A Boondockers Welcome Host takes the Fear out of Free Camping

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Are you worried about staying in a stranger’s driveway? Do you need a safe place to park overnight while traveling around the country without paying the high costs of campground fees? Does the idea of free camping make you happy? If you answer yes to any of these questions then my conversation with Marcia, a Boondockers Welcome Host in Northern Alberta should alleviate some of your worries.

First, let’s find out what Boondockers Welcome really is.

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What is Boondockers Welcome?

Boondockers Welcome is best described as a network of RV and camper hosts across North America (that includes Canada) who offer free overnight parking on their private property.  These hosts can be in both rural or urban areas, and offer a variety of amenities such as electricity, water and possibly even wi-fi. This service is perfect for RVers who want to save money and experience a more authentic and local travel experience.

How does Boondockers Welcome Work?

It’s quite simple. BW works by connecting RVers with hosts who offer free overnight parking on their private property. Travelers search for hosts in their desired location and send a request via BW to stay. Hosts can then accept or decline the request based on their availability and preferences. No personal information is shared until both parties are satisfied with the arrangement.

Marcia and her husband Peter, BW hosts from Northern Alberta have been successfully hosting for over 3 years. Marcia shares with us her experiences as hosts. 

We joined BW before our first RV trip to the U.S. in 2019. Our first opportunity to stay with a host was because we blew a tire in Death Valley and needed a safe place to stay while we waited for new tires to arrive. Our hosts kindly let us stay for 3 days and we had such a positive experience we became intrigued about BW.

What made you decide to become a Boondockers Welcome Host?

We live on a large acreage in Northern Alberta, Canada. When we’re home, we spend most evenings on our camp chairs watching the stars and Northern Lights while feeding armloads of firewood into a campfire. We have our own little piece of heaven here overlooking our private lake.

One night we had an epiphany! If we listed our property with BW, we could let other boondockers enjoy our site while swapping stories and let THEM throw the wood on the fire! This would also give us credit towards our next year’s membership. Definitely a win-win!

Since that day we’ve hosted 13 sets of boondockers from the Edmonton area, British Columbia, Quebec, the Maritimes and Wisconsin in the U.S.

What can people expect when they stay with you and your husband?

When we accept a BW request, BW sends contact information to both parties so we can both work out any needed details such as expected arrival time. We meet the guests when they arrive, show them the best place to park and provide leveling blocks if needed. Our cliff-top area is manicured grass and quite, but not perfectly level. You can’t see any houses or roads – just the cell tower 2 miles away. The only noises come from nature – lots of birds on the lake and in the trees (area of about 2 football fields), possibly coyotes across the lake at night, sometimes cattle lowing in the distance and occasionally very slight traffic noise a mile to the west.

We check to see if the guests want to be left completely alone or would like to socialize around a campfire / use our firepit grill to cook their dinner. Some guests want some or lots of contact/ travel story swapping, but others prefer privacy, and we are quite happy to fit in with either. We tell them to text if they need us, as our house is on a different part of the property. The main RV area is so private that local people have no idea it even exists! We have enough space for 6-8 campers, but there is normally only one unless 2 rigs travel together. We provide unlimited firewood!

We give them an overview of the area – lay of the land, how to get down to the beach, best places to walk or hike / ride bikes / use their boat /local lakes for fishing. We also answer any questions they have in the area.

How have your experiences been so far as a host?

We love hosting! Our guests have been terrific – lots of different backgrounds, travel experiences and personalities. It’s amazing that we nearly always find that we have common connections or interests of some sort. By mutual agreement, we’ve kept in touch with several of them; and hope that ALL of them will return for another visit. In our experience, RVers are the best!

You have used BW in your own travels - Can you tell us a little bit about your experiences as a guest?

So far, we’ve stayed at four BW sites. We tend to be rather spontaneous, so planning where we’ll stay a few days in advance can be problematic, but fortunately several hosts allow same day requests! 

  • Two of our hosts have spent some time with us – sitting outside or inside our trailer when we invited them in; coffee in one host’s house on our third evening there.
  • In the other 2 cases, we were greeted by the hosts, shown where to park and never saw them again.
  • Two locations were in a large driveway near their houses but with privacy for us,
  • one was in a field behind the garage,
  • and the other was in a pine tree grove a fair distance from the house.
  • Two were on the outskirts of small cities,
  • one was high on a hill with a wonderful 80-mile view of mountains across the border into Mexico.
  • One was in an area of woodsy acreages with a stream to explore.

What would you say to anyone who is interested in hosting fellow RVers on their own property?

 Do it! We are continually enriched by those that stay with us.

You do receive information about prospective guests, and if you feel uncomfortable for any reason or the timing is inconvenient, you simply decline the request. There is also a reporting system if there is any problem with guests.

We’ve learned SO much about other places to stay, US Forest Service and BLM lands in the US, travel apps, photography tips, bike maintenance. It’s networking at its best!

Any tips for RVers who hesitate about staying in a stranger’s yard or property?

It’s MUCH safer than staying at a Walmart, rest stop or public campground where no-one has been vetted and there could be drugs/parties/unsafe behavior. There is a lot more space and privacy than there would be in an RV park – unless you need their showers / laundry etc.

The hosts post information about their sites and rules. Guests post reports on all the BW hosts, so if a host has so-so reports, you don’t have to request to stay there. If the host is a problem, they will be removed from BW. 

Do you have anything you would like to add about BW?

Boondockers Welcome is a wonderful way to make new friends, learn about travel and RV upkeep / tips and tricks, save $$ and stay in beautiful safe interesting private areas off the beaten path. We value our membership, hosts and guests!

Marcia and her husband continue to travel in their RV, use Boondockers Welcome for places to stay and look forward to sharing their beautiful Northern Alberta property with their future guests.

Sign up and become a Boondockers Welcome Host today!  Click here!

Sign up with Boondockers Welcome Today! By signing up from this link you’ll save $15!


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