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Shoppin for your next RV site to visit - too many choices

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So after working this game of shopping for RV campsites, am finding that there are just dozens of choices in how to find a nice spot to camp at.  So far here is the list of how to shop based on apps or online web sites.

1)  We have a THOUSAND TRAILS (TT) membership, so we try to find places there first with 60 parks.  Sure we pay $600 a year (plus the initial membership fee of $2000 to $5000 to buy into this kind of timeshare system - which can be sold later), but if you stay 20 nights (equivalent to $30 a night for full hook up) you paid for the yearly membership fee.  Then all stays are free after that, up to the three week maximum for most plans, per park, per visit.  Also we did pay for the extra TRAILS CONNECTION plan for $200 to give us many more choices of campgrounds.  Caution -- TT is not for the 40 foot RV with 50amp need folks.  Many campgrounds have a FIRST COME FIRST SERVE, so if you arrive on friday you could get only a 20amp spot left over, which would suck in the heat of 75 degrees from May to October in many places. So arrive early in the week to get a chance and be sure of 30amp to 50amp service. 

2)  Starting to think that boondocking is overrated.   People want free, but free has a price.  You need a generator to recharge your battery from the previous night. You need to move on,  if its just a one night stand/gig/stay.  If you stay a week or two, you might be profiled by the other campers/ranger/cops/locals/criminals as a target to harass in some context; even if you have the right to stay.  You still need to find a dump station, and a water source. Its not the holy grail of places to stay for me.  Regardless there is boondockerswelcome.com for your searches; and freecampsites.com too. If you want to go this path, then make it happen; just don't be oversold on the hype that boondocking will work well.  Moving every week or two costs gas money, and logistics money to find all the new resources in the new area.

3) The ALLSTAYS app on an apple iphone or Android phone is pretty good and comprehensive.  The web site is not as good and has costly extra fees to do full planning.  Am sticking to the iphone app for now.   Gives a good snapshot of places to stay.  Also would advise taking a closer look at THE DYRT app and RV PARKY and RVPARKREVIEWS apps on iphone and android for more searches. THE DYRT and RV PARKY just did upgrades to their respective apps.

4)  Google search is really good.  I recommend it as comprehensive online web page to find any local campgrounds.  Many campground search tools are not keeping up with lists of possible locations, but google does.  and campsites found that are not listed other places tend to be around the less than $30 price range per night.

5)  Various web page links including www.Campendium.com ;  RVparky.com  ;  RVparkreviews.com ;  tripadvisor.com  ; all have their niches of information to consider.  So much diversity of data sources and I do expect that many of these labor of love web pages will disappear in a year.  They all seen pretty comprehensive to keep updated and available for good information.  Hundreds of RV parks are very difficult to keep up on.  Do recommend the RVPARKY web site as its unique with the map tool for free, and you can save your trip plans.  Just be aware that any web site can disappear overnight if the owner is not getting enough advertisement revenue to pay for the hosting service. 

6)  Getting a membership in PASSPORT AMERICA for about $50 is well worth it and a good place to search.  You cant argue with half price per night.  But there is a trick to passport america.  Its used as an enticement to get you to pay for a for night weekend stay.  The cheap half price rate is only good mostly during the low use week nights of Monday to Thursday.  And its only good for a limited amount of nights per year per park.  Still if the normal price for full hookup is $60 and you pay $30 that's a good bargain after two nights. 

 

any other suggestions of searching and shopping for camp sites? 

Edited by offroad

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1 minute ago, noteven said:

Google maps. 

yes that was mentioned.  when you do a search with google, you can then pop up the additional google maps web site and see a load of other camping spots.  So you definitely need some kind of HOTSPOT so you can connect to the internet, and you need a LAPTOP.  Trying to navigate everything with an iphone or android phone will certainly drive you crazy fast.

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I was the Navigator aboard the family station wagon with the canned ham trailer behind (took me few year to figure out Dad probably knew where we were going) when you used a “map” that had little green tents ...

and a “guide book” from the auto/rv association if you wanted to park looking in someone’s window 6 feet away...

so I find I default to google maps first, then branch off to the above mentioned ^. 

And then forget and have to start again, or have a nap in the boondocks... 😁

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38 minutes ago, offroad said:

Starting to think that boondocking is overrated.

We came to that conclusion very early in our fulltime experience. Since we typically stop by 3 pm and do not usually leave before 9 am, we usually find an RV park much more to our liking than any of the "free" locations. 

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We mainly use RVParky plus the big Camping World book.  Besides RVParky I have other apps on my phone I may check but that is the main one I start with.  

We have been mixing very little dry camping in with paid camping sites, but are trying to do more.  What we try to do is find a decent place that may offer a really good monthly rate and stay put for a month instead of jumping around to five different places in a 300 miles radius to see stuff.  We can take a few day trips in the car or on the Harley really cheap compared to moving around in the DP/trailer.

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5 minutes ago, FL-JOE said:

We mainly use RVParky plus the big Camping World book.  Besides RVParky I have other apps on my phone I may check but that is the main one I start with.  

We have been mixing very little dry camping in with paid camping sites, but are trying to do more.  What we try to do is find a decent place that may offer a really good monthly rate and stay put for a month instead of jumping around to five different places in a 300 miles radius to see stuff.  We can take a few day trips in the car or on the Harley really cheap compared to moving around in the DP/trailer.

and you kind of feel safer with the RV parked in a paid campground where you can leave it locked up.   Not saying it is safer but I have that perception.  Leaving an RV parked in the boondocks (aka dry camping) with no one watching is kind of scary.  At least in the east.  Monthly rates are a good bargain and do make perfect sense.

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We probably would never boondock for several days and take off and leave the RV.  I just think you are begging for someone to break into it if you abandon it in some remote area for the day.  

When we are in CGs we try to be friendly with our neighbors.  If we are in a site for a month we will introduce ourselves to neighbors in sites around us during the first week or so.  I have never really worried about leaving for the day in a paid site.  

Actually in late November we will leave the RV in a CG in Alabama for a week while we drive up north to celebrate the holidays early with all of our kids/grandkids.  Prior to leaving we will inform the office plus make sure at least one of our neighbors has our phone number.

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Start with RV Park Reviews. Then see if you can get a match with Passport America. Then I use Elks Lodge site for parking, some have hookups, electric. 

Take some time to look around a area to find the right parking spot for you. Sometimes the spot you choose will not match the the criteria but that is what is available where you want to park.

In our case, to make a point, Nashville for a submarine crew reunion is an expensive park at $350 for a week. But it is reasonably close to the hotel and a lot less expensive than a four day stay at $120/night.

Bill

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#2 - It sounds like your idea of boondocking is pavement parking.  Boondocking is out in the boonies, typically on national forest or BLM lands.  It is a perfectly safe way to enjoy the quiet with beautiful scenery. We did it for 16 years and never felt unsafe.   I'd say it's underrated; not overrated.  It can be an awesome experience and is much, much safer than pavement parking.

Similar is dry camping but it's typically in campgrounds with no hookups such as national forest campgrounds, national parks, some state parks, etc.  We also did a lot of this and gets us on lakes and streams.

Pavement parking is WalMart, Rest Areas, etc.  That we didn't do because there are always better choices.

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While we have "Wallydocked" for a night on a few occasions to wait out unexpected poor weather conditions, that's definitely not "boondocking" in the true sense. We have an access permit for an Adirondack tree farm where we really boondock from time to time, with the only other humans just the resident forester  that sometimes come by, or occasional "birders" passing by. We do run our generator a couple of hours daily to recharge the batteries, but none of the local wildlife has complained about the noise to us so far. We have no real security concerns there other than some late night raids by little bandits in fur coats wearing masks. We do see big bandits in a bearskin coats sometimes, but a few clangs with two pot lids usually sends them on their way. 

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2 hours ago, Dutch_12078 said:

We do see big bandits in a bearskin coats sometimes, but a few clangs with two pot lids usually sends them on their way. 

Apparently that only works until they have a successful raid. The bear that visited our campsite was not impressed by our banging. The ranger later told us the bear came back that night and stole a few packs. Sure glad we hiked out while we still had our packs to carry our stuff.

Linda

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Black bears are pretty smart and learn quickly.  Especially if food is involved. If they have heard noise before with no repercussions they will ignore the noise and go for the food.  Sometimes they will ignore the repercussions and still go for the food at least for a while. I shot one with a slingshot in the back and backsides and it ignored it all and keep going for the ants it had zeroed in on. Most of us have at sometime seen film of a bear going after honey even though the bees are stinging them at least for a while.

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8 hours ago, sandsys said:

Apparently that only works until they have a successful raid. The bear that visited our campsite was not impressed by our banging. The ranger later told us the bear came back that night and stole a few packs. Sure glad we hiked out while we still had our packs to carry our stuff.

Linda

We do have bear spray on hand, but we haven't had to use it so far. We never leave any food outside, but the raccoons and bears like to dig through our fire pit, likely attracted by the smell of meat drippings from grilling. Last year while my wife and I were bathing under a small waterfall nearby, a mama bear with a cub came by for a drink from the stream. Mama stared at us for a few seconds, but then she just ignored us and they moved on after drinking their fill. We often see deer there getting drinks, but a "bare/bear" encounter was a new one for us... :D

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52 minutes ago, Dutch_12078 said:

 We never leave any food outside, but the raccoons and bears like to dig through our fire pit, likely attracted by the smell of meat drippings from grilling.

We had just finished eating and were preparing to wash dishes. Boy did our food bag go back up into a tree quickly! The bear stuck its nose into my pack leaning against a different tree. I wonder if I had toiletries in there? It hadn't occurred to me bears might be attracted by more than food.

Another time we were canoe camping with friends who brought a styrofoam cooler. You never want to be awakened by raccoons ripping up styrofoam.

Linda Sand

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13 minutes ago, sandsys said:

We had just finished eating and were preparing to wash dishes. Boy did our food bag go back up into a tree quickly! The bear stuck its nose into my pack leaning against a different tree. I wonder if I had toiletries in there? It hadn't occurred to me bears might be attracted by more than food.

Another time we were canoe camping with friends who brought a styrofoam cooler. You never want to be awakened by raccoons ripping up styrofoam.

Linda Sand

The local bears might have been accustomed to finding food in packs based on prior experience, and he was just checking. If he didn't tear it up or run off with it, apparently he didn't smell anything that triggered his taste buds on closer inspection.

I don't think I've ever heard the little masked critters ripping up Styrofoam, but I do know that three of them fighting over some little food bit they found in the fire pit will ruin a sound sleep at 3:00 am!

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You gotta know what kinda bear is hanging around camp. Look at their scat.

Black bear - will have berry pits, leaf matter.

Grizzly bear - will have bits of little bells, The North Face puffy coats, and smell like bear spray...

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Years ago we were tent camping at Turkey Run SP in Indiana & heard a ruckus during the night.  When we woke we had to hunt down our propane bottles- it looked like the raccoons had been practicing punting with them.  

We're looking forward to doing some boon docking when we get out FT next year.  There's just so verymuch to see.

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