How many times have you had an exhausting day behind the wheel of your RV, only to face the painful task of having to find a safe and inexpensive place to boondock for the night?
Maybe you pulled into a big box store parking lot, only to have your boondocking expectations deflated when you spot “No Overnight Parking” signs posted everywhere?
Well, fortunately there’s a way to avoid these miseries.
Free Camping is Becoming Tough to Come By
If it seems like the country is running out of free overnight camping options for RVers – that’s because it is.
As more and more towns and cities pass ordinances that ban sleeping in vehicles, RVers from California to Florida are finding the welcome mat pulled out from under them.
Favorite free overnight camping options like WalMart, shopping malls and even public rest areas are going away.
With fewer short-term boondocking options for RVers, responsible travelers must get more creative in order to find legal, safe places to camp.
One such RVer, Marianne Edwards, is here to help.
She’s been guiding RVers to free and secure overnight parking spots through her online Boondockers Welcome community.
Marianne created this digital resource for budget-minded RV travelers.
The service allows private property owners and RVers to get in touch so that free overnight parking accommodations remain available.
Why “Welcome Boondockers”?
Edwards is author of The Frugal Shunpikers Guides, a popular series of travel guides that spotlight free and low-cost scenic camping locations in the western United States.
Since her first full-time RVing journey kicked off in 1999, Edwards and her husband Randy have been sharing their love of low-impact, inexpensive RVing with thousands of readers around the world.
Marianne’s inspiration for creating Boondockers Welcome came during a long solo trip through her home state of Ontario, Canada.
While searching for a free place to park for the night, Marianne became frustrated at the lack of safe places to pass the night.
After passing dozens of rural homes with long driveways and RVs parked on the property she said that,
I brazenly drove down one of these farm laneways, introduced myself, and asked this middle-aged couple if they could allow me a small corner to park just for the night. How lucky I was – Cathy and Joe could not have been more welcoming.
When these two strangers graciously offered their driveway for the night, Marianne immediately had a great idea.
Why not connect property-owning RVers like Joe and Cathy with other nice, like-minded RVers who simply want a place to pull over for a night or two?
As many RVers can attest, the RVing community is an open, friendly place where strangers can turn into friends in minutes.
When Cathy and Joe helped Marianne, she realized that the friendly nature of RVers, especially the frugal-minded ones, could create the basis for a great community with members from all around the world.
With the help of her tech-guru and daughter Anna, Boondockers Welcome was founded.
Today thousands of frugal RVers in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and even Thailand are connecting with like-minded budget travelers looking for free places to park for a night or two – or maybe longer.
Why Join the Free RV Parking Community?
Boondockers Welcome is a dues-based membership group geared toward connecting property-owning RVers with one another.
But full-time RVers who can’t offer a place to park are also welcome to join.
The community operates similarly to how couch-surfing or vacation home-swap arrangements are made online – think AirBNB.
But Boondockers Welcome members arrive with their own home and facilities – a far less intrusive arrangement than allowing guests to sleep on your sofa and use your bathroom!
Membership rates are less than the price of one night in an RV park: $24.95 a year if you don’t have a piece of property to offer other members, or $19.95 a year if you can host a camper.
To help prospective members decide if they want to join, anyone can search the growing database of available free RV parking opportunities.
These locations range from a simple driveway spot to prime tourist destinations.
How is Boondockers Welcome Different?
What makes Boondockers Welcome different from other “free camping” websites is that members can become acquainted with each other before deciding to connect in person.
After joining, members can share details about themselves, their town if they’re offering a place to stay, their rig, travel preferences, pets and any other pertinent highlights.
All this information gives prospective hosts and visitors a chance to decide if they want to make contact through the club’s private messaging system.
Allowing Frugal RVers to Connect With No Stress
No member is ever obligated to offer a place to stay or to agree to visit one.
Email addresses, phone numbers and specific location details are never released until two parties have entered into a conversation and agreed that they’re a match.
In addition, a potential host’s privacy and security is Marianne’s number one priority, which is why she says that,
Hosts can acquaint themselves with potential guests through messages for as long as they like before agreeing to accommodate them. You are not obligated in any way to accommodate anyone. At Boondockers Welcome.com you are in control.
To make meeting up easier, the Boondockers Welcome FAQ page answers every conceivable question that you could imagine about the process including:
- Is it okay to ask a host to plug in to electric power or fill up my fresh water tank?
- May I join if I don’t have an RV? What about a tent or a tent trailer?
- As a host, how accommodating do I have to be? For instance, I work long hours and, although I don’t mind providing a parking space, I often don’t have the time or energy at the end of the day to entertain anyone.
- Am I liable if someone falls or hurts themselves on my property? What if they sue me?
Add Boondockers Welcome to Your Frugal RVing Resources
Chances are good that if you’re like most RVers, you’ve engaged in the “look us up if you’re ever in our town” conversation with new friends you’ve met on the road.
Boondockers Welcome operates on the same principle.
If you’re not shy about taking people up on their hospitality and offering it in return, give this community a try.
With a 90-day, no-questions-asked, 100% money back guarantee if you find it’s not to your liking, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
All photos from Marianne Edwards’ blog, Frugal-RV-Travel.com