A Harvest Hosts membership is an excellent tool for all RVers. For a low monthly cost, members gain access to over 700 beautiful camping locations across North America. These include farms, vineyards, museums, breweries, distilleries, and so much more. These places are available for free overnight accommodations, and they can lead to some extraordinary and unique experiences you would not find at a typical campground or RV park. With the opportunity to camp in these amazing places, there are some necessary rules and etiquette that members should heed. These ensure that our gracious hosts are respected as they allow members to camp on their business properties, which often double as their homes. Keep the following tips and suggestions in mind when camping with Harvest Hosts for an experience that is fun, friendly, and respectful to all parties involved.
1. Call ahead
When you find that perfect Harvest Host camping location along your travel route, you must call ahead to let them know you plan to visit. When you call, introduce yourself and explain that you are a Harvest Hosts member. Tell the host when you would like to visit and any other pertinent details they may need to know before your stay. Be sure to ask where to park when you arrive for a smooth and easy check-in. In addition, let them know what time of day you plan to arrive, and make sure that you will be able to access your site if you are going to arrive before or after business hours. Lastly, ask about their RV size limits and any other basic rules that may apply so that you are prepared for your visit.
Calling ahead is important because many hosts have limited spaces. Some may even be temporarily closed to Harvest Host members at various times throughout the year for events and such. You wouldn’t want to show up unannounced only to be turned away because all the spaces are full, so be sure to plan and let the host know you are coming.
2. Park in designated sites
When you arrive at your Harvest Hosts camping location, park only in the designated camping areas. Some places may have specific sites, but others may just have a general area where they would like RVs to camp. If you were not told where to park on your phone call, then try to park out of the way while you go inside to ask where to set up. If you cannot find the business owner, try calling them. It’s important that members never block the entrance to a parking lot or business, as this could inhibit other customers from visiting. RVs tend to be large in size, so be sure to park further away to ensure there is enough room for other cars to park.
3. Ask before rolling out the full camp set-up
Since most Harvest Hosts stays are for one night only, most members avoid setting up their entire campsite. If you are parking in the general parking area, keep outdoor items, such as chairs, a table, rugs, a grill, decorations, and whatever other outdoor items you like to use packed up. If you have your own specific campsite, it’s okay to set out chairs and anything else you would like to enjoy during your stay, but avoid leaving things outside that could make your site look cluttered or messy. In general, just use your best judgement, and keep in mind that you are a guest. In addition, be sure to dispose of your own garbage, and do not just assume that you can use on-site dumpsters without permission.
4. Walk your dogs in appropriate places and clean up after them
Many Harvest Host locations are pet-friendly, allowing you to bring your furry friend along with you on your stay. If you are camping with a dog, try to keep the barking to a minimum, and ask where the host would like you to walk your dog. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash, and clean up after them, disposing of all waste appropriately.
5. Ask about generator usage
Since most Harvest Hosts do not offer electricity, you may need a way to charge your batteries and power your devices during your stay. If your preferred electricity source is a generator, be sure to ask permission before firing it up. Most times, the business owner will not mind reasonable generator use, but it’s always best to ask about the rules first, just in case. If you receive permission to use your generator, be polite about your usage. Only run it for the length of time you need to charge your batteries, and do not run it before 8am or after 9pm. This will ensure that you are not disturbing the business owner during their off-hours.
6. Keep noise to a minimum
As mentioned before, as a Harvest Hosts member, you are a guest on someone’s private property. Keep general noise to a minimum during your stay out of respect for your host. Avoid loud music, excessive generator use, noisy animals, or anything else that could disturb your host. Some noise is reasonable, but just try to be considerate to your host during quiet hours (9pm-8am) or business hours (typically, 9am-6pm), when they will often have customers.
7. Make a purchase!
Hosts allow you to stay on their property for free, thus saving you the cost of an overnight site at a campground. Be sure to compensate them for their generosity by making a purchase. This could include anything from a few bottles of wine to some fruit, a six-pack of beer, admission to their museum, or whatever other service or product the host provides. In this way, you are supporting a small business, while also showing gratitude to your host for allowing you to stay.
8. Don’t overstay your welcome
Harvest Host visits are limited to one-night stays only. In special circumstances, hosts may offer for you to stay longer or may advertise that longer stays are permitted. However, this is generally not the case. Plan for you visits to be for one night, and be sure to ask if there is a time that the host would prefer for you to be on the road by the next day. Many hosts are very flexible with check-in and check-out times, but please check ahead of time to avoid overstaying your welcome.
This may seem like a lot of rules, but most of these are just general tenets of politeness that you should keep in mind when staying overnight anywhere in your RV. These rules ensure that both the hosts and the members are on the same page and respect each other. Following these will ensure a fun and successful stay at all of your future Harvest Host campsites.
What rules and etiquette do you like to follow when camping with a host? Is there anything we missed? Feel free to share in a comment below!
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