19 (and counting) ways to save on camping & campground rent.
One of the most costly parts of full-timing is your campground rent. Depending on where you stay and for how long, your daily rate can vary from $20 a night to well over $100 for the luxury resort camp sites.
If you stay for a week or more, you can often get discounted weekly and monthly rates. But, there are a few memberships and discount clubs that can help you save tremendously on these daily rates as well.
There are a few kinds of discounts – travelers member clubs, discount clubs, and reciprocal park memberships.
These are a few of the RV clubs that offer not just discounts, but also friendships, rallies, events, resources, and more to like-minded RV travelers.
Escapees – https://www.escapees.com
Escapees is one of the first RV clubs, established in 1978. In addition to RV park discounts, they offer their own RV campgrounds and longterm parking, park deeds and many tools and resources to members. They also offer mailing/residence services in TX, FL, SD. There are also local/regional chapters that offer their own rallies and a chance to meet lots of like minded people.
There is NO age limit, but the members are predominantly in the older demographic.
(includes Xscapers.com too.
Xscapers – https://www.xscapers.com
Membership: $39.95/yr (gets Escapees too)
Xscapers is an offshoot of Escapees, born out of the need to reach a younger demographic and offer more tours, parks, and services for the ‘not yet retired and on medicare’ groups. When you join, you can be part of both groups with no restrictions.
FulltimeFamilies – http://fulltimefamilies.com
Fulltime families is a group of FAMILIES that are fulltime RVers. From 1-10 kids, this is all about families that are full-timing – connecting with other young adventurous families: making friends, homeschooling, and escaping the grind, and living a life of exploration with the whole family. There are rallies, an active facebook group, and even a scouting program for the kids.
(We joined this group)
FMCA – http://www.fmca.com
Membership: $50 1st year, then $40/year
Family Motor Coach Association: You’ll see their familiar oval emblem on the back of many RVs. They boast 92k members and many chapters. Offering RV park discounts, discounts on tires, RV insurance, mail forwarding, rallies, and even a magazine.
Discount Camping Clubs
These clubs offer discounts to independently owned and operated campgrounds and RV parks that participate.Discounts vary from 10% to 50%. Sometimes, it’s seasonal, sometimes it’s only good for a day or 2, and sometimes it requires you to show up without reservations. There is NO guarantee that the parks that participate are good, but like anything else, do your research and you’re bound to find a good park that works.
Passport America – http://www.passportamerica.com/
1065 participating campgrounds in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. These are 50% off discounts. They have a map and app to find participating campgrounds nearby or wherever you want to search. They also let you know the restrictions of the discount: season, # of days, pricing, etc.
(we have this)
Good Sam Club – https://www.goodsamclub.com/
Save 10% on the nightly rate at 2,100+ Good Sam Parks
Save up to 30% at Camping World—the Club’s official RV Accessory Retailer!
Save instantly on fuel at Pilot Flying J
Offer roadside assistance, insurance, more.
You can sign up directly at Camping World as well. Camping World offers 2 prices in stores (members and non-members). For us, joining on the first day of shopped there saved us money. Granted the prices for everything are not ideal, but we joined to save on our purchase. And we use the membership to get a discount at RV parks.
Enjoy America – http://www.enjoy-america.net
Enjoy America offers 50% discount to highly rated campgrounds around the country. Some parks may extend the 50% rate to you for your entire stay, and others for the first night only or a few days. Easy to make reservations through the parks or through EnjoyAmerica.
Happy Camper Club – http://www.camphalfprice.com
Boasts 1200 campgrounds that provide up to a 50% discount.
Recreation USA – http://www.campingandcampgrounds.com
Offers as low as $10-per-night rate at over 300 campgrounds in the United States.
You often belong to a ‘home’ park and then you can get free or very cheap rates at their list of reciprocal parks. You generally get 2 weeks free in a park, and then must take 1 week out. This can save tremendously on RV park rent while you are traveling.
Sometimes you can buy these ‘used’ for cheap and get all the benefits. These memberships can be confusing as there are often ‘levels’ of membership, some of which are no longer sold except by private parties selling their own membership. Each membership level may get different perks, including not needing to be out of the system for the 1 weeks time.
Additionally, when you buy a membership, there are often transfer fees, annual dues, doc fees, and more. These can add up to be hundreds OR thousands of dollars above the price you pay to purchase the membership from a private party. But it can still be a discount to purchasing direct.
If you buy a membership, research reviews of the home park to read what others report about the park and membership in general.
Thousand Trails (TT) – http://ThousandTrails.com ()
This is a well known campground membership. It has 86 “resort-style” campgrounds in 5 zones. Not everyone agrees to the quality of the campgrounds. Currently you can just purchase a zone (or several) as you see your travels taking you. Sometimes they offer discounts on zones, including buy-one-get-one.
NOTE: TT seems to be closely related to Encore (http://RVOnTheGo.com) which allows you to book reservations in about 170 parks in popular areas. They seem to be near TT campsites as well. But this site allows you to book non-member rates as well to many of the parks. They used to offer a discount card, but it seems it may only be for TT members now.
Resort Parks International (RPI) – http://www.resortparks.com
This requires joining a ‘home park’ and then you get access to hundreds of parks around the country for $10/night. Can stay 7 days in each park and then 7 days out. Must be 125 miles outside your home park. Other membership levels remove the 7 days and 125 mile restrictions.
Coast to Coast – http://www.coastresorts.com
Once you join a ‘home park’ you can get access to hundreds of parks for $10/night and hundreds of ‘Good Neighbor’ parks for $15/night. They report that the ‘resorts’ offer amenities, security, and fun for the whole family.
Resorts of Distinction – http://resortsofdistinction.com
Claims to be the first reciprocal park membership. After you pick a home park, you can access other parks for free or discount. The parks are all supposed to be resort style with lakes, amenities, or activity based. Looks to be about 70 parks nationwide.
Additional Ways to Save
America the Beautiful Pass – http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm
(We have this with our 4th grader)
From the NPS site:A pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free.
– $80 annual pass available to everyone.
– FREE to US Military
– FREE to 4th graders and their families (we have this)
WorkCamping – https://www.workamper.com
The leading place to exchange your labor for income and/or a place to stay. Every opportunity is different and may include landscaping, camp hosting, or volunteering.
WWOOF-USA – https://wwoofusa.org
Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA (WWOOF-USA®) is part of a worldwide effort to link visitors with organic farmers, promote an educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices. Lists 2,000+ organic farms.
Harvest Hosts – https://harvesthosts.com
Harvest Hosts® is a network of wineries, farms and agri-tourism sites that invite self-contained RVers to visit and stay overnight for free! Lists 500+ Hosts located in all of the lower 48 states, Alaska, Baja California and Canada.
KOA – http://koa.com
Discount Card: $27/yr
Save 10% on every night in a KOA campground. Good at all KOA Kampgrounds. Excludes discounted weekly, monthly and seasonal rates. Earn points and get additional benefits.
Summary & Buyer beware
Always do your research. There are many opinions (aren’t there always), both good and bad. And any review is just a sampling and may be out of context for how you’ll use the discount/member program.
Figure out if the memberships give value where you plan to go. Depending on the time of year, availability is different. During the winter many campgrounds in the north close and many in the south are filled.
Planning ahead can really help, but also some memberships only allow you to plan ahead so far, meaning other plan members with no restrictions may have already booked all spots.
Some campgrounds/memberships have restrictions on the discounts with regard to how far in advance you can make reservations, or what days of the week the discounts apply, or seasonal restrictions. Often, reciprocal parks will have no openings, when you want to be there.
Be sure to check.
All campgrounds are different – some are flat, some are excessive slopes, some cramped, some more urban, some gravel or dirt susceptible to rain, etc, and in rare cases if you’re downhill, you could find yourself in sewage during a big rain.
And – check contracts! How do you cancel? Can dues be raised? What happens if the park is sold.
Feel free to let me know if there are other sites & services that you use and recommend.