One of our biggest fears going into van life was where we would park our van each night. Of course, we knew about apps such iOverlander, The Dyrt, and freecampsites.net. We also knew about the possibility of sleeping in certain business parking lots such as Walmart and Cracker Barrel. However, we didn’t love the risk involved with relying on these apps and driving there to find all the spots were already taken, and we didn’t want to spend every night in a parking lot.
Then along came a brilliant discovery: Harvest Hosts. We first heard about an app called Harvest Hosts at the 2023 Virtual Van Life Summit. We learned that the app could be used to reserve spots at wineries, breweries, golf courses, small businesses, and homeowners who allowed boondocking. While we still enjoy BLM spots and campgrounds, we loved the idea of being able to reserve a spot ahead of time while also checking out some new places we may have never otherwise discovered.
We decided to pay for the annual premium plan so we would have access to all Harvest Hosts & Boondockers Welcome locations. This is not a one-time fee: we learned that for businesses that sell products, one expectation of the app is to spend at least $20 at the business. We are happy to do this from time to time, though, and would much rather spend our money at a brewery where we can stay the night than have to pay for a place to park. Many locations on the app also accept same-day requests, which is convenient in the chance that we find ourselves in a tight spot.
We tested our Harvest Hosts for a few nights during our week-long trip to New Mexico. Below is a list of our first 3 stays using Harvest Hosts and how they went:
Stay 1: Winery
Our first time using Harvest Hosts was at a winery in New Mexico, not far from Taos. After a long day of traveling, it was the perfect destination to unwind and relax for the night. We arrived at the winery, checked in at the counter, and ordered a flight of white wines. We chatted with some other van life couples who were also using Harvest Hosts for the night. The owner of the winery told us a bit about his story. After sampling the wines, he showed us around his property, and we headed outside for a walk around the labyrinth with our dog.
We had a few choices over where we wanted to park for the night, and all of the spots were level. The winery also had a heated bathroom located outside. The only slight inconvenience of the night was the sound of highway traffic, but if we would have remembered ear plugs, that would not have been a problem!
Overall, we enjoyed the friendliness of the host, the delicious wine, and the unexpected convenience of a bathroom.
Stay 2: Boondocking
For our next night using Harvest Hosts, we tried a Boondockers Welcome location near White Sands National Park. After staying at the park for sunset, it was nice to have a specific location to head to for the night. We messaged the host to communicate our time of arrival, and he came outside to greet us once we parked. He told us a bit of his story and wished us a good night.
He had asked us if we needed water or wanted to pay for an electric hookup, but we didn’t end up needing either. This spot was level and felt secure within a nice neighborhood. We didn’t hear any traffic noise, yet it was just a short drive from the interstate.
We really enjoyed this spot as well, and we were grateful to our host for being so understanding when our plans unexpectedly changed. Another awesome experience using the app!
Stay 3: Bar/Restaurant
For our final Harvest Host stay of the trip, we stopped at a bar/restaurant near the New Mexico/Colorado border. For this location, we think the cliche phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” definitely comes to mind!
This was a location that we had not originally intended to stop in, but it ended up working well within our travel schedule, so we decided to book it a day prior to staying. We couldn’t tell what the place would be like based on the photos, but the reviews were good (apparently they had excellent pizza, cheese curds, and beer), so we decided to go for it.
We are so glad we stopped! Not only were the food and beer delicious, but there were two adorable cats who greeted us when we arrived, the hosts were extremely friendly, there happened to be live music, and we had our own private, fenced-in area to park our van. We left this spot feeling part of this small town family!
Based on our initial experiences, we are so grateful to have found this app, and we look forward to our future Harvest Hosts stays.
If you’re interested in signing up yourself to unlock unlimited overnight stays in 4,000+ locations, click the button below for an exclusive discount to Harvest Hosts.