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Question on Membership CG

In a little over a year from now will be starting our next adventure Fulltiming. Trying to get all of ducks in a row before then. Would like to hear what membership cg seems to be the best value, Coast To Coast, Passport America ect. 80% of our camping will be east of the Mississippi, with a couple trips to the Southwest and the Rockies. Any info will be greatly appreciated. Thanks,Rich

I hear some good things about Thousand Trails. It's a bit expensive at the beginning but pays for itself within the first year if you are fulltiming and stay in RV parks a lot.
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RAllison wrote:
In a little over a year from now will be starting our next adventure Fulltiming. Trying to get all of ducks in a row before then. Would like to hear what membership cg seems to be the best value, Coast To Coast, Passport America ect. 80% of our camping will be east of the Mississippi, with a couple trips to the Southwest and the Rockies. Any info will be greatly appreciated. Thanks,Rich

I'm different from most people in that I think that done right, membership systems can be a great benefit for fulltimers.

First, it helps to understand all of the terms involved and so I did a page for our blog:
Membership Parks

Second, we STARTED with membership park systems because we knew we were going to spend a lot of time on the West Coast and that is where a large majority of them are. If you are going to stay on the East Coast, then not so much.

Third, if you expect 5 star resorts, you will be disappointed. Not to say that some aren't, but basically they are set up to attract families who will do weekends and 1-2 week vacations each year. So weekends can be a bit noisy, but weekdays are quite. We see the place as where we return each night to sleep/shower/recharge before heading out the next day to explore.

Fourth, if you use them 100 nights a year, you will save money, especially if you buy used. But even buying new and using at least 100 nights a year, you will have paid off the initial buy in in 2-3 years. Is that a big chunk, yes it is, but if you aren't sure that fulltiming is for you, start with a Thousand Trails Zone Pass (often you can get a 2 for 1 buy-in) which gives you a year to try in an specific area you want to explore.

You need a mix of home park/system (like Thousand Trails) and affiliates (like Coast-2-Coast, AOR, ROD, RPI, etc) to give you the best coverage and availability.

If you want to stay a month or more at a time then memberships aren't for you.


Barb & Dave O'Keeffe - full-timing since 2006

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All of this is great info, I really appreciate it really helps me get prepared for May 31 2020. I'm kind of over the top on having everything in order so you will probably see me on here frequently with more questions. Thanks again, Rich

Explorer II
Explorer II
We have been full-time almost 9 years and do not use any membership campgrounds. We do however use a discount club, Passport America. We are members of harvest hosts and have had a membership with Escapees club and are members of boondockers welcome. We use Passport America the most. Used to have Good Sam, but found that many of their campgrounds also are part of Passport America and usually give only a 10% vs 50% discount.

Good advice so far. Memberships in Coast to Coast, Thousand Trails, etc. only make sense if you use them. Passport America is cheap and you can recover your cost in 2 or 3 nights of camping.

We have been RVing for 32 years and full timed for 11. At one point we had all the memberships - - eventually dropped most of them as we no longer felt they were a benefit to us financially. We still have Thousand Trails, PA and Escapees. Overall, the memberships saved us a lot of money over the years - - but you have to use them - - and you may find yourself planning your travels around where the membership campgrounds are - - which may be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view.
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First, I have an article that might help you:
Various Memberships for the Weekenders and Fulltimer

Second, really pay attention and think about your style of travel. I have (and love) Harvest Hosts but I almost never use it. We rarely overnight and, if we do, we'll leave after work and arrive late; outside of the business hours for the business. And, since we rarely overnight, Passport America doesn't make sense either. Usually weekly rates are better.

For us, we use the heck out of our Thousand Trails membership. Other than my yearly dues (which I pay about $625 in November), we haven't paid a nightly campground fee since January 1. In fact, we're lining up to mostly not pay anything until mid-August (we have a couple of "splurges" on places we want to go in there).
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Explorer II
Explorer II
Passport america pays for itself quickly but we don't use it often as we would like.If you travel much( as opposed to month stays ) I wouldn't be without . Its valid mostly for 1-3 nights only and weeknights not weekends .. there are of course exceptions. Escapees membership is useful with 10 - 50 % discounts and the few member parks. and escapees has other valuable reasons to join for a full timer.
Thousand Trails has zone membership I would do first to see if they Fit your style. We did that with Two Zones but found that where we wanted to be, wasn't where they were, and a few were less than we expected, so we dropped them... something you can't do if you BUY a membership. try before you buy .. it may be a way to keep things cheap or it may not work for you. They have changed The Zone rules and Membership rules lately so review carefully.
We are also FMCA members needed for our rv brand club and Good Sam members (Just a bad habit I renew ) but they ea offer 10% off and almost any park will offer 10% to AARP VET GS FMCA etc.
Coast to Coast RPI etc we havent found a need for YMMV !
Good luck on your year to full time! We are starting our 4th year.

I would advise that you don't contractually obligate yourself before you've been on the road a while and see how you like to camp. Also, everyone's money situation is different, so take that into account when you see advice here.

fwiw, we've gotten good value from Passport America, but stays are almost always limited to a couple of nights at their CGs before going full rate. Our friends that got us into this did Escapees while fulltiming before health issues grounded them. Also, most CGs offer senior and AAA discounts. Be sure to take those into account when doing your math. (some have veteran discounts too)

We have been members of Travel Resorts of America for about 6 years, one of their campgrounds, Wally World is in our backyard almost. So we will be using them for sure when were back around home. But we are trying to get a rough idea about some of the campground costs out and about. Rich

Community Alumni
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I highly recommend looking into resale CG memberships for seasonal and full time RVers. You can buy resale memberships for a few hundred dollars with annual dues running less than $500. In just a few nights you will recover your annual dues compared to paying current nightly rates, or even discounted rates offered by Passport America.

Look for memberships with campgrounds in areas where you're planning to primarily stay since most of them are regional. Whatever you do, do NOT get sucked into paying thousands of dollars for a new membership.

We have been full-timing for 5 years and use Good Sam, Passport America, KOA, and Escapees. We have investigated the time share type places, but they seem regionally spotty and to make them pay you have to use them.

It really all depends on what your travel goals are and where you like to camp. We are not boon dockers and with a 43' 5ver don't stay in many state parks. We like travelling and spending time exploring history and the sights in areas we visit, so rarely travel m,ore than 200 miles in a day, not do we make lengthy itinerary plans that tie us down. We have often planned to stay one or two days in a location, then changed based on what's in the area and stayed a couple of weeks. Other than our 3-4 month winter stops in FL or AZ, we rarely stay in one place more than 2 weeks - though we have stayed in "target rich environments" for a month where there was lots to do within 100 miles or so.

I'd recommend NOT buying into a Coast to Coast, etc type plan until you've been on the road a little and see what you like. Had we done so, we would not have gotten our money out of it, but YMMV. Most have "look see" type arrangements so you can check them out.

Keep researching and have fun!
Alan and Kathleen
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Was researching that last night, trying to talk DW into fulltiming also. Watching to see the responses. By the way, you're practically my neighbor. We live in Sugarcreek. Gary
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Passport America is a 50% discount club. Other options are Harvest Hosts which offer free parking at wineries, farms, golf courses etc.
Another good club is Boondockers Welcome where RV'ers offer parking at the homes and properties.
Good Sam offers a discount to members at their associated parks as well.