask that you buy an admission ticket to the museum. We'll buy two at $12.50 each. 

I'm not sure we'll renew next year. Like others said, there are often state parks or other options. 

 

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16 hours ago, Kirk W said:

That is for the first year of membership in Harvest Hosts.       🙄

I understand that.  My point was if you normally pay $79 per night at a campground then your statement of "OUR $79 MEMBERSHIP FEE PAYS FOR ITSELF IN JUST ONE NIGHT" is accurate.  On the other hand if you are like me and average about $25 per night for campground fees then that statement is misleading and it would take 3 or 4 stays for it to actually pay for itself.

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  • 2 years later...

Because a membership is required to stay overnight at a Harvest Host site.  Why would you want to freeload on something that requires a membership?  Would you expect a Passport America participating park to give you their discount if you weren't a member?  

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Ok, I guess that makes sense.. It's strange to me that so many business would only want to list with a particular directory an no others and isolate down their prospective customers so much.  I've only been full time RVing a week now, working remotely, and am starting to get annoyed at the number of different memberships and discount clubs every place wants you to sign up for.  It seems like every other day there's some new annual dues I'm supposed to pay to get reasonable rates or in this case it seemed like it's $100 to simply access a business listing.  But I guess if the membership is required to also gain access to most of the places they list, then I guess that's the rub.

Edited by DavidN
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18 minutes ago, DavidN said:

But I guess if the membership is required to also gain access to most of the places they list, then I guess that's the rub.

There are many reasons for their not accepting visitors from other sources. First, how would you even know what places allow an overnight visitor without the listing? In addition, when you join the organization opens a file on you as a potential visitor so that the hosts that you visit can leave reviews, either good or bad that are then available to the host, via your member number so that they have a way to avoid bad visitors. In addition, the host gains a lot of advertising from the Host website and from word of mouth. Most of them have some type of products that are available for sale to the visitors who spend a night with them. They do not supply you any type of hook-up or WIFI in most cases and generally you only spend 1 night at each stop. We are not members as we are at an age where we do very little dry camping, but had HH existed when we were fulltime I am sure that we would have been a part of it, but it began in 2010, just as our fulltime days were winding down due to my wife's health. I currently have several friends who are members and frequent users of the plan and all of them have only good things to say about it. Let me suggest that you visit the Harvest Hosts website and check it out. 

Passport America was mentioned and they are an organization that helps parks to fill the otherwise empty sites and do so by giving members half price. The cost is only $44/year and at this time they are giving a half off for the first year, or $22! It is really pretty simple, at $44 it will take 2 or 3 nights at half price to recover the cost. We do belong and use this one. 

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48 minutes ago, DavidN said:

Ok, I guess that makes sense.. It's strange to me that so many business would only want to list with a particular directory an no others and isolate down their prospective customers so much. 

I'm not sure I understand your issue but Harvest Hosts are privately-owned places like wineries, farms, etc.  Those types of businesses would have no reason to advertise in a campground directory.  They aren't campgrounds.  Sometimes they only have room for 1 or 2.  They don't typically supply any services like hookups.  Harvest Hosts is just a group of like businesses; not campgrounds.

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We use both Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome (now the same company, but keeping things separately). We've only full-timed since April, but have gotten our moneys worth. Four stays with different Harvest Hosts, including breweries and a Lavender Farm. We prefer Boondockers because most places we have the option to stay multiple nights, and many have hookups. We just finished a six night stay in Centuria, WI at a 'hobby farm'. Super friendly folks, 50 amp power, and water. We visit an aunt in Luck, WI., just 10 minutes away. We're already planning another trip next spring.

I have been able to make a few same day stops, but since we're full timers, I have a pretty solid itinerary planned in advance.

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Harvest Hosts is a great overnight stay, and occasionally you can stay multiple nights, and some places even have full or partial hookups.  It is a way better alternative to truck stops and store parking lots.  You pay for access to the platform, the business participates because they get customers.  Yes, you are expected to buy something, but you control what you spend.  Some of my best short term boondocking sites have been vineyards and farms via Harvest Hosts.  Some of the golf courses even allow you to walk your dogs on the course pathways after hours.

If you still work, it's nice to be able to leave on your schedule, not a campgrounds.  Many hosts will let you arrive after hours, as long as some body is there.  Some don't care when you arrive, just as long as you check in the next day.  For those of you quibbling over a $79 dollar ANNUAL fee, maybe Wal Mart is a better place for you.  Yeah, I don't pay that much for a site most of the time, but that's an annual fee. 

We use it pretty often.  In fact, our next trip is nothing by Harvest Hosts spaced about two hours apart for 5 days.  And we're huge, so we're somewhat limited as to which ones that we can use.

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