RV Memberships… Are They A Black Hole for Money?
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RV Memberships… Are They A Black Hole for Money?

The answer yes, no, maybe… it really depends.

The intent of this article is to help you decide what, if any RV memberships, are right for you. How do you know what’s right for you? Research, Research, Research. RV Memberships are like choosing your rig. Some of us like a Class A with one bedroom and others need a 5th wheel/toy hauler with sleeping quarters for 4 kids and there are a lot of choices in between. It really depends on your individual needs. The point is the same for RV memberships and what is right for you and your camping needs.

When you ask people about RV memberships, most have strong opinions, but we say take those opinions with a grain of salt and decide what RV memberships work for you. 

We have been researching and traveling for about 2 year now and have asked a lot of people about RV memberships and will include their opinions in this blog. We also created a video on this topic. 

Where Do You Start When Choosing RV Memberships ?

Start by asking yourself some questions to help you decide what RV memberships if any are right for you.

How much do you camp?

  • Full time - Live in an RV most-all of the time
  • Part time - Live in an RV 6 months of the year
  • Sometime - weekenders or a few weeks a year
  • Want to go camping - haven’t yet started camping but want to.

What is your camping budget, per night ?

  • $50 or more
  • $25 - $50
  • $10 - $25
  • Free

Who will be traveling?

  • I Travel Alone
  • I Travel with adult/s
  • I Travel with kids
  • I Travel with pets

Do you like to be around others?

  • Yes, like to socialize and be around others.
  • P No, I want to be alone out in the wild
  • Both, I like to sometimes be alone and sometimes we around others.
  • Only if they don’t talk to much

What about actives?

  • I want planned activities
  • I want activities for the kids
  • I want activities with other adults
  • I want NO activities

What type is your camping style?

  • Tent camping - in a tent
  • RV/Van Camping - In a vehicle of some type
  • Primitive - No hook ups
  • Hooks up - sewer, water, electric

Here is how Dan and I answered these questions…

We are travel full time, just the two of us. We like to have some actives, and enjoy meeting and socializing with others. Most of the time we like to have full hooks and like a campground with a pool/hot tub. Our budget for coming is less than $10 a night.

We bought memberships we have ungraded, memberships we renewed, and memberships we chose not to renew. But The Question Is what are best rv campground memberships for you?

RV Memberships

RV Life Pro - RV Trip Wizard

This RV membership consists of tools and websites to make RVing simple and safer. The tools include RV Life Trip Wizard, for trip planning, RV safe GPS, Campground reviews by RVers, RV Life Maintenance Tracker keeping up on maintenance is essential, and RV Life Community, groups of people that you can connect with on various topics. The cost is $59 a year and there is a discount code for 25% off.

RV LIFE Pro Banner

25% OFF​

Use Discount Code:   EXPLORING25

What People Are saying About RV Life…

Our Personal Thoughts

Even before I (Patti) agreed to full-time RVing we signed up for the free version of RV Life Pro. After using it to plan what a trip would look like we we decided we would just buy it since it was only about  $49 for the year. We have used it for almost 2 years now and for us this is the best membership we own. Check out our video using RV Trip Wizard for RV Trip Planning.

Having an RV Safe GPS is essential in todays environment, getting the trip planning software, campground reviews, RV maintenance  app all included with this powerful tool for less than $50 a year just seems like a no-brainer to us. We own this membership and use it literally everyday and highly recommend it anyone that owns, rents, or borrows an RV.

RV Memberships

Thousand Trails Memberships

Thousand Trail is a network of 82 campgrounds, with upgrades that give you over 200 campgrounds, across the US and British Columbia. The membership allows you to stay in campgrounds for 2-3 weeks at no charge. There are 4 main types of memberships and they range from around $600 to $15,000, at the time of this article. There are also promotions available.

There is a lot of of very strong opinions on this membership, from love it to hate it and everything in between. I want to thank everyone who shared their thoughts and opinions about this membership. For us we said “no” to    this membership but read to see why we changed our decision and we are very happy we did. 

Thousand Trails Membership Types?

There are currently 82 campgrounds across the US and you can add the Trails Collection to any of the memberships, this give you 100+ more campgrounds to choose from. 

There are 4 memberships and the price stated are not exact. To get the best prices, promotions and information fill out the form below. and get a no pressure quote.

Memberships Types

Zone Camping Pass

Elite Basic

Elite Connections

Adventure

What People Are Saying About Thousand Trails…

Our Personal Thoughts

Our Thousand Trails experience… before we ever started RVing we heard a lot of stories and said no way to a Thousand Trails Membership. But and this is a big but, we were traveling for 6 months when we arrived in Bend, OR to visit our kid and 2 grandkids.  We had a lot planned but the smoke from the 2021 forest fires were so bad we couldn’t even go outside. What do you do… head to the beach. But where will we camp? Campgrounds were around $40 a night with hookups. We heard about sales reps Jim and Brandy Reneau and we called to get the information. I (Patti) was very skeptical but after Jim gave us all the information he said “do what works best for you and your family” never any pressure and we bought the Camping Pass to check it out for ourselves. 

We made this call on a Saturday afternoon in August then called Whaler’s Rest RV & Camping Resort, on the Oregon Coast, got a reservation for the next day and we stayed for 5 days. It was a great time for everyone.  After, returning from Whaler’s Rest RV & Camping Resort we spent 2 weeks  Bend-Sunriver RV Campground. We spent 19 days in these 2 campgrounds and paid $0. 

We continued our travels and stay in Thousand Trails campgrounds over 15 campgrounds and stayed over 130 nights, paying $0 camping fees. We were sold on this membership and have upgraded to the Elite Connections Membership, and now have a 180 day booking window with the ability to go park to park. We are loving life and our Thousand Trails Membership.

But let’s be honest, are all of the campgrounds perfect? No, but the campground we paid $55 a night for wasn’t  perfect either. Again, it goes back to what your needs and budget for camping is. For us going to campgrounds and not paying a nightly fee is perfect. 

America the Beautiful

The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series 

A pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Covers entrance fees to national wildlife refuges as well as day use fees. 

There are a number of passes available. Check the website for all the details and up to date costs.

What People Are Saying About The America the Beautiful pass....

Our Personal Thoughts

On This RV Membership​s

When Dan turned 62 we purchases the Lifetime Senior Pass, in the first year it has more than paid for itself. We love this membership and strongly recommend a membership, choosing the one that fits you and your families needs. 

Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome

Boondockers Welcome Harvest Hosts were 2 separate companies until about a year ago when they merged. You can buy one or both memberships.

Harvest Hosts

Overnight camping at wineries, breweries, museums, farms and homes, and there is no camping fees. You pay a yearly membership of $99 and have unlimited stays. 

What People Are Saying About Harvest Host....​

Our Personal Thoughts

We joined Harvest Hosts when we started RVing and used it at several places. What we love is the unique experiences we have had staying at locations such as a beautiful winey, a lavender and loofah farm, and a farm with vegetables and live stock. We did renew this membership this year and will use it for those unique experiences.

Boondockers Welcome

Has over 3,000 hosts across the US and Canada. This membership is about $79 a year.  These are private properties and they allow people to park their RV, usually for more than 1 night but it depends on the host. The host properties range from private homes to farms and more. This is a great way to meet amazing people, have awesome experiences in and around the location.

What People Are Saying About Boondockers Welcome....​

Our Personal Thoughts

On This RV Membership​s

We purchased our Boondockers Welcome membership when we picked up our RV. Our first host was a private home and all I can say is the people have become life long friends of ours. Since that time we have had many incredible experiences and made many friends. This membership has more than paid for itself and we renewed this year.

Good Sam

At the time of this article you can start a membership from around $29, for the first year. There are also 2 and 3 year membership with added benefits. 

They offer discounts on camping, in retail stores, and fuel savings as well as other benefits. 

We did sign up for Good Sam as we were purchasing something that would save us enough money to cover the membership cost. We honestly have not used it very much and decided we would not renew this membership. Our own research is limited as we have other memberships that work better for us. We have, however talked to many people and they  either loved, loved it back in the day but not so much now, and people that are very unhappy with this membership for various reasons. 

What People Are Saying About Good Sam....

Our Personal Thoughts

The Good Sam catalog and discount programs are great, who doesn’t like to save money. While we saved money that covered the membership we have other memberships that give the same benefits as the Good Sam membership. We have taken the position that sometimes even the low cost memberships start to add up and we had to decide which ones were best for us. In our situation we decided to drop the Good Sam membership. 

Passport America

This membership gives a 50% discount on over 1,200 campground and RV Parks across the US. You can join for around $44 for the year. 

What People Are Saying About Passport America....​​

Our Personal Thoughts

We purchased Passport America and stayed at a few campgrounds for less than $20, which was great as we needed an overnight stay on a long trip. The problem we ran into was a lot of inconsistencies in the campgrounds and the discounts they offer. There weren’t always 50% off. There were also campgrounds that told us they wouldn’t give the discount for different reasons. One campground stated they weren’t going to give the discount but could give us $5 off. Another campground said they just weren’t doing Passport America any more. Even thought Passport America is inexpensive we will not be reviewing as we have other memberships that we are using.

The following RV Memberships are ones we have limited experience with but wanted to mention as they come up a lot in conversation.

Full Time Families

We have a large family but no kids of school age travel with us. We have spoken to and gotten feedback from many families that travel full time. Of the families we have spoken to we have gotten mostly positive feedback on the support and events that are created as families travel. There are even events created for moms to get together and to be a support system for each other. We did speak with some full timers that did not think the Full Time Families membership was for them as they were people that go off grid, camp away from others and want to be alone. We did have a few that said they just didn’t utilize the group as much as they could. 

This link  is from our good friend Robin who travels with her husband and 3 kids and is part of  Full Time Families.
The link gives a 10% discount for membership

Our Personal Thoughts

If we had kids traveling with us full time we would have this membership. We have seen some many cool activities and amazing people that get together with others.

Escapes

“Escapees RV club Club is dedicated to supporting your RV Lifestyle with everything you need to make it easier, more affordable, safer, and most important of all-fun. Escapees rv club members enjoy a comprehensive suite of discounts and support services, as well as numerous education options and access the the friendliest and most supportive community of RVers on the planet.”

To access all the information this membership has to offer click the link for the Information Kit.

Our Personal Thoughts​

The membership has been suggested to us and we have looked into.

FMCA

The Family Motor Coach Association is a Membership Club. The membership provide a great deal of benefits for its members with special deals and discounts to save hundreds of dollars on RVing expenses such as tires, roadside rescue and more. For more information click here.

Our Personal Thoughts​​

We have found that a lot of what Escapees offers is not what we are looking for at this time so we decided to pass but we will continue to look at this membership to see if in the future it would be valuable for us.

Our Final Thought

We have complied a lot of information about memberships over the last 2 years. The information is from people we spoke with, people we surveyed, our own research, blog posts, and YouTube videos. In this article we give you some of the good, the bad, the awesome and not to mention the ugly of RV Memberships. In the end you decide what works for you and your unique situation but know that you may choose a membership and find it isn’t for you and other memberships that you can’t wait to upgrade.

12 Responses

  1. I would love to have the RV life trip planner. I tried it but just couldn’t do it. I emailed for help but mostly I was told to watch the Videos that explain it. I did but they went too fast to understand. I’m a reasonably educated person but I never caught on. Had to drop it.

  2. Very interesting article. Does Thousand Trails offer regional areas? People can get old contracts transferred from third parties cheaper sometimes. Did not talk about Campground memberships (RV time shares). Possibly another time. Coast to Coast could be discussed. Escapees does inform and act as lobby for RVers concerning possible laws and government actions. I find this of importance.
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you, we always appreciate suggestions and feedback on our article. Good information on Escapees.

      Thousand Trails does offer regions. Let me know if you would want more information, we have a rep
      we work with and they are amazing.

      We don’t know much about third party contracts or RV time shares maybe a blog for another time.

      Again, thank you for your input.

      Patti & Dan

  3. God blog guys. Enjoyed it. You are getting a world of experiences in your travels. Look forward to seeing you in Oct

  4. I haven’t found any Thousand Trails campgrounds to be in anything other than terrible condition. Maybe it’s just the ones in Florida.
    Harvest Hosts bought out Boondockers Welcome and both have gone downhill. Read the most recent HH app reviews. Lot’s of not happy campers. A friend let me log on with her account to check locations. Just not worth the cost, as there are none in any area that we visit.
    You left out KOA. While a lot of people cannot stand any KOA, 99% of them have been consistently decent places for 1-2 night stays. There are some things that you can count on with KOA. Most all have dog parks, kid friendly, pool (when in season), decent camp store. I more than break even on the membership cost vs. camping costs, every year. Always can make reservations online.
    Good Sam parks, you save on camping cost, but some of their 10/10/10 rated parks are overrated.

    1. Tom,
      Thank you for your feedback.
      We have been to 15 Thousand Trails and while some aren’t as great as others we have really enjoyed the Thousand Trails we have stayed at.

      Harvest Hosts did buy Boondockers Welcome and while there was issues with the process we have stayed at amazing places across the country.

      The point of the article is to share our experiences and have others share their experiences so the community can make a decision about what’s best for them. Like life, RV lise is different for different people.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with our community.

      Patti & Dan

  5. You mentioned RV Life Community groups in your article. I have RV Life Pro, and I don’t see a link to that on the App, which I use all the time for the GPS and CG reviews. Is it something that is only available on the RV Life website?

  6. We belong to Good Sam. The main reason for this, is the road side assistance. Do you have any alternative suggestions regarding this?

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