If you want to get away from the boring RV campgrounds and experience something different, you may want to sign up at Harvest Host. This company brings a unique twist to RV life but its style may not be for everyone.
Like any business, there will be people that love Harvest Host, hate it or tolerate it. It is a unique business model that has made REV life a little more exciting. But it is not perfect and any negative comments are quotes from other people and do not reflect our opinion.
To learn more about Harvest Host, just continue to read our article. It provides both sides of the business to give you a better picture of what this club is all about. Opinions expressed in this article are from those that have experienced this business model.
If you have not heard of this club, and in all the years we have been writing this blog we had not till recently, here is a little bit about the company and how it operates.
The landing page of the company’s website makes a great case for using their services. They ask, about halfway down, if you have ever wanted to wake up in a farm field surrounded by peaceful animals and view the sunset.
That should get the romantics interested as this company strives to provide RV camping in unique places. These locations include wineries, farms, golf courses, breweries, museums, and a lot more.
What makes this opportunity unique is that you won’t find a crowd of other campers doing the exact same thing. The company claims to have 4388 locations signed up and if you want the golf course package, that is an added feature where you probably pay more.
On top of this, a membership with this company brings you lots of discounts from top businesses like Goodyear and so on. The company also states that there are no camping fees involved and you get unlimited stays.
The company has hosts in both Canada and the United States so you can experience unique opportunities no matter where you travel.
The company has 3 membership plans you can sign up for. You can view all the details of these plans at this link. Some of the problems we will be reporting here may have had trouble because they did not have the right membership level. It is a theory but from what we have read, it is a possibility.
1. Harvest Host classic- this is the basic plan and it gives you access to about 4000+ unique locations, breweries, etc., to camp at. This plan only costs $99 per year and that money is made back after a few nights at these locations.
2. Harvest Hosts + Boondockers Welcome- The only difference between this plan and the previous one is that you get an additional 3000+ locations to stay at. The cost is $169 per year.
3. All Access- To get access to everything this company offers RVers all you have to do is pay $10 more than plan #2. For $179 per year, you get to choose between 8000+ locations to stay at.
This is a membership-based company and you do have to be a member to get access to all the locations that have signed up to be hosts. The owners of Harvest Host encourage you to spend some of your vacation money at these locations as they are not charging a camping fee.
While everything looks good, you should go to their FAQ page and read the questions that have been posted on the company’s website. You will get a lot more information about what is allowed and what is not.
In the case of pets, the company says that 90% of their hosts are pet friendly but each host has their own rules about dogs, etc. Be respectful of their rules as you are staying on their property.
The types of RVs that are welcome are as follows (and this and the following list is taken directly from their FAQ section)--All classes of RV’s are allowed (Class A, Class B, Class C) including motorhomes, fifth wheel trailers, travel trailers, toy haulers, camper vans, truck campers, and schoolies. Vehicles towed behind RVs are also allowed at our Host locations.
But here is the more important list. These are the types of camping items that are not allowed on the host’s property:
- Traditional pop-up campers are prohibited
- Tents, such as ground tents or car rooftop tents
- sleeping in cars, trucks, or minivans
- overlanding in jeeps, bikes, or atvs.
Other important information you need to know about and follow:
All camping vehicles must be fully self-contained. Your RV must have an interior toilet and built-in holding tanks or bladders for waste water. Porta-potties that remain inside the vehicle at all times are acceptable but must be dumped off-site at an appropriate facility.
The dumping of gray water on Host properties is prohibited. You may only use your RV’s indoor cooking facilities at Host locations; the use of any outdoor cooking facilities is expressly prohibited.
The bad reviews seemed to be focused on the reservation system for the most part. Some users complained that it was hard to get a reservation because the hosts they wanted to go to were indicated as full.
The way to get around this is to call the hosts directly and talk to them first before concluding you can’t stay there. There are many reasons why the property is marked full and a phone call may solve your problem.
Others were unhappy because churches were not given a separate icon. According to the response from Harvest Host, the reason for that was the church option was recently added and they had not added a new icon at the time.
Another problem that has come up is that the online booking is often manipulated by RVers. They will book months in advance and then never show up. Use there are legitimate reasons for this behavior but more often than not the real reason is not legitimate.
This spoils the Harvest Host system because people who try to book a week in advance can’t get to stay where they want to because of these failed bookings. Also, the competition for camping spots is growing as some National and State parks had been restricting the number of campers because of Covid.
As the word about Harvest Host spreads, expect to find more competition for the limited space. Keep in mind you are staying on private property and there is only space for less than 5 RVs at many of these locations.
The lack of availability is going to be a concern due to local laws and regulations as well. One thing we noticed was that Harvest Host owners or management responded to just about every review left at Trust Pilot.
They may listen if your complaint is legitimate
One of the complaints we came across was that this membership program was more for retired RVers and not those who are going on an RV vacation. The time limits of the latter make it hard to make use of the membership and book nice unique places to stay.
This system does seem to be more for retirees as you do need a lot of time on your hands to make full use of the membership. Another complaint was the limited stay.
While the Harvest Host website says unlimited stays, you are only allowed to stay one night unless you get permission from the host. Some people did not like that set up.
Then there is the issue of being ‘highly recommended’ to spend $20 at the host’s store or restaurant, etc. Some campers took issue with that but we do not see the problem. After all, at the RV campgrounds, you would be spending either the same amount or double that amount just to stay one night.
The $20 expenditure is cheap when you analyze all that you are getting for your night’s stay. A more important complaint is the number of hosts and their locations.
While it is expanding, there are still states and provinces that only have a minute number of hosts. Then, some of those hosts are 20 to 30 miles out of the way so driving to those locations can be a hassle just to stay one night.
But as we said, harvest Host is working on that problem and those states have added more hosts since the complaint was registered. Next up will be the boondocking situation.
While there are some hosts that provide RV hookups most do not. Some RVers did not like the fact that they had to empty their holding tanks before reaching their desired host’s location. They also did not enjoy the limited generator use restriction.
You just have to be prepared for his boondocking situation and have your fresh water tank full as well as your batteries charged. Then advanced planning is difficult to do. But with every good business idea, there will always be bugs to work out.
There is no question about it. Harvest Host is a legitimate business and it comes with a legitimate business model. The company was started in 2009 by Don and Kim Greene.
It was a growing business when it was sold to Joel & Mary Ashley Holland in 2018. As far as we can tell, there have been no major concerns or complaints raised by any of the members or hosts.
The majority of reviews that we came across were either 5 or 4 stars with most people being very complimentary. Some RVers have stated that they have been members for years and have enjoyed their different stays despite the drawbacks to the system.
Most of the complaints we came across were minor in scope and due more to frustration than anything else. Nothing is going to be perfect but this company is working hard to eliminate as many bugs as possible.
The only thing they won’t be able to eliminate will be the competition. Other RVers are looking for something different than the same old campgrounds.
This question boils down to another question. How often are you going to use it? If you are going to use your membership only once a year, then it probably won’t be worth it unless you stay at a few of the Hosts’ locations in that one trip.
However, if you are retired and have lots of time on your hands, then this membership may be a great way to spice up your golden years and get to experience new things while away from home.
When you compare the cost of campgrounds during peak and non-peak seasons, you may find that spending that extra $20 for the night’s stay is a bargain. Who isn’t looking for a bargain these days?
Plus, you do not have to put up with 30 to 100 other RVers all camping in the same campground. The privacy is worth that extra $20 expenditure. But weigh the costs and extra travel for yourself to determine if this is a bargain or something to be avoided.
You can think of Harvest Host membership as the Airbnb for RVs, just without the hassle that comes with Airbnb. You get connected to locations that you may not have thought about being able to stay at through this company.
Plus, you get to add some interesting experiences to your RV time which will enhance your vacations or travel times. It is worth checking out and seeing if this membership is something that helps you save money while making your time away from home more enjoyable.
It is a legitimate company that provides a unique camping time.