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If you are looking for an inexpensive, unique, and safe place to stay during your next RV trip, look no further than Harvest Hosts. In fact, they have over 1,000 interesting locations throughout North America! In this Harvest Hosts review article, we’ll take a look at how it works and some pros and cons of the program.
What is Harvest Hosts?
Harvest Hosts is a membership network that allows RVers to camp overnight at any of the host locations at no nightly cost. Host locations include wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms, gardens, museums, golf courses, and various other attractions including an alligator ranch! RVers are allowed to camp for no longer than 24 hours except by host invitation and they must be self-contained – the vast majority of hosts do not have electricity, water, or dump facilities (although some do and charge an additional fee for these services if you choose to use them).
How (and Why) to Find Free RV Camping Spots
How does it work?
As an RVer, you simply need to purchase a $79 annual membership, give the host 24 hours notice of arrival, and show up in your self-contained RV with proof of your Harvest Host membership ready to go. All members must also have proof of liability insurance on their vehicle, and the hosts are not responsible for damage, theft, or injury to you or your RV. Your membership starts the day you purchase it and is eligible for renewal one year from that date.
No tents of any kind are allowed, nor are campers with tent pop-outs, minivans, or sleeping in your car or truck. All RVs must have an indoor toilet, built-in holding tanks for wastewater, and indoor cooking facilities. No dumping of black or gray water is allowed anywhere on host properties. Members are only allowed to stay for 24 hours unless expressly invited to stay longer by the host.
Each host listing will provide information about the site such as the maximum allowed RV length, the days that each location is available to host, how many parking spaces are available for members, whether there are any amenities available, if pets are allowed, and so forth.
The Harvest Host program also encourages you to spend a minimum of $20 at each host location that you stay at to support the host’s business. Many hosts sell delicious produce or wine or liquor that’s made on-site, or they have gift shops with various merchandise. This is part of the incentive for hosts to join the program, since it is great exposure for their business. Many hosts offer fun and unique experiences as part of the stay, often showing members around the property on private tours, answering questions, and sharing stories or samples of their products.
Pros of Harvest Hosts
It is a great alternative to staying in a Walmart parking lot, since host locations are generally safer, more secure, and much more interesting. Plus, in many cities, Walmarts are no longer allowing overnight stays in RVs, which can make it difficult to find a place to spend the night when you’re between destinations.
In a broader sense, many cities have also ruled that it’s illegal to sleep in your vehicle on public property. Harvest Hosts takes away the uncertainty and you can sleep soundly knowing that you are allowed to be parked there and you won’t wake up in the middle of the night to a knock from law enforcement.
Additionally, Harvest Hosts is much cheaper than staying in most private or public campgrounds, which usually range from about $40 to over $100 per night for an RV spot. At that rate, even if you spend just a few days per year at Harvest Host locations, your membership fee will pay itself off and you will just be responsible for making the suggested purchase from your host, which is strongly encouraged but not a hard and fast rule. Many hosts have such amazing products that you may end up spending more than the suggested $20, but you’ll leave with amazing food, wine, or other products!
Many members meet other RVers and make friends while staying at a Harvest Host location, or spend quality time with their hosts and create meaningful connections that way. One of the best parts of traveling is meeting other people and having unique experiences, and Harvest Hosts provides both of those opportunities.
Cons of Harvest Hosts
The main con of Harvest Hosts is how they advertise – for instance, on harvesthosts.com they tout the program as “RV camping at 1,091+ wineries, breweries, farms, and attractions that invite RVers to stay FOR FREE!” However, this isn’t really the case when you have to pay a $79 annual membership fee and then make a $20 purchase every night that you use the program (since you can generally only stay one night at each place).
Another con is that there are only a few host locations in some states. Just glancing at their host map, it appears that there are maybe two or three host locations in the entire state of Nevada and four in all of Montana. There are plenty of host sites right along the west coast and tons of them in the eastern half of the country, but if you are planning a trip in the west, you may have to travel quite a ways between host locations. However, more locations are added all the time and members are notified of new locations in monthly emails.
Finally, since the program requires dry camping and doesn’t allow dumping, you have to prepare ahead of time by emptying your gray and black water tanks and filling up your fresh water and cooking fuel tanks.
Is Harvest Hosts a good alternative over RV parks?
That just depends on your needs. If you are just passing through somewhere and need a place to sleep, Harvest Hosts is a great option. But, if you prefer to stay in one place for longer than 24 hours or if you need hookups to be comfortable, an RV park or campground may be a better solution for you.
Additionally, if you are an introvert and just want to go to sleep and then hit the road early in the morning without any delays, a good old fashioned highway rest area might be your best bet. But, if you love to meet people, explore your surroundings, and travel at a relaxed pace, Harvest Hosts can provide amazing opportunities.
Is Harvest Hosts worth the price?
It totally depends on your budget and traveling style. If you have the means to make $20 purchases every night that you use the program and pay the $79 per year, and if you plan where you are going to sleep at least 24 hours in advance, Harvest Hosts can certainly be worth the price.
However, if you prefer to travel on a shoestring budget, if you prefer spontaneous travel, or if you need hookups to be comfortable, Harvest Hosts may not meet your needs.
So, what do you think? After reading this review of Harvest Hosts, do you think you’ll give it a try?
Just CLICK HERE to visit the Harvest Host website.