It’s true that Boondockers Welcome offers members overnight camping with no fees at over 3,200 host locations across North America. As nice of a perk as that is, however, it’s not the main reason to join — not by a long shot.
You see, Boondockers Welcome is a community, one that was created solely to connect hosts and RVers over their shared interest of the RV lifestyle. In today’s increasingly plugged-in world, those seemingly simple concepts — community and connection — are things most of us make little time for, yet crave having.
So while technically, yes, Boondockers Welcome is a free alternative to traditional campgrounds, it is so much more than that. Our program continues to grow daily, welcoming new faces on both the host and camper sides. So, we thought now would be the perfect time to take a deep dive into our unique and humble beginnings!
Rooted in Hospitality
Back in 2012, mother-daughter duo Marianne Edwards and Anna Maste founded Boondockers Welcome. It started out as a community based on “couch-surfing” (except in this case, couches = driveways!), somewhat similar to Airbnb.
That concept of community is important. Boondockers Welcome filled a need and solved a problem that most people couldn’t necessarily identify, but knew was there. The platform connected RVers directly to hosts who own property with enough space for them to camp for a night or two, eliminating the need to stay at forgettable, impersonal, and overpriced campgrounds.
Importantly, Boondockers Welcome was never intended to become a “real” company. In fact, co-founder Maste said exactly that in an April 2022 podcast interview. Instead, it was supposed to be more of a hobby, a way for her to keep busy during maternity leave and share something with her RV enthusiast mother, Edwards.
The Boondockers Welcome Spirit
It didn’t take the duo long to realize they had created, albeit somewhat accidentally, something truly meaningful.
On the surface, the concept is simple: it’s easy for someone with a bit of land or even spare driveway space to allow folks passing through to spend a night or two.
Going a bit deeper, however, it’s far more than just a small act to both the hosts and campers. On the RVers’ side, having a safe, secure space to camp overnight is invaluable, especially these days when traditional campgrounds are jam-packed more often than not. Add to that the opportunity to connect one-on-one with an actual person (the host), and that particular trip is immediately elevated.
In the words of Marianne Edwards, “It’s so rewarding to have created such a positive thing together. Something that, according to feedback from users, adds value and joy to their lives – both when they’re traveling and while at home hosting others.”
The property owner and the camper become unique parts of one another’s story, even if their interaction is brief. It could be something as small as remembering a funny story, or the two may actually stay in touch. It’s not at all uncommon for RVers to go back to specific host locations year after year or even to meet up with their one-time hosts somewhere on the road, cultivating life-long friendships.
We would certainly consider that valuable and joyful!
An “Overwhelmingly Positive” Experience
We hear every day about how much people love Boondockers Welcome and the positive impact it has on people’s lives. This is probably one of our all-time favorite stories!
One couple who travels, who goes by the username costarica, told us, “One host even loaned us his Range Rover so we didn’t have to unhook our tow to go into town. Who does that???” They added, “We make it a point to travel with Boondockers Welcome locations in mind. Our experiences so far have been overwhelmingly positive.”
Really, who does do that??? We’ll tell you exactly who: the same type of person who graciously invites strangers to stay on their property. Boondockers Welcome hosts.
If experiencing this type of hospitality appeals to you and you enjoy meeting like-minded people and swapping stories about adventures from the road, Boondockers Welcome is the community for you.
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