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An Introduction - What is Boondockers Welcome?

blog-0884626001386872598.jpgWhere to start: I guess an introduction would be appropriate.

Hi, I'm Marianne Edwards. After twelve years of RV travel and welcoming fellow RVers to come and spend a night or two on our property if they ever find themselves in Ontario, Canada, it occurred to me that establishing a network of like-minded RVers would be a great idea. With the help of my daughter, Anna Maste, who had the know-how and technical skills I lacked, the idea came to fruition in 2012. Through www.boondockerswelcome.com we are now facilitating lasting friendships and driveway-parking invitations between RVers across North America (and all over the world) - giving you an easy way to meet and connect with fellow RVers along any route you travel.

The idea for Boondockers Welcome came about in 2010, when I decided to take off on my own on a month-long RV trip. My husband and I had done a lot of boondocking together so I figured I knew the ropes and would be able to find free places to park most nights; thereby, stretching my budget so I could see and do more things. With no one else's interests and opinions to consider, I wanted to visit every attraction that appealed to me.

Everything was going smoothly until I arrived in a popular tourist area on the first long weekend of the summer without a campground reservation. I found myself driving on a country road, where, with evening approaching, frustrated and unable to find a suitable, safe, and affordable overnight location, I noticed a farm laneway with an RV parked in the yard. I thought to myself: If they're RVers, they'll understand. I drove in, introduced myself, and asked this middle-aged couple if they could allow me a small corner to park just for the night. They could not have been more welcoming and, in fact, offered that I make this my home base for the weekend.

It occurred to me that there must be thousands of RVers like them, willing to share their driveway for a night or two in exchange for the same privilege down the road. Wouldn't it be great if they had a sign hanging from their mailbox that read: "Boondockers Welcome"? What if we could arrange free, safe, legal, overnight parking like this along any route we travel? We might even begin amazing new friendships. Who better than locals to hand us maps and tourist brochures and point out the hidden gems, favorite hikes, best restaurants, or cheapest fuel price? We don't necessarily need to become best friends - just be willing to offer and accept a convenient place to park for a night.

It took two years, but with my daughter's help, the idea for this network materialized in the form of a membership website and, I'm pleased to say, it has been very-well received. We now have more than 750 host locations across the country (and growing). You don't have to join as a member to browse the site and see all the details of each host location. You can scan listings by area, zero in on those along your route, check for availability, and read comments and references from fellow members. You can even narrow your search to include only results that suit the size of your RV, whether generators are allowed, or pets are welcome, etc. Although, the minimum requirement we ask from hosts is a free parking spot, many generously offer electric and water hookups as well. Of course, not everyone has an extra parking spot to offer. A separate membership category exists those who can't reciprocate.

Over the coming weeks and months, I'll tell you more about some of our experiences (both as guests and hosts) as well as feature the stories of other Boondockers Welcome members. I hope you'll enjoy the trip, check out the website, and add your comments or questions below.

Finally, I hope we'll meet - not just on this blog but face to face. Whenever we're not traveling ourselves, Randy and I welcome you to spend a night or two on our property while you explore Elora, one of Southern Ontario's prettiest towns.

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What a great idea. We've been through southern Ontario several times, Windsor, London, Cambridge and Stratford to name just a few. Point Pelee and that area is a favorite of ours. Just met and made friends from Kincardine, down south for the winter! I had to look up Elora but found it. The web site looks great and you even have international posters. We're headed for New Zealand and Australia so may be able to stop in several of those places. I'll look forward to more of your posts.

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