Boondockers Welcome is the brainchild of Marianne Edwards, a dedicated boondocker, blogger and author of several e-books about boondocking. Boondockers Welcome connects RVers who are looking for free places to park their rigs with RV owners who have boondocking space to share.
What Is Boondocking?
Boondocking is dry-camping (no electrical or water hookups) with an RV. Typically, boondockers park overnight at Walmarts, free campgrounds, Bureau of Land Management monuments, truck stops and casinos.
While boondocking isn't something you can easily do for weeks at a time, plenty of RVers in the United States and Canada who boondock on a regular basis.
Who Can Join Boondockers Welcome?
Any RVer who is willing to pay the membership fee can join Boondockers Welcome. As of this writing, Boondockers Welcome members offer free RV parking to their fellow members at over 800 places in the US and Canada. Owners of larger rigs should be aware that some of the spaces offered are too small to accommodate 40-foot RVs, but you'll still have plenty of options to choose from.
Boondocking spaces offered by members must be on private property, not campgrounds or RV parks.
What if You Don't Have a Parking Space to Share?
You can join Boondockers Welcome even if you can't share boondocking space. You'll pay a higher membership fee, but you can still use the service. Part of the purpose of Boondockers Welcome is to connect RVers who enjoy boondocking with like-minded travelers.
How Does the Service Work?
To use the service, you will need to pay a small membership fee, currently $24.95 per year ($19.95 per year if you offer fellow members boondocking space), and upload some information about yourself and your rig to the members-only section of the Boondockers Welcome website. Once you join, you can search for boondocking space, using a variety of parameters that include the size of your rig, location of the parking space, permission to bring pets and WiFi availability. After you have found a place you believe will meet your needs, you can send a message to the owner via Boondockers Welcome's website, requesting permission to park overnight.
The owner will review your request, check his or her own calendar and respond.
Some Boondockers Welcome members offer boondocking space on a regular basis, while others restrict availability to specific times of year. Members can restrict use of generators, slide-outs, grills and other equipment on their property if they wish. Hosts may choose to spend time with their guests or offer them information about the local area, although this is not a requirement for membership.
In some ways, Boondockers Welcome is similar to Airbnb. The website connects members with extra outdoor space with RVers who need a place to park overnight. After initial contact is made through the website, it's up to the members to discuss the details.
Hosting members should make sure they have adequate liability insurance coverage in case guests are injured on their property. RV owners and renters should carry adequate RV insurance, too. Because insurance regulations vary by state and province, Boondockers Welcome does not offer specific liability insurance advice or information.
From Boondockers Welcome Founder Marianne Edwards:
"We (my husband, Randy, and I) started RVing 14 years ago and soon discovered that we don't mind camping without hookups - in fact, we usually prefer it. Primitive camping areas are generally more appealing than those geared to RVs (with the sites lined up in tight rows). Actually, the idea of needing to pay for a campground every night quickly seemed absurd to us. Especially when we're only staying in an area for a couple of days. We discovered there is abundant free camping (boondocking) in the southwestern states and this discovery soon began to dictate where we traveled.
We still love returning to these areas but wanted to explore other locations as well. Through boondocking, we got used to low camping costs on our trips - something that's not so easy to find in more populated states and provinces.
"When we came up with the idea for Boondockers Welcome, we realized that most RVers already use their RV to visit family and friends across the country so the idea of having their own home with them - parked in the driveway - is nothing new. Connecting through the web site allows RVers to travel more economically and, in peak season, find an option when campgrounds may be full. Many of our members, in fact, offer electric and water to guests so, RVers who prefer hookups can often have them.
From the initial response when we introduced the web site, it was (and continues to be) very well-received and, from the recommendations we ask members to post on each other's profiles after a visit, both guests and hosts seem to be really enjoying the experience. Since most of our hosting members welcome only short visits, it's not meant to replace campgrounds or RV resorts altogether. It does, however, offer an interesting way to stretch the budget."
Contact Information for Boondockers Welcome
Boondockers Welcome offers a wealth of information on its website, including Frequently Asked Questions, a video tour and RV forums.
To ask a specific question, use Boondockers Welcome's online contact form.