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Campground Crowding: There’s a new breed of camper on the loose: Selfish

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RV sales have skyrocketed and more people than ever are taking up RVing. The result is some 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.

“We are the monthlies”

Pam F. took exception to the comment someone made a few weeks ago about monthly campers. Pam says, “We are the monthlies. We live by the same rules. We are not rude. We’re congenial and offer our assistance to other campers, whether monthly or transient. We have made great friends and met so many interesting people on our travels. So glad we have never had the experience of camping near ‘forced to live among the monthlies’.”

Two types of monthlies

Bob S. commented on the monthly post, too. “Monthlies? A confusing term. There are typically two types of people in RV parks: Recreational RVers who might stay a night, a week, or a month, then there are the Houseless folks who need the cheapest housing possible. We are recreational RVers and we usually stay at least one month at a destination so we can thoroughly explore an area at a reasonable cost.”

What is a monthly?

Paul E. loves staying in one spot for 3-4 months. “What is a ‘monthly’? We are new RVers and we went to one park in Naples for 3 months and this year we are going for 4 months to the same park. Does that make me a “monthly”? We love being in one place all winter. All the people were pretty similar to us—we’ve created friendships that have followed us to all of our homes scattered throughout the north.”

No park drama

Jim J. doesn’t stay at resort parks but finds ones out of the way without park drama. He explains, “We typically don’t stay at true resort parks. Rather, we look for places to park where we can get out and do things in the surrounding area. And by ‘do things’ more often, it is in quiet, quaint and/or historic locations. We DO move seasonally from our far northern home to the south for the winter and operate out of one destination RV park. Short-stay campsites for migratory travel are hard to find (especially in the northern states) during late fall and early spring. We feel like we barely get settled and we have to plan for exact dates and make reservations for the next migration trip. We travel near, but not on, Interstates. The U.S. and State highways near small towns are often the best places to find non-resort parks without park ‘drama.'”

New breed of campers: selfish

Donna S. comments on a new breed of campers: “First of all, most campgrounds and parks are going to reserve-only, and this new breed of campers are reserving a year in advance. Many times they never show up or cancel at the very last minute because they found they booked several places for the same date. I call that selfish.

“This new breed also insists on the comforts of home like TV, WiFi, A/C, air fryers, etc., so they need a generator in the middle of the woods, which disturbs those who go to wilderness sites to get away from the noise of cities and then yell if the neighbor’s smoke from a campfire wafts towards their trailer.”

Easier to find sites on the outskirts

Linda M. seldom has an issue with finding sites. Here’s how: “The only time I have had an issue was over the holiday weekends, but I still can find a last-minute reservation. I have not experienced too much overcrowding unless we are in a tourist area. We try to stay on the outskirts so that it is a bit easier to find spots. We don’t mind a little drive to attractions.”

Take reviews with a grain of salt

Jeri H. doesn’t always count on the campsite reviews. “Our 6th year of full-time travel. When booking, take reviews with a grain of salt. We have stayed at some lovely places with a few nasty reviews. We always check Google Earth/Maps to be sure there is adequate room to get to the space with our big rig. We’ve not had an issue with overcrowding.”

Getting worse for nurses, linemen and specialized contractors

Tony B. travels 10 months a year for work. He writes, “I’m on the road 10+ months a year. Been doing it for several years. I build stores nationwide. I pull an RV to keep costs down and I dislike hotels. There are a lot of us from nurses to linemen and specialized contractors who keep America running. Since 2019 it’s changed and is getting worse.

“I see four groups:

“First: Traveling workers.

“Second: Wherever you go it’s packed with people who live there permanently yet the owners call it an ‘RV resort.’ Working-age people being bums living cheaply and an RV resort becomes a trailer park full of people who can’t afford housing, or there’s no housing available. This group can be split based on employment.

“Third: You have a ton of retirees who are trying to enjoy their golden years road-tripping, and why not? You’re retired. You saved up, planned, and you deserve it!

“Fourth: You got the work-from-their-laptop crowd who gave up the typical life and decided to drive around the country in their RV, working along the way.

“Hate to say it but I agree with the guy who owns a campground. The purpose of the campground is for people to visit, then leave. Just like public lands, you can’t just move in. Sun resorts have taken notice and have started to do this as well as raised prices to keep a certain group out.”

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 here: Why stay in an RV park when hotels are cheaper?

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Spike
1 month ago

Just finishing a month of travel in Texas from Dallas/Ft Worth to Corpus Christi. Didn’t make any reservations until four days before we left. Didn’t make reservations for nightly stays on our way back to Minnesota until the day before we left. No problems. We don’t stay at “resorts” but I’m also picky and need long sites for a 43′ MH with a full sized pickup in tow.

It was harder to continually dodge all the garbage and debris and crazy speeding drivers on I35 in Texas than to find good places to stay! 🙂

Steve Sims
1 month ago

Some of the “crowding” issue can be attributed to incompetence of the park owners. (Or, at least, their reservation systems and policies.)

Example: We are currently staying at a large resort in the Florida Keys. We are in the midst of a 6-day reservation (our first stay at this resort). We like the resort enough that we tried to extend a week or so.

We were told there is no availability; not even mid-week. I find this very odd, as an actual walk of the park shows the occupancy (mid-weekend!) to be somewhere around ¼ to ⅓ occupied. On our street alone there are 24 spots and six are occupied.

I don’t know if it’s ignorance or apathy, but it seems to me that the management is leaving a lot of money on the table by claiming “no availability” when clearly that’s nowhere close to the case.

And this isn’t the first and only time we’ve encountered this. On our last trip we were told we had been assigned “the last free spot” but around 25% of spots sat empty.

Virginia
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Sims

I have noticed that when we try to reserve on some sites, particularly state/national parks, that the color key notes “partially available” sites. Could be that a site is empty all but one night of the dates you are looking for, which would exclude it from your criteria.

Bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Sims

Do you know what the ownership arrangement is in that “resort?” There are some where the lots are owned by individuals, and not all of them choose to rent their sites when they aren’t there. We were in North Carolina and found an Outdoor Resorts that said they had no sites available, but there were only six or seven sites occupied by RVs. There were more landscapers working on improving sites than RVers camping on them.

wanderer
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Sims

I don’t know if this is your situation, but Florida is full of camping sites that people have rented on six-month or all-year leases, or have bought outright. The landlords can’t legally re-rent the site to someone else. It’s a colossal waste of prime vacationing facilities.

Backcountry164
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Sims

Unavailable simply means that they’ve been paid for. That’s all the resort cares about. In fact, if you pay and don’t show it’s better for them. They’ve literally got your money for nothing.

Don H
1 month ago

We travel, we don’t sit. It’s extremely rare for us to stay in any park for more than a week. It’s obvious that IF campground owners wanted to restrict the “permanent monthlies” they could easily do so by simply establishing a limit on time in their park. It’s clear that they have weighed the steady income provided by the permanent residents against the higher per diem but much more sporadic transients and the permanent folks have won the prize.
We’re not fond of staying in what amount to trailerized mobile home parks, but while on the road we’ll stay pretty much anywhere that is reasonably clean and not grossly overpriced. From the price increases of transient sites in the last couple years, it looks like the park owners are trying to chase US out of their parks… 🙁

Ron
1 month ago

Want some cheese with your whine?

chris
1 month ago

Gas prices ought to keep a lot of them home.

Rolling Coal
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Or stationary in one place longer…..

George
1 month ago
Reply to  Rolling Coal

While your handle “Rolling Coal” cries, “I drive a modified diesel rig, and I’m not afraid to smoke ya” I have to say I agree with your comment of Staying Stationary.

My wife and I are currently “monthlies” here in the Tucson area. I personally think Nanci enjoys writing monthlies a bit too much. It comes off as smug and elitist. Not an attitude I believe this publication wishes to portray.

People live everywhere and in every sort of dwelling they can afford.

Tom M
1 month ago
Reply to  Nanci Dixon

There always has to be at least one. Thanks for your efforts.

suzanne Ferris
1 month ago
Reply to  George

How is she being smug – please explain yourself? I appreciate her writing from her own lived experience.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  suzanne Ferris

Smug usually means the person saying that doesn’t agree with what’s written.