The times, they are a-changin’. As Americans flock to the road in RVs, rejecting consumerism and embracing the value of experiences, RV campgrounds are filling up weeks in advance. And when you do find an open spot, it’s guaranteed to be more expensive than ever.
Enter Harvest Hosts, an experience-based RV camping option opening hundreds of unique locations to its members.
I run across few RVers these days who don’t know about Harvest Hosts. The company’s marketing strategy is stellar. But just because you’ve heard of it, doesn’t mean you’ve signed up.
We were late to the game, so I can relate. We just became members in March 2019 because Harvest Hosts didn’t match our travel rhythm before then.
But between March and December 2019, we stayed at 26 Harvest Hosts locations! In fact, out of all the places we stayed (private campgrounds, national parks, BLM land, etc.), we stayed at more Harvest Hosts locations than any other category.
We’re unabashed fans of this program. But that doesn’t necessarily help you with your decision of whether to sign up or not!
Let’s fix that. Now that I’ve experienced Harvest Hosts from coast to coast, I’m excited to share why Harvest Hosts is 100 percent worth it.
Note: This article includes our Harvest Hosts affiliate link. If you get excited about what we share here, we’d love it if you’d sign up via our link. This will encourage us to continue investing time in creating useful content!
1/ It Pays for Itself Overnight
We need to talk money first. If we don’t, then you’ll probably be wondering about cost the whole time you’re reading.
As of this writing, membership is normally $79/year, which gives you access to nearly 1,000 wineries, farms, museums, breweries–even a gator ranch on the Gulf coast. Our affiliate link will give you 15% off, so just over $67.
With our Harvest Hosts membership, we stayed at Agua Dulce Winery in Santa Clarita, California, close to Los Angeles. The closest private campground is $65/night for two people. Speaking purely in dollars and cents, you can see how your Harvest Hosts membership will pay for itself in a mere one or two nights.
I actually did an experiment in 2019. I valued our Harvest Hosts stays at $25/night. I picked this number solely because we prefer to pay no more than this when we pay for camping (which is rare). We all know $25/night is an unrealistically low expectation when we’re talking about campground prices across the country.
Anyway, $25/night value it was–for the purposes of my experiment. Then I took into account how much we spent patronizing each Harvest Hosts business–on wine tastings, tour tickets, and the like.
Even with my ridiculously low valuation, our Harvest Hosts membership paid for itself after 10 nights.
Now, there’s something we’ve left out of this conversation, something economists have struggled with for centuries. It’s easy to calculate the quantitative. But how do we value the qualitative?
How do you put a price tag on the feeling you get looking out on quiet fields with your loved ones? How do you count the joy of being surrounded by a group of adorable, curious alpacas? Or an evening out at a beautiful winery, with your home safely parked a short walk away?
I think these qualitative factors are worth a lot, and you should take them into account when deciding whether a Harvest Hosts membership is worth it for you.
Already convinced? Sign up for a Harvest Hosts membership now and receive 15% off.
2/ There Are Locations Everywhere (and New Ones Are Added Constantly)
In July 2019, there were 750 Harvest Hosts locations. Two new hosts were being added every day, so it’s no surprise that the host database is up to a whopping 950+ locations now!
It doesn’t matter where you’re traveling to, chances are there will be a Harvest Hosts location near you. We even got to stay at a farm in Ontario, Canada.
3/ You’d Never Get to Stay Here Otherwise
This goes back to the qualitative value I mentioned earlier. We have had some of our most memorable experiences through Harvest Hosts.
At Licon Dairy outside El Paso, we stepped out of our door in the morning and took a self-guided tour of an amazing petting zoo.
At Fly Creek Cider Mill in Cooperstown, New York,, we got to see the inner workings of a cider mill, feed ducks, eat delicious food, and Caspian had a beautiful lawn to play on with other kids. Plus, we were minutes from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which Eric had wanted to visit since childhood.
At Misty Acres Alpaca Farm in Maine, I got to purchase a beautiful scarf made from the wool of alpacas I had just met!
At The Yalaha Bootlegging Company in Florida, I tried award-winning moonshine and took some home that tasted like apples and cinnamon. Outside, Eddie served us some of the best barbecue we’ve ever had (and we LOVE our barbecue). And next door, Yalaha Bakery had the most delicious streusel. It was a stay filled with superlatives.
And at every stop, the people we meet are kind and hospitable. We get to learn about our hosts’ regions and businesses. And we’ve made friends with the RVers parked near us!
4/ Kids Love Harvest Hosts, Too
If you were a kid, would you rather stay at a private campground smushed between two RVs, or at a Gator Ranch where you get to hold a baby alligator? What about a farm where you get to eat fresh raspberries? Or a cheese company where you get to eat fresh grilled cheese for lunch?
Caspian, our son who just turned three, has had so many unique experiences right alongside us, thanks to Harvest Hosts.
It May Not Be Worth It for You if…
Before you drive into the sunset with your new Harvest Hosts membership, there are a few caveats.
- Are you okay with dry camping?
With almost no exceptions, Harvest Hosts locations are all dry camping. (I remember two wineries that offered electricity for a fee.)
The good news is you’re only staying one night, so you can recharge your batteries, dump, or fill the next day when you leave!
- Can you give notice?
Harvest Hosts has a list of guidelines, and one is that you contact your host the day before you arrive. That way they can confirm they’re open and have room for you.
If you’re one of those RVers who wakes up in the morning not knowing where you’re going to sleep that night, then you may have trouble with this part!
- Are you okay with only staying one night?
With few exceptions, Harvest Hosts stays are for one night only. We have run across a couple of places that were fine with two nights.
The one-night limit is actually why we didn’t become Harvest Hosts members until 2019. When we had our 40-foot diesel RV, we stayed in one place for two weeks at a time.
- Are you willing to patronize the business?
This is essential. In return for a free place to stay, Harvest Hosts asks all members to patronize the business hosting them.
We have the golf add-on to our membership, but we’ve only stayed at one golf course because golf isn’t our thing! We also avoid breweries because neither of us drink beer. (Though if we do stay at a brewery, we can usually order food or grab some craft beer for a friend down the road.)
No matter your personal preferences, just be sure to patronize your host in some way while you’re there.
If you can answer yes to all four of those questions, then Harvest Hosts is probably a fit for you.
So Is Harvest Hosts Worth It?
Harvest Hosts has deeply enriched our lives as full-time RVers. We recommend it to everyone. Once you’ve spent one night at a winery, farm, or museum, I think you’ll be hooked.
Don’t leave without signing up for your Harvest Hosts membership! RVers who use our link receive 15% off.