Are you as skeptical as me when it comes to discount camping clubs for RVers? I’m so skeptical that when RV superstore sales reps see me coming they instinctively know that I’m their worst customer. I never give in to sales pressure and join any kind of RV timeshare or club without doing my homework. Once I decide on whether or not to commit, I feel good knowing I made the right choice for our lifestyle. Here are three discount camping clubs that get my hard-earned dollars every year:
When another RVer told me about Passport America I was suspicious and wondered: “Why would any RV park cut their rates in half? Could the parks be that bad?” Later I was surprised to discover:
- A $44 Passport America membership pays for itself after just two uses. Stay two nights at a park with $45 rates and you’ve just paid for your membership. Use it again and the real discounts kick in.
- Passport parks represent the range of choices you have anywhere else. They’re not all dumps, nor are they all exclusive resorts. Passport parks run the gamut, from basic hookups in rustic settings to full-service luxury parks. Before booking one I always research in campgroundreviews.com, taking the reviews with a grain-of-salt before proceeding. If there’s a good range of opinions, usually the park rates somewhere in the middle so I won’t hesitate to book a reservation.
- Passport parks have few restrictions. You can count on two things with Passport parks: 1) you’ll probably encounter some usage restrictions during peak times and 2) good parks will limit your membership use during your stay. Other than that the few restrictions are pretty easy for us to live with. I’ve also learned that if a park allows you to use your Passport discount for an entire short-term stay, it’s usually deficient in some aspect, usually it’s location or facilities.
Full-time RVer Marianne Edwards started this worthwhile camping club for RVers. As an expert boondocker, owner of FrugalRVTravel.com and author of the Frugal Shunpikers Guides to RV Boondocking, Marianne has a well-earned reputation for helping RVers live frugally and fabulously.
Marianne’s group Boondockers Welcome is a community of RVers around the world who enjoy the magic that happens when you meet and click with other RVers on the road. The club consists of:
- Property-owning RVers who don’t mind hosting RVers for a short visit
- RVers who don’t have property but are looking for a place to stay.
Location and member details are kept to a minimum until both the host and guest communicate privately through the club interface and decide that they’re a good match. For about $25 a year (less if you enroll as a host), the club pays for itself with just one use.
Escapees RV Club
Escapees has a longstanding reputation for being the biggest and best RV support club out there and that reputation is well-deserved. We joined in 2009 to utilize the club’s assistance in helping us establish an official domicile when we became full-timers. It didn’t take long to experience the club’s numerous other benefits, including huge savings on member parks.
Join Escapees for $39.95 annually and you can stay in a number of RV parks that are either owned by the club (“Rainbow Parks“) or independently owned by member-run co-ops (“SKP Co-Op Parks“). Escapees members also get discounts on a few hundred commercial RV parks around the country, but the best deals are found at Escapees’ members-only parks.
You can boondock for as low as $5 a night (sometimes free, depending on the park) or enjoy full hookups somewhere between $15 and $20 a night. The parks’ ambiance and scenery around the U.S. are all different but every one is worth the annual dues. As a bonus, you’ll have access to a long list of club benefits found nowhere else in the RVing community, like The Days End Directory, a vast resource of free and low cost places to stay in North America.
In my nine years of full-timing, only these three clubs have proven to be useful for my husband Jim and I. Of course everyone’s traveling style is different, so the only way to find out if a club is worth your investment is to talk to others and decide for yourself. If you’ve found other great RV clubs useful for your travels, drop me a line, I’d love to hear about them.