Monday, April 18, 2016

Campground Memberships - Save big with the right memberships for your camping lifestyle.

Campgrounds and Camper Priorities

Eventually, we RV campers will have stayed at so many different campgrounds that we tend to take them for all granted and start looking for savings wherever possible.

You know what I mean, we’re always running around the country in our RV, and at each campground there is a charge for your stay. The savvy Camper soon learns where to get the best deals on their favorite campgrounds.

Even though we might only stay for one or two nights at one campground or maybe we’ll settle in for several weeks at another, after a few years of traveling the country in our RV, many of them tend to blend together in our brains but we end up prioritizing them by cost first and quality later.

You see, far too often, it ends up that when we do get to our camping destination, we have an agenda so full of things to do, we hardly take the time to just sit back and enjoy the campground itself.

We all have our priorities when it comes to what we want in a campground. Some of us just want a place to sit, eat and sleep as we run around the local area doing whatever it is that entertains us, but at the back of our minds the cost is always in our minds.

Campsite at Orlando Thousand Trails Campground

Campground Membership Clubs

Well, my wife and I are members of TT, and we have been for over a decade.

It’s not that this particular camping club is better or worse than the many others available for campers to join situated around the country, it just happens to be the one we picked, way back then.

RV Membership clubs provide access to groups of campgrounds, sometimes only in one region of the country, and sometimes nationwide.

Their membership fees are usually offset by such things as; reserved sites, higher grade sites, better amenities, and often just better locations than your average Mom and Pop campground.

The Thousand Trails Family Camping Club

Thousand Trails, or as we all it TT, is a membership camping club, which has been around since the early sixties. It was bought out a few years ago by another big campground management company called Encore RV Resorts.

And even though the Thousand Trail campgrounds now have a big Encore sign in front of their entrance, we TT members have lifetime contracts that allow us to stay at all of the original TT camping sites, and often some of the Encore sites, for no fee.

The specific campgrounds a member can use and the allowed length of your stay varies with the different memberships, along with a number of other constraints, but my membership is a pretty good one and I can settle in at any of the TT sites for up to 3 weeks at a time.

My Favorite Thousand Trails Campground

The reason I’m explaining this is that the TT campground, near Orlando happens to be one of my favorites and I end up there quite often.

This specific Campground has become one of my favorite get-aways for a lot of reasons. Of course, you can go online to their main site, and look through the many amenities available at all of their campgrounds.

This specific TT campground is popular for two reasons.

First of all, when kids are out of school, usually during the Summer, a lot of families will be spending a week or two here, enjoying all of the campground amenities and, of course, being only a dozen miles from the great Disney World is the big draw during this period of time, too.

But they have a second season when this campground is popular. This campground is popular with the Snowbirds that come to Florida in the winter. Snowbirds is the special name used for the many people who live in Canada and the northern states who want to get away from their cold winter climates.

The easiest way for them to do this, short of buying a second home, in Florida, is to own a motorhome and when the seasons change they come down and rent a campsite, in this wonderful semi-tropical climate, for anywhere from three to six months.

They get to run away from the cold winter, as I said, and they get to take advantage of, not only the fantastic weather, but the nearby access to all of the great forms of entertainment that exist in and near Orlando.

So why do I like this Campground?

Why am I camping here, so often?

Well sure, there are a lot of other things you can do once you are retired, like I am, and are living in Florida year-round.

But I’m a diehard camper who just can’t stop traveling around in my motorhome, finding an interesting area and then planting my motorhome and myself in the middle of a group of fellow campers.

You fellow RV campers understand. It’s probably the; socializing, the cooking on a grill, swimming in the pool, and maybe even playing Bingo, miniature golf, horseshoes, or even taking long walks along the available nature trails that keeps drawing me to this campground.

Of course, being less than 100 miles from my home makes the decision to “run over to Orlando” a lot easier.

But, again, I just like this TT campground.

As I have already mentioned, an extra treat for me is that when I am camped here, I am only a few miles from the great tourist center, Orlando itself and all of the entertainment available there. Do I go to Disney World? OF course, not.

Or rather, not normally, but when my grandchildren come to visit, we often end up camping here for the convenience and low cost for me.

Typically, I just drive over into Orlando, which is within a fifteen minute drive and “dip my toes” into the many great things there are to do in this tourist mecca, and when I am done, I can slip away and within minutes be back to my motorhome in my favorite campground, until I feel that urge to explore, yet again.

In case you didn’t know it, there are several Hot Air Balloon companies operating in the area, and we often see them float over our campsite.

I can often be sitting outside my RV, morning coffee in hand, and look up to see one or more of these Hot Air Balloons float over my head. I can wave at the shouting tourists who are on their Balloon ride, as they float by, viewing our campground and the neighboring fields and farms from above.

And, of course, some days, you know, the lazy ones, I can just prop my feet up on an adjacent lounge chair, under the shade of my umbrella, and read a good book.

It's Like a second Home, but different.

Sure, I can do these things and some of the others that I enjoy regularly, in my home and never leave my house.

But to me, there’s just something about going to a different location, doing the same mundane things you might do at your home but getting a different feeling of joy from doing these things in a different environment.

With all of this said, can you blame me for having a motorhome and a place, or places, to run away to. Places where I can camp and do all of the things I have listed here, whenever I get a little bored with my day-to-day world.

I don’t know what it is, but running away to my favorite campground helps keep me feeling young. That in itself should be enough of a reason for most of us. Right?

And, if even this campground bores me? Well, there is the Peace River TT campground in Wauchula, Florida, the Five Flags CG in Woodland Florida, and dozens of other nice TT campgrounds around the country for me to try out, at my leisure.

You might ask me; am I pushing TT or Encore? Am I giving you a sales pitch, even overly promoting this specific company? Honestly, no!

Campsite at Thousand Trails in Orlando Florida

Other Membership Campground Clubs

But, I am recommending something to you that are not aware of a basic fact most regular RV owners already know. And that is; if you want to get the most from your RV, you should probably do your research and join a camping club or two that offer you sites, at reduced pricing that are in places you will want to use for camping and explore over the years ahead.

Some will offer free camping, some will offer reduced price camping, and they will all offer you different lengths of stay. All of them will give you a way to extend your travels allowing you to enjoy the RV lifestyle, pretty much anywhere in the country.

Oh, and I am also a member of several other Campground Clubs, such as;

Passport America

Passport America is a special club that has contracts with over 1200 campgrounds around the USA. Their specialty is that they give you a one or two day (sometimes longer) stay at their member campgrounds, at half the regular price.

This discount makes them popular for overnight and other short stays for Campers who are heading to a campground too far away to get to in one day.

KOA Kampgrounds

KOA is a chain of campgrounds around the USA that has a reputation for clean and efficiently run campgrounds. Their membership gives you 10% off of their regular price.

Good Sam Campgrounds

Good Sam is a membership club with several thousand affiliated campgrounds who will give a member a 10% discount off of their regular price.

They also have a stringent ranking system for each campground that you can use in your selection process.

There are many other Membership clubs out there from those who provide value and those for the campers who want the highest levels of luxury when they camp.

One of the very nice Campground Sunsets I have enjoyed in my travels.

Membership Campgrounds can save money.

Me? I’m sitting here, feet propped up and writing this article at my Picnic table outside my camper.

Who knows? I might finish the article today, and place it on my web page ….. or, if I pour another glass of wine, I may finish it tomorrow.

What the Heck! I have the time, I'm saving money because I use my favorite campground memberships a lot.

by Don Bobbitt

Campsite Trash Can