RV sales have skyrocketed and more people than ever are taking up RVing. The result is campground crowding like never before! In this weekly blog, RV Travel readers discuss their experiences. Maybe we can find some helpful tips and ways to work around the problem.
Here are a few observations from our readers.
Are we being “too finicky”?
Dennis G. suggests that we may be a little too finicky. He says, “If you can’t find a campground, you are trying to reserve the wrong campground. I just returned from an 8,500-mile trip across 25 states to Bar Harbor, Maine, and back to CA, and only once had to look a little further than my intended destination. I drive a 34-foot Class-A, towing a Jeep Liberty, and reserved only the day before I needed to stop. Maybe you are being a little finicky?”
Dennis, we’re going to go right ahead and call you lucky!
No kiddos allowed
Do you prefer to camp in places where there are fewer children? This reader does. Fred P. writes, “We camp in the southeast due to medical reasons. We have never had a problem getting a site. Maybe not the exact date, so we adjust by a day, but we camp primarily on weekdays. Being retired we choose places where and when children are reduced, etc.”
No problems in Florida, either
Fred B. spent December in high-demand Florida and always found a spot. “We just spent December wandering around Florida and had no problems finding campsites. A few times we made reservations, but only a couple of weeks ahead of time. We stayed in a mix of National Forest, National Park, Water Management District, State Parks and one private RV Park. We even found a site at a popular no-reservation National Forest campground that was still restricting usage to 50 percent occupancy from Covid.”
Ask for an extension or about cancellations
Tracy K. has a clever technique for getting and keeping a campsite. We like this idea! Tracy writes, “We’ve found that booking a shorter time period gets you in the campground, and then we ask for an extension if anyone cancels. It’s often worked! Also, at Glacier last year, we drove up to the campground and asked if [there were] any cancellations and there were about seven of them! So we camped one night there.”
Don’t expect massive discounts
Jennifer C. warns about memberships and says not to expect massive discounts. She writes, “Thank you for this article. I help run a campground and booking ahead of time is key! We have pulled away from Good Sam and others because some guests were expecting massive discounts and/or pricing that we did not offer. It’s not across the board. Just because one campground is offering $20 a night RV spot doesn’t mean we are.”
Never had a full camp—pleasantly surprised
Micheal W. is pleasantly surprised and tells us about his experience: “We are at the start of our winter Texan (snowbird) trip. So far I am pleasantly surprised. During the migration part of our trip, we have had no problem finding a great spot for the night.
“We call the campground as we get tired and want to stop for the night. Never had a full camp and even stayed an extra night to rest up at one very nice county RV park. Just before New Year’s, we arrived at our first reservation. While they had higher occupancy than we were used to, they said they were about 3/4 full and looked to be that way through the winter.
“I asked about them using a reservation service. The lady at the desk said they had looked into a few different options and found them to be too rigid for their customers and too expensive for what they offered for service. So they have optioned to continue doing their own. People we talk to at the park have about the same story.
“RV parks are busier than pre-COVID but none have been turning people away. Maybe it is the time of the year of our travel region, but so far so good.”
Michael, just like Dennis above, you are lucky!
Learning how to plan
For people who aren’t used to planning so far ahead, making campground reservations can be a daunting task. Reader Julie M. says she just needs to learn long-term planning when life gets in the way. Julie writes, “25 years ago, you could just show up and get a site. Then you had to start reserving ahead. I would book a site a week ahead or up to a month ahead. Not anymore! Now, you better book your site 6-12 months in advance. That’s very hard. Life gets in the way, and you can’t go. The weather is terrible, and being stuck in a small camper is no fun, so you stay home. I would still rather be in my travel trailer than in a hotel room. We like to walk, be in nature, and bring our dogs. I just need to learn how to long-range plan.”
Bill S. has some good advice about getting a campsite. He says, “Been full-timing for nearly four years now. The key to getting into campsites is to book it as early as possible. When you can’t get in and there’s no ‘waitlist,’ keep calling. Someone may cancel. Also, it’s a no-brainer that you cannot give your site to someone else. It is most always reservations required. Parks that do not require reservations will give space as first-come, first-served as RVers come in. Saving sites for someone is often against the rules, which makes perfect sense.”
Now, some questions for you:
• Are you finding more and more campgrounds booked up? Or are you having no problem finding places to stay?
• If campgrounds continue to be crowded and RVing continues to become more popular, will it affect how or when you RV?
• Do you have any tips or secrets you’d like to share about finding campgrounds that aren’t as crowded?
Please join me in my forum to discuss your answer to these questions. Maybe other RVers have a solution for you!
Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column here.