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Old 03-29-2009, 06:42 PM   #1
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Sonoma County , California
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Where to Camp? Memberships, etc?

Hi, ya'll, I am already pprinting out threads, to create my own 'hit the road' prep book!

One question for full timers..... what about economical, daily-weekly camping?

What memberships do you have and recomend?
What about National Parks?
Chain Camp Grounds?

Basically, were do you stay on a regular basis, that isn't costing a fortune?



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Old 03-29-2009, 07:04 PM   #2
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We try to stay at National/State/County campgrounds. Keeps the per night costs down to ~$20 or so. Facilities range from no hook-ups, free mosquitoes to severely deluxe with lots of wildlife.

For a quick overnite, Wal-Mart (ask mgr) or a Flying J truck stop -- both are free but the ambience reflects that.

We were Passport America members but found that the participating commercial campgrounds didn't seem to be we we were headed or had restrictions when we headed.......

Look at the Escapees web site if you are going to full time -- seems like a deal. Don't forget the various airstream parks -- get a copy of Airstream Life (there is a partial list in the back of the magazine)

Good luck,


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Old 03-29-2009, 08:14 PM   #3
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I joined Good Sam for their emergency road service. Never had to use it with my Airstream but I have a few times with other vehicles.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:08 AM   #4
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Thanks. What's the deal with making reservations at National Parks?

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Old 03-30-2009, 07:08 AM   #5
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Don't forget courtesy parking. If you are a WBCCI member, members offering courtesy parking are listed as such in the membership directory. Plus it is listed here on member profiles if they offer it.

Also there are quite a few Airstream parks in the U.S. that are a real bargain compared to the commercial campgrounds out there.
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Old 03-30-2009, 07:14 AM   #6
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We had Good Sam for one year in 2002, our first year RV'ing, but found the subscription and nightly rates high for only a 10% discount. AAA will get the same discount many places, plus discounts at historic sites, museums, etc. We very seldom spend more that $20 a night.

We like Passport America for overnight stays. Subscription rate is low and the 50% discount pays for itself in the first few stays. Some PA campgrounds are very nice, full service sites with restrictions on when and for how long you can use the discount, other places are strictly overnighters--but for $10-$15 a night it is a very good deal. We once paid only $6 for a really cute place in Oklahoma. Perusing their offerings online is free.

City, county, state and national parks are our favorite. We pick up state and local campground books at the visitor centers in every state we visit, and have found unusual places in the local books that are not listed anywhere else. i.e. DeSmet, ND has a city campground for under $10---nothing exciting but bathrooms/showers in a very pretty town, great area for bike-riding and you can visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites if you are so inclined.

We decide most mornings where we are headed that day and how far we plan to drive, look at campgrounds in those areas and call ahead for a site. Longer stays are almost exclusively in county, state and national parks. We keep business cards/campground information for places we really like in our Master Book, for quick reservations in areas we return to at least yearly.

It's all really a pretty great time, just get out there and find what you like!
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Old 03-30-2009, 07:29 AM   #7
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Dolores , Colorado
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Planning is the right thing to do. If you know when you are going to be in a certain state, take a look at the state parks in that area. Just google up state parks and you will get a pretty good idea of what is availabe. A majority of the parks (National Forest or state parks) require you set up reservations through Reserve America. You can find a variety of opinions of RA on the forums by searching for Reserve America. Lumatic is correct. Good Sam gives you several options. Discounts, Emergency Road Assistance, and many more. I have use ERA once and it has paid for itself.

Keep an eye on the Forum for rallies because you may find one in an area you are going to be visiting and you are always welcome at one.

Good Luck

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Old 03-30-2009, 07:47 AM   #8
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You don't absolutely have to have reservations for National Parks, as long as you don't plan on showing up at popular times (weekends, holidays, height of the camping season, etc.) and as long as you're not picky about which site you get. If you get to the campground on a weekday, right after check-out time (11:00 am usually) you'll almost always be able to get a site, in my experience out west here. But if you want a certain site, or want to show up friday night, reservations will probably be needed, and the farther in advance, the better. Rocky Mountain Park lets you reserve sites up to 6 months in advance, some other parks might have a 1-year window. Have fun, you lucky dogs! -tim
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:16 AM   #9
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tphan's report in #8 has been our experience, too. And again, it depends on what you like, want and need. If you like to mostly plan day-by-day, you take what is available. We are small, so getting in anywhere is very seldom a problem, but larger rigs need bigger sites. The only times we have been unable to find anything has been major holiday weekends, when we have found some interesting and not-so-interesting boondock sites----all part of the adventure.

We paid $12 to RA to reserve a week at Edisto SP in SC, which seems ridiculously high, but we wanted a specific site. In hindsight, we would have been just as happy with one of the numerous others which were vacant.
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:27 AM   #10
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I should also mention that GoodSam currently has a promotional membership of $12 for a year, which includes a voucher for a free night's camping at any GoodSam park- you can't really go wrong with that deal!
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Old 03-30-2009, 09:30 AM   #11
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Hi Jane and welcome

I have been full timing since 2000 and love it.
I also continue to work on the road.

I like Passport America, Escapee and WBCCI campgrounds when I must.

What I like the best is boondocking. Your state has wonderful (BLM) land for camping. BLM land is federal land, most is free to camp on, some charge a flat fee, weekly, quarterly.

Quartzsite, AZ (area), Anza Borrego and Occitillo Wells State Rec Area in CA are just a few of the 100's of great oppurtunities to experience some of the most breathtaking landscapes, free of crowds and high cost.

Many people spend the winter months south, and than head North for the summer. It requires some planning and an investment in solar and a small generator.

In my travels, I've met folks who have boondocked for 30+ years.

There are many experienced full timers on this forum who will chime in on this subject.

The journey IS the destination,

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Old 03-30-2009, 10:14 AM   #12
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We received that GOOD SAM offer at $12 bucks not to bad,but I was not able to see where the campgrounds are that we could use the voucher. So I have not sent it in yet.
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Old 03-31-2009, 08:23 AM   #13
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Here in the southwest we are blessed with ample opportunities for boondocking. We go to the higher elevations in the summer and lower in the winter.
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Old 03-31-2009, 09:20 AM   #14
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

We travel extensively in our 25FB 300+ nights/40,000 miles in two years. We are more the "lace curtain" type campers. We we stay at a campground without 5 point hook-ups, we consider ourselves roughing it.

When one the road enroute to a far away destination, we very often overnight at Wal-Marts, Truck Stops, and Camping Worlds. We prefer the truck stops, but we don't mind the noise. They are safe as the Police frequent these places all night long. One morning we woke up at the Petro in Scranton surrounded by Pennsylvania State Police Cars.

We use AAA Plus RV for our emergency services. Thank God, we have yet to call them. This is one service that we will gladly pay for while hoping to never use.

We are Good Sam Club members, but don't have their roadside service. We just like the magazine and the discounts. The magazine features new RV products along with member testing.

Airstream Life Magazine is a great publication. It has many good articles on technical issues and travel destinations.

Trailer Life Magazine is another must-have publication. It has lots of information on all kinds of RV matters.

We are WBCCI Members. We like going to some of their local events, although we are not big congregaters. Being a member also gives us access to the Airstream-only campgrounds which are very nice and very reasonably priced. WBCCI also has many local Units if you want to become more involved.

Another must-have publicatio is The Next Exit. It tells you what is available at every Interstate Highway exit in the United States.

A good GPS is also very helpful.

As far as camping discount clubs go, We joined Camp Club USA last year. We recouped our membership cost on one stay in Utah. Since then, we have tried to use this membership several times without success. It is either a restricted time of year, it's the second weekend of an odd numbered month, it's Tuesday and it's not raining, or they only have one Camp Club USA site and it is booked for the next 12 years. In other words, you can only use it when nobody wants to camp there. I don't think that we will be renewing our membership.

Last, but not least, you have found the absolute best source of Airstream and RV information right her on


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