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Campground Crowding: Travel nurses have nowhere to stay

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.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column: ‘RVers don’t look after each other anymore’

##RVT1052b

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rollin mckim
4 days ago

My first reaction to this headline is “The RV Parks are for travelers and vacationers, not on-site occupationalists.

And I remain thinking this.

On the other hand, a prospective visitor who suffers an accident DESERVES consideration, particularly if it can be proven and particularly when it can be given without loss, as in re-letting the space.

JMHO.

Tommy Molnar
5 days ago

I saw this quote in one of the ‘stories’. “even the state of Texas was closed to anyone entering”.

We’ve been traveling between Reno and Houston since 2019, several times a year, and have had ZERO problems staying in Texas on both the down and back trips.

Duane R
4 days ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

I just did a cursory check of Texas border closing during the pandemic, and it is possible that the closure of the southern (Mexico) border announcements were misinterpreted by some to mean that its borders with neighboring states were closed. New Mexico closed to out-of-state travelers (well, they had to quarantine for two weeks, and no non-residents could use the State Parks for a while), in essence. That caused us to cancel a camping trip to Red River.

Tommy Molnar
4 days ago
Reply to  Duane R

When we started our quarterly trips from Reno to Houston, New Mexico had a big sign at each border announcing they were a “Masking State”. What we found when fueling was that almost no one wore a mask. We never stayed in New Mexico. Now we don’t even fuel in the state. We just cruise on through.

Leonard Rempel
5 days ago

Now that I have planned my second full Snowbird winter to the South, I have learned a few things and incorporated them into my fully booked December 2022 – April 2023 trip.

1) Book ahead! There is no longer such a thing as booking too early.
2) Only book at campgrounds/parks/resorts that have a reasonable cancellation policy. $50 is ok with me with a reasonable amount of notice; i.e. 2 – 4 weeks before arrival date.
3) Do not book where there is too restrictive of a cancellation policy such as 100% payment and no refunds under any circumstances. This happened to us in the Florida Panhandle at a state park. Never again!
4) Book longer stays. Not only does this save money, it saves the constant moving which I now know annoys me and makes it easier to plan a five month trip.
5) On multiple travel days, we use our Harvest Hosts membership first to look for overnight stays. No, I am not paid to say this about H.H., however the hosts and program are fabulous!

Bob M
5 days ago

Another issue that may arise is people who have campsites reserved but with the price of fuel going up who back out of camping because they can’t afford the drive. Then fail to cancel their reservation. Since I don’t know how high the price of fuel will be next year. I will be only making campground reservations less than 100 miles from home. I’m lucky because I own my own permanent site in the Pocono’s. So If I can’t go to state parks I have a place.

Sharon B.
5 days ago

I have yet to understand so many complaints about online reservation systems. We FT and travel from March thru Nov every year with the majority of our reservations done online either thru recreation.gov or reserve america. Last year our travels took us from south Texas north to WI, west to CO, WY, ID, MT, then east to ND, MN and back to WI. All reservations made and confirmed by Jan 10th with county, state, national, COE and private parks. I have more trouble with private online submissions than anything else.

mimi
5 days ago

I understand the frustration of the traveling nurse to find a site. However, if all parks made workers a priority, there would likely be alot less spots for “regular campers”. Perhaps she might tell the hospital looking to hire her that she needed them to find her some accommodations as part of her hiring. Campers should not be lower down in the pecking order than workers. We all pay our way.

Glenda Alexander
5 days ago
Reply to  mimi

The thing that bothers me the most about the nurse’s situation is the park’s refusal to refund her deposit despite the accident and insurance reports. That’s just robbery in my book. I like your suggestion that the nurse ask the hiring hospital for help in finding a place to live. Some hospitals have a few RV sites on campus.

Gary
5 days ago
Reply to  mimi

Agreed. She chose to be a traveling nurse. Rent an apartment or long term stay hotel.
What that park in FL did to her though is despicable.

Last edited 5 days ago by Gary
Duane R
4 days ago
Reply to  Gary

Many places that need to use traveling nurses don’t have enough rental units. Keep in mind that not all hospitals needing nurses are in large metro areas. Also not many hotels in many of these small towns. As they say, until you have walked a mile in someone’s shoes, don’t cast aspersions on them, nor be judgmental of their situation.

LEONARD ZUZCHIK
4 days ago
Reply to  mimi

Mimi, The next time you are in need of being in a hospital, let’s hope that it has enough nurses to properly take care of your illness or sickness. If not, you just may not get a speedy recovery or even recover at all, and the reason is that you needed to have a camp spot to sit and drink and smoke, and not care about others.