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.
Keep using the online reservation system
Robert P. has a request for all of us to make our camping reservations online. He writes, “I hope everyone continues to use the online reservation system. It means we’ll be able to call the campground and get our place reserved. There are so many glitches in the online system they don’t know what’s available half the time.”
“Most of us will run out of time—Just do it!”
Richard F. has some sage advice: “It’s not like it used to be… nothing is. I’m 78 and have been camping since being in the Boy Scouts. If you want to enjoy the lifestyle, just adjust to the times… make reservations earlier… find different places to go. There are so many places to visit and enjoy most of us will run out of time before we see/enjoy them all. No use complaining… Just do it!!!”
Just a fact of life
Joan W. talks about restrictive cancellation policies and the new facts of life. “The most restrictive policy I’ve ever found was Liberty Harbor in NJ. We had to pay in full and despite giving months of notice, we got no refund. This was the first year of COVID and even the state of Texas was closed to anyone entering, so we couldn’t count on making it cross-country to NY.
“I don’t have any special tips except book early. We start making plans for our next ‘big’ (3-6 month-long) trip a year in advance. If campgrounds are not taking reservations that early, I mark the calendar for the day they open and call then. Not a trick, for sure. But for us, doing this is a requirement. I’m also finding more and more campgrounds are requiring the entire amount at the time of reservation. Also, the ‘strict’ cancellation policy stated above, I’m beginning to find somewhat ‘normal.’ None of this has dampened our enthusiasm for RVing. Just a fact of life we plan for.”
No troubles here!
Rick S. hasn’t had any problems during his 4,800-mile travels and 41 stops. Wow! Rick says, “We have not had any issues with finding places to stay. This year we travel North from NC to MI, then East to Bar Harbor, then North into Canada for a month, then South to NC… 4,800 miles, 120 nights, 41 stops, and we have reservations at the exact locations desired. Why? Just plan ahead.”
Michael W. is someone else who is not seeing overcrowding. “Still not seeing the big overcrowding I read about. Sure there are full campgrounds in the hot spots during the summer camping season, but this has been the case as long as we can remember.
“Just started planning a summer month-long trip to the East Coast. Only one campground (near a big city at a major recreation spot) was full when we wanted to be there. The rest have been no problem. We avoided one that had a no-refund policy that required half-down as a deposit, and we chose their competitor, who had a 48-hour notice refund policy with a cost of 1-night camping. We use a combination of internet and phone for reservations, avoid summer big-city destination hotspots, and are flexible in our travel routes. On this East Coast trip, I have not had to change our planned route at all.”
Reservations by “the skin of my RV fiberglass”!
Dawn A. called for 5 hours to get reservations. “Today is May 1, 2022, and the window for winter reservations opened this morning for my preferred winter location in Port Aransas, Texas. I’m making reservations for 2023-2024!!!!! I have been calling since 9 a.m.… It’s now 2:00 p.m. and I just got through. I didn’t get my first, second, or even third choice of my preferred campsite, but at least I got one! Barely… by the skin of my RV fiberglass.”
Traveling nurse having a very hard time finding a site post-COVID
Sharain J. needs her job and needs a place to live. “I am a travel nurse and have been traveling as a nurse way before COVID. Pre-COVID I had not had much difficulty finding a site to park for my 42-foot fifth wheel. I stay at a park anywhere from 15 weeks to 6 months. Now and again I did run into RV parks that could not accommodate my size.
“Now, since COVID, it is most difficult to find a place to park. I have to have a job and a place to live. If I can’t find a place to park my RV, I have to refuse the job offer. This is my job, my life, until I retire next year.
“Parks are now not only booking a year in advance, which I have NO idea where I will work until 30 days or less, but they are not allowing long-term stays OR they charge outrageous fees per day, which long term is not affordable. This is NOT fair to those of us who are out working. I do understand making a good living. However, many parks are price gouging.
“I had a time when I made reservations in Fort Myers, planning to be there for 6 months for work, and I had to pay a $1,500 deposit. On my way from VT to FL, someone smashed into my RV, two weeks before my arrival date. I immediately called the park and told them my situation and that I no longer would be coming. Not only did I have a loss of job, but the RV park refused to refund my deposit even though I sent them the police report and repair shop report.
“They said they would refund all but $100 after they got the reports, but then refused. They rented my spot within two days to someone else, so they made money and lost nothing. Talk about a rip-off! So now in order to continue working, it is VERY hard to find an RV spot. I have no permanent home other than my RV.”
Don’t like mini-suburbs
Allen B. camps mid-week, but not as much. “Booked. Don’t like mini suburbs. We are not camping near as much as in previous years, when we camped for 3-4 months. We stay at the Corps of Engineers Parks, arrive on Sunday, and leave on Friday mornings.”
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: ‘RVers don’t look after each other anymore’