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.
Is it all just hype?
Several readers have been able to find campsites without a problem. They share their tips and what they find.
Carolle G. has had great luck camping this season in the Florida Keys and has this to say about all the crowding we report on here: “We are a newly retired couple who are enjoying the Florida Keys right now. I was very nervous about coming down this year after all the warnings about no vacancies. I have been amazed that restaurants, RV resorts, etc., have not been busy at all. We have only had to wait for a table at a restaurant once the entire two months that we have been here. We will be leaving here this weekend to travel north to get our RV and will stay at a new RV resort. After all the comments I have heard in the past year about overcrowding & full campgrounds I’m beginning to believe it’s all just hype.”
Steve P. shares similar observations: “We have had little problems finding campsites, however, we do not camp as a vacation. I think people who use camping as their hotel when visiting major attractions like amusement parks in Florida or summer vacations to the beach are the ones having issues finding sites. And as noted, the closer to the attraction, the busier the campgrounds. I should also add as retired people, we have a lot more flexibility on travel dates, which probably helps. This issue is not going to go away so flexibility is going to be the answer. Good camping.”
Learn how to manage your expectations
Sandra P. has an upbeat response to some of the difficulty finding spots, particularly as a newbie. She writes, “We went full time in May of 2021. We found it difficult to find the space at campgrounds we wanted to stay in, even 6+ months out. In one Minnesota state park, we had four different sites just to make an eight-day stay work. We have had open nights forcing us to boondock, which turned out to be a great learning experience for us newbies.
“I have been working on 2022 since July and am learning to manage my expectations. I think that is a key…manage your expectations. Is it what we dreamed it would be? No..but it is what it is! I look for more parks with 2-week stay limitations. I think the turnover in campers gives a better chance of getting a spot we need. Have these rules gone out the window? Yes… many full-time are ‘liveaboards’ never planning to travel. Their RV is their home. Period. My RV is my mode of transportation to my next adventure which I happen to live in. Different mindset. Would welcome ‘travelers only’ parks! In the meantime, I’ll manage my expectations!”
Tim has a solution for all the no-shows that I think may just work. Tim says, “As to the complaints of reservations made and then they are ‘no shows,’ just do what your doctor’s office does, or what a hotel does if you made your appt/reservation and don’t show… You get charged for it anyway. Once people start getting charged full rate for not showing for their reservation, there will be a lot fewer ‘no shows.‘”
Billy T. adds that hitting the pocketbook harder may end the no-shows. He writes, “Your average federal and state campground fees are, say, $35/night. Unfortunately, many don’t think twice about blowing off a couple of nights and eating the fees. I suggest this: If you don’t arrive at your site, place a charge on their credit card of an extra $100 bucks for the first night, and add another $100 for each successive night they fail to show. And here’s the best part: Apply that money to the respective camping facilities for capital improvements. Once that policy gets out, your stiffs will lessen considerably.”
Being new campers is poor excuse for lack of manners
This column gets a lot of comments about how bad-mannered a lot of campers are. The number of comments we receive could fill several newsletters! I am struck, though, by how the comments have increased over the last year.
Lorelei wrote about it in our forum: “Campgrounds were terribly crowded in the Northwest and filled with rude people, which isn’t new, but more of it. I watched spaces empty at dark that were still empty in the morning. Some campgrounds save spaces and say they are full. There was an overabundance of screaming kids on bicycles, scooters, and skateboards, breaking every rule. Yelling adults were everywhere, barking dogs, loose dogs. The six-foot leash rule was ignored. The guy next to me was messing with a guitar and caterwauling for hours. I had to tell a guy to remove his dogs from my space so I could get mine out of the car. The fact that some are new campers is a poor excuse for no manners or common sense.”
“Snowbird tax” explained
Kelly R, a Floridian, wrote a very clear response to the suggestion of an out-of-state snowbird tax. “As a Floridian, we pay no income tax. We support our state through sales, property, gas, etc.,taxes. When an ‘out-of-stater’ comes across our borders, they pay the same taxes we do, sales tax on anything they buy, gas tax to maintain the roads they drive on while here, and you can bet that anywhere they stay their rent will include part of the property tax for that property. AND they help support our businesses by buying things.
“I welcome ‘out-of-staters.’ Thank you for keeping my taxes low. Come from out of state or out of country and enjoy our sunshine.”
Dave H. explains the rental tax a bit more: “Florida does have a snowbird tax, a transient rental tax. It’s a 6 percent sales tax that’s added to rentals of less than six months. Counties can add on to that as it’s an additional 5 percent in the county we’re in. I think local jurisdictions can add on as well, as we paid 11.5 percent for our three-month site here in southwest Florida. We like it here and enjoy our visit, so it’s just part of the cost.”
Now, some questions for you:
• Are you finding more and more campgrounds booked up? Or is finding a place to stay not a problem?
• 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: Should there be a snowbird tax?