Tuesday, October 3, 2023


RVer felt compelled to pay $2,000 to upgrade plan for extra week at campground

RV sales have slowed and fewer people are buying RVs than has been the recent trend. Has that changed campground crowding? Is it easier to find a campsite now, particularly in state and national parks? Campgrounds are changing and evolving, some for the better and some for the worse. RV Travel readers discuss their experiences and offer a few tips to help other campers find that perfect spot.

Here are a few observations from our readers.

Paid $2,000 upgrade to get an extra week at campground

Debbie G. is struggling after Hurricane Ian wiped out everything she had. In order to stay an extra week at a membership campground, she had to upgrade her membership. She writes, “I booked a week at the campground and wanted to stay another week. Went into the office on day two and they said I had to wait till Monday because a campground manager was in then. I met with her and they said I could only get that second week if I updated my plan. I paid $2,000 for a five-year contract and got to stay that week. I’m living in my RV, lost all in Hurricane Ian. I can’t afford this and was told I could cancel anytime. Now it’s stated I had three days to cancel. I’m selling my new RV after my house is built in 1-2 years.”

Enough about crowded campgrounds—change your habits!

Denis D. wrote to RVtravel.com about negative press turning people away and had this advice: “Folks, enough about crowded campgrounds. Yes, they do require longer lead times, but maybe that is good. Camping is a wonderful experience on many levels, but the constant negative influence will turn more folks away from the event. Just this past week I camped at one of our state camp sites, Kankakee River State Park. A great park, well kept, clean with several local activities. I stayed Saturday to Monday rather than my typical Friday start. Here is the fun part: On Sunday, starting early, the weekenders began leaving and by 4 p.m. I had the entire 117 spots all to myself. If we can change our habits of ‘when,’ a whole new adventure awaits us. For those not needed to work at set places, I’ll see you during the week.”

Fed up!

Eileen M. isn’t sure what they are going to do but she is fed up. She says, “We are planning to put the destination trailer that we have at a seasonal site up for sale. We have only been at this campground for a year. We moved here ready to spend several years and were willing to pay a higher price of $4k, mostly because they poured concrete pads. Being a senior citizen, these are nice. But they already requested a down payment for next year, as well as raising the rate again. They charge $75 for a daily rate.

“Plus, we do not like the games owners play with the infamous list. We put our name on a list to get a lakeside site. We see someone get a spot ahead of us, finding out that they added their name after us, and somehow our name disappears from the list, or we are never called. Fed up. We are quiet campers, keep our site clean and uncluttered, courteous, etc. No political flags, etc. Yet we have run into this multiple times. We are fine as soon as we sell the camper. Maybe we will get a motorhome and do state parks. Not sure anymore.”

Ask for discounts; it doesn’t hurt

Mark M. is still finding affordable campsites. He tells us how here: “Yes, campground prices have gone up but I find I can still find lower-cost parks. I find that I can find parks most of the time under $50 and much lower. Plan ahead. We use AllStays and look for state and county fairgrounds. As retired military I also use famcamps. Ask about discounts: Escapees, FMCA, Good Sam, or Military Vet. It doesn’t hurt to ask.”

Shame that campgrounds think they deserve more

Kathy D. writes to us about campgrounds doubling in cost. She writes, “I definitely have seen the cost of campgrounds double in price. We usually do state parks 80% of the time and they too are costly. The only reason we still have our third camper is I know we are the only ones using the bed and toilet/shower. So many hotels aren’t going to be as clean or are expensive at more than $125 a night. It’s a real shame that RV campgrounds are thinking they deserve more.”

High costs of reservations force them away from the RV market

Robert R. says, “I do not own an RV. I have been looking for a used RV for some time, but articles like these make me have second thoughts about our decision to buy one. I am concerned about using a membership for discount campsites as RV parks may not want a reservation on a discount membership because they are able to make reservations at a higher price due to the demand for rental space. As retirees, the high costs of reservations will force us away from the RV marketplace.”

Rent, don’t buy

Juan C. has some sound advice on the costs of RV ownership. He wrote, “I have been to some campgrounds in California where they charged too much in change fees, prices were too high and there were too many regulations within the areas where they are. First, most campgrounds are very picky, they don’t let just any RV park there. They have to be from a specific year or newer. Sometimes they don’t specify and you get there and they won’t let you park. If it is late, most likely you lose your deposit and have to drive to park at a truck stop or on the side of the road, if you’re lucky enough to find a spot.

“I love fishing but lost a lot of interest. I was lucky enough not to get caught in the glamorous life of owning a boat, motorhome, or travel trailer. They cost too much, they devalue fast and start needing repairs too soon, like two years into ownership. Then comes the storage places and insurance fees. The most you use them is probably five times a year and that’s pushing it. You could probably rent one for 1/4 of the price, pay a little extra for insurance and don’t have to worry about if it breaks down or wreck it. Cheaper than buying it.”

Now, some questions for you:

  • Are you finding campgrounds booked up? Or is finding a place to stay not a problem?
  • Are campgrounds changing for the better or for the worse?
  • Are you seeing more permanent and seasonal RV parks?
  • Are rising costs affecting your camping style?
  • 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: East Coast “resort” rates up to $275 a night! Yikes!


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


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Bob P
25 days ago

It must be nice to have more dollars than sense!

Neal Davis
29 days ago

Thank you, Nanci! How have you found things in the last year relative to, say, 2019? Perhaps that can be the lead comment to this column some week. We have adjusted our behavior, but still are largely able to go where we want, when we want. So long as national parks in-season is not on the itinerary, then I expect current trends in our travel to continue. We do have the “luxury” of being retired. 🙂 Safe travels!

John Mattus
1 month ago

Thousand Trails is rapidly losing their experienced Membership Specialists and they are being replaced by order takers who will do or say anything for a sale. The experienced MS would gone the extra mile to help her. One has to wonder what ELS’s endgame is.
I am one of four SW salespeople who has left TT this year.

Mark Generales
1 month ago
Reply to  John Mattus

Says it all when Wall Street greed causes good employees to quit.

1 month ago

I agree with the comment about title click bait. I expect better from rvtravel articles. I feel bad for the woman but people have to assume some responsibility for what they sign.

1 month ago

“RVer forced to pay $2,000 for extra week at Thousand Trails” is click-bait and does a disservice to the honest writing and reporting you do. No one was “forced” to do anything and the price paid was for additional privileges that included the additional week, correct?
Also, caveat emptor: “They said”? If it isn’t in writing, assume it’s a lie at worst or a misunderstanding at best. As someone who lived through so much from Hurricane Katrina, I hope Thousand Trails makes an honorable gesture to help this lady despite it seeming to me that she was looking to “game the system” by taking what she wanted and then cancelling.

Mark Generales
1 month ago
Reply to  BryanC

Really. And why are their sales people quitting.

1 month ago
Reply to  BryanC

@Nancy Dixon, I came back to this article to apologize to you for accusing you of making a click-bait title (which assumes a level of intentional misrepresentation). In my opinion, it wasn’t the best title but I appreciate your work!

Bill Byerly
1 month ago

Thanks again, Nanci, for my favorite weekend article. Love all the opposing viewpoints!

1 month ago
Reply to  Bill Byerly

It’s good that differing lived realities are so prevelant. I enjoy reading these differing opinions between the individual perspectives as well. Week in and week out, the conversation continues.

1 month ago

Debbie had a choice. She could have moved parks. No one forced her to pay more for a new contract. She learned the hard way that you must read all the fine print before signing, especially if you plan to cancel it in a year or two.

Mikal H
1 month ago
Reply to  Jules

Agree. And why did she sign up for five years! I’m sorry for her loss from Ian, but no one “forced” her into a five year contract.

Mark Generales
1 month ago
Reply to  Jules

Spoken like someone that has never been in a disaster area. THERE ARE NO OTHER CHOICES LOCALLY.

Bob P
1 month ago

To Dennis D I started my camping days at Kankakee State Park back in 1978.

1 month ago

Let’s hear it for the week RVer. Avoid weekends or book through them. Love having an entire COE campground along side a lake and being the only person there.

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