How to avoid spending high Campground Fees like we did!

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Photo by Mark Stebnicki:

Campground fees are through the roof! I keep reading about the RV Parks raising their rates but still thought we could find places to stay at a reasonable rate. Last week, our 4 day get-away proved me wrong! 

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A trip to Washington State cost us a lot of money

We live in central British Columbia and love to head down to Washington State for a few days once in awhile to do a little shopping, relax, and fill up on cheaper gas. It’s more about getting away than anything else. We haven’t been able to take this little trip since before COVID and was really looking forward to it. We seldom make reservations ahead of time – it’s never been necessary in the past. That was my first mistake – I should have at least done some research on locations of where to camp and maybe give some thought to cost. But, I didn’t. 

Campground fees are through the roof!

Now, don’t forget we are now dealing with U.S. dollars so there’s the exchange rate that needs to be considered. It was around 4:30 pm and after asking around we located a very nice RV Park in Mt Vernon. The office was closed and when I called the after hours phone number a woman kindly agreed to come and check us in. 

We were extremely relieved to have a place to stay and at that point there was no use worrying about the price. We paid for 2 nights and hooked up our electricity to a total of $186.37 CAD.  I’m sorry but that’s ridiculous!

We used the electricity and not so good wifi and did have showers with plenty of hot water. The washrooms were nice and clean.  You would think we would have learned our lesson but the 3rd night we headed to Lynden, Washington and stayed at the very nice KOA for $96.46 for one night with full services. We dumped our tanks and cleaned everything up before heading home.

So for 3 nights of camping we spent $282.83 CAD!  That is not going to happen again – at least that’s my plan.

Boondockers Welcome would have been the best option

Not only did we not pre-plan our little get-away we just went on a wing and a prayer!  Our Classic Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome Membership combined costs us approximately $157 CAD per year, depending on exchange rate.  

Since we got home I did some research and if we had used Harvest Hosts/Boondockers Welcome we would have had 21 Hosts in the Mt Vernon area to choose from and it wouldn’t have cost us a dime!  Oh boy, that hurt. Near Lynden there are 7 Hosts we could have stayed with. Once again, at no charge because we are already members.  

Benefits of Harvest Host / Boondockers Welcome

Harvest Hosts – are businesses such as wineries, farms, breweries, museums, golf courses (gold plan), and much more. You get to stay FREE for one night and enjoy some pretty incredible experiences.  There’s no limit as to how many you stay with but they ask that you support the location you’re staying at. Maybe buy a bottle of wine from a winery – that’s reasonable.

Boondockers Welcome – are private hosts who offer a place on their personal property for you to stay overnight. Some allow 2 or 3 nights but they state that on their profile so you know in advance.  There’s absolutely no extra cost unless the host maybe allows you to hook up to electricity for a fee. But that’s it!

Members also get all kinds of benefits.

Harvest Hosts is an online program. Your membership benefits include:

  • Online Directory of Hosts that will allow you access to park overnight for a suggested purchase in lieu of camping fees. Each Host has their own information page that gives you a description of the Host, hours of operation, contact information, website/Facebook locations, amenities, photos, and reviews.
  • Membership Dashboard to allow you to
    • Request-A-Stay system allows members to see the Host calendar and make a request to stay online for those Hosts who have opted in to for this.
    • View and make changes to your account
    • Download your Harvest Hosts membership card and vehicle badge
    • Upload your reviews and photos for the Hosts you visit on your travel adventures
  • Interactive Host Map that allows you to
    • Search Hosts by State, Locations, or Route
    • Create trips and save Hosts that look interesting to you.
  • Savings of $700+ in additional discounts through our external partnerships
  • Harvest Hosts App for your mobile device
  • Monthly Newsletter introducing you to new Hosts and Harvest Hosts Happenings
  • Member Success Team dedicated to helping you.

Save Camping Fees - is it possible in Canada?

Yes, it is more popular in the U.S. but… every day more and more hosts and businesses sign on and that means you have so many more options for places to stay and enjoy the experience. 

Purchasing a joint membership of Harvest Host and Boondockers Welcome will definitely save you money – get your membership today! We have ours and will be using it regularly – you can count on it.  

Why not consider becoming a host yourself! Visit here for more information.

Read more here about how one Boondockers Welcome Host takes the fear out of camping with strangers.

Have you had any experiences with high campground fees? please comment below – we would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to share this post on your social media platforms.

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