Harvest Host winery

Staying at Harvest Hosts’ Locations in a Campervan: A Review

Did you know small campers can join Harvest Hosts?

If you own a campervan, teardrop, or clamshell, you can join Harvest Hosts and camp at farms, wineries, and quirky attractions for a low, annual fee.

You just have to make sure your camper meets Harvest Hosts’ requirement of being self-contained, with water, cooking, and a toilet inside the camper.

Checking that last box took me a while to figure out. Getting this portable toilet (that fits in just about any camper) was for us the key to unlocking this cool new way to camp.

But this type of camping – that was designed for bigger RVs – is different for us little guys, and in this review, I’ll share a few tips that could be helpful in case you’re considering joining.

Psst – if you click below and use my HHFRIENDS15 code you’ll save 15% on a membership!

What is Harvest Hosts all about?

Harvest Hosts is very different from camping. Harvest Hosts refers to its service as overnight stays, and that’s a good description.

Camping involves outdoor activities like cooking, swinging in a hammock, and hanging out around the campfire, and you don’t do any of those things at Harvest Hosts locations.

Because you’ll be staying at a business, your main activities will revolve around the business, and you will do everything else inside your campervan.

For RVs with more space, this isn’t a big deal. But for smaller campers like us, it took some adjustment.

Tip #1: Pick your spot based on the activity/business first, location second

Parking lot at Double Nickel Brewery
Double Nickel Brewery. Photo Credit: hunt and peck blog

There are thousands of Harvest Hosts’ locations to choose from, including some quirky attractions like A Cave Without A Name in Boerne, Texas, and a natural hot springs in Lowman, ID.

Our foray into the world of Harvest Hosts began at the Double Nickel Brewing Company in Pennsauken, New Jersey. This huge, open-air style brewery was close to our son’s baseball tournament and seemed like the perfect place to gather with teammates’ families after the game.

Not every brewery is family-friendly, but the Double Nickel is, with lots of outdoor space for kids to play, games, and picnic tables. As a bonus, pets are welcome, too!

Photos showing all of those things are on the HH website. You can’t see them without a Harvest Host login, but these galleries really come in handy if you’re a member. You’ll definitely want to do a little research into locations before booking a stay, as there is so much variety to choose from.

The expectation is that you will pay back your business host by spending at least $20 in exchange for your stay – a requirement we had no problem whatsoever meeting at Double Nickel. 😁 😁🍺

Enjoying local brew at Double Nickel Brewery
After the baseball game at Double Nickel Brewery

After a great evening of sampling the local brews, we headed to the parking lot to sleep in the camper.

That brings up another factor to consider: if you prefer to overnight in a field instead of a parking lot, make sure you research beforehand. If you can’t tell by information on Harvest Hosts website, you can do some detective work using Google Earth.

Tip #2: Check the business hours of your host and plan accordingly

Harvest Host rules require you to arrive before your business/host closes, and you’ll want to make sure you add some extra time to enjoy the offerings at your host business.

Keep in mind that closing time will also be the time you will have to retreat to your camper. This may be an early turn-in for campers used to late nights around the campfire.

We liked that the Brewery was open late because, without the normal camping activities, we would have been pretty bored sitting in the van waiting for bedtime.

Tip #3: Eat dinner out or bring it in

Our brewery didn’t serve food but allowed us to order in. We appreciated this flexibility and also loved not having to pull off dinner for a baseball team from inside our camper!

Cooking meals takes up a lot of space in the van, and we usually do some of the meal prep, like the chopping, outdoors.

Meal prep presents a challenge for van campers like us who may have to rethink their routine based on the lack of outdoor space.

This was the lesson we learned during our stay at a winery in Maryland, which included a dinner of late-night left-overs from our tiny van fridge. After enjoying a wine tasting, we didn’t have enough time to drive around looking for food.

James River Cellars Winery in Glen Allen, VA wine tasting room
In the wine tasting room at James River Cellars Winery in Virginia. Photo credit: hunt and peck blog

This tip applies to breakfast, too. If your morning camping coffee ritual is to Jet Boil yourself a quick cup of jo on the picnic table, you will need a Plan B to caffeinate.

Tip #4 Bring blackout panels and earplugs

Many RV owners are used to spending the night in a parking lot. After all, there are parking lots across the country – like Wallmart and Cracker Barrel – that welcome them.

For us, this was new territory. We’re experienced campers, but we’d never spent the night in a parking lot and weren’t really prepared.

The two biggest factors we contended with were bright lights and noise.

As mostly state park campers, we weren’t used to highway noise. Our old van isn’t well insulated like newer RVs.

Many businesses remain brightly lit through the night for security.

I wasn’t thinking about putting up my magnetic window clings when we bedded down at the brewery. But when I woke up at 3:30 a.m. thinking it was dawn, I wished I had!

You may not have to use blackout curtains or earplugs, but it’s a good idea to have them in case you do.

Tip #5 Fill up your water tank before you leave

Our campervan has a water tank, which is a requirement to join Harvest Hosts. We usually opt to fill the tank at the campground rather than drive around with the extra weight.

If we’re planning a HH stay, we have to remember to fill up the tank before we hit the road.

Tip #6 Don’t pee on the business

Let’s be real. One of the biggest differences between small campers and RVs is the bathroom – that most RVs have but many campervans don’t.

Van campers are familiar with the many options for going to the bathroom that don’t involve going to a bathroom. These may include watering trees around campsites. 💦🌲

Please, please, please don’t water the business.

If your camper doesn’t have a bathroom or toilet, I promise you that there is a workable, inexpensive, non-smelly, totally great option you can use. This small toilet will fit in virtually any van. You can even pretty it up with a cute cover. 🙂

Respecting the businesses that provide lodging, which they don’t get paid for, is key to keeping Harvest Hosts going strong.

Want more clever camping ideas?

An awesome toilet that fits perfectly in our campervan

Travel light & right: the best gear in our campervan

How to make a shower you can use anywhere

What does Harvest Hosts cost?

You might be asking yourself if Harvest Hosts is worth it.

Harvest Hosts costs $99 for a year’s membership, about what you’d spend for a night or two of camping. With my code below, the price drops to $84.15, and I will earn a small commission for telling you all about it. 🙏🚐

If you think you are interested in trying out this cool kind of camping, go for it.

The folks who run Harvest Hosts are really nice, and they assured me that campervans are absolutely allowed to join if they meet the requirements.

Part of the fun of joining Harvest Hosts is it’s not really camping. It’s something new, and that ups the adventure quotient. Our HH stays have been the most memorable experiences we’ve had this camping season.

Now whenever I see someone drinking a Double Nickel beer, I love telling them that I spent the night in the brewery’s parking lot. 🙂

Advertising Disclosure: recommendations in this article contain links that may pay me a small commission, at no cost to you, when clicked. As always, thank you for your support.

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