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pharvey

Winter Reservations

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My husband and I sold our home in August and 'hit the road'.  We had mapped out a few stops as we headed down the east coast then we were going to 'wing it'.  After talking to a few couples in our travels, one couple being Escapees, we were informed that we should have had our winter reservations made by now.  That was worrisome to us as we were 'winging it' with no real direction.  Any suggestions what late comer newbies do now to find a place to settle for the winter?  Between our lateness and the hurricanes on the coast, how does one find a place to stay or will we have to keep moving in order to find available sites? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.  We were also trying to fit a trip to Livingston into our plans to make Texas our domicile state.  I guess we still have a lot to learn about this new lifestyle.

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33 minutes ago, pharvey said:

My husband and I sold our home in August and 'hit the road'.  We had mapped out a few stops as we headed down the east coast then we were going to 'wing it'.  After talking to a few couples in our travels, one couple being Escapees, we were informed that we should have had our winter reservations made by now.  That was worrisome to us as we were 'winging it' with no real direction.  Any suggestions what late comer newbies do now to find a place to settle for the winter?  Between our lateness and the hurricanes on the coast, how does one find a place to stay or will we have to keep moving in order to find available sites? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.  We were also trying to fit a trip to Livingston into our plans to make Texas our domicile state.  I guess we still have a lot to learn about this new lifestyle.

You're doing just fine . We have made a couple reservations in almost 8 years of full timing . 

Why not simply head toward Livingston and continue your winging it ? Stay flexible and stay happy . :)

Just because some folks have to have reservations , doesn't mean reservations are required . And , if they are why would you want to fight those crowds ? 

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I started my journey from NE Washington last October knowing I wanted to be in Arizona to spend at least part of the winter, no reservations made.  I called a place that fit my needs/interests about a week out and they had a spot for me for 2 1/2 months!  I did have to find some place else for February > but had plenty of time to look around and/or decide where else I wanted to go. 

This year I made reservations early since I didn't want to 'chance it', so for 5 months I'll be staying at the same place.  I've been on the road, spending a month here and there on my way to a few days, here and there, and enjoyed my time, but I'm ready to sit still for a while. 

Only place I really had to 'adjust' was in Montana near Glacier as it was a mad house.  I prefer less intense camp sites, so found places  a ways out.  I hate to make too many reservations while on the road since I change my mind all the time....!

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Only if you want a specific #of months at a specific site do you need reservations.  All parks will have sitesfor a. Week here and there.  First few years we just did 1-2 weeks all winter, calling/going onlinea week or so ahead.  Be flexible and have fun.

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Only if you want a specific #of months at a specific site do you need reservations.  All parks will have sitesfor a. Week here and there.

I disagree based on actual experience on the East Coast from Southern Georgia into Florida in February/March. The past two years it has not been possible to get a site for a week on short notice and in the more popular parks and campgrounds often mentioned on this and other RV forums not even for a night or two.  I doubt that the recent hurricanes will help the situation. Public Parks that take reservations are booked well in advance even if they have stay limits. First come first serve parks are the best bet, but we call ahead to see what occupancy is like rather than wasting time showing up only to find that they are full. There are some boondocking and dry camping opportunities in Florida on Wildlife Management Area and Water Management District lands, but nothing on the scale of BLM and Forest Service Lands in the Western states.

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A few years back, we did the whole winter season in Florida without any reservations, including sites in the southern gulf area. Now, even getting a week in some FL state parks is a challenge since they fill up within seconds of the 11 month reservation window opening. With the influx of baby boomers and the RV boom, it's just not the same any more in many areas...

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I winter in Texas so I can not tell about the SE but friends tell me some Florida RV Parks got hit hard but their Winter reservations are good. For Texas the busiest month is generally March but people can always find a week somewhere or a park that will arrange for you if you move about park every 5-10 days   The worst case I ever had finding an over night stay was going to a little town that the campground closed so I do try to call ahead when we stop at noon

As I travel around the country I use ALLSTAYS.COM to locate RV parks. As a member, one can search for the facilities you need near you.. I find lots of parks not other wise listed. Allstays is not a rating system but read the reviews..In the last 11 months we have been in 27 parks and only had one bad location. The other options were almost 30 mile further from our Christmas location so we stayed and slept only.  

Clay   Midwest in the summer and winter in Texas

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Might not be what you want but I hit my choice of place for the winter (Kingman AZ as I have to work) and put an ad out on the Farm and Ranch section of Craigslist looking to rent a small section of fenced land (dogs) or corner of a pasture. I have had at least half a dozen choices of places to stay with (mostly) full hook-up that people have emailed or texted me about. I have the privacy of my own place and full hook-ups with minimal cost. I boondocked on BLM land until I found something suitable and then did a month to month agreement in case things didn't work out.

If you can't find an RV park to suit your needs, try the above approach.

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Yes, the popular parks sometimes fill up in advance. And the SE is particularly bad after the hurricanes. But there are lots of other parks out there. If you don't mind spending an occasional night at Walmart you can get to a less popular place in a day or two. Save Florida for different year.

Linda Sand

BTW, in all my trips to Livingston I've never seen Rainbow's End completely full. Nor Rainbow Plantation, either.

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If you don't mind spending an occasional night at Walmart you can get to a less popular place in a day or two.

Just be aware that in Florida there are a number of communities that do not allow overnight habitation of an RV in Walmart or any other parking lot. If you plan on black top boondocking in Florida, in my experience, you would be wise to call ahead to your intended stops to check on whether it is OK. Again, in my experience,  Florida is not the same as the Southwest. What one experiences in Phoenix, Mesa, Quartzite, and Texas may not be the same as one will experience in Florida or Southern Georgia where most East Coast snowbirds winter.

Heed the advise of those that have actually been to Florida:

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As far as central Florida goes it will be difficult if not impossible  to find a long term stay now.

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A few years back, we did the whole winter season in Florida without any reservations, including sites in the southern gulf area. Now, even getting a week in some FL state parks is a challenge since they fill up within seconds of the 11 month reservation window opening. With the influx of baby boomers and the RV boom, it's just not the same any more in many areas...

 
Edited by trailertraveler

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Florida can be tough but then again why limit yourself to Florida? There are plenty of opportunities in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and at a pinch California (Which gets as busy as Florida). I'd try the SKP Parks first, you may get lucky and you can always try their dry camping spots for a week or so if you really get stuck. There are also some nice places down in Mexico.

In our experience the first week if February if the hardest to get a spot in the part of Arizona we usually stay in but some friends who came to visit eventually found a spot. You can always do some boondocking in Quartzite or another BLM area.

Most important DON'T PANIC. Use your resources. SKP's are the first to try, then join Passport America (It will pay for itself first time you use it), get the RV Parky app and the Sani Dump app and then consider joining Good Sam (their discounts will pay for the membership too).

Next think about where you might want to spend a couple of months. We decided to try the Phoenix/Tucson area first and found we liked it so much we've been back 3 times now. Yuma is also a big wintering over spot.

Once you decide on a area look at your resources and find parks with the amenities you think you might want and start calling. You'll find somewhere and when you get there you an explore that area and make a choice for next year based on your findings.

Enjoy

BnB

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Thank you all for your advice and words of encouragement, like "don't panic", "you're doing just fine", "be flexible and have fun".  I have read responses to other questions from most of you so I feel I already know you and appreciate your wisdom.

We have no specific state in mind for winter, so may continue west after visiting Livingston.  We have family in TX and Yuma, AZ.  We will continue the way we have been traveling and extend our stays where we can.  It's reassuring knowing all this support is available to us newbies.  Thanks again.

See you down the road and safe travels.

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On ‎10‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 4:22 PM, pharvey said:

Thank you all for your advice and words of encouragement, like "don't panic", "you're doing just fine", "be flexible and have fun". 

We have no specific state in mind for winter, so may continue west after visiting Livingston.  We have family in TX and Yuma, AZ.  We will continue the way we have been traveling and extend our stays where we can. 

There are certainly enough areas to visit during the winter season to not be stationary until you've seen enough to be confident that being stationary for the winter is a good idea.

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X2 on having Escapee parks as a good option. Currently camped for the first time at the one in Wauchula FL (flskpresort.org). High season hasn't started yet but as others have pointed out, many SKP parks have overflow and /or dry camping options. I recommend a 1 week stay here to any newbie coming to Florida for the first time. They are so kind here and only charge $18 night which is an incredible price for a site of this quality. Also check out Thousand Trails and their zone pass paired with the trails collection add on. You get access to a huge number of parks and like Escapee, TT will try to work you in whenever possible.Use rvtripwizard and note the huge number of Walmart and CB  locations that can be used to park in a pinch. 

Zachary Taylor in Okeechobee FL another good option for a visit to the "tropics" and lots of space and they accept PPA all year long.

 

Edited by ToddF

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We traveled from Tampa to Arizona last winter never made a reservation. Three weeks here two weeks there a week somewhere else.  We didn't have to be anywhere so it was just an enjoyable relaxing journey. We stayed at Escapee parks, state parks, USACE parks and private campgrounds.

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We have been looking for a two month stay just east of Houston for our annual doctor visits..  RV parks there will not make reservations and now want $150 deposit for electric when and if they have a spot.  I assume it is just price gauging related to the hurricane.  The construction workers that have moved there for work plus the overflow from RV parks that were destroyed are contributors to this.  Right now, we are sitting in a beautiful COE park overlooking Sam Rayburn Lake and relaxing.  We will find a spot and when we do, that park will be on our list of places to revisit.  The construction workers will be gone soon.  RV parks are being rebuilt and will attract their usual clients.  We will not be available to fill one of the empty spots where the price gauging is going on.  Life is good.

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There is price gouging from some of the Houston area RV parks for sure.  We have a spot for the winter in Tomball, but we made reservations well before Harvey.  They are full and did up their rates a bit, and we cannot come in early as they do not have a spot for use early.  They are full of insurance and FEMA adjusters and people displaced by the storm and flooding.

Ken

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Might it be what is seen as price gouging is simply their cost of recovery? Surely they've had extra expenses this year?

Linda Sand

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2 hours ago, whj469 said:

I am having a problem getting reservations for the month of February in or near Ft. Myers, FL.

At this time of year, that's not surprising with the current RV'ing boom. We're getting close to the time when we'll start making reservations for the following winter. Most of our reservations for this winter were made when we were in Florida last winter. You may have better luck trying to get shorter time slots in multiple parks.

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We are winging it in FL on our way to Wauchula where we have reservations for Jan/Feb. Have been able to piece together three night stays at State, County, National Forest campgrounds. Finding a week in one place is already getting difficult. Remember that Florida State Parks try to hold 10% of their sites for walk ins. Call ahead and show up early for your best shot at these sites. Elks lodges have also been a good resource for us but you have to be a member. 

Keep calling private campgrounds, month long sites may open up as people call in with cancellations. Long term options will be more difficult as the winter progresses.

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Some RVers do "settle in" for the winter.  Some even settle in during the peak RV camping season.  Settling in often means finding a place to stay that is inexpensive.  I have never understood the desire to sit for weeks or months in one location just because it is cheap.  To me RV living means being able to travel and see new places and have new experiences.  There are plenty of options for winter travel.  I would not mind visiting the Keys or the everglades for a few weeks but there are endless possibilities outside of Florida.  Death Valley is top of my list.  I spent $6/night for camping when I stayed a few years ago.  I paid daily with no reservations needed. 

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