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.
The idea of a snowbird tax has certainly been a topic of conversation among Floridians and a lot of other RVers too. It’s been brought up week after week in this column. Here are some more thoughts on it…
“$6.500,000,000,000,000” in tourist dollars
Okay, I am no mathematician and am trusting reader Al S. with all the zeros in $6.5 billion dollars (No, actually I know there are too many zeroes, so you don’t need to comment on this). But as he points out, there’s a lot of money going into Florida coffers! Al says, “Snowbird taxations? I don’t think Floridians want us to pay. Doesn’t make sense to me. Especially since we the tourist put $6.5 billion in the state coffers. Yes, that’s 6.5 billion with a BIG B. We pay FULL price for RV sites while you get sites much cheaper by your residency in the state. You have the same opportunity to make reservations at any campground. Just because you wait until Thursday to make camp on Friday isn’t my fault, it is yours. If you want to really complain call 1-800-THE-GOV and see if he wants to give up or get cut on the $6.500,000,000,000,000.”
The campground is not the enemy
Kristen C. has a fresh perspective on cancellation policies and double-dipping. She writes, “Summer of 2020, I had reserved a campsite at a KOA near Yellowstone for two nights. But we had mechanical trouble in our tow vehicle in South Dakota so were forced to repair the vehicle and were unable to drive to Yellowstone in time to use our reservation. When I called to cancel the reservation and was fully aware that my 7-day window to cancel was over and that I would get no refund. I certainly did not view the campground as the enemy, and I did not resent that the campground would be able to double-dip and re-rent the campsite. I totally understand the 7-day cancellation window.
“They can’t sit and wait all summer for campers to show up and then have a last-minute cancellation and receive no money. Then, that evening they are to hope that someone shows up and wants to rent the site. If they double-dipped those two nights, I am happy for them. So many of the letters I read on this platform seem to view the campground as the enemy. I view the campground as a wonderful place and I sure do appreciate them.”
Unethical to book a site and expect the campground owner to suffer the consequences
Joseph W. writes along those same lines. He says, “I believe that if one reserves a campground and is a ‘no-show,’ with no notice, the owner should keep the entire fee. It is unethical to book a site and then expect, with no notice, that the owner should suffer the consequences.
“We stayed in Grand Canyon three years ago. The campground was full, yet 1/3 of the sites were vacant. Management said this is an ongoing issue. If the owner is lucky enough to have someone else book the site, good for them; it is a gamble running a campground. If all owners did this there would be fewer no-shows. I totally agree with those who said, ‘Call the Sheriff,’ on the Oregon campground owner. It is a civil matter and unless it is a ‘small town with its own rules,’ the owner has to go through an eviction process. Finally, as RVers we have to take some responsibility, it is our community that are the ‘no-shows.'”
No refund? Call the credit card company
Cal W. reminds us about a benefit of paying with a credit card. “When paying in advance with a major credit card, most have a little-used benefit: If the purchased item is not to your satisfaction contact Visa, Mastercard, Discover, etc., and fill out the form. You will receive a credit for the amount you paid and the card company will simply reimburse itself from the vendor’s account. The same goes for any vendor who has a no refund policy. If they accept your card for payment they have already agreed to any refund taken by the card company. Check with your card company and verify it.”
Just please don’t take advantage of this!
Travel in the shoulder-season
Hubert R. has the ability to travel during the shoulder season. Hubert says, “Other than a three-month trip to Alaska we do the bulk of our traveling in April/May and September/October. We have not found overly crowded campgrounds and have not had problems making reservations. We do shorter, more local trips the rest of the summer and stay flexible on where and when we go. In fact, we just had to cancel our spring trip and had no problem getting almost all of our money back. A couple of parks charged me a $10 or $15 cancellation fee, but I am OK with it. Most refunded 100% within 24 hours, some are sending a check.”
How lucky we are
I’ll leave this week’s edition of Campground Crowding with a refreshing comment from Leonard R, who shares gratitude with us. Leonard says, “As a Canadian snowbird on my first winter to various parts of the Southern U.S., I spend A LOT of money here and I am HAPPY to be able to do so! I have already started booking sites in Arizona for late 2022/early 2023. Just a fact of life and ZERO concern for us. I never camped in ‘the good old days’ as I was too busy working toward my goal of an early and healthy retirement. Mission accomplished. Anyone complaining about the high cost/inconvenience of camping has true first-world problems. Let’s all reflect on how lucky we are.”
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 use the form below to answer one or more of these questions, or tell us what you’ve experienced with campground crowding in general.
Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column: Snowbirds annoying locals since 1975