In a recent conversation anticipating the upcoming season, a fellow RVer mentioned she just bought a campground membership. She excitedly told you that her new membership is going to save her hundreds of dollars in campground fees. Curious, that evening you googled “campground memberships” and came up with lots of websites using terms like “home park,” “reciprocal”, and “zones.” It didn’t take long for you to find out that there are many different types of campground memberships and you asked yourself, “Should I buy one? If so which one?”
Navigating Campground Memberships
Considerations When Purchasing a Campground Membership
LocationMost camping clubs have campground directories and online maps. Take a look at the directory or map to see where the parks are located. Are they near you? Are they near places you want to visit? If not, you may end up you spending more money on gas to get to the places you want to visit than you will save on camping fees.
Usage Rules and RestrictionsEach membership or club has different usage rules. For instance, some allow so many weeks in a particular park a year or so many consecutive days in a campground before you must leave the system for a set amount of time. Rules also often vary by season and affiliations with other networks. Many of the campgrounds in the discount clubs also have restrictions when using the discounted rate as to how many people the discounted rates includes or when it can be used. To be sure you understand don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, take notes, and read the fine print. Making sure you understand the usage rules and restrictions now will save you a headache later on and for most RVers joining a club or two or even more is worth the effort!
Understand the Contract and FeesContracts differ between each membership or club. Some contracts are yearlong commitments and others last many years. Some have a one-time fee and others offer monthly payments. Again, read the fine print and be sure to understand the cancellation policy should your circumstances change. You want to make sure you are comfortable with the contract terms before you commit.
Will You Use It?It’s easy to read “free camping” or “50% off camping” and think it’s too great a deal to pass up but the truth is it’s only a great deal if you use it. If you don’t use it, it’s money that would have been better spent elsewhere. Figure out the average camping fee in the area or areas you will be camping and then see how many nights you will have to camp in the membership or club campgrounds to at least break even and preferably save. The more you use your membership the better a deal it becomes. Being honest with yourself about how much you will use it is one of the most important questions to ask.
An Overview of Different Memberships and Clubs
Do you have a campground membership that you like to use when you Go RVing? Any other memberships we should be aware of? Please share your experience in the comments!