Summer is almost here and now’s the time to learn how to avoid RV campground crowds. With nearly nine million RVers on the road according to the RV Industry Association of America, it’s wise to prepare for increasing numbers of RVers on the road between June and August. Here are a few easy ways you can avoid RV campground crowds and save your sanity this summer.
Travel off the beaten path
Find unusual places and lesser known destinations to visit. Leave the most popular camping areas and parks to the families, couples, and solos who are limited to a one or two-week vacation. Remember, as a full-time RVer (or even if you’re just on holidays) you have the luxury of choosing the time to go camping any other time of year.
Draft an itinerary
When people ask how Jim and I choose where we’ll travel, my response is usually “Wherever the wind blows us.” However, that statement doesn’t apply to the summer vacation months.
One of the first lessons we learned as full-time RVers was that summer camping is highly competitive. While it’s great that so many people are discovering the joys of RVing, it’s not so great when you arrive at your destination only to get turned away because the campground’s full. Create a clear itinerary now and spend time researching those destinations to guarantee a spot.
We rarely make reservations during the off-season, but summer is a different story. That’s when carefree full-timers like ourselves must reserve camping spots like weekenders do. Reservations are especially mandatory in popular locations to avoid hassles and heartbreak.
Be aware that if you don’t already have reservations for reservable campgrounds at places like Yosemite or Acadia National Parks, just pick another place to visit because odds are those spots are already booked. Whether you make your reservation online or over the phone, always confirm your dates before you get there.
Be flexible: Create a Plan B
Once you have an itinerary, accept that Mother Nature’s whims can change everything. Summer weather can be just as unpredictable as winter and if your destination is suddenly underwater or becomes unbearably overheated, you’ll want a backup plan. Know your camping options for your plan B destination ahead of time in case you need to make reservations on the fly.
Get ready for crowds
You’ll rarely if ever be alone in the summer. During our first summer as full-timers, we were stunned at the number of campers in America. Even in remote locations throughout the Southwest, we were never without company.
One of the first things we realized during that time was that campers flock together like birds. For example, if you park your RV as far away from others as possible, you’re just asking for a new arrival to go and park right next to you. Maybe it’s the old “safety in numbers” instinct that’s ingrained into the human psyche, but it’s a common phenomenon in the camping world.
The more you move around, the more you’ll spend on fuel and camping fees. The final tip to avoid summer campground crowds is: consider taking a workamping job. Committing to one location not only helps you avoid summer RV campground crowds but allows you to save money on rent. When summer’s over you can spend that money having fun after the crowds leave.
As a full-timer, you’ll find that the summer camping season is a time to practice going with the flow. This approach will serve you well when you check into a busy campground only to discover kids and pets running amok. But even better, being more laid back will also help you be a happier and more content full-time traveler throughout the remainder of the year.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Reed and Elaine says
Free camping/boondocking is the answer in the Western US. There are a lot of regular campsites (primitive) on Forest Service, BLM, and like federal and state lands. There are a lot more “dispersed” sites that are free.
Reed and Elaine
Rene Agredano - The Full Timing Nomad says
I agree guys, we love staying on public lands in cooler months. Summertime is a different story. Can’t run our A/C on solar so we avoid the desert areas. Heading to public lands in mountains can be hit or miss, because everyone else has the same idea.
Daphne Gilpin says
Thanks for the tip to spend some time researching campgrounds to make sure we can get a spot there. My husband and I think it would be fun to start going on RV trips again because we’re worried that our kids don’t get outside enough. I’m glad I read your article because following your tips will help the process of booking RV campgrounds go smoothly.