Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of our most commonly asked questions about Boondockers Welcome. If you've got one that isn't answered here, you can always contact us, and we'll make sure to get back to you with an answer.

General

General questions about Boondockers Welcome.

Boondocking (or dry camping) refers to staying in an RV in a remote location without being hooked up to water, power, or sewer. Most RVers spend at least some nights parked without hook-ups, if only while traveling between destinations. Parking overnight at a truck stop, rest area, or Walmart parking lot is common. This is sometimes referred to as "blacktop boondocking."

Hosts are only able to specify their city and zip code, not any exact location details. All pins on the map are thus generalized, and host profiles are monitored to ensure that exact addresses and/or coordinates are not revealed for security reasons. A host may only reveal directions to a guest in a message once they have read a potential guest's request, profile, and user recommendations, and decided to extend an invitation.

We encourage hosts to avoid including any photos or details in their description that would make their exact home or location obvious to any reader. Availability also need not indicate that you are away at any time, only that the location is generally unavailable during a stretch - no reason needs to be specified. Or you can simply suggest members send you a message to enquire about availability.

Membership

Questions about membership in Boondockers Welcome

Memberships fees are listed here.

This site could not exist without the generosity of our hosts. All members must pay the first year they join but our Host Rewards Program allows active hosts to extend their membership for free after that. Hosts are rewarded with a free year for every three positive recommendations posted by guests. Credits from recommendations never expire, so even if you host infrequently you can still earn a free year.

You may register as a guest-only member and, when your situation changes, you can simply change the status of your profile.

Sorry - this site is for listing only boondocking locations on private property - ones that are privately owned or controlled by the members who list them. There are several other web sites where you can share your other boondocking discoveries.

Membership requires traveling with an RV; if you plan on tent-camping, this club is not for you. Our hosts expect only self-sufficient RVs with sanitary facilities that include a self-contained toilet system. Hosts are not expected to provide access to their home or leave doors unlocked at night. In an urban setting, they may be concerned about appearances as well. Whether your RV is manufactured or home-made, this is a condition of membership eligibility.

Not unless you offer free camping. The Boondockers Welcome web site is only intended for listing free overnight parking on property owned or controlled by its members.

Yes. They are basic common courtesy but here are some reminders:

As a Host: Please respond to all requests from fellow members promptly whether or not you can accept them as guests. If you cannot accommodate them, that's fine. Just let them know so they can make alternate plans.

As a Guest: All hosts offer boondocking as a courtesy, which should never be taken for granted. Those in popular locations cannot accept every request; please treat them like gold should you be lucky enough to be chosen as a guest.

As RVers, we know that plans often change while we're on the road. But once you've set up a tentative or firm arrangement with a host, please don't leave them wondering. Let them know as soon as possible, if your plans change.

Have you hosted or stayed with a fellow member? Please remember to submit a recommendation for them! Your notes about your experience will help other members when deciding if they want to request a night at another member's location, or agree to host a member. Feel free to add negative experiences. Be polite but honest. The more information that is available, the easier it will be for everyone to make connections that will be comfortable and enjoyable for them.

Although some hosts don't mind providing parking for the first night you arrive in their area and, perhaps, recommend a campground, others may turn down your request. If you are seeking accommodation while in the area to earn a living, please look for another alternative than our hosts.

Being a Guest

Questions about being a guest with Boondockers Welcome hosts.

Once you've decided the general direction and route you plan to travel, check the map for members who may have a boondocking spot available. Choose "Search by Location" to filter out sites that won't suit you. Click on a member's name to see their profile details and communicate by sending a message through the web site. We forward it to them immediately (by email) and they respond the same way. For best results, make your initial contact and inquiry early but not more than three weeks in advance (generally, people don't know what they'll be doing in three weeks time). Don't wait until the last minute if you can avoid it - some people don't check email messages regularly. As a rule of thumb, three to four days notice works best for most hosts but read the profile to see if they've listed a preference. Feel free to exchange phone numbers for easier contact once you're both comfortable doing so.

Members of the Boondockers Welcome community have signed up with the intention of hosting other RVers. By joining the club and posting a profile with boondocking available, they are extending the invitation to you. You are not inviting yourself over. Many RVers who cannot travel as often as they like would love the opportunity to host fellow RVers, especially because there's really no work involved in simply providing a parking space.

You may hear back immediately or it could take several days. Hosts who have had several requests in the past year will show a "Response Rate". This will give you an idea of what to expect. All our members are RVers and may be traveling and not always able to check email. You're welcome to contact more than one host at a time in case your first choice isn't available. We ask hosts and guests alike to please show common courtesy; reply to all messages as soon as possible, even if only to say they need more details or some time to think about it. Not replying to a message will negatively affect your response rate.

Since we're all RVers, most hosts will be totally understanding. Just don't leave them wondering or waiting for your arrival before you cancel - give them as much notice as possible. For this reason, it's in the interest of both host and guest to exchange phone numbers before the arrival date. If you find this happens to you often, consider letting the host know in advance of the likelihood or list it in your profile so hosts can decide whether you're someone they want to accommodate or not.

Unless your host has posted these options on his profile or voluntarily offers them to you, it is not considered polite to ask for any "extras" that would only serve to put your host on the spot. Part of our mandate is for members to be as non-imposing as possible, and asking for anything that has not been offered would not be in line with that mandate.

Most hosts will specify in their profile how many nights in a row they are willing to let you park. Of course, once you get to know each other, things might change. In all cases, unless the host expressly invites you to stay on longer, it would not be polite to ask. Move on instead to another nearby member, a local campground, or a Walmart parking lot but not before showing your profound appreciation to your host.

The maximum RV size indicated by the host refers to the parking space available for the RV itself, whether a motorhome, fifth wheel, or trailer. You might need to disconnect and park your tow vehicle separately. We suggest you ask about this in your initial message to the host.

If you're a host member yourself, you're able to "pay it forward". If not, a small gift, a card, or other gesture of kindness is certainly appropriate. Most importantly: Don't neglect returning to your hosts' profile page to post a recommendation. Every three recommendations adds another free year to their membership.

Being a Host

Questions about hosting other Boondockers Welcome members.

No. Privacy and security are a high priority at Boondockers Welcome. All email addresses are kept strictly confidential and we do not permit your exact physical address or directions to your location on your profile page. You can only be contacted by other registered members and only through the web site. You'll be able to see the profile of the person who has submitted a request and, sometimes, references from previous hosts if there are any.If you don't like what you see, you can simply reply that it's not convenient for you or explain your reason.

All messages between members are secure and private. Don't hesitate to ask for more information, including their real full name, address, and phone number. You might want to speak by phone before agreeing to host someone. You are free to decline any request for any reason.

It is up to the host to reveal his or her address to a potential guest. We just do the introductions. Hosts can acquaint themselves with potential guests through messages for as long as they like before agreeing to accommodate them. You are not obligated in any way. At Boondockers Welcome.com you are in control.

As long as you actually have a parking space available some of the time, even if it's limited to a small class B (camper van) or truck camper, there's no requirement to host more frequently than is convenient for you. One year you may be able to host several months and, the next year, you may be traveling yourself and not have any dates available. You will not be requested to change your membership status unless your calendar is NEVER open for guests. If you don't want to host other RVers, simply join as a guest-only member.

If you're concerned about the neighbors, be sure to limit the number of times you host and the length of stay. On the "boondocking available" page of your profile, you can list any restrictions you like, ask guests to refrain from using awnings, slide-outs, barbecues, lawn chairs, generators, or request that all music and lights are turned off at a certain time.

You can stipulate this concern in the availability section of your profile and also let people know you may only accept a limited number of requests. Change your availability information as often as you wish. You're never obligated to host anyone. But wouldn't YOU like to have a spot to park in popular areas yourself when you travel? If you're upfront about it in your profile, members will understand your dilemma and feel lucky and grateful should you choose to host them.

This web site is only about introducing you to other RVers with similar interests. It's totally up to you who you wish to host. Whenever you receive a request, you choose which criteria they need to meet. You may decline them if they aren't what you're looking for in a guest. However, so as not to waste other people's time as well as your own, we encourage you to specify your preferences when you register. You can update this information in your profile as often as you wish.

Although all we ask hosts to provide is overnight parking, many generously include water and electric hookups. If you want to be compensated for the cost, it's a good idea to mention that on your profile and negotiate the rate upfront.

The bare minimum that guests expect is a free place to park for at least one night. Because RVers are so used to being self-sufficient, you can even explain through your messages exactly where you would like them to park and, if you're comfortable with it, your guests could arrive late and leave again in the morning without ever meeting you in person. On the other hand, some hosts enjoy the social aspect so much that they invite guests into their home to use the shower and laundry or share a meal. Others might even offer to be a personal tour guide for some of the local attractions. Circumstances change. If you do extra for one guest, you don't have to do the same for everyone. Remember, too, that your guests may prefer to do things on their own or they may be on a travel schedule and are only interested in a brief stop-over so be sure to respect their wishes. It's up to both host and guest to convey their expectations in advance.

If that should happen, it is probably a misunderstanding. The guest may have read the profiles of several potential hosts and forgotten which was yours. In any case, as a host, you are not obligated to follow through even after you have agreed to let someone stay and they've driven out of their way for miles and miles to get to you. It's a good idea to remind your guests of the "rules" through your communication prior to arrival, especially if there are several important ones.

If you do encounter a situation or a member who is obviously rude or negligent, please contact us. We take all complaints seriously and will cancel memberships, if necessary. Our policy is: first complaint, we'll make a note, second complaint, give a warning, and third complaint, revoke membership.

Liability is a local issue. Depending on the state or country where you live, as a property owner, you may be liable if someone gets hurt or suffers damage of any kind while on your property - period, no matter who it is or the reason they are there. A property owner is always open for civil suits by both invited or non-invited parties. Even posting a "no trespassing" sign won't necessarily protect you if an intruder is hurt or his property is damaged. Most home insurance policies, however, include a clause to cover you for this.

Some members create a bare minimum profile because they're wary of putting personal information on the Internet. We allow each to decide how much to reveal. Those who are reluctant should provide as much info as possible in their initial message to you, which is private and secure. If they don't, they cannot expect much success with hosts.

They may be unaware of the disadvantage of not having a completed profile. Rather than ignore the request (which would affect your response rate), please answer briefly to decline and tell them you only accept guests after studying their profile. Or simply request they send you the information you want in another private message.

Don't hesitate to get their real full name, address, or even ask to speak by phone before agreeing to accept them. Remember you are free to decline any request for any reason.

Using the Site

Questions about how to use the Boondockers Welcome site.

The specific number changes as the site grows but you can use the search filter above the map on our Search by Locations page before joining. The resulting map will show only the sites that suit your needs. Remember, the more "needs" you check off, the less hosts will show on the map.

Our policy does not permit members to list a phone number or email address directly on their profile. Members must use the web site's secure messaging feature to make initial contact. The message has a link to the other member's profile so it gives the prospective host the opportunity to review a guest's profile before committing. It is also the only way you can be sure the message comes from that member (your profile page is public). Once both parties are comfortable with doing so, by all means, exchange phone numbers to make communication easier.

After a successful boondocking experience, both hosts and guests are encouraged to add recommendations for each other.
Try not to divulge identifying personal or location information that is not already provided on their profile. You will be notified when someone adds a recommendation about you. Please read it immediately and contact us if you want anything deleted or changed. All references between members serve as an introduction and help put minds at ease for future stays. Hosts are also rewarded with a free year of membership for every three positive recommendations from guests so it's an additional way to thank them.

Log in and click on the "my account" tab (it appears on the top tool bar only after you are logged in).

Choose from the tabs, "user profile, host location details, or account info". Make your changes and scroll to the bottom of the page to click "save". We forward messages from other members to you at the email address you registered with so it's important to update it if there is a change.

The generalized map location is done for your protection, so that other users cannot find you without first making contact and being invited to stay. If you want to be more specific about your location you can add further details into the description section of your "Host Location Details" section, giving people a better idea of where you're located but please don't list the exact address or precise directions. This is to protect you, the property owner, from having guests arrive without permission or without your knowledge.

You're welcome to submit your full name when you become a member, making it easier for RVing friends you already know to identify you. We only suggest using a nickname as an extra privacy feature. If you are listed by your full name and home town, it may be possible for anyone (member or not) to find your phone number and address in the local phone directory and then, without first contacting you, show up on your doorstep expecting a place to park. We aren't trying to limit your contact with other members for any reason other than to protect your privacy. As soon as you've been "introduced" through the site, we encourage you to exchange full contact information. Once you've met each other and probably become friends, you certainly don't need to make contact through our web site for subsequent visits. Of course, the web site remains the best way to find new contacts.

No. All of your details are required solely to allow the site to function and for informational feedback for the web site administrators alone. That's us, Marianne Edwards and Anna Maste. Other members will only see your chosen user name, nearest city, and country. They will not have access to your full name, physical address, email address, or phone number, unless you give it to them expressly. All your account contact information is only for our eyes and will not be shared or exploited for any reason. We strongly suggest that you do not add your email address or phone number to the profile pages. Those pages of the web site are visible to the general public and members can contact you without that information.

In order for this site to work effectively, hosts need to respond to requests from guests, even if their response indicates that they are unavailable. This allows all users to be able to plan their travel efficiently.

Once a host has received several requests from other members, a response rate is calculated, indicating both what percentage of incoming requests they have responded to, and what the average length of time was before the response was sent. A response rate of over 80% gets the "thumbs up", and one below 50% gets the "thumbs down". This information allows guests to be realistic in their expectations of receiving a response in a timely manner from a host.

All message threads that have been initiated with a given host in the last 6 months are used to calculate the response rate. If at least 5 requests have not come in to the host in that time, the last 12 months will be examined. At least 2 incoming requests must exist in order for the rate to be calculated; any less and the host will not have a response rate listed.

Only the first response to a new message thread is used in the calculation, and only for the recipient of that initial message (not the sender). So, if you start a message thread by sending a request to a few fellow members but never hear back, those members' rates are penalized but yours is not. All subsequent correspondence in the same message thread will not affect anyone's ratings.

Perhaps you've phoned or emailed directly rather than reply through the web site. Our algorithm can't, of course, take that into account.

To ensure a good rating:

  • Always enter your response in the "reply to thread" box at the bottom of the incoming message. Don't start a new thread.
  • If the sender provides a phone number or personal email and prefers that you call instead, that's fine. Just be sure to also send a short response through the site (eg: "okay, I'll call you").
  • If someone sends you several messages, each in a new thread, be sure to respond to each (and perhaps ask them to reply in the original thread next time).

If you feel that your response rate has been erroneously calculated, e.g. you didn't respond to a message but it didn't require a response, or you responded in a different thread, simply contact us and we'll take a look and make manual adjustments if necessary.

We will contact any host with a rate of 25% or less to ensure they remain interested in offering their location. A negative or lack of response will result in their location being removed from our map and a corresponding change of their membership status, which will require an increase in membership fees in order to maintain membership in the site.

One reason may be that emails to the address on file have bounced. We need a valid email address in order to forward messages from members. If this happens, please contact us.

Log in, go to "my account" and then "host location details". Update info under the heading "my location" and make any other changes you want, then save the page.

After logging in, a link to bookmarked members appears under the "Getting Around" menu of the home page.

If you forget your user name, you can enter your email address instead. If you forget your password, you can use the password reset mechanism (the link is beside the login field), which will email you a one-time login link and then prompt you to change your password.

When you receive a message from a member, you should be able to see their username in a couple of different places. Each one is a link so clicking on their user name will take you to their profile.

Once you log in to the site, each member's page will have a link allowing you to send them a message. That message will be immediately forwarded to the member's email address on file.

You can reply to a message in two ways:

  1. Log in to the site and navigate to your messages (under the "My Account" menu item) and respond from on the website.
  2. Reply directly to the email from Boonockers Welcome that contained the message.

Replies to emails from the site with messages from other members must come from the email address that is associated with your account. This is necessary so our site can know which member the message has come from.

If you respond to email using a different address than the one associated with your account, you can try one of two things:

  1. Change the email address on your Boondockers Welcome account to the one your mail is forwarded to. (Do this under the "Account Info" tab in the "My Account" menu item at boondockerswelcome.com.)
  2. Change the "from" address on your reply to be the email address associated with your Boondockers Welcome account. This may require special configuration for your email client. Here are some resources to help with this process: