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Old 11-14-2011, 05:26 PM   #1
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Info about campground memberships

Lets start with I'm new to these forums and still a newbie to RVing so have lots of questions and could use some guidance. Looking at some of the camping clubs and organizations and memberships out there and just looking for some input. Escapees is one group I'm looking to join and have heard some good things about them but there is a company called Thousand Trails offering camping zone memberships. It doesn't seem to be a bad deal since we intend to travel alot. But trying to find out if there are any issues or problems anybody may have had with them. And any recommendations for any other deals would be appreciated.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:34 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meterguru View Post
Lets start with I'm new to these forums and still a newbie to RVing so have lots of questions and could use some guidance. Looking at some of the camping clubs and organizations and memberships out there and just looking for some input. Escapees is one group I'm looking to join and have heard some good things about them but there is a company called Thousand Trails offering camping zone memberships. It doesn't seem to be a bad deal since we intend to travel alot. But trying to find out if there are any issues or problems anybody may have had with them. And any recommendations for any other deals would be appreciated.
As a newbie, I tried Thousand Trails on the advise of a friend. The 2 or 3 parks we went to were old and somewhat outdated. Ended up we spent 6 or 6 nights in a TT park so the net was around $100 per night. Might be an OK deal IF you use them regularly and often. I dropped after the 1st year.
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:55 PM   #3
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Some of the clubs are very high priced, for very little (I'm talkimg about the camp for free) We joined a club on an impulse right after we got our first RV, still had stars in our eyes and didn't see where we were going, took 5 years to pay off, now we are life members with a $395 maint. fee to deal with.
DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST.
Like was mentioned Thousand Trails are older parks and seem to have narrow sites, most were designed prior to slides. TT also sold off some of thier parks and terminated thier association with some of the other clubs.
The aray of clubs is only limited by what you need, 10% to free, Just don't jump without looking them over, some will offer two nights free if you want to set in a 90 min (sure) sales pitch, these give you a chance to look over the quality first.
Good Luck and happy camping
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:30 PM   #4
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You have two things in your post. Camping clubs and groups like Escapees and campground memberships. Joining a club like Escapees (open to all RVers) or FMCA (open only to motor home owners (Family Motor Coach Assn) makes you eligable to attend rallies and other "Get-tos" may get you a discount (or not) and many of these clubs offer additional services.. Like Mail forwarding..

By the way, I'd recommend Escapees or FMCA or both.

Campground memberships get you use of either a limited or a great number of campgrounds for very little money. they come in a few different flavors

KOA. Annual fee, Percent off nightly fee.. They will be honest and tell you if it's worth it but if you plan on 2 weeks in a KOA... it is.

2 weeks in a Class A site near Port Huron mi is 80*14 = 832 dollars. OUCH with discount you might get that down to say 750 (Still ouch)

Most "membership campgrounds" offer a "National Membership" this membership costs thousands (2-5 usually) dollars and in addition you are stuck paying dues, basically Forever, this is a marraige of sourts, Dues often run 400-1000 a year.. Membership in this type of campground gets you either 2 or 3 weeks at a time in one of the company's parks, then you need to move out for a week, then you can come back for another 2-3 weeks (Depending on the contract) NOTE that I assume there are other plans as well.

With this type of membership you may also qualify for membership in RPI, ROD, C2C or other "time Share Exchange" programs... With these companies you pay a small annual fee (often 50-100 bucks) and then for a very low fee (Say 15 a night) you can stay in other Membership campgrounds for up to 1 or 2 weeks (Handy, 2 weeks in YOUR membership, one week out at 15/night, then back to "Home" company)

Now.. the catch here though is it's a lifetime contract, and that thousands up front.

Thousand Trails has an interesting plan if you would like to TRY membership camping without making a long term commitment. The ZONE PASS.

For a low fee, (400-500, about the same as annual dues for a nationwide member) you get a pass that gives you full membership benefits, 2 weeks at a time wih a week out in between, at about 1/4 of the Thousand Trails campgrounds.. 18-25 CG's in one of the four zones in the US.. You can stay in any of the campgrounds in that zone for up to 2 weeks, move out for a week and either return, or go to a different CG in the zone for 2 more weeks, spending an average of 20 days a month IN the campground.

For 450/year. That works out to 2.25/night if you make full use of it!!!!

And for a small additional fee you can add a zone, giving you half the campgrounds.

What's more it is a ONE YEAR renewable contract.. YOU decide if you want to buy another zone pass a year from now... You pay your dues up front and never owe the park anything (Though they do charge you 3/night extra for 50 amp)

This is as close to a "test drive" as membership campging gets.

The downside is the ROD/RPI/C2C This likely will NOT qualify for those programs. Not that I use them anyway.

How I use mine.. I have a national TT membership but.. In the winter (this year is special) I normally spend 2 weeks in one specific CG, then spend a week in a government park (County State or Core of Engineers) for around 12/night, then back to the TT park for 2 weeks.

Summers I have a membership in another CG as well

2 weeks in one, 2 in the other.


If you decide to take advantage of this program, Please send me a PM for more info including my number as the one who reffered you (yes, I get paid if you sign up, 25 bucks is all, but hey,,, better than a kick in the pants)
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:18 AM   #5
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Just preparing to go FT

Yes I did list different items in the post. We are easing into full time RVing and looking for things to help with RVing and reduce cost for sites. Escapees just seems to be a good support network plus we are goodsam lifetime members. Now that we have found this forum I am on my way to becoming a well versed, educated RVer. But looking to see if there are any worth while organizations to belong to that will help reduce costs. Our initial traveling will be along the eastern side of the US but we hope to expand outward within the next few years.
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:57 PM   #6
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I am new to this board but not to RVing. I full timed in the '80's for about 5 years. I mostly boondocked because I didn't feel like paying a CG to sleep. Came of the road when the $$ ran out.
My advice is get your feet wet before you buy a membership. See what it's like on the road and decide after a while what your needs are.

BTW Boondocking on the east coast is more difficult, although it can be done with practice.

I hope to be back on the road within the next nine months.
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:33 PM   #7
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Our personal experience has been that most campground memberships don't make sense. We camp 90% of our time in public campgrounds (national forest, BLM, state parks etc.) and for those kinds of spots camping memberships don't really apply. When we want to save we boondock. My take on memberships:

1/ Research, research...memberships only make sense IF you use them! Before joining anything like Thousand Trails go to a few of their campgrounds and see if you like them. Don't buy something pricey like that until you see what you're getting into

2/ Consider Passport America. It's the only deal we use these days mostly for overnight stops. No long-term contract needed and up to 50% off with restrictions depending on the campground. It'll pay for itself in 2 stays.

3/ If you're over 62 and like public camping buy a Senior Pass..50% off practically all National Forest and BLM!
http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm

There are lots of other ways to save money. For example New Mexico State Parks have one of the best camping deals in the country..$225 for a YEAR of camping. It pays for itself in 3 weeks:
http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/prd/feespermits.htm

Hope that helps!
Nina
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:14 AM   #8
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Appreciate all the great help

I have started to look into national parks but we have a 40' 5TH wheel, with 50 Amp service. Some of the park I've seen can't accommodate us. But we do appreciate the great info. We hope to hit the road for a short time in Feb for our maiden voyage. We pick our new rig up mid Jan. We line in NJ so that will be a great time to head some where warmer for a break.
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:44 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by meterguru
I have started to look into national parks but we have a 40' 5TH wheel, with 50 Amp service. Some of the park I've seen can't accommodate us. But we do appreciate the great info. We hope to hit the road for a short time in Feb for our maiden voyage. We pick our new rig up mid Jan. We line in NJ so that will be a great time to head some where warmer for a break.
We're 40 foot too (MH) plus we pull a tow vehicle. There are alot of public parks that'll take the size (check my blog for reviews of the spots we stay in) and as long as you're open to partial or no hookups you can enjoy alot of space and green. It's an option to keep in mind anyway.

Enjoy your new rig!
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:13 AM   #10
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Boon docking is in our plans. Even going to add solar panels and golf-cart batteries for those sunny spots. So as long as we fit we will stay. Thanks again for all the input.
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Old 11-20-2011, 06:18 PM   #11
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I live in NJ and I have a Thousand Trails membership. They do not have a thousand trails park in NJ but you can go to the Outdoor World parks (2 of them) at the shore with the membership. They are not well maintained and most sites are very small. I have a 40 DP and have trouble getting in. All are first come first serve so you might have problems getting a site if you go at a busy time. The TT parks are much nicer and it's hard to believe that they are run by the same company. The closest TT parks are Hershey PA and Virginia.
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Old 11-21-2011, 05:04 PM   #12
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I live in NJ and I have a Thousand Trails membership. They do not have a thousand trails park in NJ but you can go to the Outdoor World parks (2 of them) at the shore with the membership. They are not well maintained and most sites are very small. I have a 40 DP and have trouble getting in. All are first come first serve so you might have problems getting a site if you go at a busy time. The TT parks are much nicer and it's hard to believe that they are run by the same company. The closest TT parks are Hershey PA and Virginia.
Know the 2 in NJ very well. I retired from the local electric utility and had been in both. Yes they are old and small and have many power issues.
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