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Camping Club Discounts

As Published In WBCCI Blue Beret Magazine
Camping Club Discounts

Once I decided to become a full-time RVer, I joined a number of camping dis-count clubs. I sort of assumed that they would all have about the same benefits, but it turns out that some are better in certain situations than others. The whole thing can be a little confusing — so I’m here to give you the skinny on each program.

Escapees

Escapees is one of the best camping clubs out there. They own more than a dozen different parks around the country where you can overnight, boondock, and even buy or lease a lot for long-term use. You save 15% off the rack rate at 1000+ other member parks — except when you’re already getting a discount on a weekly or monthly stay. But more than just a discount club, they also offer a mail-forwarding service, amazing road-side assistance through Coach-Net, all kinds of live events and rallies, an RVer Boot Camp for newbies, and an extensive online “travel guide” that is a huge help when planning your route. Members receive a monthly magazine with lots of tips and advice. Plus they give you a cool sticker for your RV (always an important consideration when joining an organization) — with a picture of a house sitting in a little red wagon. (I just love that!) The fee is very reasonable, and you can make that up with just a few discounted park stays.

Good Sam

Good Sam is another top camping club for RVers. It seems that just about EVERY quality park in the country (nearly 2000 of them) participates in their program. For many people, the little halo insignia provides peace of mind — they have a reputation for high standards, and you know that a Good Sam location will mean a nice stay. It’s a smaller savings (10% off at participating parks), but you have a greater variety of locations to choose from. They also partner with other travel-related businesses to offer members discounts at restaurants, auto shops, camping stores, and more. And Good Sam’s online community is a fabulous resource for full-timers, too — with forums, park reviews, a virtual shopping mall, travel tips, technical advice, and lots of ways to hookup with other RVers. You can even use their travel planner to route your trip so that you spend each night at a Good Sam park! Well worth their minuscule fee.

50% Off Clubs

Two clubs out there claim to offer a 50% discount on stays at participating RV parks – Happy Camper and Passport America. However, this is a bit misleading — you can save 50% off of rack rates, but not consistently. First, you may have difficulty finding a park in your area that participates — there are many fewer member parks than with the other “big two.” Second, these discounts are usually only good for a night or two, and then you flip back to the regularly advertised rate for the remainder of your stay. This is fine if you’re stopping over for just a day, on your way from somewhere to somewhere else — but it doesn’t really help those full-timers (like us) who want to park it for a while in one spot. And third, there are all kinds of restrictions attached to the discounts — not on week-ends, not on holidays, not during high season, etc. Memberships are cheap, and it’s not a bad idea to join one of the two for those short stays when you CAN take advantage of the 50% off – but they have about the same policies and parks, so it’s not really worth it to join both.

The Verdict

I am convinced that you can save money with the camping club memberships — if you use them the right way. At the very least, they offer great resources for locating a park in a particular area when you’re planning your travels. Whenever we’re shopping for a place to stay, I always start (and usually end) by perusing the camping club listings. Also look for discount clubs that are specific to the type of rig you have (fifth wheel, motorhome, travel trailer) or the brand (I have clubs for Airstreamers, but there are others for different makes and models.) Happy cheapie travels!

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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