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Old 11-09-2019, 10:24 AM   #1
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Thousand trails, Passport America, KOA UGH!

I am considering the RV life when I retire and would like to stay in each state for a month then move to the next (in theory)
I look at all the options see problems with them all.

Thousand trails: great idea but only in a few states.
Passport America: 2-4 days at a time, plus no search for weekly stay options.
KOA: just too expensive as far as I can tell. 30/night or less is my budget.

I just want to park my RV for 2 weeks at a time, use my car to check out each state and move to the next one.
Instead I have to move all the time or pay out the nose.

I dont think boondocking or parking at a walmart is the best idea for me.
I just want to leave my RV someplace safe and easy to get to, drive my car and see the sights.

Wish there were more TT locations across the midwest. My first trip will be Idaho to east coast.
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:29 AM   #2
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There are MANY privately owned campgrounds out there, and many (most?) are not going to be part of a single network like KOA or TT. Nearly all of them will offer some type of long-term rental at rates better than the published daily rates.

There are apps out there as well as directories listing campgrounds.

Have you called any of the campgrounds in the Passport America program to see if they have weekly or monthly rates? You might find better information by calling them directly.
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:32 AM   #3
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There are MANY privately owned campgrounds out there, and many (most?) are not going to be part of a single network like KOA or TT. Nearly all of them will offer some type of long-term rental at rates better than the published daily rates.

There are apps out there as well as directories listing campgrounds.

Have you called any of the campgrounds in the Passport America program to see if they have weekly or monthly rates? You might find better information by calling them directly.
What app would you recommend Richard?
As far as checking with Passport America, I do a search I have to click on each park then read the fine print that says it Monday thru Thursday only for PA
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:39 AM   #4
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I do not think we will renew our Passport America. The parks in their programs are generally run down with low ratings. Also, they are getting too restrictive on dates that they will discount.

I do better on GS, FMCA and Escapees discounts, plus several RV park search apps.

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Old 11-09-2019, 10:40 AM   #5
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Passport America is great and more than pays for itself after only a few stays. As stated above, call the campground for information on how many days you can use PA then ask about longer stays and rates. Most have weekly and monthly rates and if you use Passport America for the allowable number of day's then go to a weekly or monthly rate your still ahead on price. Also some will extend the number of day's to use PA if it's off season.
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:44 AM   #6
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Passport America is great and more than pays for itself after only a few stays. As stated above, call the campground for information on how many days you can use PA then ask about longer stays and rates. Most have weekly and monthly rates and if you use Passport America for the allowable number of day's then go to a weekly or monthly rate your still ahead on price. Also some will extend the number of day's to use PA if it's off season.
Staying past the discount days was an option that I wanted to explore too.

I wish somebody had a better Search feature for Passport America.
I would like to punch in a route and see how much each camp site would charge me per week / month.
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Old 11-09-2019, 04:34 PM   #7
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Check out Allstays and RVParky. They’ll let you look up areas and show you what is near, give some info, etc for the parks.

We are Thousand Trails members and have traveled for the past 2.5 years staying in their parks along with other parks through RPI, KOA, Passport America and just looking up and booking parks independent of any of them. I don’t think there is one “good” answer to this dilemma as you just have to piece everything together the best you can.
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Old 11-10-2019, 02:13 AM   #8
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I only travel around 75 days per year, rarely more than 3-4 days in any one place, have Passport America, and Good Sams. If I were to travel more I would strongly consider Thousand Trails, but like you say they are not everywhere.


It does not take much to make Passport America pay for itself, I just finished a 25 day 3,200 mile trip which included 3 nights at passport america parks, all 3 had passport america 50% off rates of $17-$19. 2 of the 3 parks were nice to very nice, the 3rd one was a real dump.



In the order I visited, Springerville RV park, Springerville, AZ, this is a fairly new park, still being completed, though up and operational, it is currently a no frills park with gravel sites, while I was there they were adding more gravel (about half the sites had this completed), and they were building a laundry room / office building. PPA rate $19 for a pull through "deluxe" site, limit 1 night only, regular back in sites $30 per night (PPA rate only good on deluxe pull through sites).


Western Skies, RV park, Vado, NM just outside El Paso, $19 per night PPA rate (unlimited number of nites at this rate), the place is a real dump, full of broken down RV's and other broken down vehicles, probably worst RV park I have ever stayed at.


Riverway RV park, Llano, TX, very nice RV park, $17.50 PPA 50% off rate, 2 night limit, nice clubhouse with board games, TV's, lending library, nice laundry room, ... could not believe the place was only $17.50 per night. Only downside to the place was they had a number of long term residents with diesel pickup trucks that pulled out (I assume to go to work) around sunrise.


PPA is great with the 50% off it does not take long for it to pay for itself, just 2-3 nights per year. So while some (many) PPA parks are dumps, there are enough that are not to still be worth it, though you have to check each for restrictions for each park, some allow PPA rates only in the off season, or week nights only. Some allow PPA rates 1 night only, others, 2, or 3 nights, ...


Good Sam discount is only 10%, but it is very widely accepted and only about $25 per year, so again often worth it. Assuming a $3-4 average savings, if you use it 6-7 times per year, you are good.


As to other cheap places, there are options out there, depending on where you travel, there are of course true free boondocking sites in the western US, free dispersed camping in national forest, etc. But there are also free, and low cost ($10-$25 per night) public campgrounds out there, these may be state parks, COE parks around many man made lakes, even local public parks, fair grounds, etc. Some of these are dry camping only, others have water and electric with dump stations, a few are even full hookup. I have stayed at several of these across the central and western states, a few even offer free camping with water and 20 or 30 amp electric hookup for the first night. (I have seen this in small towns in TX,NM, KS, and CO, and know of it in at least one place in MS).


p.s. also check out ultimate campground guide for cheap public / municipal campground options.
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Old 11-10-2019, 07:02 AM   #9
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Use the opportunity to check out the state parks. Usually fairly priced, safe. Like everything the prices vary state to state, and ones close to the beach or other major attraction will be higher. I suspect if you call some of the KOA’s they will work with you on a monthly rate, especially if you will be there in their off season.
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Old 11-10-2019, 07:18 AM   #10
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Sure, PA will pay for itself quickly. I prefer to stay for at least a week.
I don't like to hitch / unhitch my car from a dolly to find a new camp every 3 to 4 days. So, I want to know how much (with the PA discount) is it for the week or two.
I would pay 2x the membership price of PA if the discount was for the whole week.

Imagine a world where you plan a route on a map. tell it what areas you want to camp for the week, input how long you want to stay at each stop, it does a search and finds the best price total without having to read the fine print to find out its only on sunday - thursday or less.
If I did not plan to use a dolly, moving every few days, not so bad. The RV I am hoping to buy only gets 7 MPG gas.
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Old 11-10-2019, 10:27 AM   #11
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The problem is RV parks and campgrounds are not like motels, they are not all listed in dozens of databases and reservation systems online. I would go so far as to say that perhaps as many as 1/3 of RV parks have no effective online presence, meaning they don't show up in the major rv park apps, don't easily show up on google searches for RV parks, etc.



I drove by one on a trip this spring in an area where I had wanted to stay, on Memorial day weekend. Though I had found reservations at the last available spot at a nearby public campground, about 20 miles off our route, this place would have suited our needs nicely. I later looked it up by name online, found it was 3 years old, had about 35 concrete pull through sites, swimming pool, club house, etc. When i drove by on Memorial Day weekend, about 25 of the sites were empty.
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Old 11-10-2019, 10:40 AM   #12
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I found some websites that are a lot better for me than PA or TT or KOA.

I can now just punch in my location and get the REAL price at a glance.
I'm not saying I would not buy a PA or TT memberships, but I got tired of having to read the fine print to find out how many days the discount was good for.
So, I am good for now, thanks for all the input.
incase anyone is interested the websites are RV Parky, Allstays and campendium.

And if anyone is interested in making a better product, make a website that gives the weekly price with the PA discount that way you get the REAL PRICE at a glance.
I just looked up a campsite that the 50% was good for one day only. That made the 1 week stay 20+40+40+40+40+40+40 see what I mean?
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Old 11-26-2019, 08:51 AM   #13
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I just renewed my PA membership. On our last trip we stayed at a nice park outside of Somerset PA for four nights at $15 a night. We could have added longer but needed to change lots.

We are debating buying a Thousand Trails/Encore membership. It is very confusing and I need to look at how we would use it on our summer trip going north. It is all very confusing, so I'm not sure how well it will work for us.
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