What made you decide to become a host?
We added an RV plug in our pole barn because we planned to host a couple of bluegrass music bands who travel in RV/tour buses. We very much enjoyed hosting them and when we found we could become Boondockers Welcome hosts, it sounded like an opportunity to meet interesting people.
What has been the most interesting experience you have had while being a host?
We’ve only hosted one couple so far but found it interesting meeting them and learning about their touring interests. Apparently, they come to New York from their home near Montreal to visit both historic sites and other tourist attractions. We gave them a brochure about Wayne County’s historic sites, and they went to visit one of them.
Any tips for fellow hosts?
We created an information sheet for our guests. It contains a map of this area that I found online. We tried to think of what kind of information we might like as guests, and it occurred to us that guests might need to go shopping for things such as groceries. They might need something found at a hardware store or maybe they are low on propane. It also occurred to us that while traveling, some folks might need to find medical services, so we listed a couple of urgent care locations.
Finally, we want to promote tourism in our region and some of the really cool things are NOT on major websites, so we listed some of the things we thought people might enjoy visiting. We visited our local Tourism Promotion Agency and asked for materials that they distribute to tourists. They give us some tote bags that say “Visit Wayne County” and various tourism brochures.
In addition to the above, we created a 3 ring binder full of tourism promotion brochures for our region. Guests are invited to look at it and if we have extra copies of anything, they are welcome to take one. If we only have one copy, we encourage them to take a cell phone photo of the information and look it up online.
Here is a list of important elements (in my opinion) for a good information sheet:
- List your name(s), phone number and address.
- Provide the location of nearby services such as grocery stores, hardware, RV repairs, propane, etc. Phone numbers and/or website information should be included. If you know their hours, share it (say “according to their website or window sign” )
- Provide an overview map showing the main roads in the area.
- Who to call in case of emergency (usually 9-1-1) and any specific information they might need for the dispatcher.
- List the names, locations and phone numbers for nearby urgent care and/or local emergency room (hospital).
- List local places to eat (or order pizza or another take out). Highlight the ones you recommend.
- List local attractions.
- Consider listing the local tourism agency (website and phone number)
- Offer to answer whatever questions they may have. Tell them that if you don’t know the answers, you can refer them to people who might be able to help them.
- BE POSITIVE and enthusiastic.
- Try to keep this short enough to fit on one piece of paper (two-sided).
Here is the information sheet we put together. You can download it and use it as a guide to create your own.
Any tips on how to be a good guest?
In our opinion, good guests are those who communicate well with the host. After we make a reservation, we do a follow-up note. It is sometimes hard to estimate exactly when we will arrive, so we ask if it’s OK to contact them 2 to 4 hours beforehand to give them a more up to date estimated time of arrival. We use our paper maps, GPS and Google Earth to make sure we have as much information as possible about how to find the host location.
When we arrive we try to get a “feel” for whether the host wants us to leave them alone or if they are interested in socializing a bit. We feel it’s important to let the host know when we plan to leave and find out if they want us to do anything upon our departure. We read the host information carefully, and if there isn’t anything specific about expected compensation, we like to leave a gift. On our recent cross-country trip, we carried several quarts of New York maple syrup (as we live in New York) and gave one to each of our hosts. A bottle of wine or a special gift is another good gesture in our opinion. We always leave a reference for our host on the BW site.
So far, we have had nothing but good experiences, so all of our references have been positive. Some hosts are friendlier and more outgoing than others, but that’s how it is in all aspects of life. We are outgoing and enjoy visiting with people.
Why should someone join Boondockers Welcome?
Boondocking is a way to get the best bang for your travel dollar. The BW membership fee is less than the cost of one night’s camping in many places, so if you use it twice, you have experienced a significant saving. There are times when staying in an RV park is fine, but if you are stopping in the late afternoon or evening and leaving early morning, it can be frustrating to pay $30, $40 or more just for a place to park overnight and not really having time to take advantage of any of the park’s amenities. Other free sites (Walmart, Cracker Barrel, rest areas, etc) are fine sometimes, but usually they are noisy and busy, and sometimes one feels less safe. BW sites are much more desirable when they are available. And as a host, you will get to meet interesting people AND you are providing a great service to your fellow RVer’s. We hope that more people will become hosts.
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