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Roadtrek 1

1000 Trails ?? or KOA..?

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Hi, how many of you have tried using 1000 Trails?  I haven't tried them and have read mixed reviews, saying that some of the locations are not kept up or too rustic? 

Or, would you say is KOA is a better park other than private RV parks? 

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We got our original Thousand Trails membership from someone who couldn’t use it any more. After using it for 4 years we decided to upgrade to the Elite membership so we could pick up several parks that weren't in our original membership. We think TT is a good deal if you are going to actually use the membership. 

Having said that, for those who aren’t familiar with TT, the Zone Pass is probably a better way to go. With no commitment you get access to all the preserves in an area for a year. That gives you opportunity to decide if you want to jump in all the way and get a membership. If you use the ZP for just 30 nights you’ll have spent less than $20 a night – that’s a great camping rate. 

The TT campgrounds are a mixed bag. Some are terrific. A few are subpar. Most are somewhere in between. You’ll almost always have water and at least 30 amp electric. Often you’ll have full hookups. Generally, there will be a surcharge of $3-5 for 50 amp service. There will be a pool, possibly some kind of spa, an Activity Center, and maybe a few other sports venues – generally these amenities will be somewhat tired but progress is being made in bringing them back to life. The same can be said of the roads. 

I've done many reviews of Thousand Trails campgrounds: http://pastorscott.com/travel/tag/thousand-trails/

If you go with a “used” Thousand Trails membership you’ll want to carefully check out the contract because older memberships are all over the place in privileges. Some memberships don’t include all the preserves – that may or may not be a big deal to you depending on your travel plans. The biggies in our opinion are that you want “park to park” privileges so you won’t have a mandatory week out between stays, a minimum of 2 or 3 week stays, and a national membership that works coast to coast. You also want to know how many “free” nights you get by paying your annual dues (our original membership got 50) and then what it costs per night after that (we paid $5). Other things to check out are being sure dues increases are stopped (or halved) at 62 or 65 and, of course, the actual dues amount. 

If you are going to use the preserves at least a month or two a year and if you are okay with the quality of the preserves, it’s a good deal. If not, well, anything you purchase but don’t use is a waste of money. We are happy with our membership and would do it again without hesitation.

Edited by GR "Scott" Cundiff

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I'll second Scott's recommendation of trying out TT via the zone pass.    If you like them, you can the renew or go for a used membership.  We have just been renewing (we got a 2 zone for price of 1 when we first bought it) since we have been mainly on the West Coast and have added the Trails Collections, which gives you access to Encore parks (most free for two weeks, some $20/night) which includes San Francisco RV (in Pacifica, CA just should of SF) at $20/night versus their usual $80-100/night.     We use the combination at least 60nights during the summer, often more.

We initially had KOA and used it some, but figured out that it wasn't worth it anymore.

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21 minutes ago, GR "Scott" Cundiff said:

Having said that, for those who aren’t familiar with TT, the Zone Pass is probably a better way to go

It's around $500 for a zone pass.....I thought I saw it on sale for $499?

Guess it really depends on how many nights you use it and where?

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I do not think the KOA membership is worth it.  After 3 1/2 years of full timing I just bought a TT SW zone pass + the Trails Collection.  So far I have stayed 60 days in the system.  A lot of memberships all depends on where you plan on traveling.  Are there locations convenient with your route?  This is why it took 3 1/2 years for me to try TT.  Since you part time, I bet you are on the move quite a bit and do not stay in one place for any real legth of time.  Because of that, the best membership would be Passport America.  It only costs $44 a year.  Pays for its self in a couple night stays.

There are good and bad parks in any system.  

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There is no long term commitment to KOA.  You can terminate it at any time.  We use it for the convenience of traveling.  We stay off interstates whenever possible and the KOA's are usually near the highways but if they are located where we want to go it's worth a stop for a night or two.  We tried TT in FLAUSA and were unimpressed regarding a membership.  As stated by rynosback, "there are good parks and bad parks in any system."  It just depends on where we are going and when we want to stop for the night or nights.

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To me, Thousand Trails and KOA are completely different types of memberships. Thousand Trails is prepaid. Now that many of the Thousand Trail and Encore parks are open to non-members, you only save money if you use them enough. The KOA membership is a discount card with an annual cost of currently $30. For years we got a card for free from our RV road service provider. In addition to the 10% discount, points are accumulated with each stay that result in further cash discounts based on the accumulated points. For us, some of the larger savings have been on purchases from their business partners. They had a good deal on RV road service which also included  a KOA gift card. What works for one may not work everyone.

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Wow. I didn’t know that KOA membership had accumulated points, business partners and RV road service. I will have to look into that. 

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14 minutes ago, trailertraveler said:

To me, Thousand Trails and KOA are completely different types of memberships.

Absolutely true. Another membership that you should consider and which is of yet a different type is the discount groups, Passport America and a very similar organization, Happy Campers.

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I've been bouncing from one to another the past month+

As mentioned KOA only give a discount. I stayed long enough to make it worth it or at least "free". I've stayed in many KOA over the years.

I got a 13 month TT Trails pass free when I bought my trailer so doing the 2 weeks in 1 week out so far.

While not part of the question and my sample size small I find KOA are nicer; bigger spaces, pull throughs. Some are more like real camp grounds.

TT is all back ins and community oriented. Lots of park models in some. The one I'm currently in has a number of older units and I can see why the 10 years or younger rule has been put forth in many. Some I know are not much more than 10 years old but an abused gel coat RV looks pretty ratty in short order the desert. My view from where I sit is of a faded semi abandoned for sale unit.

 

Nice KOA like Tucson are EXPENSIVE! At least $55 a night and pass only really pays tax. I have yet to find one that offers a break on monthly rates.

While TT can be a step down it's not all that bad and I think a great bargain. I must say I think the ratings for TT are semi-phony. The one I'm at now while not a slum by any means gets almost 5 stars with above complaints plus too close to FWY and a drag strip frontage road. I'd rate 3.5 to 4 tops...

 

Anyways... I got both!

 

Az Tex

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We use KOA when in travel statues . Yes they are a bit more expensive but we know what we will get. We also use Passport America when they are convenient to our travel. We have never stayed at a KOA  as I remember for  more than  a en route overnight stay. 

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4 hours ago, Kirk W said:

Another membership that you should consider and which is of yet a different type is the discount groups, Passport America and a very similar organization, Happy Campers.

I heard that there's an issue on weekends with Passport America?  Something like it's not generally available or you have to pay more... people were critical of this. They said it was easier on weekdays.

We have the "All Stays" app on our cellphone..... that's how we find places while on the road.

Edited by Roadtrek 1

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50 minutes ago, Roadtrek 1 said:

I heard that there's an issue on weekends with Passport America?  Something like it's not generally available or you have to pay more... people were critical of this. They said it was easier on weekdays.

We have the "All Stays" app on our cellphone..... that's how we find places while on the road.

Really depends upon the region and the season.   For example, in the PNW, it is very hard to find PPA parks that will take weekends in the summer.  Same with parks along 101 or I-5 - - weekenders fill them starting Thursday night.   Sunday through Thursday, PPA works fine.   So you adjust to that.    In snowbird areas, usually not available Jan-March.   That's ok, we are stationery then.  Come April, those parks once again take PPA and we use them.   You just have to adjust - paying 4-5 nights under passport plus regular price for weekend (often with Good Sam's 10% off) can be cheaper than anything else around.

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We once stayed in a KOA that about drove me nuts. They were a family activity oriented park so they drove a golf cart through the park using a bull horn to remind everyone what activity was about to begin. Most KOAs were not so invasive. We've never stayed in a TT park so have no opinion on them. Years ago we belonged to Coast to Coast but their campgrounds were never along our paths so, once they closed our home park, we were done with them. We used PPA a lot when traveling from one place to another and often when staying in the Austin, TX, area using the PPA discount Sun-Thur and an AARP discount for the weekends. As a rule the PPA parks were lovely but there were a few that weren't.

Linda

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11 hours ago, Barbaraok said:

AZTEX - are you in Palm Springs?  We have a love/hate relationship with the Palm Springs TT.   :D

I can relate with the love and hate relationship.  We are in the Palm Desert TT right now.

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On 3/1/2019 at 7:53 PM, GR "Scott" Cundiff said:

The biggies in our opinion are that you want “park to park” privileges so you won’t have a mandatory week out between stays, a minimum of 2 or 3 week stays, and a national membership that works coast to coast. You also want to know how many “free” nights you get by paying your annual dues (our original membership got 50) and then what it costs per night after that (we paid $5). Other things to check out are being sure dues increases are stopped (or halved) at 62 or 65 and, of course, the actual dues amount. 

Scott hit it pretty well... We bought a 'used' membership, and got just about everything that one could get.   However, we did not check the 'selling again' provisions and found out that the next owner gets just a 'basic' membership.   No big deal as we will keep it until we are thru traveling... 

And YES, it is well worth it as Fulltimers to have one!

 

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Also if you purchase a TT used, as I did, WAIT until your annual zone membership is up. I was only 3 months into my zone membership before I upgraded to the Elite and lost 9 months of my zone pass, no refunds!  I purchased my used membership from https://www.campgroundmembershipoutlet.com/ they are honest about the memberships, it will take 4-8 WEEKS to complete so plan accordingly if you use them.

Lisa

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I think that if we were full timers I would go with a membership  like TT as if full time time you have to be  lodged somewhere 365 a year. In general we do not like the membership parks as they sort of  determine where you go and they are expensive so if you got one you better use it.

We use KOA when in travel as they are  generally along the interstates  easy in easy out  pull through full hookup  don't need to unhook. When we travel back and forth to our winter home in  Florida we use 4 KOA and two Passport America campgrounds . We generally will get 2 or  3 free stays at KOA every year using accumulated points. When at our destinations we are usually at a CG for a few days or longer and rely primarily on passport America.

Just made a few reservations today as we are heading west later in June and the KOA's are getting expensive so there may be some changes .

Rv'ing is not a inexpensive  lifestyle and as long as we have 1.98 left over at the end of the month we will press on.

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We stay at KOA's often enough while in transit that our accumulated points have more than paid for our membership all but the first year we joined. KOA's for the most part are privately owned RV parks with some very nice, some just nice, and some not so nice.  Just like all other RV parks... 

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There are so many opinions about the subject of TT and whether it is worth it or not, just as there are varied opinions on almost everything that has to do with RVing.

What fits one person's needs and wants may not work at all for others.

I would recommend getting as much accurate information about what TT has to offer both on the used and the new market before you decide anything for sure.

Here is a link to several articles written by a full-time couple who have done their research on TT and are sharing it with everyone - https://rvlove.com/start-here/camping-options/thousand-trails/

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I didn’t read all the previous posts so this may have already been addressed. KOA is not a membership. You can purchase a discount card, I think for only $40, and you will get 10% off their highly inflated price and collect points for a free night. TT requires a substantial investment and annual dues. 

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6 hours ago, Twotoes said:

I didn’t read all the previous posts so this may have already been addressed. KOA is not a membership. You can purchase a discount card, I think for only $40, and you will get 10% off their highly inflated price and collect points for a free night. TT requires a substantial investment and annual dues. 

The value of each approach all depends on how much you plan to use TT as opposed to KOA and whether you are on a budget for your camping costs or not. If your camping budget is substantial, so you are only planning to stay at KOA type campgrounds, and you want a little discount on their nightly costs, then KOA is a great idea. If you don't plan on RVing much but you want a discount on nightly stays when you do go camping then KOA may be a good choice.

But if you you want to full-time and you have to watch your pennies, TT is the better bargain by far. Just read the articles I referenced above about how the whole system works and when you do the math you can see that it is easy to save $5000 or more on camping costs each year with just a zone pass alone that will cost you about $600 instead. This can often mean the difference between being able to afford the full-time RV lifestyle or not for some.

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17 minutes ago, RV inspector said:

But if you you want to full-time and you have to watch your pennies, TT is the better bargain by

That depends on your chosen lifestyle as there are many other ways to stay in the RV inexpensively other than membership parks. Some of us spend time as RV volunteers where full hookup sites are supplied, others spend most of their time dry camping in places that are free, or nearly so. For the right people the groups save a great deal of money, but for othes it is a complete waste of money. There is no one best plan for everyone and that is part of the attraction of the RV lifestyle. 

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