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Old 09-23-2016, 07:18 PM   #15
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Yeah, I think it should work out great. I only started the thread to find out if I was missing something. But it sounds like I am fairly well informed of the options.

Other than the zone passes there are a number of different TT plans. Some of them are thousands of dollars, as well as a yearly fee. Talking to people during one of my TT visits, it seemed like everyone had a different plan.
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Old 09-25-2016, 02:01 PM   #16
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One note I would like to add - I have read a lot of poor recent reviews about TT. Apparently the company was sold a year or two ago and things changed. That being said, everyone that I have dealt with at Thousand Trails has been super helpful and beyond courteous. Furthermore, most of the parks we have visited have been great. There are 2 that we will not go back to, but the rest were great!
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Old 12-21-2016, 09:24 AM   #17
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Please indulge me as I just now heard about Thousand Trails through a video and if I could tack on to this thread. TT almost sounds too good. A video I watched about it made it sound like you pay for a zone (and often get an extra zone free), you pay $400-$500 roughly per year, and you get to stay for free on their sites. What's the catch? We'll start full timing next summer and, if true, this sounds great.

Also, I noticed on their websites that Encore is an additional "benefit" but it appears that those sites are only 10-20% off regular rates. Passport America and GoodSam seem to me just as good for the Encore sites, but again I may be missing something.

My wife is freaking out a little now because she just saw a different video where this lady's monthly expenses seemed really high and we're looking for any way to save money. We must continue to work and pay bills. So, if we can get "free" camping spots for a year for $500, then that looks a heck of a lot better than $500 per month for site rental. Please, please tell me what I'm missing?!?
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Old 12-21-2016, 10:01 AM   #18
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Please, please tell me what I'm missing?!?
Missing:
Number of parks
Location of parks
Quality of parks
14 day stay then out of then you have to be out of the system 7 or 14 days (I forget the number) before you can use a TT park again.

I think TT annual costs can be a good deal for those who know what they are getting into.

Think of it this way. If you pay $500 for 1 or two zones and you use it for 4 to 6 weeks it has paid for itself.
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Old 12-21-2016, 11:01 AM   #19
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Look at park reviews and Google forum threads on Thousand Trails. I personally as a full timer would not get any type of Thousand Trails membership. Many of the campgrounds seem to be in poor condition with the best sites taken by long term leases. Look at Passport America for a low cost membership that will recoup your membership fees with the first stay. PPA does have restrictions though. There are lots of ways to save money on camping fees. One must be flexible though.
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Old 12-21-2016, 11:08 AM   #20
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Look at park reviews and Google forum threads on Thousand Trails. I personally as a full timer would not get any type of Thousand Trails membership. Many of the campgrounds seem to be in poor condition with the best sites taken by long term leases. Look at Passport America for a low cost membership that will recoup your membership fees with the first stay. PPA does have restrictions though. There are lots of ways to save money on camping fees. One must be flexible though.
PA is good for a few days of discount. I have not come a park where is does anything for you for a week or month.
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Old 12-21-2016, 12:41 PM   #21
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Please indulge me as I just now heard about Thousand Trails through a video and if I could tack on to this thread. TT almost sounds too good. A video I watched about it made it sound like you pay for a zone (and often get an extra zone free), you pay $400-$500 roughly per year, and you get to stay for free on their sites. What's the catch? We'll start full timing next summer and, if true, this sounds great.

Also, I noticed on their websites that Encore is an additional "benefit" but it appears that those sites are only 10-20% off regular rates. Passport America and GoodSam seem to me just as good for the Encore sites, but again I may be missing something.

My wife is freaking out a little now because she just saw a different video where this lady's monthly expenses seemed really high and we're looking for any way to save money. We must continue to work and pay bills. So, if we can get "free" camping spots for a year for $500, then that looks a heck of a lot better than $500 per month for site rental. Please, please tell me what I'm missing?!?
The TT "Zone Camping" membership gets you 30 nights of 'free' camping at TT campgrounds in your zone(s). Additional nights are $3 each. That's a bargain, but it comes with some restrictions:
  • 14 night limit for each stay, then must be out for 7 nights
  • 60-day advance 'window' to make reservations.
(The more expensive memberships have longer advance reservation windows, longer maximum stays, and you can go park-to-park without having to be out of their system.)

Overall that's been extremely good for our needs, but it may not fit everyone. There are 4 TT campgrounds less than an hour from us, and 6 more within a half-day's drive.

Right now they're offering 2 zones for the price of 1, which I did when I bought my membership; later I was also able to add a 3rd zone for free through a special offer. AFAIK the annual fee is the same no matter what your membership level. With our 3 zones I've got access to all of their campgrounds in the eastern half of the US.

You're right, the Encore discounts may not be as good as what you can get on the same locations with other plans, like Passport America. But I have PA and Good Sam anyway - they pretty much pay for themselves. I have noticed that TT/Encore frequently run bigger Encore discounts in their magazine, but only for some specific locations.

Shop carefully, and good luck!

Roger
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Old 12-21-2016, 12:56 PM   #22
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I would NOT pay for membership camping again, but there are others that find them wonderful. My primary problem is my wife and I want to travel to see the country and the campgrounds are never where we want to travel. If your idea of camping is driving to a special location somewhere on a lake and enjoying the peace and quiet as you play shuffle board you might find them beneficial. If you want to see this country, you need another plan.

Next consider the price. I spend about $35-50 per day on the average for camping when I travel. (Except when I take the kids to Disney $150/night ouch) If the membership is $5000 that will buy 100-150 days of camping. How many days per year do you plan on camping given that you have a 14-20 day limit per year. Then there are annual maintenance fees that could pay for more days elsewhere. Is that worth it to you?

I can not speak for you, but membership camping is not for me and I have tried two different programs over the years. I really wish I had my money back and the ensuing aggravation out of my life, but I am still living, I learned and I am moving on.
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Old 12-21-2016, 01:38 PM   #23
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Howdy!

We are fulltimers and we have a TT's membership which more than pays for its self. We purchased a used Platimum membership a few years ago and upgraded it to a Elite Connection which give use excess to more Encore parks. We can stay in the TT park for 21 days and go park to park at no cost to us. So we could live in TT park year round for only the cost of our yearly dues which is $550.00. The problem we have now encounter is that TT's is now selling off a large percentage of the site in all the parks to "long term" stay people which leaves few sites for folks like us.

"Happy Trails"
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Old 12-22-2016, 06:56 AM   #24
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The zone pass requires no commitment and is an easy and inexpensive way to test the waters. You may have trouble getting into popular parks during peak seasons, otherwise it's a great deal.
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Old 12-22-2016, 07:06 AM   #25
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The two TT parks we toured were dumps, the wife said she felt yucky just touring them much less paying for staying there.
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Old 12-22-2016, 07:45 AM   #26
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You saved me a lot of typing.
There are 3 kinds of memberships.. Used to be only two but Thousand Trails came out with a 3rd, you already know the 3rd kind, you said you liked it and thus saved me the trouple of describing it.

Most Membership campgrounds and this includes the odler TT "Lifetime" memberships are 2 or 3 weeks in, one week out and dues for life, it's kind of like a marraige,, I have one campground company which lost their campgrounds to the tax man over a decade ago and they STILL dunn me for dues.. I still ignore the bill cause the contract said they had to maintain the campgrounds for member use and they failed. So they owe me a refund.

I do recommend the type of membership you have..

The third type is teh KOA type. you buy the card you get a discount like 10 or 20% off, but I do not recomend that kind eitehr.. Just the Zone Pass that you have.

UNLESS... now I have two of those lifetime memberships, one in TT one in another outfit.. I use them enough to make them worth the dues.. In fact during the lean times of a few years back we used them almost exclusively,,, Parking for 100/month during the summer was nice... 200 in the winter (Story there but not today).

And of all the parks I've visited, Thousand Trails staffers seem to be the greatest. I have liked the staff in all the parks Iv'e visited, Not so much other parks, including other membership parks.
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Old 12-22-2016, 08:04 AM   #27
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LOTS of misinformation and partially correct information on here.

We have been TT members, on our 3rd year. 2 zones - 1 year = $450.00. We re-up our 2 zones on a 4 year membership = $425 per year.

The current zone passes give you 30 days free per year, $3 per night after that. Some parks may charge a 50 amp surcharge (like $3 per night). 14 days in and 7 days out. Almost all are full hookups. (TT parks only)

There are literally a thousand different memberships out there with varying rules. Be careful if you buy a used one. The currently available Elite is much more expensive but gives you more free days, 21 days in and 7 days out (but NO days out if you go to another park) and it is nationwide. Almost all are full hookups. (TT parks only)

TT and Encore are owned by Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS) based out of Chicago. I don't think anything has been "sold" in the last couple of years.

As fulltimers our monthly costs are $63 per month + where ever we stay our week out (usually $100-200 for a week). So less than $300 per month. We have wintered in FL and this year in TX.

TT parks vary but most of the ones where we have stayed are pretty decent. As good as or better than most parks in $30-$50 per night range. Site are generally very spacious. Staff are usually outstanding but corporate is a PITA. All improvement $$$ come from corporate so big repairs are controlled by them.

If I missed anything or you have any questions, let me know.
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Old 12-22-2016, 08:18 AM   #28
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PA is good for a few days of discount. I have not come a park where is does anything for you for a week or month.
Westwind Golf and RV Resort in Yuma this November let me stay 3 weeks at the PA 50% discount...they published 3 days but when I asked aout longer they said how long do you want to stay. I said 2 weeks then later added a third, no problem. I think during shoulder seasons many parks will be happy to have you stay longer at the PA rate rather than be empty...just ask.
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