Harvest Hosts has been one of the best resources for full-time and part-time travelers in the RV community. It’s a unique option for those who enjoy staying somewhere other than RV parks and campgrounds while on the road.
However, this non-traditional option has undergone some changes and has shaken things up a bit. Like most changes, not everyone is happy with them. Many long-time users are even saying the service feels too “corporate” now.
So is the Harvest Hosts service too corporate? Let’s take a look!
What Is Harvest Hosts?
Harvest Hosts is a non-traditional style of RVing typically used by RVers and other nomads during their travels. A wide variety of more than 3,000 businesses form a massive network of hosts that provide refuge for travelers passing through specific areas.
Businesses are typically wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms, golf courses, and many other unique attractions. You can stay on an alpaca farm one night and at an airplane museum the next. You never know what you’re going to see when you look at your window in the morning!
How Did Harvest Hosts Get Started?
Don and Kim Greene were the originating founders of the Harvest Hosts network. They had previously heard of the success of agritourism in Europe and thought it could be wildly successful in the United States.
The Greene’s launched the annual Harvest Hosts membership in 2009. They gathered approximately 600 hosts. That included farms, wineries, museums, and other unique establishments in Oregon, California, and Washington. They also had a handful of hosts in Canada and Mexico.
Who Owns Harvest Hosts?
In 2018, Joel Holland and Mary Ashley purchased Harvest Hosts from the Greenes. Joel’s RVer and technology entrepreneur background gave him the experience to take Harvest Hosts to the next level. As the CEO, Joel has focused primarily on growing the number of host locations and making the entire platform as user-friendly as possible.
Under Joel’s leadership, the number of hosts has grown to more than 3600. The website has received a massive update, including an easy-to-use mobile phone application. Users can quickly and easily find nearby hosts during their adventures and read reviews from those who have previously stayed.
How Does Harvest Hosts Work?
Harvest Hosts isn’t usually a typical campground or RV park camping experience. Hosts typically offer a place for RVers to park for the night in exchange for supporting the establishment in some capacity. It’s a win-win for both the host and travelers.
Many of the locations offer experiences or products for sale. Travelers can tour a museum or buy a product from the establishment. Depending on what the host provides, it may not be cheaper than staying in some campgrounds, but you get a unique place to stay for the night and support a local small business.
Hosts typically limit stays to a single night and rarely offer power or other connections. However, while it is rare, it’s not unheard of that hosts will provide power, water, or a dump station for a fee. These are excellent options for those who enjoy staying outside of crowded campgrounds.
Is Harvest Hosts a Good Program or Too Corporate Now?
Since 2018, Joel Holland has been working to grow the Harvest Hosts network and create a quality brand. While Harvest Hosts and other similar networks typically have a very organic feel, having an organized brand helps ensure consistency for hosts and users. Many upgrades to enhance the program were necessary to take Harvest Hosts to the next level.
Has the Harvest Hosts program changed since its inception? Absolutely. However, we think many of the changes have benefited hosts and users looking for safe places to stay while on the road.
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Did Harvest Hosts Buy Boondockers Welcome?
One of the biggest moves made by Harvest Hosts was the acquisition of Boondockers Welcome. The two platforms were relatively similar but also uniquely different. While Harvest Hosts were primarily businesses that offered travelers a place to stay, Boondockers Welcome was typically individuals offering to show hospitality.
In May 2021, Harvest Hosts announced their purchase of Boondockers Welcome to expand their host locations. There was a mixed reception between hosts and users regarding the acquisition, especially combining networks. Many travelers held memberships to both programs and followed the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality for the two programs.
Now that Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome have merged, users can sign up for various offerings. Instead of managing multiple memberships, users can purchase a plan that encompasses both memberships and gives them access to more than 6,000 locations all over the country.
How Much Do Harvest Hosts Memberships Cost?
Harvest Hosts offers various membership options ranging from $99 to $179 per year. The “Classic” plan is the standard Harvest Hosts membership that allows unlimited overnight stays at more than 3,000 locations and is $99 per year.
For those users who enjoy the Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome memberships, the “Harvest Host + Boondockers Welcome” membership is the perfect option. This provides access to the same 3,000 Harvest Host locations and an additional 3,000 community hosts for $169 per year.
The final offering from Harvest Hosts is the “All Access” membership. This provides access to the 3,000 Harvest Host locations, 3,000 community hosts, and about 400 golf courses for $179 per year. If you enjoy playing a round or two of golf while on the road, this is an excellent upgrade for only $10 more per year.
It’s important to remember that the membership cost isn’t the only expense associated with staying. Hosts expect guests to support their business during their stay. This typically involves purchasing a product or service from the host. Depending on the location, the product or service may cost more than you’d pay for an RV park or campground.
What Are Members Saying About Harvest Hosts?
Harvest Hosts has been well-loved by the RV community. It’s one of the most recommended RV memberships in online RV communities. Jason K. states, “We spent last year traveling full time in our RV and some of the best memories were from Harvest Hosts stays.” Each of the Harvest Hosts locations is unique and provides a new experience for travelers.
Many travelers regularly use the locations for stops to break up travel days. Marcy M. says, “I work from the road and we look for Harvest Hosts sites on weekends while traveling. Very enjoyable when it works out!”
Is Harvest Hosts Worth the Money?
If you enjoy camping in RV parks and campgrounds, Harvest Hosts may not be for you. However, a Harvest Hosts membership is worth every penny if you’re on the road regularly or looking for new and exciting places to park your rig for the night.
You can try drinks, food, and other experiences that you wouldn’t have otherwise. A part of getting out and adventuring is trying new experiences, and Harvest Hosts locations make it incredibly easy to do just that!
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