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What are the best rv resort memberships to travel with? We checked into Thousand Trail, but they don't have anything in the mid northwest like Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

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We are just starting out full time rving.  We are on a limited budget to travel, so we are looking for the best memberships to have to get the best prices on camping with hookups.  We have a 3500 GMC Diesel Crew Cab, with a 42' Forest River Cedar Creek Champagne Fifth wheel.  We are finding that with some like AOR they require memberships with rv resorts affiliates.  Any help anyone can offer would very much be appreciated.

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If you are 62 the America the Beautiful senior pass will get you a nice discount at Corps and Engineers campground, National Parks, and a few others as well as free entry at National Parks, etc.  Not all will have FHU though.  Camping in that part of the world you may want to make peace with less than FHU - it will open up your camping possibilities and save you some money.

Unless you intend on camping in the states you named exclusively, a national Thousand Trails membership may still be a great money saver.  Just a few months in those campgrounds will pretty much pay for your membership.  

For travel days, Passport America can't be beat.

Aside from that, if you are seriously trying to save money you might want to look into camp hosting, at least a few months each year.  Also, longer stays in commercial campgrounds (monthly) will save you a lot of money.  The problem with these two solutions is, of course, that you won't be traveling as much during the longer stays.  Most people start out in "vacation mode" and, as time passes transition into a more leisurely travel style.

Hope this helps - I'm sure you will get other helpful replies.

Edited by GR "Scott" Cundiff

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The best membership for the money BAR NONE is Passport America. I think the membership is only $44 a year and you get 50% off the campgrounds rate. Just a couple nights a year pay for it with ease. Staying weekly and monthly at places give you the best rate. Even if you want to stay seasonally (at least 3 months) you will get a better rate. Basically the longer you stay the cheaper is usually gets. It also depends on the area you plan on traveling. There are so many variables that can guide you to your best options. There is not a one membership fits all. Passport America is the best all around one out there.

Edited by rynosback

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Welcome to the Escapee forums!

I strongly agree with what the two previous posts have said. An America the Beautiful Senior Pass is by far the most economical purchase for RV folks or anyone who visits our federal parks. The cost is $80 for a lifetime pass and if your budget is limited they will even allow you to buy the $20 annual version 3 times and then trade them and $20 more for the lifetime one. 

Passport America is a discount card that is good for half price nights in the member parks. In many cases there are restrictions but most parks are really quite a bargain. The Happy Camper Club is much the same and I have found that most parks in one are also in the other, but not 100%. I have not joined the second group but do know people who have both. Both of these charge $44/year so it is pretty easy to recover the cost. 

If you have not done so, I suggest that you consider a membership in the Escapees RV Club as many of us use their mail service for our legal domicile as well as the RV park discounts for spending time as we travel. 

We never did join any of the campground groups like "Thousand Trails" or "Coast to Coast" because the don't fit our lifestyle. There are members in these forums who are very happy with them and they can save one money if you use them enough but there is an upfront cost. We were part of a pretty large group of Escapees who did volunteer work as we traveled in places that supplied us a full hookup campsite in return for a few days of work each week. If you are on a tight budget, this might be something to consider. We enjoyed that so much that even now that we are back off of the road and traveling part-time we still do some of it. 

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Other than Passport America, America the Beautiful passes I wouldn't make any other purchases until you have experience and see what RV lifestyle you want. If you join Escapees for mail then you have access to the Escapee parks across the country. There is always boon docking to help the budget. What $$ do you consider a limited travel amount for camping? That would help all of us with suggestions. 

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The fee for Escapees is only $39 a year and you get access to about a dozen Rainbow Parks and another dozen Co-Op parks with very low rates, average $25 a night or $450 a month. Plus all the other benefits of membership, like as mentioned, a great mail forwarding service which allows you to choose TX, FL, or SD as your domicile. Unfortunately, most of the parks are in the south part of the US.

Passport America is also good, however there are many restrictions such as no weekends or holidays, 3 day limit and then you pay full fee etc. You can purchase a National Park Pass to save also. If you are a senior a National Parks, Forest Service, COE etc. lifetime pass is $80 and gets you in the park for free and most campgrounds at 50% off. Most, however do not have full hookup and have a 14 day max stay limit. Good Sam Club has many campgrounds that give you a 10% discount on the daily rate, but if you stay weekly or monthly you get a discount without the GS membership and it is a lot less than the daily rate.

I have found that I prefer to stay weekly or monthly and get the discounted rate. When traveling between locations I usually stay for free by boondocking at rest stops along the interstate. I volunteer a lot in National Parks and get to stay a month or two at FHU sites for free in exchange for 3 or 4 days of volunteering. In the winter I head south and either stay at an Escapees Park or pay monthly at a private campground.

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7 hours ago, Twotoes said:

Passport America is also good, however there are many restrictions such as no weekends or holidays, 3 day limit and then you pay full fee etc.

That varies from park to park. One I stayed at gave me the 50% discount on weeknights then 10% for my AARP card on the weekends for a two week stay. You need to read the  restrictions for each park at which you'd like to stay. That park is the one where I learned to spread out all my discount cards and let them give me the best deal. Who would have thought AARP would give you a discount on camping?

Linda Sand

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If you are permanently disabled or a service connected veteran then the lifetime Access Pass for the National parks and all other federal facilities is free. You just need a note from your doctor or one from the VA (you can get it off your VA webpage) to take to any park entry station, or sometimes the visitor center.

Some states have similar discount cards, Florida for one, for service connected Vets. If you are service connected since 1/20 you can now use the campgrounds on military bases. Some from what I hear are excellent and all are cheap. I'll second the Escapees suggestion too.

Good Sams card gets 10% off at most parks, I'm not sure of the cost it used to be $20 and they gave you a $20 coupon for their stores, may have jumped to $30 with a $30 coupon. If you use the coupon then the card is essentially free, if not it takes 6 or 7 campgrounds to make up the price at $30/night.

Just pointing this out, boondocking does not involve resort stays...heh. But we are laid back obviously.

 

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Yes Linda, after your 50% discount for weekdays at any PA campground you can use any other discount you have available like Good Sam, FMCA, AARP, AAA, Escapees. And yes each PA park has its own rules on when and how long you can stay. But it is still a good deal. Thank you for pointing out that you can piggy back discounts.  And agesilaus, if you are disabled you get a free lifetime pass for all Federal parks but I don’t think you need a note from your Dr. I got mine at the entrance to Yosemite because I had handicapped plates. They gave it to me on the spot. But that was years ago and the rules may have changed. 

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And agesilaus, if you are disabled you get a free lifetime pass for all Federal parks but I don’t think you need a note from your Dr. I got mine at the entrance to Yosemite because I had handicapped plates. They gave it to me on the spot. But that was years ago and the rules may have changed. 

You could be right, but many folks who are permanently disabled do not qualify for handicap tags. I've been offered them but refused since I am perfectly able to get around. The nps site says:

Quote

Available for: U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship.

So I think you found a ranger that considered the tag as documentation. I know that the handicapped mirror hangers get passed around to relatives and friends tho.

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Regarding PA, many times I have called up and asked for the PA price even though it was a weekend and have been granted it. I figure all they can say is NO.

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For the OP's consideration: our travel style is to stay a minimum of 1 week - because of that PPA is seldom of use to us.  Two reasons:

1. While there are many exceptions, most PPA campgrounds limit the discount to something less than a week

2. While there are many exceptions, many PPA's aren't really the type of campground we enjoy.  We've been in a few that were great - otherwise, those we have used have been less than what we like.

Even with these limitations, I think PPA is a great deal - and in our years on the road our card has always paid for itself.  However, because of the two things I mentioned, PPA isn't a big player in our travel plans.

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58 minutes ago, GR "Scott" Cundiff said:

1. While there are many exceptions, most PPA campgrounds limit the discount to something less than a week

Yes, but. The discounted days can still bring down the expense if you stay for a few more days. 50% off half your stay can be better than 10% off all of it.

Linda Sand

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Each person has their own perception of what type of campground they like for a longer stay. All we generally need is electricity, we are fine for up to a week on our tanks. All we want is a safe place to park. If you want to save money spend a few nights each week boon docking.

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Ditto on Bill's suggestions, thumbs down on Harvest Host unless you like hanging around winerys and other locations they have and it isn't even low cost since you are expected to buy stuff where you stop and they only let you stay one day or maybe two. And I've recently heard folks complaining about getting cancelled at the last minute.

You can add Bass Pro, Cabellas and Cracker Barrel to the overnight stops.

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6 hours ago, agesilaus said:

You can add Bass Pro, Cabellas and Cracker Barrel to the overnight stops.

Be aware that not all of them participate in this option. It's best to call ahead and ask.

Linda

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We have been members of HH for 2-3 years and have never stayed at a Winery. Many museums and farms, neatest being an Alpaca Farm, fed the Alpaca. Never feel any pressure to buy anything. Who wouldn't buy vegetables at a vegetable farm if in season. You need food.

Skip Cracker Barrel, they have very limited spaces and only for small rigs. Usually there  is a 4 wheeler parked in the RV spot.

Since you posted this are you interested in Boondocking also?

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5 hours ago, SWharton said:

Skip Cracker Barrel, they have very limited spaces and only for small rigs

Yes, their RV spaces are small. But we parked our Class A with toad across the back spaces at one just like you do at Walmart and they were fine with that. It depends on the place and what they have available.  One Cracker Barrel was on an outlot at a shopping mall; they couldn't allow any overnight parking. One reluctantly said I could park overnight but I HAD to come in for breakfast. I asked that one if meeting a friend there for dinner would suffice since I had other plans for breakfast (a Waffle House next door, the last one on my route north). I called ahead when planning to stay at Cracker Barrel to find our what their particular situation is as I truly do like their food and the closest one to our home base is 33 miles away.

Linda

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