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Old 07-07-2014, 11:46 AM   #1
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What is the best RV club to join for the full time traveler?

I am looking at buying a membership to help circumvet some of the expenses living full time in my trailer.

I like the THOUSAND TRAILS membership plans with the outdoor world add on

Has anyone tried them?

I would like a discount that is offered with the encore and the other home park plans

It is a major decision.
Can someone please help
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:39 PM   #2
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We have a friend that bought a Casita. When he picked it up at the factory in Texas, Casita gave them a free night or two at an adjacent campground that was a member of Thousand Trails.

Based on a great stay at that RV park, our friends immediately bought a Thousand Trails membership, thinking that they would save a lot of money on the road. However, they recently told us that the original RV park was the nicest one they had seen of the Thousand Trails campgrounds they had stayed at. And, that nearly all of the other campgrounds had some kind of excuse why they wouldn't honor the membership discount, or that they were dumps.

I have no personal experience with Thousand Trails, but our friend strongly discouraged us from buying a membership. However, I've heard that there is one great RV park in their network. It's in Texas, adjacent to the Casita factory...

As an aside, on a recent roadtrip, we stayed almost exclusively at national and state park campgrounds. Other than having to move every 10 days or so, we stayed in roomy campsites, most with lots of space and a little privacy. And, all were adjacent to beautiful landmarks and great outdoor activities. Prices ranged from $4 per night up to around $30, and many sites had full hookups. Plus, if you are willing to trade a little light labor for a prime site, you may wish to look into being a campground host.
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:51 PM   #3
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That's good to know...thanks for the feedback.

My thing is I want to set up and chill in different places for 3 weeks here...then somewhere else.

How do I do that and still be comfortable and safe?
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:07 PM   #4
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What is your camping style?

Do you prefer an RV resort with full hookups, picnic table, BBQ grill, hot showers, swimming pool, and a clubhouse with planned activities?

Or, do you like to boondock or dry camp with no hookups, you have and use a generator and/or solar; and you don't care if there are any toilet or shower facilities or even a picnic table and fire ring, because your rig is self-sufficient?

Or, where do your preferences lie between these opposite ends of the camping spectrum?
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Old 07-10-2014, 05:31 AM   #5
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Full hookups please
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Old 07-10-2014, 05:36 AM   #6
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Joining the Moose Loge helps members can camp cheap at there locations.
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Old 07-10-2014, 05:49 AM   #7
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Passport America is a great deal while actually travelling. Usually only pay half the normal nightly rate. Downside- discount usually only good for the first night, some exceptions, and not everyone accepts it. About $ 45 per year to join. We got that back in one night at a very nice park in downtown New Orleans where the nighty rate was $ 96!
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Old 07-10-2014, 06:02 AM   #8
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An internet connection can be your best friend. Many parks offer "internet only" discounts. Not too long ago I stayed in San Antonio for about $20 per night for a week. I didn't make advance reservations and when I showed up the rate was $42 per night, until I mentioned the internet ad. Then they honored that. They did try to get me to buy a pressure regulator for the water saying their park's pressure was 150 PSI. I have an internal regulator and someone had already given me another one. They were a bit irked that I didn't bite on the $20 regulator that I could have gotten at Camping World for about $7.

Everyone is in business to make money and they will find ways. I just try to accept that with grace.

Being SAFE? I'm a single woman of retirement age. Unless I know a campground or have gotten a positive review here - on google, etc. I do NOT make advance reservations. There are a couple that I've seen, evaluated and thought of the bumper sticker "keep paddling, I hear banjos".

For a casual night, I'll snooze at a Cracker Barrel - many have a few RV spaces and they only expect you to have breakfast with them. Truck stops often have separate RV areas. I have also taken advantage of church parking lots... but one Wednesday night I almost got invited to their mid-week service. That shouldn't have been a problem, but the rattlesnakes in the baskets were just a bit offputting.

I once thought of myself as a full hookups type. Unless you're getting a HUGE Trailer that you can't boondock in, you should at least try it. Go with a group your first time. You might be surprised how much you like it.

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Old 07-10-2014, 08:02 AM   #9
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RV Club for full timers

The Excapee Club is an Rv club that was organized for full timers, they have mail service, camp grounds, a good magazine ,rally's etc. Check it out www.excapees.com. The Elks club has rv parking at a lot of their lodges, so do the Moose. The Airstream parks are good to sty in also like Top Of Ga.
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Old 07-10-2014, 08:28 AM   #10
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The Excapee Club is an Rv club that was organized for full timers, they have mail service, camp grounds, a good magazine ,rally's etc. Check it out www.excapees.com. The Elks club has rv parking at a lot of their lodges, so do the Moose. The Airstream parks are good to sty in also like Top Of Ga.
The club I think you're referring to is Escapees RV club... www.escapees.com
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Old 07-10-2014, 09:28 AM   #11
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I have been a member of Escapees for over 20 years. I can highly recommend them for their parks, mail forwarding and a great source of information.
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Old 07-10-2014, 10:32 AM   #12
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No need to limit yourself to just one club. Good Sam gets you discounts at a lot of campgrounds, and if you live in the right state and have the right insurance, it can get you a discount on your RV insurance as well (saves me about $400 per year on my Inyterstate's insurance!).

As jackcat noted, Passport America also gets you some decent discounts, especially if you only stay one night while en route (since a lot of the discounts are on the first night only).

It's not a club, but if you want to stay at Corps of Engineers campgrounds (which are already inexpensive compared to most private campgrounds), get yourself to the closest National Park and sign up for the America the Beautiful Senior Pass (if you're over 62) or Access Pass (if you're handicapped). These two passes cost absolutely no money at all, and are good for life. Most CoE campgrounds accept the America the Beautiful senior and access passes (but not the Annual Pass) for half-price camping. Hard to beat paying just $9 or $10 per night! And CoE has campgrounds in 44 of our 50 states, so there's no shortage of places to stay.
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Old 07-10-2014, 12:29 PM   #13
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My parents joined Escapees when they were full-timing and maintained that membership throughout. They seemed to like the mail-forwarding feature in particular.

They were also members of Thousand Trails which they seemed to enjoy, but when we looked at it after Dad passed away, it didn't seem like a very good deal at all. Pretty much like a time share. I'd rather just pay (or not, if it's a free boondocking site) as I go. That way I remain in full control of exactly how much I spend on campsites and when/where I spend my time / money.

Given the mediocre reviews I've heard lately for Thousand Trails and their affiliated time-share brands, we'd rather have our freedom and flexibility than take a chance on feeling trapped into using a network of campgrounds that we may not like.
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Old 07-10-2014, 10:24 PM   #14
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Thats why I am asking...but average cost is over 450 per month...I an full timing.
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:12 AM   #15
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Re: Camping Fees

Tallredboned, just curious. How much have you budgeted for monthly camping expenses?

FYI, on our recent roadtrip to the Pacific Northwest, the following are campground fees we paid per night, categorized by campground type:

• National Park, National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and other Federal Campgrounds (Senior Pass discount = 50%) -- Most have no hookups; some have electric and water; very few have full hookups. RATES (with discount): $6 to $12 per night ($180 to $360 per month). Most campgrounds limit stays to 10 days.

• State, Regional and City/County Park Campgrounds (a few offer $2 to $3 discounts to seniors) -- Some have no hookups; some have electric and water; some have full hookups. RATES (with discount, if available): $16 to $37 per night ($480 to $1110 per month). Most campgrounds limit stays to 10 days.

• Commercial RV Parks and Resorts -- Most have electric and water, or full hookups. RATES: $33 to $50+ per night ($990 to $1,500 per month). Many offer discounts for extended stays.

• Boondocking on Federal and some state land -- No hookups. RATE: Free. Most jurisdictions limit stays to 10-14 days, but this rule is often not rigidly enforced.

If you indicate how much you wish to spend per month, others can make suggestions with this dollar figure in mind.
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Old 07-11-2014, 05:20 AM   #16
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I have been a member of Escapees for over 20 years. I can highly recommend them for their parks, mail forwarding and a great source of information.
Escapees currently has a $29.95 membership special, join or renew. I think good through October. This is about 1/2 price. A good organization.
Check their web site.
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Old 07-11-2014, 05:20 AM   #17
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Passport America is a great deal while actually travelling. Usually only pay half the normal nightly rate. Downside- discount usually only good for the first night, some exceptions, and not everyone accepts it. About $ 45 per year to join. We got that back in one night at a very nice park in downtown New Orleans where the nighty rate was $ 96!
We had Good Sam for one year. The 10% discount wasn't remotely offset by the relatively high cost of their parks, nor the ongoing flood of mail solicitations.

We have had Passport America for over 6 years, and love it. If you renew for multiple years, the annual cost is about $35, I believe.

The 50% off pays for the membership fee very quickly, and is great for one-night stays. There are restrictions, but that's okay, as the membership significantly decreases costs of travel.

I am currently on a beautiful, riverside site for $17.50. The rate is only good Sunday-Thursday, and only for one night.

Public campgrounds are less expensive, require no membership, and the CampWhere app allows you to find them quickly, wherever you are.


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Old 07-11-2014, 05:39 AM   #18
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We had Good Sam for one year. The 10% discount wasn't remotely offset by the relatively high cost of their parks, nor the ongoing flood of mail solicitations.
I don't like the mail solicitations, either. And to be honest, I've never even stayed at a park that offers a Good Sam discount in the 2½ years I've owned my Airstream Interstate.

But I'll keep the Good Sam membership anyway and put up with the junk mail. As previously stated, the annual membership fee of $25 saves me about $400 per year on my RV insurance even if I never use it for anything else! I know this because when I was shopping for RV insurance, I got two quotes from Progressive, for identical policies except one quote included the Good Sam discount and the other didn't, so I was able to measure exactly how much the membership saved me.

That's not to say others would get the same discount. An Interstate isn't cheap to buy, and it's not cheap to insure, either. But if you pay $25 per year for membership, you only have to save more than $25 on your insurance for the membership to pay for itself. The kicker is that insurance is regulated by the individual states, and some insurance companies may not offer a Good Sam discount in your domicile state. Ask your insurance agent first before joining the club.
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Old 07-11-2014, 06:37 AM   #19
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Agreed, Protag. Could be worth it, just for insurance purposes.

I'm sure we paid a lot more than $25/year for Good Sam. Is that a special rate for multi-year, or with the insurance?

We have had State Farm for decades....car, Interstate and house, and have a good rate there.

If what a person is looking for is discounted campground costs, there are several good ways to do that.

When we want a full-service campground for a few days, or are near a big city we want to visit, we just bite the bullet and pay the higher fees. Sometimes you want cable tv for a few days, laundry right there, paved sites, etc., too.


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Old 07-11-2014, 06:50 AM   #20
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...
As jackcat noted, Passport America also gets you some decent discounts, especially if you only stay one night while en route (since a lot of the discounts are on the first night only)...
At some that first night has to be Mon-Thur, with no discount weekends and holidays. Like he said great if you are traveling and stopping for a night and no WM or Flying J available.

Coast to coast has similar setup of minimum cost to stay night but refusal to honor card carrier as they only allocate a small percentage of sites to the CtoC group, and if you are not a member at the specific park you are a second class camper, welcome to pay full price for a regular spot.

If you are traveling a specific route, we found we had to detour to actually find a branded club park, while we are able to incorporate state and national parks and would even make them the destination.
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