If you’ve ever been to an RV show, you’ve likely heard of Harvest Host. If you haven’t been to an RV show, but you or some of your friends go camping, there is a high likelihood that you know someone that uses Harvest Host. So, what is it? Is is worth it? Should you use it? In our experience, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding YES! I’m going to tell you why we feel this way, but first, for those that aren’t familiar…
Harvest Host is a company that has reached out to numerous farms, wineries, distilleries, museums, breweries, and even golf courses to enable camping at their places of business. There are a few restrictions. You need to be self contained, so you need to have your own bathroom, water, and electric. You can only stay one night (unless specific arrangements have been made with a single Host.) No tents are allowed. And, it’s only available to their members.
Anyone who meets the camper requirement can join Harvest Host. The cost of a basic membership (which does not include the golf courses) is $99.00 for a 12 month period. So whatever month you join, is the month your yearly membership begins. Why would a farm or winery want you and your camper on their property when you aren’t paying them for a site? Well, part of the Code of Conduct that you agree too when joining Harvest Host is that you spend at least $20 at each of the Host’s as a Thank You for allowing you to be there. The $20 can be for a product that they sell, a donation, a tip, or a service that they provide. These places of business gain you as a customer for the day in return for allowing you to camp there for the night.
Alright, as the camper…. You’ve just paid $99.00 to join, and now you have to pay at least $20 for each of the Hosts that you stay at? Yes. Let’s be honest, why do you think several Walmart’s allow you to stay the night in their parking lot. Because they know there is a very high likelihood that you will be coming inside and buying something. However, it is still worth every single penny if you ask us. And here is why…
First, waking up among the grapes in a vineyard is a lot more picturesque than a Walmart parking lot. I’m thankful for Walmart allowing this, but we prefer to utilize that in an emergency situation, like, we can’t keep our eyes open anymore and aren’t close to where we planned on being yet.
Second, the cost of camping has increased astronomically. We have had tremendous difficulty staying at any campground for less than $20 a night… And guess what, that $20 was at a National Forest. Now, there are completely free dispersed camping sites, I know. And yes, that is actually free. But if you are going to spend $20 to stay in a National Forest where you don’t have any hook-up’s, why not stay at a Harvest Host where your camping experience will be different than everyone else’s. Once you start paying campground fee’s at State Parks, RV Parks, and Resorts, you are looking at anywhere from $40 per night to upwards of $150 per night at some of the resorts. This is a yearly fee of $100, and you get to stay at a number of incredible places.
Third, the money that we have been able to save on sites, has provided us with an opportunity for experiences. Experiences like… Wine tasting’s at a vineyard. Photo shoots at an outdoor studio. Museum tours. Airboat rides to see the alligators. Moonshine tastings. The places you can go, and the things you can see, are truly endless.
If you had a $500 camping budget for a 4 day weekend for 2 people… You spend $100 on your Harvest Host membership. With the remaining $400, you can spend 1 night at a winery. Go inside, do a tasting, maybe even buy a bottle of wine for home. You spent about $50. On the 2nd night, you head over to the local museum and spend $15 per person to go inside. The 3rd night you go to a local farm where they sell vegetables and their local honey. $20 for farm fresh vegetables on the dinner table always makes it taste better. You are already 3 nights into your 4 day weekend, and you’ve only spent a total of $200 of your budget and that includes the cost of the membership! Maybe on the 4th night you find a Gator Ranch where for $10 per person you can walk the alligator boardwalk. But instead, because you’ve saved so much on your other nights, you decide to spend the $35 per person to take the airboat ride where you see wild alligators in their natural habitat AND you get the boardwalk. Plus now you can head out to dinner on your last night of vacation instead of having to cook in the camper.
On your 4 day weekend, you’ve done a wine tasting, visited a local museum, bought local farm fresh vegetable, and gone on an airboat ride to see the alligators. Sounds like a much more interesting 4 day weekend than just going to the local campground.
On the Harvest Host website, it is $99 for the yearly membership. They sometimes run specials offering 15% off. Or if you are interested in joining and there is no discount available at that time, you can send us an email at InterstateAdventuresCom@gmail.com and we can provide you with a personal invitation to Harvest Host and a 15% off discount.