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Old 08-30-2014, 07:24 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 54
RV "RESORT" Memberships???

Forgive the "Newbie-ness" of this, but what is the word on the RV parks that sell memberships. I've just stumbled across "Thousand Trails", and it looks interesting. It looks like a good deal if you use it enough, and as full timers, that doesn't seem like a problem, so "What's the catch?" What problems have folks run into with these outfits? Would it be worth joining more than one, for different areas of the country, and or to overlap time etc.? (The one mentioned only allows 14 consecutive days then you have to be "out" for 7 days)

Love to hear from folks with experience with this sort of thing.

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Old 08-30-2014, 07:57 AM   #2
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Mid Atlantic Campers
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TT has been around for over thirty years. I was a member for over twenty. While I've never had any real complaints about any of TTs campgrounds ("preserves"), the corporate people are a serious PITA. Although promised, they never expanded their eastern number of campgrounds and sort of stagnated for a long time until a series of mergers which means you have several different membership types to choose from. The real and serious problem I have with them is the 'never-ending-even-if-you-die' contract I had with them. Don't know if it's changed, but be REALLY careful and read all the fine print. Especially look for how you can end the contract. If it isn't there, I'd strongly recommend not signing. I got out of mine after many years of being periodically harassed, including having them sic a debt collection agency on me when they couldn't even prove I owed them anything at all.

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Old 08-30-2014, 08:05 AM   #3
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When we went fulltime we looked into it, but decided against it. The reason is it only works if you travel in areas where they're located. We don't, so we didn't.
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Old 08-30-2014, 08:43 AM   #4
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We looked at TT, but after reading all the comments on here we decided against it. It seems their campgrounds are not rated very high.

We use Passport America, Escapees, and Good Sam!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
Joe & Annette

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Old 08-30-2014, 08:47 AM   #5
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They are very similar to a timeshare if I recall my one encounter. The contract was for sure in their favor with no real limitations on cost increases and services supply not well spelled out. I did end up owning an nice RV condo lot in Florida for a while which was very nice, but their 'executives' started getting too restrictive when the original board members moved on and new ones took over. If you want a home base, possibly a seasonal campsite might work but be very careful before you sign on the dotted line as to knowing what each of you expect
Dave W along with my DW, Susan and our poodlepups, Callie & Molly,2011 Ford F250 6.7 CCLB, 5er Hitch Option w/B&W Hitch,,Ride Rite air bags, 2014 Montana High Country 343RL (38')w/disc brakes
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Old 08-30-2014, 09:02 AM   #6
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Any membership campground is a good deal IF you go there often enough to get your moneys worth. But if they are not located in places you want to visit, what's the point? Some people travel only to their membership resort(s) and love it, often developing friends among other members, whom they see repeatedly. Others, who like to move around to different places or prefer other locations, seldom visit those parks and [rightly] consider them a waste of money.

I would not recommend that a newbie buy a membership unless you already have friends in the same club and want to be with them. Even then, I would go slow and test it out first (most allow members to bring in guests).

In the case of Thousand Trails, you can buy a one year Zone membership that gives one year of access to a geographic region. That's a low-risk way to see if you like the parks and their location. TT has some very nice parks (Hershey, Clermont/Orlando, Wilmington, and Chesapeake come to mind in the East) but also some old ones in need of modernization. Don't judge all based on one or two.

In any case, it is almost always better to buy a re-sale of a membership than a new one direct from the park system. Resales are almost always much less expensive and carry the same membership benefits.
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Home is in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
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Old 08-30-2014, 09:07 AM   #7
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If the locations are were you will use them, and you use them, can be a good deal. We are TT zone members, use the western zone areas.
Vince and Susan
2011 Tiffin Phaeton 40QTH (Cummins ISC/Freightliner)
Flat towing a modified 2005 Jeep (Rubicon Wrangler)
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:36 AM   #8
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Like Gary, I don't recommend buying one of those while you are new to the lifestyle as you need to know what type of place you will enjoy. They can save you significant money if you are willing to travel from one member park to the next, usually every two weeks. There are several different organizations of that type and with any of them, saving money should be secondary to enjoying where you stay.

Rather than spending that money now, I suggest you join one of the half price market groups such as Passport America as they cost less than $50/year and you don't need to sell your membership to get out of it. Another group of that type is Happy Campers.
Good Travelin! Kirk
Full-time 11 years, now part-time.
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Old 08-30-2014, 02:38 PM   #9
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Have been a member for over 30 years and we love the system. We camp primarily in the west and use TTN approx half the time. We have never regretted our membership.

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Old 08-30-2014, 04:08 PM   #10
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We belong to a large deeded ownership campground just over an hour NE of Atlanta's suburbs in the NE GA mountains. After you buy the membership and pay yearly dues, we can stay 14 days per month free March-December. They close 2 mos. for maintenance. We're a Coast to Coast 5 star resort.

We have 300 campsites, 2 pools and a huge clubhouse and kitchen/dining hall. With about 25 28' slider travel trailers and 4 park models for rent, many members don't even own RV's. And after 25 years, our campground has never been busier.

I cannot tell you how many campers we have in storage--hundreds. Many owners don't even have tow vehicles--as the campground moves the campers onto the campsites for us.

The main thing is to buy into a campground you want to return to time and time again. And the organization needs to be free of corporate politics--run by owners. It helps to have a board of directors that runs a tight fiscal ship--and to have money in the bank to maintain the facilities.
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Old 08-31-2014, 09:34 AM   #11
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As others have said, before committing to any membership, be sure to read the fine print very very thoroughly and understand what you can control (escalating ongoing costs, restrictions on days in/out of parks) and what you can't with it. Heard good and a lot of bad depending on how one travels, and they are typically more beneficial for the promoters than the end user. Most positive comments have been from those that bought into the systems a couple of decades ago or thereabouts.

Secondly, take your time before committing to establish how you'll end up travelling, which can only truly be established for most once they get out there for a few months at minimum.

We have now gone full circle from the initial "wow" we felt a few years ago about the shiny membership resort parks that looked on the surface a steal of a deal being a member, to now realizing that's really not how we roll. For us it would be Passport America - $50 per year, and considering Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts, but waiting on committing to those last two until we get more longer time on the road.
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Old 08-31-2014, 10:44 AM   #12
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RV "RESORT" Memberships???

Yup, like the others said wait to jump in on these deals until you have some time on the road. We bought into just about every club out there when we started, but realized very quickly that we wouldn't use most of them. Now, we only have 2 memberships.

The 1-year TT membership, as others have mentioned, is a great way to check out the TT system and see if it meets your needs. If you decide you love TT there are tons of second-hand memberships for sale out there.
12 paws, 40 feet and the open road
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Old 09-30-2014, 04:46 PM   #13
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I'd stay away from Western Horizon. We have been members for more than 10 years and it has paid for itself several times over. We had 23 nice resorts in the system and it's now down to 8.
We are also members of Thousand Trails with the Elite membership. We continue to be fans and we spend about 60% of our stays in these parks. Once again it has paid for itself several times. There computerized reservation system is a real pleasure to work with.
The jury is still out on our purchase of Coast to Coast Premier. Our salesperson had no idea what he was selling and since then our home park has tried to make amends.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:51 AM   #14
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My $.02:

We have PP America, KOA and, of course, Good Sams.

We have availed the Good Sams discounts a few times and the PP America once. All other times the PPA sites were "sold out" or "not available" (black out dates maybe?) so I'm still not yet convinced on PPA. The KOA rates seem a bit high so I don't know that you're actually saving anything. Of the 5 times I've tried to book a KOA, the rates far exceeded competitors or they couldn't fit my rig but I have heard from others that they like the standardization of KOAs... that is, they get pretty much the same "quality" with every stay.

We were considering TT but their Oregon Zone and California Zones don't sync up with our trip. I wish both OR and CA were one Zone. I don't want to pay for two zones when I'll only be 4 weeks in OR and 6 weeks in CA... so I'm still on the fence about TT.

Most times we seem to stay at SPs, NPs or boondock. That's not by design, it just turns out that way mostly because a lot of the CGs I see via Google Earth have the sites piled too close together. That's the one drawback I see in this RVing lifestyle, vs boating. Too close to my neighbors, although the NPs aren't all that much different.

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