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Old 02-05-2012, 04:55 PM   #1
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Advice to newbie-KOA, Good Sams, so many choices

Gettin ready to take delivery in 2 weeks of our 42' 2005 Beaver Thunder Patriot.
We joined Good Sams, are there other clubs, forums, magazines you would recommend?
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Old 02-05-2012, 05:10 PM   #2
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There are SO many, and all of them have good qualities! I belong to FMCA (for motorhome owners), Escapees (best mail-forwarding service), Good Sam Club (lots of good benefits) as well as several chapter clubs within each organization. Motorhome magazine would be a good one for you to subscribe to and there are forums for each organization and brand-owners group.

I'm sure more people will have suggestions for you. Take your time and enjoy that new motorhome!
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Old 02-05-2012, 05:25 PM   #3
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In addition to FMCA, Good Sam and Escapee, you should also look at Passport America. A lot of this really depends on how much you travel.
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:00 PM   #4
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Hi cfyanes,
It depends on how and how much you will RV. Generally speaking:

1. If you like a concrete site, full hookups and all the amenities, KOA is a good choice.

2. If you are okay with older CGs Passport America is a good choice.

Because you already belong to Good Sam, purchase their CG directory. This directory is the most comprehensive CG directory there is. If it was me, I'd join organizations slowly as you determine over time that the benefits outweigh the cost. This is a very individual decision. Once you settle into an RVing style, you'll know which memberships to have and which to drop.
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:18 PM   #5
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So, if I only take my tt out no more than 10 times a year, is GoodSams or Passport America even worth it? Are there any "must-join" clubs or "must-have" services for ANYONE who is rving?
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:28 PM   #6
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So, if I only take my tt out no more than 10 times a year, is GoodSams or Passport America even worth it? Are there any "must-join" clubs or "must-have" services for ANYONE who is rving?
FMCA and Good Sam you should go ahead and join. Take your time on any others as you go along you will discover what will benefit you.

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Old 02-05-2012, 11:58 PM   #7
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With Passport America, after the 4th night of using it you have a return on your investment.

As for the quality of campgrounds, I have been in all, GS, KOA, ESCAPEES, Passport America, and every discount club has their good ones, and their not so good ones. So the club you belong to does not mean you are going to get the best places.

Go to the web sites for the areas that you travel in. See what campground in that area meet the club requirements. For example, go to The original 50% Discount Camping Club - Passport America Discount Camping Club and look at the map for CG's in the area you travel. Look at the restrictions. With a 50% discount, it may well be that PA is the club for you. Look at the GS CG's in the area. Compute the 10% discount. Check the Escapees web site, there CG vary from 10% to 50% off. KOA's can be a little pricey but they typically have good amenities, but as stated, i have been in some that were not up to my expectations.

Good luck

Edited: I wish when I typed in a short http link that the software would not take over and publish a long string of mess.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:10 AM   #8
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I agree with Wayne on PA, We have been in some real nice parks while others have been no so nice. KOA's we avoid like the plague, probably ok if you have kids. But other than that way they are way overpriced, KOA = Keep On Adding as they say. Escapees we had, but dropped. If your on the west side of the country it may be an option, but there are a very limited number of CG's east of the MS river. Out west we always found a PA park nearby and could not justify the $60 annual dues. PA cost us $99 for our last 3 year renewal and is worth every penny.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:27 AM   #9
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I agree with Wayne on PA, We have been in some real nice parks while others have been no so nice. KOA's we avoid like the plague, probably ok if you have kids. But other than that way they are way overpriced, KOA = Keep On Adding as they say. Escapees we had, but dropped. If your on the west side of the country it may be an option, but there are a very limited number of CG's east of the MS river. Out west we always found a PA park nearby and could not justify the $60 annual dues. PA cost us $99 for our last 3 year renewal and is worth every penny.
Particularly with your rig, I would agree on the KOAs. There may be some nicer ones, but we noticed once we got the 42' it was difficult to fit where we used to in some KOAs. We've used Good Sam a lot, but even so, you need to call ahead and make sure they can accomodate you.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:52 AM   #10
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I've had GS and KOA - it's nice to get a couple dollar discount. For 10 times a year, I don't think any of these are must haves if they will cause you to restrict your choices. You can join at the campground when checking in if you are starting out on a trip or find out you plan to frequent one type - no need to join GS or KOA months in advance.
Note on GS - I haven't belonged in 10 years but I still get a ton of junk mail from them.
Note on KOA - I like their older paper directories, but the current ones hide total cost and the KOA cost is high for the campgrounds that are near any city or attraction.
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Old 02-06-2012, 12:53 PM   #11
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Hi DoubleJ73,
Must have club benefits are in the eye of the beholder. Only you can make that decision. It is not how many trips one makes during the membership. It is how many nights, during the membership, one can benefit from the membership.

I take the coach out about 8 different trips a year. However, the total nights spent in the coach is almost 180 per year. I am a 1/2 timer.
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:17 AM   #12
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I will say only that KOA (Some folks say it means Keep On Adding) has some very expensive parks,, One nice thing though is they are fairly consistant.. As you move around the country it's a bit like Wall-Mart, you know what to expect.

However, they do tend to be high priced, NOT the most expensvie, but better bargains abound.

Good Sam's gets you a discount on many parks, So does AAA or AARP if you qualify in many of the same parks.

Passport America.. better discounts, not as many parks.

Now I 'm going to talk for a bit about MEMBERSHIP camping, the pluses and negatives nad one .. Different one.

Most membership parks you buy a membership, anywhere from $2,000 to .. Well I've heard of $6,000 or more. This is a one time payment. Then you pay (For the rest of your life) Dues, often around 500/year more or less. Generally the more parks in teh system (Some are only one park) the more expensive. And even if the park basically goes out of business (Say they close all the parks in your state) they will continue to hound you for dues so long as they have one parking spot you can park in.

That said. You get to park for up to 2 or 3 weeks at a time in any of the membership parks,,, No need to pull out your checkbook.. Then you spend a week out, and back to the membership park.. IF you full time on a budget.. Works for me.

Parks range from modern parks designed and built within the last few years to parks that .. Well 40 years ago they were KOA's (Small narrow roads and sites, mostly back in and mostly 30 amp).

That said Thousand Trails is no longer selling this kind of membership.. Instead they are selling "Zone Pass" memberships.. This is a ONE YEAR renewable membership, it costs 500 dollars (You can buy a 2nd zone for a big discount) and gives you access to roughly 1/4 of the system's parks for each zone Or about 25 parks per zone.

You get 30 nights FREE camping on the 2 weeks in one out plan, This is more than enough for the average working stiff. For LESS THAN A WEEK at most KOA's.

These do tend to be older parks however (It's a ton of fun with a 38' Class A let me tell you)

50 amps costs more as well (4.00/night) and if you go beyond 30 nights there is a small fee (4 or 5 a night) for the additional nights. (That's 30 amp) Most sites are full hookup and most parks have free wi-fi.

The big advantage is you can try it,, and if you decide you don't like it, you are out 500 bucks. Not thousands, and no dunning you for dues after you tell 'em to stuff it.

Personally I think this is the most exciting thing in membership camping.

Finally.. If you or wife qualify ( think both of us do now) the US parks (Dept of Interior?) sell a "Golden Age" pass, (Assorted ones actually) I think it's like 10 bucks. Gets you discounts at many parks.. For example come march we will spend our Week out at a COE park near here.. (Core of Engineers) for John Q public it's 22/night, for my wife (Who has the pass in this family) 11. 50% off. Access to some National parks, Say Grand canyon, for example.. is 100% off, YES, FREE!!!!!!! (Thoughwe get no discount on camping in the park since that is a vendor, not US government.

IF you think you might wish to try the TT zone pass. Please PM me first. Thanks.
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Old 02-21-2012, 09:43 PM   #13
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we recently joined the Friends of Georgia State Parks. most of our camping is either one of our many state parks, or COE campgrounds around one of the many COE lakes here in GA.

we chose the family membership. it gave us 2 nights camping, 2 annual parking passes, 10% discount on all future state park camping and visitor center purchase, entry into every state historic site for up to 6 adults.

depending on what state you live in, there could be something similar available to you!
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Old 02-28-2012, 08:28 PM   #14
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Not a club to join, but a good resource for RV Parks is rvparkreviews.com

I quit buying the Trailer Life/Good Sam or Woodalls Campground Books. They tend to favor the parks that advertise in their books and get better ratings. But the website that I listed above has reviews posted by folks that stayed at the park. The rating are 1 to 10. I usually throw out the high and the low and go with the majority. I have found it to be very reliable in ratings.

Enjoy your new coach.
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