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2020 - A crazy year in review

2020 was definitely one for the record books. While the COVID-19 pandemic was probably the top story for almost everyone both personally and business-wise, there were many other things, both related and unrelated to the pandemic, that made it one crazy year for Boondockers Welcome. Here are some highlights (and low-lights) for the year that was.

January

We formalized the process for hookup compensation, allowing hosts to indicate on their profiles the donation they expect to be compensated for any hookups used by a guest. This system is still not perfect, but it does give guests a better idea of what to expect should they require hookups, and helps to relieve hosts of what is often an awkward conversation about compensation for their out-of-pocket costs. 

February

It seems like a lifetime ago, in the "before times", but it was only 10 months ago that we got to meet so many of you in person at the RVillage "Spirit of the Road" Rally at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida. Marianne, Anna, and Carrie were all there (it was actually the first time Marianne & Anna got to meet Carrie in person!), and we had an amazing four days of socializing, partying at the Fire Birds, and educating people about Boondockers Welcome. Marianne's Masterclass on finding free camping was standing room only, and our happy hour for Boondockers Welcome members and those considering joining was one of the best-attended during the week, with so many interesting people and so many great stories! We can't wait until we can all do this again.

March, April, and May

Well, I think we all know what happened in March. The world stopped, as COVID became a real threat. Travel restrictions were suddenly everywhere, and campgrounds started closing, leaving many full-time RVers or RVers far from home stranded. Luckily, Boondockers Welcome hosts lived up to their reputation of going above and beyond. We had over 100 new hosts sign up in a single month, a record at the time, all to help RVers who found themselves stuck. Some of the stories we heard include:

While many people stayed with our hosts when there were few other options, we know that many others were hunkering down at home and unable to travel at all. So in April, we extended all guest memberships by 3 months.

Meanwhile, RVs began to serve another purpose - providing a safe place for frontline healthcare workers to live where they could isolate and keep their families safe from COVID. We were happy to work with RVs4MDs to try and find hosts who could provide space for donated RVs for frontline workers.

Unrelated to the pandemic, in April we also introduced the ability for hosts to share their reward credits. Some of our hosts have more banked credits than they could ever use in a lifetime, so this was another way that we could thank them for being the backbone of our organization.

June, July, August, September, and October

While the COVID-19 pandemic continued (and still continues) to rage on, it became apparent that people's mental health needed some attention. So when the weather allowed, they started flocking to RVing for the opportunity to travel safely without the need for crowded airplanes, questionably clean hotel rooms, or restaurants full of unmasked people eating. We released guidelines for our hosts and guests to ensure that everyone was as safe as possible, and we had an amazing summer with hosts and guests just happy to be able to enjoy the outdoors and a safe visit with new friends around a campfire. 

It was indeed the summer (and fall!) of the RV, and the mainstream media thought Boondockers Welcome was pretty awesome - we got a lot of big-name press, including mentions in The New York TimesSmithsonian Magazine and a full feature in Travel + Leisure.

November and December

While November and December are usually our slowest months, we've still seen a significant influx of new members, with people planning to continue to RV as the safest way to explore. And we're excited that in November we launched the Beta release for our new mobile app! We've got a select group of members who are helping us squash all the bugs before we release it to everyone, but we're very excited to let you know that it's almost ready!

What to look forward to in 2021

  • Vaccines! Okay, this clearly has nothing to do directly with us, but that doesn't stop us from being the number one thing we're excited about. While we're happy to see RVing become so popular, we're still looking forward to the day when we can all travel again without worry and controversy.
  • The full launch of our mobile app. Look for it on Android and iOS in early 2021, and if you want to be the first to know when it's available, sign up for our mobile app notification mailing list.
  • Some really exciting news will be coming out soon about new ways we will be helping to protect hosts and guests. Keep your eyes open for an announcement in January!
  • We're working to expand our host base in Australia, so once we're finally done with this pandemic, you can start planning your Boondockers Welcome trip of a lifetime Down Under!
  • The 3rd season of The RVers starts airing on Discovery on May 15th. We've really enjoyed being sponsors for this great show, and you'll definitely want to tune in for a feature in the 3rd season all about alternative camping options, including an interview with some experts from Boondockers Welcome!

We look forward to sharing whatever 2021 has in store with all our members, thanks for being with us for the crazy ride so far!

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Boondockers Welcome is a community of RVers that provide overnight stays with each other for free while traveling through an area. We help RVers to travel more economically and find options when campgrounds may be full. It’s a great and safe way to meet fellow RVers or for people curious about the RV lifestyle to learn from members, while also providing a safe place to park for one night or up to five nights.

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Comments

  • JimMerritt

    JimMerritt   

    I joined Boondockers Welcome in November 2020. Although I have not yet taken advantage of staying with any BW hosts, I must tell you that just signing up has made my membership worthwhile. During the lockdown I have been planning a spring 2021 trip from my home in the northeast, south to Florida and then across the south, into the southwest, up through Colorado and home across the midwest. As I look at places I want to visit like the Grand Canyon, I also look for BW host sites. This makes my planning seem more real as I know I can connect with people in a variety of places where I hope to travel. Tonight (January 4, 2021) the number of Covid cases is higher than ever. The distribution of the vaccine is slower than predicted. I wonder if I will be able to start my trip in mid-March as I had planned/hoped?? Even I don't get to go on this trip, the planning and dreaming of visiting BW hosts is helping me get through the isolation caused by Covid. Jim
    BWadmin

    BWadmin on 01/06/2021 7:59 a.m. moderator  

    Hi Jim, that is so great to hear! I'm glad you have been enjoying planning your trip and planning stays with our hosts. Planning is half the fun! We hope you'll be able to get out there soon! :)
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