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Kirk W

How often do you make reservations?

Do you reserve RV sites?  

50 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you make RV site reservations?

    • Always or most of the time because they are needed where we stay.
      10
    • Didn't used to but have begun doing so because we have trouble finding a place to stay or have failed to find one occasionally.
      2
    • Didn't used to but have begun doing so because we have trouble finding a place to stay or have failed to find one frequently.
      1
    • I seldom make reservations but have had times that I found no place to stay a few times.
      0
    • I seldom make reservations but will start because of problems finding a place to spend the night.
      0
    • I only make reservations for holidays and long term stays.
      5
    • I seldom make reservations and do not need them because we always stop early in the afternoon.
      3
    • I frequently make reservations because in the past I had difficulty locating a place to stay.
      3
    • I make reservations only for busy times and in busy locations and have had no problems as a result.
      9
    • I have always made reservations most of the time and so have never had any problems with RV sites.
      10
    • I rarely or never make reservations and have never had significant problems finding a place to stay.
      7


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A thread in Day's End got me to thinking that it may be useful to poll the members to see if they find it necessary to make reservations for sites as we travel. This is an attempt to learn more about what will be needed in future travels. 

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We really don't fit in any one answer. Finding a spot for the night is different than finding a spot for the weekend or a week or two. We rarely stay a month in one place but when we have, we made reservations several weeks in advance.

We travel 200-250 miles (4-5 hrs.) max, usually 10AM-2PM. I have a list of possible stops and start calling about noon. I ask if they have been filling up at night or something similar and may give a credit card number if necessary to hold a spot. Once we arrive, we will talk about what is in the area, look at brochures and websites to see if we want to stay more than a night. If it is Thursday or Friday, we will discuss the possibility of staying the weekend and pay for the entire stay. We don't like to switch sites within a park and have moved on a number of times because the site we were in was not available for additional night(s).

For week long stays, we start to look for our next stop about a week in advance. If nothing is available, which seems to be happening more frequently, we will look at a different area. We like COE, Forest Service, BLM and State Park campgrounds. If there are reservable sites available, we will make a reservation. For first come first serve sites, we will call the area manager to discuss whether they are full every night and what is the best day/time to arrive.

Edited by trailertraveler

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We make reservations for the busy times of the year in locations such as Florida for our winter 1-2 week stays at state and national parks. We also reserve at parks where we have a specific site preference from previous visits. For short stays such as in-transit overnights, etc., we usually call the day before or the same day to verify there's room for us.

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For overnight stays, we just call about noon to see if there is room for us for the night at where we think we will stop. We usually have more than 1 park in an area that we could stop at, so if one is full, move on to the next on the list.   

For longer than a couple of nights, it depends upon the area.   For the summer in the northwest, we start making reservations for Seattle area parks in January because there is only one left that we consider decent and close to my mother (north side of Seattle).  All of the others have gone to annual leases in the area.   Since we make extensive use of membership parks, we also get them scheduled 60 days out or so, especially for Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.    

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We always make reservations ALL of the time, not most of the time.  It's what we do.  I can't drive as long as some and it's necessary for me to be able to stop early and have my evenings free for health reasons.

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I'm still working and also my recreation time usually revolves around a specific sport so we tend to be specific destination camper. When I need to be in a particular place for a specific time we always make reservations as far ahead of time as possible.

 

That said...  If we're on vacation or on our way home and we're flexible very seldom do we make a reservation. It seems like every time we head home we head out at a different time or I get tired at a different time or whatever and if we're not tied to a schedule we pull out All Stays and start looking based on when we get ready to stop. We also like PA since most of the time we are just staying one night.

Edited by DKRITTER

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When traveling, we stop for lunch and look at the maps.  I will call parks from 2 or 3 hours down the road, depends on how we feel at the time and start working towards us until we find openings.  We have not had any problems finding overnight stops, only takes a couple calls.  For stays longer than a couple days, we always make reservations as far ahead as possible.  I just stopped in at a park in Seattle while there visiting dau.  Very nice park, little spendy but worth it to me.  They said, call ahead 6 months for nightly for a reservation, if we want a winter seasonal spot, I have to fill out an application (? WTF) to maybe get approved.  I told them I have a 15 yr old camper that looks new, they said flat outright, NO.  I can do a nightly (read, much more expensive stay) but heck no on seasonal rent.  Don't take that wrong, they were very nice, polite as could be.  I may just buy some land a couple hours away, the driving doesn't bother me.  My wife is twisting my arm to buy a new camper this winter, all that may become mute... LOL

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This summer we spent 65 days traveling and our journey included 3 major tourist areas where we planned to stay 1-2 weeks at each.  Those reservations were made months in advance because we felt we had carefully selected the parks at those locations and we wanted to stay at them specifically and didn't want any problems getting the deluxe pull-through sites we wanted.  With our toad we are ~63' long and it's really nice to have an easy to get into site where we can hitch up the night before we leave.  We like to use our washer/dryer and take long showers.  As a result we always request full hookup sites.

As for the shorter stays between these three longer ones, I had originally thought I wouldn't need reservations, but the more I examined our proposed route the more I realized that in quite a few places there weren't many options and quite a few of the parks were fairly small.  For example, we wanted to stay in Dayville OR so we could tour the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument but the one decent park in Dayville has something like 5 sites.    The more I looked into this the more I decided that having reservations would be worthwhile.

The the seemingly ever increasing number of long-term residents at RV parks throughout the country appears to have significantly reduced the number of available sites on any given day..  I use RVTripWizard to help plan our travel days; it allows me to easily find the available parks in the vicinity of the ~325-375 miles we typically drive in a day.  I like having a reservation to look forward to at the end of that drive.  In quite a few places out west, if you can't stay in the town where you planned to stay, the next available site might be 50-100 miles away.  That's not something I want to put up with at the end of a 6-7 hour day of driving.   I'd much rather suffer the "restrictions" imposed by having reservations than have to hunt around for a place to stay.  We're admittedly picky about where we stay; even for overnight stays we are pretty selective; my criteria is at least a "7" rating on RVParkReviews.com  

Notwithstanding all of this, circumstances can change the need for reservations very dramatically.  Because of the fires out west this summer some locations, such as Durango and Diamond Lake/Crater Lake had had quite a few cancellations.  We had a great time despite the smoke, but others decided to alter their plans to avoid those areas. No one could have foretold that and next year may be very different.  I'd rather be safe than sorry.   All told I think I paid ~$20 in cancellation or change fees over the entire course of the summer.

Joel (AKA docj)

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I think whether you live in the west or the east would be major variable to how often you make reservations. Boondocking is very limited in the east and campgrounds are very busy.

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4 hours ago, Mr. Camper said:

We always make reservations ALL of the time, not most of the time.  It's what we do.  I can't drive as long as some and it's necessary for me to be able to stop early and have my evenings free for health reasons.

Your way of travel is perfect for no reservations.  Pull in early and you'll get a site.

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1 hour ago, docj said:

  For example, we wanted to stay in Dayville OR so we could tour the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument but the one decent park in Dayville has something like 5 sites.    The more I looked into this the more I decided that having reservations would be worthwhile.

 

For John Day we stayed at Clyde Holiday Rec Site without reservations.  It can be done. Really!

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15 minutes ago, 2gypsies said:

For John Day we stayed at Clyde Holiday Rec Site without reservations.  It can be done. Really!

For roughly the same price we had full hookups.  

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I enjoy planning our journey and spend a lot of time researching campgrounds, maps, and area attractions.  In the last 5 years I think we've only arrived in one area without a reservation.  That was at Moab - even though it was a Monday, early afternoon, I ended up driving around from one BLM campground to another looking for a vacancy.  Finally found one around 25 miles from town.  Not fun for me.  I went back to planning our trip and making reservations.

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We traveled from Texas to Maine this Spring for a volunteer gig, and I was really surprised at the lack of available campsites along our route. We made the same trip in 2011 and had no issues with last-minute stops. 

We had a similar experience traveling from Texas to the Olympic Peninsula last Spring. Between state parks being "reserved out", especially on weekends, and what appear to be more permanents and families staying in campgrounds, we're finding it more difficult to just wing-it.  So like some others have stated, we are calling ahead, usually the day before to inquire. If I'm not sure how far we'll be going I'll pre-locate a couple of campgrounds at reasonable distances and we'll call around noon on our travel day when we know how far we want to go. And if we plan to stay several days, or especially over a weekend, I may plan that one even further in advance. 

 

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I usually make reservations for my destination where I will be staying a week or two or a month or more. As I travel from location to location I do not make reservations because I tend to drive till I’m tired and don’t know where I will be stopping for the night. 

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We get off the road early, like 3PM. This normally means we have no trouble obtaining a FHU site for one night and gives us time to relax, walk/exercise/swim, etc., cook a nice dinner, watch some TV before bed.

Longer stays do now require reservations due to the shear number of RV's on the road, especially at Destination places.

The RVIA says if all the RV's already owned were traveling at the same time, there would be approx. half enough campsites available. Which leads into my next comment. We do now plan ahead more, and make reservations more frequently.

In the past 2-3 years every RV park we have stopped at ask if we have reservations as soon as we get inside the door.

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7 hours ago, Ray,IN said:

In the past 2-3 years every RV park we have stopped at ask if we have reservations as soon as we get inside the door.

I always thought that was to avoid continuing to hold a site for someone who has already arrived or who has prepaid by credit card? 

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13 hours ago, Twotoes said:

I usually make reservations for my destination where I will be staying a week or two or a month or more. As I travel from location to location I do not make reservations because I tend to drive till I’m tired and don’t know where I will be stopping for the night. 

This is a good reminder for me that different people have different travel styles.  We really don't have a destination as such - so we really aren't going anywhere.  In the past year we have had just 2 one-nighters and a typical stay for us is 1-2 weeks.  For us, then, the idea of driving till I'm tired, finding a place for the night, and going again the next day, doesn't apply.

When I see people talking about traveling without reservations I need to remember that many of them are talking about a totally different kind of travel than we do.  Probably, any response to this question has to start by asking "how long do you intend to stay?"

Edited by GR "Scott" Cundiff

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17 hours ago, 2gypsies said:

Your way of travel is perfect for no reservations.  Pull in early and you'll get a site.

Actually, my health is the overriding factor in this situation and I have to have a 50 amp site even though our RV can run with just 30 amps.  In our early RVing days we tried to go the "spur of the moment" route and just stop somewhere when we were tired.  However, over the years as things changed it became necessary for a sure 50 amp site that we make reservations all along the way.

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We generally always make reservations in advance, unless intentionally boondocking.   We make our reservation sites and boondock sites a part of our trip planning process.   Good planning allows us to enjoy our travels more thoroughly.   

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1 hour ago, GR "Scott" Cundiff said:

Probably, any response to this question has to start by asking "how long do you intend to stay?"

Another issue is what kind of place are you willing to stay. Those that do not mind staying at Walmart, other parking lots, truck stops, etc., are likely far less concerned about site availability than those that want or need at least electric all the time. Although there are areas like some in Florida where it would at least be good to know whether blacktop docking is permitted.

Likewise, those that will stay multiple nights with no hookups can take advantage of sites without hookups at public campgrounds that either have few or no sites with utilities. I have been to several COE campgrounds and State Parks where the sites with utilities have been full every night while the dry camping area always has multiple open sites. In my experience, many of the first come first serve campgrounds in National Parks and on National Forests do not have any hookups at all. These same campgrounds and some with utilities often have few or sometimes no sites that will accommodate the larger RVs, so  size can also matter.  No number of vacant spots will do you any good if the RV will not fit.

Edited by trailertraveler

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On the subject of campground reservations, I must say I love the Thousand Trails reservation system  So convenient! I primarily use the website but when I do call, the agent knows who I am instantly from my phone #. Awesome service. My zone pass +Trails Collection is an awesome deal. I have 32 nights booked on this 9 week trip. If I didn't use the pass anymore during my contract year , (I will) my average cost per night with FHU is $20.16.

Edited by ToddF

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5 hours ago, ToddF said:

On the subject of campground reservations, I must say I love the Thousand Trails reservation system  So convenient! I primarily use the website but when I do call, the agent knows who I am instantly from my phone #. Awesome service. My zone pass +Trails Collection is an awesome deal. I have 32 nights booked on this 9 week trip. If I didn't use the pass anymore during my contract year , (I will) my average cost per night with FHU is $20.16.

Same here - one thing that I love is that I can book Thousand Trails early, and then, if our plans change I can cancel/change without any penalty.  We have a terrific 210 day booking window, comes in handy for advance planning in heavy use areas.

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We usually make reservations, but not always. Since we're full-timers we're always on the road somewhere. Holidays require reservations, and certain ones require them farther in advance than others. We'll be traveling next week and do not have reservations for the first part of the trip. Since we need to be in a particular place for certain days, we have reservations for then.

For the travel days next week, we have a general idea of where we want to spend the night, and Jo Ann will start looking up places and calling right after lunch. By then we will be able to give the campground a pretty good idea of when we'll arrive. We will also ask about a good place to get fuel, as I like to fill the tank just before going to the campground.

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