Camp For Cheap With Boondockers Welcome
With camping becoming more popular than ever before, many RVers may find themselves unable to find a spot in a traditional campground. This means some RVers may have to boondock.
If you are unfamiliar with boondocking, it’s simply a term that refers to camping without hookups such as electricity, water, and sewer. Boondocking, aka dry camping, can be done on public lands, Walmart parking lots, or even in a friend’s driveway.
What is Boondockers Welcome?
With the sharing economy, boondocking opportunities have also increased over the years. One option for regular travelers who also want to meet locals and learn more about an area is Boondockers Welcome.
This membership site lists over 2,400 hosts around the world who have opened up their homes and land for boondockers to park and camp for a night or two. Some hosts even allow for longer stays.
Boondockers Welcome was created by mother-daughter duo Marianne Edwards, chief Boondocker and co-founder of Boondockers Welcome, and Anna Maste, CTO and co-founder. Marianne, an avid RVer, wanted to solve an issue she encountered throughout her 15 years of RVing.
“I felt there was a lack of parking options other than a noisy Walmart parking lot when we were en route and only looking for a safe, legal place to stop for the night. I knew how friendly and welcoming RVers are, as we frequently exchanged invitations to stop and visit while exploring each other’s home area.”Marianne Edwards, Co-Founder, Boondockers Welcome
Membership costs only $50 per year for RV guests, which includes unlimited stays on host properties.
Hosts are not paid for allowing boondocking on their site. However, hosts are rewarded with Boondockers Welcome discounts and subscription credits to use on their own travels. Hosts are allowed to charge extra for amenities such as electrical hookups or fresh water. These extra amenities make Boondockers Welcome a nice step up from regular boondocking.
To join Boondockers Welcome, guests create profiles to tell other members and hosts about themselves and their RVs. When searching for a location, members can search for a lot or parking area size, whether pets are allowed, and any amenities offered by hosts. Members and hosts are encouraged to communicate online and in-person. Both hosts and guests leave reviews and referrals after their visits.
Finding boondocking locations
Host locations can be chosen from the site’s interactive map or each area can be searched by destination, distance, and arrival date. Filters can also be added. These include whether or not generators and barbecues are allowed and whether there is pull-through parking available.
Each host page has a description and photos of the property, amenities and extra charges, a host bio and photo, road and parking conditions, and references. A calendar of open dates, maximum time allowed for camping, and number of rig sites are also included.
In addition to the standard backyard or driveway spot, host properties include a wide range of interesting places to boondock.
“We have restaurants, distilleries, wineries, farms, and private property on acres and acres of land. I even saw one host location that owned a local laundromat and offered parking in their parking lot. Now that’s convenience, laundry, and free parking!”Carrie Andress, Community Support Specialist, Boondockers Welcome
Andress adds that within their 2,400 locations some of the more popular host sites are located in Florida and the Northeast area of the United States. Since these areas tend to have less public lands than the Western part of the country, there are less boondocking options available.
The website does have a few rules for both hosts and guests. To keep down work for the hosts, member RVs must be self-contained. This means that all functions such as sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation must be handled inside the camper, van, or towable trailer.
Having a toilet, sink, bathing facilities, gray and black water tank are requirements. Confirmation of self-contained RVs is required to purchase and activate a membership. In addition, hosts must be approved by their area regulations to allow RVs to park on their property.
Boondockers Welcome has found a real niche in the RV travel industry. The community attracts not only regular RV travelers but also people who are looking for hospitable people who love the RV lifestyle.
The comments from both hosts and guests say it all.
“We have RVed for almost three years. We have stayed in state parks, public land, RV parks, and with Boondockers Welcome sites. By far, we prefer the stays at Boondockers Welcome. We meet many like-minded, wonderful folks. You often stay at awesome sites in farms and private property that are, in my opinion, the nicest in the country. We can’t image traveling any other way.”jsmith_543, Boondockers Welcome guest
“We have been hosting since the inception of Boondockers Welcome in 2012. I believe we’ve hosted 50+ guests from all over the U.S., Austria, Germany, Australia, Costa Rica, and others. We have had some wonderful cultural exchanges, shared life stories and made some friends we hope to see again. We have not had any bad experiences with any guests in all this time. If you are considering being a host, it’s a great experience!”Dave and Steph in Oklahoma, Boondockers Welcome host
You can learn more about Boondockers Welcome on their website. For tips on how to be fully self-contained while boondocking, check out our previous article here.