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Old 08-23-2013, 10:30 AM   #211
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Originally Posted by bdickson View Post
Credit card processing cost is usually 2.5 to 3 percent, so $12 sounds excessive. It could be partly that, and also the cost of using a third party reservation system. A lot of State parks in the US use reserveamerica.com. Off hand I can't remember if they charge a separate fee.
Credit card processing cost is usually 2.5 to 3 percent FOR BUSINESSES who do a lot of their OWN credit card processing. How about for a government agency who likely uses some third party contractor to handle their credit card business? If the Canadian government handles these things like ours does, I'd guess $12 per transaction is about right.
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Old 08-23-2013, 11:27 AM   #212
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<snip>
I agree that it is easy to confuse "camping" (which some claim can only be done in the wilderness in a tent) with "RVing" (which I have always equated with parking on concrete in an open area devoid of trees) and "traveling" (which in your description is simply driving a long distance in a vehicle with a bed and a toilet). The OP did not appear to be interested in the latter. The truth is probably that there are so many variations among the 3 major categories that I listed that it is very hard to compare one of those variations with another.

My point in going into as much detail as I have is to allow those who feel driven off by the high costs of the KOAs to think about alternatives and some of those variations rather than simply parking or selling their RV. As you have pointed out, it is possible to be on the road and not spend a fortune for a CG every night. But there are tradeoffs. It is possible, IMHO, to find CGs that offer the very basic services, fewer amenities and still be able to do some or even many of the things that many people would associate with an RV. I, too, would probably give up the RV lifestyle if the only alternative was to constantly stay in places like Ft. Wilderness. I've found the the higher cost CGs often come with more rules and restrictions. State Parks seem to offer a happy medium - more space in between sites (not always), fewer rules and more shaded areas at lower costs. Of course, few of them have wifi, 50amp electric and swimming pools which seem to be "musts" for some people with RVs. I think it is possible to have a great experience without all of those extras.

I guess I'm just a social animal. One of the other posters suggested that one of the things he liked was sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot and watching others drive to work. I'd much rather have had a chance to talk with some of those others and don't feel comfortable just striking up a conversation with any Wal-Mart shopper. In a CG, however, there seems to be a lot more willingness to be social. I respect those who prefer to be by themselves but often a few friendly words will turn into an exchange of information or a much longer conversation. We've met a lot of great people that way. I was impressed by the great feeling of camaraderie among those at the Sturgis bike rally. Everyone seemed willing to talk to everyone and to share information about their common love of Harleys. Given a chance, many RVers seem to operate the same way. I'd miss that if I were constantly confined to an asphalt parking lot.
I think you may be reading into this more than is there. I also like to talk with fellow parking lot dwellers. I find our Canadian neighbors especially friendly and easy to talk with. I strike up conversations with them all the time, unless they start up, first. And it's not just WM lots but casino lots, too. Lots of camaraderie going on out there, just not around a campfire.

What has always puzzled me is, why buy a self-contained vehicle if you are not going to use it as intended? If it didn't have holding tanks and a generator, would you buy it anyway?

The OP wanted to spend a couple nights and changed it to one when he learned how expensive it was. Why not just find a parking lot or a pull-out and save even more?
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Old 08-23-2013, 09:53 PM   #213
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I think you may be reading into this more than is there. I also like to talk with fellow parking lot dwellers. I find our Canadian neighbors especially friendly and easy to talk with. I strike up conversations with them all the time, unless they start up, first. And it's not just WM lots but casino lots, too. Lots of camaraderie going on out there, just not around a campfire.

What has always puzzled me is, why buy a self-contained vehicle if you are not going to use it as intended? If it didn't have holding tanks and a generator, would you buy it anyway?

The OP wanted to spend a couple nights and changed it to one when he learned how expensive it was. Why not just find a parking lot or a pull-out and save even more?
If you will notice, I quoted Rancarr. My response was directed at several of the things that were posted including getting ready for bed right after driving. Anyone who wants to do that is free to do so, I was simply explaining alternatives and why I like them.

Maybe your last paragraph sums up a major difference. My goal in using the RV is not to save money. Don't take that wrong, I can pinch pennies with the best of them. But when we are traveling, I like to try to get the most out the experiences that are available. That includes cooking our own meals whenever possible. We are pretty careful about where we eat, trying not to pick up processed food unless it the only choice. Yes, that means a little more work but I was trying to demonstrate that it might not be as much work as others believe it to be. Having a place to cook might cost more than not having one so that is a choice that we are willing to make. But back to the OP's statements, $60 a night is NOT the minimum price of admission to make that happen. For us, the average KOA price on our last trip was about $40. Even that is too high if it were just my wife and I. I was willing to pay a premium to stay at places that gave our granddaughter a better experience. The collective "extra" cost for the trip was a worthwhile investment for her.

A point that hasn't been discussed a lot is peak season versus otherwise. In some places, there is very little difference in CG costs. In prime locations, the peak season surcharge is steep, maybe over 100% above the off-season rate. So if you are retired as we are and have the option, working within the rate schedule is a way to save money without eliminating CGs all together.

We had a big breakdown on our last trip. We made the most of it that we could, minimizing the inconveniences of the recovery as much as possible. I suspect many people make the most of the situation that they are in, parking lot, CG, RV Resort, etc. Maybe some of us are willing to spend a little more to eliminate some inconveniences. BTW, we do self-contained stays all of the time. I agree that holding tanks, house batteries, etc were put on RVs for a reason and we do take advantage of them. The difference is that we don't elect to stay that way every time. If I had to pick up another job to pay for the CG fees that we elect to pay, I'd consider it as just the choice that we make. We have a budget for them and, over the course of the year, manage to stay within it.
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Old 08-24-2013, 12:43 AM   #214
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If you will notice, I quoted Rancarr. My response was directed at several of the things that were posted including getting ready for bed right after driving. Anyone who wants to do that is free to do so, I was simply explaining alternatives and why I like them.

Maybe your last paragraph sums up a major difference. My goal in using the RV is not to save money. Don't take that wrong, I can pinch pennies with the best of them. But when we are traveling, I like to try to get the most out the experiences that are available. That includes cooking our own meals whenever possible. <snip> But back to the OP's statements, $60 a night is NOT the minimum price of admission to make that happen. For us, the average KOA price on our last trip was about $40. Even that is too high if it were just my wife and I. I was willing to pay a premium to stay at places that gave our granddaughter a better experience. The collective "extra" cost for the trip was a worthwhile investment for her.

A point that hasn't been discussed a lot is peak season versus otherwise. In some places, there is very little difference in CG costs. In prime locations, the peak season surcharge is steep, maybe over 100% above the off-season rate. So if you are retired as we are and have the option, working within the rate schedule is a way to save money without eliminating CGs all together.

We had a big breakdown on our last trip. We made the most of it that we could, minimizing the inconveniences of the recovery as much as possible. I suspect many people make the most of the situation that they are in, parking lot, CG, RV Resort, etc. Maybe some of us are willing to spend a little more to eliminate some inconveniences. BTW, we do self-contained stays all of the time. I agree that holding tanks, house batteries, etc were put on RVs for a reason and we do take advantage of them. The difference is that we don't elect to stay that way every time. If I had to pick up another job to pay for the CG fees that we elect to pay, I'd consider it as just the choice that we make. We have a budget for them and, over the course of the year, manage to stay within it.
Well, you actually quoted me when you talked of the guy (me) that likes to stand outside in the morning with my coffee and watch people drive to work. I was just saying I also enjoy talking to my fellow parking lot dwellers.

I too pinch pennies, but not when travelling. That is a time for spending and enjoying our time on the road in the RV. My "save even more" by staying in one of the many free places was directed to the OP, which I also quoted. He didn't like the high prices, I was suggesting alternatives.

I don't think anyone should stay anywhere they don't want to or where they are uncomfortable. Just considering all the alternatives may help us to have a more enjoyable trip.

I wish you lots of sleepy, star filled nights and days with nothing in front of you but the open road. Enjoy!
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Old 08-24-2013, 12:52 AM   #215
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I understand the importance of saving a few dollars on campground fees, but fuel is the big expenditure these days. A 400 mile day at 50 cents per mile just for fuel dwarfs any cost for campgrounds. I am three weeks into an eight week trip and I have almost two grand just in fuel costs so far.
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Old 08-24-2013, 01:01 AM   #216
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We stayed at one on the OR coast near Astoria, cost was almost $100 a night after all the add ons. We paid it purely for the grandkids sake so they had something to do. Site was barely long enough, not really wide enough (I can show you the tree branch scrapes). Did go to the breakfasts they had though, but that was a mandatory "extra".
Won't do it again though.
Was that a 'name brand' across the highway from the entrance to an Oregon state park? We walked away from it and had a nice spot in the state park for substantially less. However, I do understand the grandchildren amusement value.

I think if parks would have a comfortable base price for a place to park, and the usual water, sewer, and electric, and then add-on extras - wifi, cable, sauna, swimming pool, playground etc, it would be much better.

Seems like a happy camper is better than an empty site.

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Old 08-24-2013, 01:06 AM   #217
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There is no question that not paying CG fees can save some money. If your goal is solely to get point from point A to point B as quickly as you can, you certainly have a lot more work to accomplish it than I would tolerate.
Some things can be done in advance. But most is done the last few days before we leave. We can't afford to pay a maid so have to do everything for ourselves.

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We have preparations to do, too, before we leave. But good checklists and having things in order a couple of weeks in advance makes the last minute requirements a lot less intrusive than your description.
We too have lists of what to pack and take with us. We don't like loading way in advance. Almost everything is done in the last week.

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We opted for a propane grill for the RV. That means that cooking setup consists of removing it from the compartment, putting it on the stand and connecting the little gas bottle. A quick thump of the igniter and I'm ready for the food.
We had a gas grill and got rid of it. We didn't like the flavor and texture of the meat cooked over gas. Cleaning the grill was labor intensive as the grease would drip down over the burners and on to the bottom where it would collect. We had a Rhyno gas grill. It would start to stink (decompose) if not cleaned right after eating.

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For the dutch oven, it is charcoal. We have a "chimney" type starter where you pour the brickettes into the top, stuff a piece of wadded up newspaper in the bottom and put a match to it. About 8 minutes later, the brickettes are spread under and on top of the oven and the oven temp quickly comes up to 350 degrees or more, depending on how may brickettes I use. There are a lot of great "one pot" recipes so that the oven is all I have to clean up if we use disposable dishes It is a lot less work that your interpretation suggests.
We have one of those chimneys to start briquettes also. And at 350F how long does it take to cook your dinner of meat and veggies?

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I agree that it is easy to confuse "camping" (which some claim can only be done in the wilderness in a tent) with "RVing" (which I have always equated with parking on concrete in an open area devoid of trees) and "traveling" (which in your description is simply driving a long distance in a vehicle with a bed and a toilet). The OP did not appear to be interested in the latter. The truth is probably that there are so many variations among the 3 major categories that I listed that it is very hard to compare one of those variations with another.
I agree. When we go "camping" we go someplace within an hour or two's drive, set up and watch the sun set as we grill our dinner. We like to camp on a lake or river. Then we try to get our 1 to 2 mile walk in. By then it's dark and we're ready to lay down and read or get online... then go to bed. If we're camping for less than 2 weeks we don't bring the Satellite dish with us. We want treed shady sites and don't spend much time watching TV anyway. We can always find News on a local station.

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My point in going into as much detail as I have is to allow those who feel driven off by the high costs of the KOAs to think about alternatives and some of those variations rather than simply parking or selling their RV. As you have pointed out, it is possible to be on the road and not spend a fortune for a CG every night. But there are tradeoffs. It is possible, IMHO, to find CGs that offer the very basic services, fewer amenities and still be able to do some or even many of the things that many people would associate with an RV.
If they're looking for a destination CG to spend a long weekend or a few weeks vacation, of course they don't want a WM lot. They want a place that's affordable and not have to pay for things they don't want or wont use such as wifi or a pool. The only places we found east, south and north of Nashville TN in that category are the State Parks and the COE CGs. And with the senior card, the COEs take 50% off. But if you travel to a different state, you may not get the 50% discount. We'll be staying at a RV Resort in the Ocala NF this coming winter for $265 a month. But we shopped around and went and looked at different resorts when we were down there. People have to get online and do some "shopping around" because affordable places can usually be found - but it's not as likely near tourist attractions during tourist season. I met one couple who did give up their RV because with the insurance CG fees etc, they simply couldn't afford it anymore. They sold it on Craigslist.

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I, too, would probably give up the RV lifestyle if the only alternative was to constantly stay in places like Ft. Wilderness. I've found the the higher cost CGs often come with more rules and restrictions. State Parks seem to offer a happy medium - more space in between sites (not always), fewer rules and more shaded areas at lower costs. Of course, few of them have wifi, 50amp electric and swimming pools which seem to be "musts" for some people with RVs. I think it is possible to have a great experience without all of those extras.
I agree. When we started out in 2006 we had a tent and just the bare basics of camping and moved up from there. All we had was a cell phone with us. I personally had a good time all the same. Now we have not only cell phones, but the Sat' TV, the CB radio, our own wifi hotspot and our house phone (we have a package with Verizon). None of these things are necessary to have a good camping experience.

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I guess I'm just a social animal. One of the other posters suggested that one of the things he liked was sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot and watching others drive to work. I'd much rather have had a chance to talk with some of those others and don't feel comfortable just striking up a conversation with any Wal-Mart shopper.
Those with RVs in the WM lots will often chew your ears off. Most just want to rest or sleep. The regular shoppers choose to park close to the store. They don't come over and they don't bother anyone in or around the RVs.

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In a CG, however, there seems to be a lot more willingness to be social. I respect those who prefer to be by themselves but often a few friendly words will turn into an exchange of information or a much longer conversation. We've met a lot of great people that way. I was impressed by the great feeling of camaraderie among those at the Sturgis bike rally. Everyone seemed willing to talk to everyone and to share information about their common love of Harleys. Given a chance, many RVers seem to operate the same way. I'd miss that if I were constantly confined to an asphalt parking lot.
AGAIN you're confusing spending the night somewhere and camping/RVing. You need to learn to separate the two. As an ex-biker I can assure you bikers are a lot friendlier than RVers and a lot less judgmental.
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Old 08-24-2013, 01:10 AM   #218
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RanCarr, Thank you for your explanation of your travels. I agree 100% if you are going from point A to B spending a couple of nights at WMarts etc. isn't such a bad idea.
It is totally pointless to pay $25 and up just to park for the night, not needing or wanting hookups. Anyone you meet in those lots will say the same thing.

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My confusion of equating RV'ing and camping with traveling with a camper, which by the way offers the very nice benefit of pulling off the road and sleeping in your own bed.
Right! Your own bed and toilet and coffee pot and sofa and.... pets are not an issue as they can be in a hotel or motel. It's truly our home on wheels when we leave the stick-n-brick.

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Back on topic to KOA's, if enough people weren't using them they wouldn't be in business today. They obviously have fine tuned a niche market in the wide world of camping which is very broadly defined to become a major player in the industry and the franchise market. I prefer going elsewhere, but if every body was like me this would be a very scary world, Yikes!
We only stayed at one KOA, in MD, and it was a good experience.
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Old 08-24-2013, 01:13 AM   #219
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I have read most of this thread and would like to and something that just drives me nuts. The National Parks in Canada require reservations in order to insure you get a spot.
If you reserve on line you are charged an additional $12. Does this make sense. Can somebody explain to me why? The Dufus at the camp ground couldn't.
It sounds like they do it just to get more money! It may be cheaper for you to go to a private CG. Are the prices the same or would you save the $12?
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Old 08-24-2013, 01:38 AM   #220
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One reason that KOA is so expensive is that the campground owner has to pay a percentage of each reservation to KOA. I believe it's somewhere between 10-15% They also have to pay KOA a yearly franchise fee in order to keep their name over the campground. It is expensive. And you don't have to stay there. But the campground owner has to eat as well.

I agree completely. But it is getting out of hand.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:44 AM   #221
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Reserve America charges $9 per site reservation. They do a very nice job on an overall basis, but their costs can be on the ridiculous at times. Cancel a reservation, an additional $18! Earlier this month I wanted to reserve four sites at a New York State Park for my wife's birthday celebration. You can not reserve more than one site at a time online. So I called their 800 number, spoke to a very helpful customer service agent who promptly took care of my reservation of the sites I wanted. To my surprise I was charged $36, or $9 per site! Now that is robbery!
We did have a great time though!!
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Old 08-24-2013, 11:15 AM   #222
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Reserve America charges $9 per site reservation. They do a very nice job on an overall basis, but their costs can be on the ridiculous at times. Cancel a reservation, an additional $18! Earlier this month I wanted to reserve four sites at a New York State Park for my wife's birthday celebration. You can not reserve more than one site at a time online. So I called their 800 number, spoke to a very helpful customer service agent who promptly took care of my reservation of the sites I wanted. To my surprise I was charged $36, or $9 per site! Now that is robbery!We did have a great time though!!
In general whether we call what we do Camping or RVing, businesses and government entities view and label it a luxury. Too bad that RA didn't "combine reservation fees" like eBay sellers are expected to combine shipping fees.
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:43 PM   #223
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Hey Wil, Check into Passport America and you can save 50 % on campsites at their participating campgrounds. We've used it several times now and have not been disappointed and it paid for itself the first 2 nights we used it! There is a Goose Creek RV Resort in Newport, NC which PA members pay $19-25. Hope this helps in the future.
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:58 AM   #224
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There is no such thing as 'greed' in free market capitalism.

CGs will charge what the market will bear. If every site is full and there's a line of coaches on the waiting list, the price goes up. If the CG is 20% full and not a new camper in sight, the price goes down.

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