Like many, I like to find different and interesting places to stay when we travel. Being fulltimers these days, we get around more than your average bear. That’s why the idea of Harvest Hosts really intrigued me. Harvest Hosts works with wineries, farms, and other venues to provide overnight parking for RVers.
When we decided to try the program, the big question was “will we use it?“. We do the occasional overnight stop at Walmarts, so I was willing to give it a shot. The chance at staying at places that were outside of the norm really intrigued me. Plus, I’m hopeful that we can tie it into roadschooling for the kids.
Overall, we enjoy our membership.
Let me start with the negatives/caveats for why Harvest Hosts isn’t always ideal for us.
First, our travel plans typically are to stay somewhere for 1-3 weeks and then make a short 1-day drive to our next destination. The truth is, we tend to make plans that have us traveling longer distances and we’ve been able to sneak in a couple of stop so far.
Second, if we’re pushing through to somewhere, we often drive until very late and then stop at a Walmart or somewhere similar. One of the biggest “caveats” to the Harvest Hosts program is that you’re expected to get there during business hours. We’ve been able to adjust our travel schedule so that we do arrive early, but this has the added twist of being hard on our battery (we just aren’t good “no electric” RVers yet!).
Third, as I mentioned about being hard on our battery; most host locations do not have electric hookups. Now, this isn’t much different than a parking lot overnight, but it does mean we have more waking hours while we’re using lights and are heavier users on our sole lone battery. If we had a generator, I do believe that with the locations that we’ve stopped at so far that we could have ran a quiet one.
Fourth, price. The membership fee is small. But, you are expected to buy something at each location. As a fulltime RVer, I worried about buying things just for the sake of buying them to appease our hosts. As a cheapskate, I can’t help but think that free is cheaper than a nominal purchase. And as a worrier, I really stressed over what an appropriate purchase would be. (Like literally posted threads on 2 different RVing forums.) It’s truly been a non-issue and we’ve found consumable products at each location that work well.
Finally, while there are a lot of locations, we made the mistake of selecting one that was 29 miles off of the highway when we were hoping for a “simple overnight stop”. This added drive time to our days. BUT! It was worth it.
Now the reality, and why Harvest Hosts is wonderful…
Granted, we’ve only stopped at two hosts so far. But, what we have found so far is:
The hosts have been very friendly and welcoming to us. Yes, even the winery that we went to was family friendly. The server interacted with the kids and it was much appreciated by me.
The hosts have been in picturesque settings. It’s so much better than a blacktop wonderland of a parking lot.
For fulltime families, it’s a great roadschool opportunity. At a farm in South Carolina, the kids got to learn about and hold baby chicks. We got lucky that they were doing a “chick exchange” where people got to babysit chicks for two weeks- we were able to see how much they grew in 2 weeks as some people were returning and others were picking up.
For Mom and Dad, we’ve gotten to buy farm fresh eggs, fresh meat, and sample wines that we wouldn’t have otherwise tried (truth be told, we aren’t wine drinkers).
At night, you’re likely the only one there. Seriously, the winery near Tucson was the quietest night of my life. And, at the farm in South Carolina, we practiced our fire escapes (and found how scarily UN-prepared we are!).
Longest story shortest – it’s inexpensive, give it a shot!
The membership is $44 or less per year. So it’s not going to break the bank to give it a try. (Of course, if you sign up- tell them that Doug Setzer referred you. Smile!)
Visit them at www.harvesthosts.com.