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Campground Fees


Kaybee

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Hello everyone. I've been lurking on this forum for a year and have learned so much from all of you. Thank you for being so forthright with your wisdom and experience!

 

I realize this subject has been discussed to death (I've ready LOTS of discussions), and apologize for bringing it up again, BUT . . . my husband and I are seriously considering taking early retirement in two years and committing to full-timing in a fifth wheel for a couple of years so we can enjoy ourselves while we are still healthy (he will be 62 then and I will be 58). Our only child is a Golden Retriever (who of course will come with us), we have no debt, we have saved the money for the trailer and truck, and we feel we are fiscally sound (the conference call with our financial planner later today will hopefully confirm that!). So, we are trying to come up with a budget. I know -- we will spend as much as we have, but I need some real-life campground costs. We plan to follow warm weather and stay in one place for a while, maybe as long as 2-3 months if we like where we are. I don't see us boondocking much, unless we are enroute to a destination and just want to/have to spend a night in a parking lot. We are not opposed to workkamping, and would be happy to do that if it meant spending time in one of our "dream" destinations, but don't want to do for the first few months. We don't live a lavish lifestyle now, and don't anticipate that changing when we retire; our goal is to stay active, enjoy the outdoors, and see the country. Is anyone with similar travel habits willing to divulge what they spend on campground fees? Thanks in advance.

 

KB

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We don't stay in RV parks very often, preferring to boondock. However, we have on occasion stayed for a month or more in an RV park (typically during the winter). We try to look for parks that cost less than $400 per month. That's pretty easy to do in the Southwest, more difficult in other places (in fact, we've found RV parks in the Southwest during the winter that are more in the $200 per month range). We did find an RV park on the Oregon Coast one year that cost $350 including electricity.

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Month long stays at that price shouldn't be a problem outside of the big destination areas. If you aren't boondocking fans look at Passport America for a discount program that can get you into parks along your route for a nice savings.

 

Try Google for campgrounds in your desired areas, it should pull up a nice selection and you can check their rates.

 

Here is an example fpr Gila Bend, AZ - a nice quiet, warm spot to spend time. http://www.holtshell.com/Services.html $200 a month

 

One thing we learned is to always take a weekly or daily rate in a new park, you might find something you like better nearby or just want a different spot in the same park and being able to move without waiting the rest of the month is worth the few extra dollars.

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If you become an Escapee member (right now through Oct 31 you can do so for $29.95) then staying is Escapee parks would work very well for you. There are two kinds: Rainbow Parks are owned by the Club and range from $235 to $430/month. Co-op parks are owned and run by the co-op owners and they will have rentals available which range from $265 to $480/month. All of these parks are located in moderate-temperature places.

 

A regular private RV park will have a big range of prices and the site: RV Park Reviews will give you some idea.

 

To us, over $30/day is expensive. We tend to boondock or stay in public parks with our Golden Age cards which gives us 1/2 off camping. This would include national parks, national forests, Corp of Engineer parks. Most of the time these rates will be $10+-. However, you can't stay long-term but usually only two weeks.

 

It would be highly recommended that you use the Escapee parks for your best experience with great people. :)

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As the post above I totally agree ,become an Escapee Club member and check the locations of the C.G with the special rates.

If this si not good enough go to Passpotamerica.com and for 49$ annually you can use around 1600 C.G with different restrictions.

Or get both of them 2-4 nights will cover your fees.

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From the 10,000' level, is your current residence free? Even a totally own house has taxes and other fees to be in it. That is what you compare against.

 

Our last year average for places we paid to stay was $26.02 a night. That would be $780 a month, still not bad compared to a house or an apartment.

 

Our overall average night stay for the last couple of years has been $15-$18.00 a day using the family farm, friends lots, and our winter lot that we own. That is $510-$540 a month, still a good deal compared to a house.

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I don't consider $780 per month to be reasonable as you must add the cost of the RV and the fuel and other RV travel cost and utilities to compare it to housing cost.

If you look hard enough you can do better, Escapee parks and other lower cost RV parks like city or county RV parks. You can also work somewhere that includes a RV spot.

Good Luck

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Because we are snowbirds and not fulltimers we look at things a little differently. We have an overall budget that we need to stick to. One of the biggest expenses is fuel so we figure that if we stay put, say in San Diego , for several months we can spend a bit more on an RV park because we are not spending on fuel. If we are doing a lot of driving we will compensate by finding cheaper RV parks and do some boondocking as well. SoCal is not cheap but darn its nice there...:)

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Here's how I would research that. Pick areas you are interested in seeing. Go to RV Park Reviews. com and see what people recommend in those areas and how those fit your needs. Go to the websites for the parks that appeal to you and see what their current rates are. Then you would have current, real numbers to use in your planning. Because I could tell you what I liked and how much I paid four years ago but how helpful would that be now?

 

Linda Sand

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One thing we learned is to always take a weekly or daily rate in a new park, you might find something you like better nearby or just want a different spot in the same park and being able to move without waiting the rest of the month is worth the few extra dollars.

This is great advice. We just bought a month, sight unseen, for the month of August this summer. It was a miserable place so we ended up leaving in two weeks and booking a couple other places we knew about for the rest of the month. No refunds when you book a month and pay ahead. It was worth the money to get out of the place but an expensive lesson.

 

Yes, I did leave a negative review on RV Park Reviews--and it was posted.

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Also, make use of city, state, county, national, and ,especially, corps of engineer parks. Most can be found on reparkreviews.com. I also google "campgrounds near __________" because all are not on rvparkreviews.com,then visit the website of the ones you like. As above, Passport America is well worth having. Also, as above, we try to take advantage of weekly rates if very resonable. You can always extend to a monthly rate if you like a place, which is what we just did here in Heber City, UT. They even applied what we had paid for the weekly rate. Resonable campground rates can be found with a little research ahead of a visit.

 

Boondocking is worth the compromise on hookups for a few days if prepared, and you want to visit some of the national parks that do not have hookups. Be sure and get your husband's Senior Pass card ASAP. Corps parks & natioanl ones are 50% off. Can't beat that! Even some city and county parks have given us the discount. Of course, your Senior Pass will get you all kinds of other discounts.

 

Of course, the SKP parks are just so great because of the rates and the wonderful people that are so helpful to those like you just starting the full time lifestyle. We use the SKP parks as much as possible if there is a park near an area we want to explore.

 

I liked your comment about full timing for a couple of years. That is what we said. And here we are 5 years later still out here!! And with no plans to quit anytime soon! Best of luck to you, such fun times are ahead!

Carol

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For my summer 144 day trip my average camping per day was $10.78.

3 months was at monthly rate 6 nights using Passport America 1 Good Sam 1 AARP and 25 Free nights(Son's & Freightliner factory shop).

Stayed in campground in FL, SC, NC, KY, GA, IN and IL

 

Now at my FL. winter spot for 7 months that is much less, on a friends 40 acre farm.

Camping cost varies every year, depending on how often my very good friend stops by for a Scotch & club soda and unsalted Dry Roasted peanuts. :)

2012 $320.34

2013 $364.57

2014 so far $266.83

 

Trip was 3,100 miles and all cost for MH fuel, toad gas, camping, all food and entertainment average was $26.37 a day

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In 2013 our CG fees averaged 269/mo, Diesel 162/mo and gas 122/mo. We stayed in places for much longer periods in '13.

 

In 2014 we decided to do a lot more traveling and our costs went up quite a bit. We spent most of the summer exploring Colorado. CG fees average so far for 2014 are 462/mo, diesel 233/mo, and gas 189/mo.

 

What we learned this year is that we don't like moving every week or two. It's too hectic and we much prefer to stay longer and see more detail.

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Without working at it to keep costs down, on my last trip around the country (305 days) my average campground cost was $22.41. No memberships other than the National Park Senior Card. Most were per night with a few 1 or 2 week stays. Least expensive - Free dry camping at Quartzite & a nice water & electric site at O'Neill City Park in NB. Also spent 2 weeks at the Imperial Dam BLM area in CA for $40.00. Most expensive - $65.46 at a KOA at St Mary outside Glacier National Park.

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Thank you, everyone, for the information and for your encouragement. I appreciate everyone taking the time to respond. We did speak with our financial planner yesterday, and we are confident that we can do this, and do it comfortably, barring any serious unforeseen events. We figured out that we only to endure about 104 more Mondays at work! Woo hoo!

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Let me offer you a belated welcome to the Escapee forums! We are happy that you have stopped lurking and have joined into the action here.

We figured out that we only to endure about 104 more Mondays at work! Woo hoo!

That is great news. I will offer a couple of suggestions. The first is to get yourself a membership in Passport America or Happy Campers, as they provide 50% discounts in many RV parks and the cost of membership is only $44/year. Usually the length of stays are limited under the discount but they can save you a lot of money when on the road.

 

For budget purposes, play out an imaginary route of travels for some period and then get yourself a copy of one of the major campground guides and use it to price out the nightly stays. For longer term stops you can also call the parks for weekly and monthly rates.

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We averaged $3 a night this summer at the FS pay spots, we get 1/2 off the $6, and part of the time is at free spots. We were gone two months, and spent less than $500 for the summer, and that includes fuel, food, and camp fees. We should be able to cut this amount down, when not covering as much ground.

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We only travel 5 months a year and we to manage our CG fees and food. About the only things we can manage. Staying at City and County CG's really helps the budget. When we arrive at out destination(Phoenix) we pay by the month. Actually, if we prepay for 3 months we get a much better deal. Over the years we have averaged under $20/day for CGs and we don't boondock.

 

If we travelled more we would do more boondocking and COE camping. Probably volunteer for CARE and other volunteer locations..

 

You can always get a job for a few months. Amazon actively recruits Rvers for their Sept-Dec Christmas season. They supply a free CG. There is a thread about the Amazon workkamping if you have an interest. Most CGs hire workkampers but I don't think the pay for a free site is worth it(personal opinion)

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Carol, we've never done this before, and may not like it. But, we do feel that we need to commit to a definite time period in order to find out. We thought about keeping a permanent place to live and only traveling a few months every year, but decided it made more sense to only pay for one abode. If we don't like it, we can sell the truck and trailer and move into a condo. If we like it, and stay healthy, we can keep going.

 

Kirk, I didn't know about Happy Campers; thank you for mentioning it. I like the idea of planning out and pricing a "virtual" trip and will do that this weekend. I'm amazed that some folks can camp so economically! Hubby wants a larger trailer, so I doubt that we will be able to fit into some of those NWRs and FS spots, but with the info you all have provided here, I'm confident we can stick to our budget and still have a good time.

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I find the biggest surprise is food. We generally eat in/from the trailer when on the road, but food always seems high. Since we are mostly traveling every few days we don't do the pot roast or stews until we settle in. We might eat lunch out if touring and maybe dinner once a week. I find I spend 10-20% more than when in our S&B. Probably sales and coupons(dinner mostly) makes up the difference.

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You are also shopping in unfamiliar markets and surrounded by different types of foods, so you will look a little longer in finding things on your list and will probably pick up an item or two not on the list that are new/different to try. That is part of the fun of fulltiming, getting to try new things. :)

 

Barb

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Without a doubt the best bang for your buck (campgrounds) are the Escapee parks - clean, safe and reasonably priced. We're snowbirds, so our main camping season is the winter. We chose Arizona 7 years ago and by chance stayed at the Escapee Co-op in Casa Grande. We loved it! and last year became leaseholders. We tend to travel the AZ-NM-CA-NV area during the winters, spending some time with the Boondockers' BOF, and RoVers' Roost is our winter home base

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