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.
“It’s all good!”
This week I wanted to mix it up a bit. We talk a lot about what is bad or difficult about RVing and particularly crowded campgrounds, so this week I wanted to publish a few “It’s all good” comments.
By the time this column hits the newsstands, er, rather, the internet, we will be on our way toward Red Bay, Alabama, home of all things Tiffin. Red Bay is a small town that revolves around Tiffin Motorhomes. We have a couple of major things to have fixed on our RV. At this point, all of the items needing attention are owner errors. We have been assured by numerous Tiffin staff that everything runs the same at Tiffin as before it was sold to Thor. More on that later.
But, back to the “it’s all good” part. I started reservations late. And we have reservations for every night along the way. We are even staying at a Harvest Hosts location for the first time and they are allowing us to spend two nights including tonight, Easter Sunday.
We are able to travel with the beyond-high gas prices by conserving here and there. Fewer resorts and more boondocking. We are starting out on our adventures again, meandering toward family and cooler weather. We will undoubtedly have some so-so days, some great days, and the occasional bad one. But we will be camping, traveling, meeting new friends and sharing a campfire or two. Perhaps I should stock up on some graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows…
No issues getting sites
Kenneth P. did not have issues getting a site while snowbirding. Kenneth says, “Our experience is really just traveling when snowbirding from Wisconsin to Texas throughout October to May. We really have had no trouble getting sites. As I type this there are a few caveats. We reserve Texas nine months in advance. Tropic Winds RV Park, Harlingen, TX, has an early bird booking in February for the following winter. We reserve at our friends’ Grand Ole RV Resort and Marketplace in Goodlettsville, TN, about a year in advance for about seven weeks total traveling both south and north. We then need approximately six additional stops total, to complete our journey.”
Is it luck?
Del W. chimes in with, “I don’t know if it’s luck or what, but we have never not been able to secure a spot to camp in our travels. When possible, we call the campground directly instead of using the reservation systems, which seems to work for us. Most places we stay at have available spots based on the after-hours site boards we have seen.”
No trouble making reservations
Sal S. hasn’t had any issues either. “Had no problems with making reservations. I plan my snowbird trips on rvtripwizard.com. So far I haven’t been delayed or advanced on these annual trips. I believe that if all the campgrounds would demand a deposit on the site on reservations, campers would make their plans and stick to them. Those deposits would be returned if canceled in a reasonable time period with maybe a service charge as a deterrent to not cancel. We love the RV lifestyle and have for 16 years.”
Kurt S. mentions “shed” campers in his comments. “I have noticed that many of the campgrounds are now catering more to the ‘Shed Campers.’ Campgrounds are taking campsites away from transients by placing little cabins on the sites and catering to those who wish to experience camping but don’t want to invest in the equipment. I can understand that, but don’t take away my chance to camp.”
Wagonmasters losing clout
Dennis C. is on a continual search for sites. “Campground bookings are generally up with long-term stays making things more complicated. Wagonmasters of camping groups are having a hard time and definitely don’t have the reservation clout they once had. Many parks are demanding individual reservations from group members and will not accept group reservations at all. Our group is on a continual search for places to stay that will accommodate and/or respect our group status. Those that do are surely rewarded with our group reservation, self-parking by our wagon master, group fee collection, and general self-policing and clean-up. The corporate spots just don’t get it, nor care, so we find ourselves supporting mom-and-pop operations more and more, and that we don’t mind at all.”
Re-tread campers, not tires!
Reader Steve G. compares prices of prior camping to costs now. Steve writes, “We’re new RVers or old re-treads, having restarted in 2021. Prior camping was 20+ yrs ago. With people paying $5 for a cup of coffee and $15+ for a cocktail, I doubt a $60-80 loss of deposit will have any effect.”
Chris L. will move sites to stay in the same park: “I have finally given in to moving/changing sites within the same stop/park (usually state parks) to get a stay in an area. But, we have decided that four, maybe five, days is about our max at one location. Trip planning starts on the first of the new year or earlier. KOA and Harvest Hosts work well for overnights.”
Strictest cancellation policy ever!
Wand H. has a suggestion that this cancellation policy be used more broadly to cut down on last-minute cancellations. They say, “I have a suggestion about cancellation policies. At McChord AFB in Washington, they have the strictest cancellation policy I have encountered in my eight years of travel (at mostly military campgrounds). This would be a good policy for all. Full payment is required when the reservation is made. Cancellations or changes must be made 30 days prior to the day of check-in to receive a full refund. From the 30-day mark up until 7 days prior to check-in, a 75 percent refund will be granted. Cancellations made within 7 days prior to the day of check-in will receive a 50 percent refund. That is certainly incentive to not book multiple campsites and to be on top of canceling if you have a change of plans.”
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: The park told them to overbook!