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Old 12-21-2012, 09:24 AM   #1
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Looking for info on Thousand Trails and RPI memberships

We have been full timing for the past 5 years and want to continue for 5 to 10 more years. I am doing some research on "camping club" memberships (such as Thousand Trails, Resort Parks International, etc.) and would like to know what the Airstream community's experiences with the "camping clubs" have been. We may be interested in buying a membership to one or more of the " camping clubs" as well.
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Old 12-21-2012, 09:27 AM   #2
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We've been kind of interested in a Passport America membership.

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Old 12-25-2012, 11:53 AM   #3
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I joined Passport America and saved enough on my first week of camping to pay for it. However, when I traveled around I found many places did not honor the discount at certain peak times or for long duration stays. I did not renew it after the first year.
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Old 12-26-2012, 07:44 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Eagle & Bear View Post
We have been full timing for the past 5 years and want to continue for 5 to 10 more years. I am doing some research on "camping club" memberships (such as Thousand Trails, Resort Parks International, etc.) and would like to know what the Airstream community's experiences with the "camping clubs" have been. We may be interested in buying a membership to one or more of the " camping clubs" as well.
Been there, done that. I've made it work BUT....
I've been cautious AND lucky. Think about vacation time share apartments - campgrounds are just a slightly different twist on the same idea.

You'll never get your money out if you buy in at "new retail". However if you go to Craigslist and E-bay you'll see literally Hundreds of "take over maintenance payments" for both conventional timeshares and campgrounds. That's where you can pick up a deed... or even several for pennies on the dollar.

Even so, you must USE the campground(s) every year to get your money's worth. The two deeds I own cost about $1200 per year in maintenance fees - and I can get close to 30 weeks camping for that - $40 per week camping with full hookups is pretty decent by anyone's standards.

CAUTION THOUGH - a lot of campgrounds get really run down - and the neighbors? Well, there are people who joke about being trailer trash - and then there's the real thing. (I'd better take my tow vehicle to the buggy bath before I get too critical but some folks if they had houses would have the washing machine on the front porch and nine blue tick hounds under it. They'd also have a field with every car they've owned since 1945 in various stages of rust.) Investigate any campground you consider buying in - tour it, and read the small print of your agreement. Many limit the number of weeks you can exchange at another park, or limit the total number of weeks you can park at your deeded lot... and some like mine don't have specific lot deeds, just a share of the park.

Paula
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:28 AM   #5
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We have used Passport America for the past 5 years. It works if you are only staying for a few days at any given park. PA parks offer a discount on 2-5 days stay but there are caveats throughout the book. With planning you can save about 40% on RV sites with PA.

We are changing our travel pattern and want to stay in the areas that interest us for a week or two. We have heard that there are clubs out there that offer significant discounts but am looking for Streamer's opinions about the pros and cons of joining the clubs.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:35 PM   #6
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Internet "Deals"

I had Passport America for a while last year. Found a place in San Antonio I wanted to stay and they had a week at half price on the internet for Passport America members.

Got there and they offered me 2 days at $20 off per day. Then I said "but on the internet..." And sure enough they did have that special deal for people who had found them over the internet. I got my half price for the whole week.

I tried using it a couple of other places later and found the same deal - one offer on the website, and much smaller discounts for just showing up... So I got in the habit of calling ahead and then arriving in 15 to 45 minutes.

Bigger discounts than Good Sam, but you have to be assertive or even slightly unpleasant to get them. One camp put me at the end of the main road leading in from the security hut. Everyone seemed to come into the park with their bright lights on - and then hit the speed bumps right in front of my front bedroom. Clearly the last site anyone would want... and the site they saved for people getting the greatest discounts.

I let the membership drop after the first year.

paula
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:50 PM   #7
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We have been members of Thousand Trails for 7 years and have used their parks all over CA, OR, WA, TX, TN, and IN. Since we live in the San Antonio, TX area we spend a lot of our time at the Medina Lake location.

Their parks are geared toward families. Nice showers, swimming pools, miniture golf, horse shoes, etc.. This past New Years Eve the Medina location had a great dance with a great band. What we especially like is the deer, jackrabbits, and wild turkey roaming the grounds.

We knowe full timmers who travel coast to coast using Thousand Trails. There are some excellent membership values going for $1200. These can be passed down for 3 generatons in your family and they are no longer sold by Thousand Trails. Current sales are for 3-5 years.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:04 PM   #8
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Check out Escapees. It's quite an organization.
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Old 03-10-2016, 07:55 AM   #9
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We have a Thousand Trails Elite Membership and for us it's been great. I would agree parks need more maintenance, but in our opinon they've been really nice parks, a lot more wooded areas and such which are hard to find with newer RV parks and we like being out in nature. They're also pretty big parks for the most part. And when we went to Palm Springs, which was a tighter squeeze and in town, it sure was nice to stay for free as opposed to the other RV parks around us going for $100-200/night!
As for buying used memberships on craigslist and ebay, they don't actually come with a lot of the same perks. They aren't will-able (to pass down in your will), you don't get the 4 free memberships to give away throughout your lifetime, they may not come with the tied RPI membership and the yearly cabin/condo benefits... so just something worth looking into. It's pricey to buy in ($5,000-8,000 for lifetime memberships depending which one you choose)... but for us, we are in our early 30's, full timing for the forseeable future, we will really get our money's worth. Sounds like you are in a situation where you might get your money's worth also.
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Old 03-10-2016, 09:48 AM   #10
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We've been kind of interested in a Passport America membership.
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Originally Posted by A W Warn View Post
I joined Passport America and saved enough on my first week of camping to pay for it. However, when I traveled around I found many places did not honor the discount at certain peak times or for long duration stays.
Parks in the Passport America network are a mixed bag. Discounts can be seasonal (often no discount in snowbird season) or might only apply to a limited number of nights. Also, it seems that most of the Passport America parks I've stayed at close to a highway have been less than idyllic venues, and not because of the traffic noise. They're just ugly, poorly developed, and indifferently maintained parks. If they didn't offer a Passport America discount, no one would want to stay there. At least I wouldn't!

I have found that Passport America is a worthwhile discount program if you're just passing through on the way to somewhere else and you're only staying one or two nights anyway. But for a "destination" park where you're planning to stay a while and want a better ambiance, Passport America ain't necessarily the best choice.
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Old 03-14-2016, 02:58 PM   #11
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I've found the following website helpful regarding RV park membership programs, particularly Thousand Trails:

http://www.rvlove.com/2015/01/28/tho....6rngAa7v.dpbs
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