What you need to know before you book or list on Hipcamp

an A frame in the trees, hipcamp booking site Photo by Tracy Boccini

As keen Canadian campers make their summer plans, reservations at campsites in provincial and national parks are becoming hot commodities—leaving last-minute planners and spontaneous tent campers with few options.

Hipcamp, an international online booking platform that allows private property owners to list their land for campers and glampers alike, is working to solve this problem. The company launched in Canada in June 2021 but was founded nearly a decade ago in California. Today, Hipcamp hosts listings for outdoor stays in every Canadian province.

A need for easier access to outdoor stays sparked the creation of Hipcamp, so launching in Canada was a logical step, says Kamila Mukherjee, the company’s manager of growth operations in Canada. During the pandemic, Canadians have been heading outdoors in droves, and traditional campsites fill up quickly when booking opens for the summer. “Demand for outdoor spaces was really outpacing supply, and so we wanted to bring this product to Canada to help people get outside and to nurture that love of nature,” she explains.

Hipcamp users will find everything from backcountry campsites to luxury yurts, and some sites include farm tours, hikes, and other activities, Mukherjee says. Campers can reserve in advance or on the spot, and booking is simple; choose a site, make a reservation, and wait for arrival instructions. But prospective hosts have a few extra considerations.

Before listing their property on Hipcamp, landowners need to “make sure that they understand their local policies” related to hosting campers, Mukherjee explains. Restrictions vary widely between municipalities—some don’t allow camping on private property, and others limit how long tents and recreational vehicles (RV) can be set up—and hosts need to know if the accommodations they plan to offer are legal.

In Greater Sudbury, Ont., zoning bylaws don’t permit the use of tents or RVs on private property. The same is true in Saanich, B.C. when it comes to RVs and secondary buildings.

But in Okotoks, Alta., property owners are welcome to host tent campers on their land. RVs, however, can only be parked on private property for storage or in driveways for 72 hours while being loaded.

Mukherjee notes that, so far, there haven’t been any issues with zoning during guests’ stays. Hosts are encouraged to contact their municipality or Hipcamp staff about applicable bylaws, and they also must abide by COVID-19 safety protocols.

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