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filthy-beast

New to full timing, do we need to book winter sites now?

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We will be new full timers and hitting the road in June or July.  Do I need to figure-out and book sites for winter now or can just meander around during winter?  Of course the next question is where? we have no predetermined destinations so could go anywhere.

Are Rainbow parks an option and which are the best?  We will have 41ft 5th wheel.

 

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I would definitly book soon. Quartzsite is a good place to go in the winter. Big RV event out there. South Texas near Progresso Mexico is a good place. South Florida is also nice. The keys are good but expensive.

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We were told to spend the first winter traveling across the lower states and checking out places we thought might be a good fit for us. Otherwise you might commit to decent when you could have found excellent. It didn't take us long to discover we didn't care for Florida or the Gulf Coast or the Rio Grand part of Texas. Arizona turned out to be best for us. You might find otherwise for you but, unless you go everywhere, how will you know?

Linda Sand

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2 hours ago, Ranger Smith said:

I would definitly book soon. Quartzsite is a good place to go in the winter. Big RV event out there. South Texas near Progresso Mexico is a good place. South Florida is also nice. The keys are good but expensive.

Thanks, we do want to check-out Quartzite after practicing dry camping while parked in FHU sites several times.

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25 minutes ago, sandsys said:

We were told to spend the first winter traveling across the lower states and checking out places we thought might be a good fit for us. Otherwise you might commit to decent when you could have found excellent. It didn't take us long to discover we didn't care for Florida or the Gulf Coast or the Rio Grand part of Texas. Arizona turned out to be best for us. You might find otherwise for you but, unless you go everywhere, how will you know?

Linda Sand

Linda, that is what I was thinking of doing but got worried we won't find anywhere to camp. Was it very hard to find places to camp?

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1 hour ago, sandsys said:

We were told to spend the first winter traveling across the lower states and checking out places we thought might be a good fit for us. Otherwise you might commit to decent when you could have found excellent. It didn't take us long to discover we didn't care for Florida or the Gulf Coast or the Rio Grand part of Texas. Arizona turned out to be best for us. You might find otherwise for you but, unless you go everywhere, how will you know?

Linda Sand

I'll second that.  We spent about 3 years doing 2 week stays in places south of I-10.  We laid out our route and then in the fall started booking for the coming months.  Never had a problem getting 2 weeks or shorter stays.  Agree with Linda, Arizona turned out to be the place we wanted to spend the winter and then through longer stays we zeroed in on the area we liked and finally the park where we now have a park model for our "recharge" months.

When you get to the point you want to spend a month or more (usually 3 months for the best rates) that's the time to reserve the summer before you want to be there.  Actually we would book for the following winter when we were leaving Arizona each spring to insure the sit we wanted.

Edited by Barbaraok

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Check out the Escapees Co-Op parks.  Most are very nice.  Also the Rainbow parks.  If full they have a boondocking section to stay and you'll be next in line to get a hookup site.  It might take 2-3 days of boondocking.  There are parks in Alabama, Texas, Arizona and California - all in the southern part for winter.  There are others recommended for summer.

There will always be places to stay without reservations if you're not next door to a popular attraction.  Look off the main drag.  There are also state parks, Corp of Engineer parks, county and city parks.

If we would have had to make reservations for our 16 years of full-timing (5,840 nights) then we would have never done it.  We like to move and check out all areas and not spend a long time in a park.

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1 hour ago, filthy-beast said:

Linda, that is what I was thinking of doing but got worried we won't find anywhere to camp. Was it very hard to find places to camp?

No. But that was in 2008 and things have changed since then. Plus, we had a short Class C so didn't need much.

I think Barb started her tour in 2006 but I could be wrong about that. I also think she had a full-sized Class A.

9 minutes ago, 2gypsies said:

There are parks in Alabama, Texas, Arizona and California - all in the southern part for winter. 

And New Mexico and Florida. You can see a lot of the south by traveling from one  Escapees park to another. Most RVs charge house batteries while driving so staying in a boondock area for a night or two is doable if you watch your power usage. 

Also like Barb, we eventually picked a park in Arizona where we spent most of the winter although we never went as far as buying a park model.

Linda

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We have found it difficult for us not to have long term reservations in the southern parks.  Because of our 45' toyhauler & HDT we find it to be challenging to find parks that can accommodate us.  Many parks have chosen to either pack in as many trailers as possible or have not upgraded to the newer & larger RV's.

Our next winter tour will take us into AZ for the first time.  We had to commit to a 3 month stay or some of the parks wouldn't guarantee a site.  I suspect that we could have opted to do as some & taken a short term site but my comfort zone is for knowing I'm not going to get bumped off of a  site by a longer term renter or have to move from site to site for the same reason.

I appreciate those that are more mobile than we are & hope to one day do the same.  My intent was to be that way from the get go but FHU sites are very comforting for us on the long term.

Todd

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Part of the issue of places to stay is dependant on how long you wish to stay. If you want to stay for a month or longer then you will need reservations in any of the popular snowbird areas. If you wish to visit the Bureau of Land Management's camping in Long Term Visitor Areas(LTVA) you can't make a reservation but just buy your permit and find a spot to park when you get there. We have found that if stopping for a few nights we can find a place but it may take several phone calls, in the areas that we have visited recently. We have also found that many of the most popular RV parks in those areas will not take a reservation for a period of less than 1 month. 

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We also moved around during our first winters, 2003 to 2006, one to two week stays with an occasional one month stay.  We went all over Florida, Southern Texas, low elevation Arizona and Southern California.  There were short stays during travel in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico and Nevada, but none of these felt like winter spots to us.  It sometimes took a bit of work to find a place to camp and February with south Florida the hardest.  We felt the moving around was the best way to find what we liked and it worked.

The first time we stayed more than 1 month was in 2007 in Fort Myers F L. We ended up finding two areas we liked to winter, Fort Myers FL and Mesa AZ.  Now we have slowed down and bought a park model in Mesa and travel by RV only in summer.   We do not expect to be back in Florida by RV but did spend the winter of 2017/2018 there, mostly in Fort Myers.  What is interesting is the two fulltime RV friends that recommended the Mesa campground we landed at, have both settled down in the East, one in Florida and one in Alabama.  

 

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6 hours ago, Bill Joyce said:

What is interesting is the two fulltime RV friends that recommended the Mesa campground we landed at, have both settled down in the East, one in Florida and one in Alabama.  

Makes me wonder how far away they wanted you to be. :)

Linda

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A lot depends on where you want to stay and for how long. Short term stays, serval days to a week or two normally do not need reservations. Long term stays of a month or more may require a reservation. Escapees parks can get full fast. The two in FL, (Bushnell and Wauchula), are usually full. Wauchula begins taking reservations for the winter season in May. TheEscapees Co-Op in AZ at Benson AZ does not even take reservations. You just go there and if nothing is available you can stay in the boondocking area for a few days hoping something comes available. Most private parks in the popular areas, CA, AZ, TX, AL, FL will require a reservation if you want to stay for the winter season, but usually you don’t need to reserve until mid summer, June, July. Same with State parks, but most State parks have a 14 day max stay and you have to move to another park which requires several reservations. 

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Maybe the fact that we never stayed more than a few days at each stop during that first winter is what made it work for us. After all, if we wanted to visit every place south of I-10 in one season all the stays needed to be relatively short.

Linda Sand

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Just booked 2 months At the Plantation Park in AL, will call tomorrow and book a month in Rainbow Sumter Oaks FL.  That covers 3 months and leaves 3 months to roam around before we head back North.

Can't beat the price and will let us pad the budget.

 

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Question is pretty well answered - I'll just add this rule of thumb: the longer the planned stay the earlier the reservation.  

An exception is that if you are willing to chance it you can probably pick up a last minute spot due to a cancellation.  Popular winter campgrounds are often booked from one winter to the next.  Because of that there are very often late cancellations.  Most bigger winter campgrounds have waiting lists.  If you get on the list at a few of them you will have a decent chance of finding a spot.

Edited by GR "Scott" Cundiff

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Reservations for holidays are a must. Otherwise, call ahead and ask. Also, it depends on whether you are looking at commercial parks or government-run parks (BLM, COE, State, county, city). Most government parks have a 10-14 day time limit. Commercial parks will often offer weekly and monthly rates. Passport America offers 50% discounts, sometimes only on one night, sometimes on several nights, and sometimes on your entire stay - depends on the park. Also pay attention to special events in the area. We were at a commercial park a month or so before the big solar eclipse of a couple of years ago. They made sure that we knew the rates would DOUBLE for the week of the eclipse. We made sure that we were long gone by then.

Also, finding camping places in areas where there is a lot of oil work going on can be difficult. There is a lot of demand, so prices are high and all spaces are taken. Same holds true in any area where there is a lot of construction (pipe line, etc.).

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I have not been able to find long term stays in South Florida during the winter. At lease not where I wanted to be or even close by where I want to be.

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That is not surprising...many of the popular places are scheduled a year ahead of time.  Before people leave, they reserve the same space (or a better one if one comes available) for the following year.  We ran into that a few years ago in Florida.  We ended up a lot further north than we had planned.....but still enjoyed it.

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23 minutes ago, whj469 said:

I have not been able to find long term stays in South Florida during the winter. At lease not where I wanted to be or even close by where I want to be.

I think the next level is to wait till closer to winter.  Because reservations are made so early there's a higher rate of cancellations than you might expect.  If you can get on some waiting lists and are flexible, there's a good chance that you'll get a spot.  Otherwise, you might want to set up a list of campgrounds you would like and call them every week starting in the early fall.   

Good luck in your search!

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