More people than ever are taking up RVing. These newbies have determined that RVing is the safest way to travel in our pandemic times. The result is campground crowding like never before. In this weekly blog, RV Travel readers discuss their experiences. Maybe we can make some sense of this and find ways to work around the problem.
Here are a few observations from our readers.
PLAN AHEAD? YUP, FIVE YEARS AHEAD…
For those of you who have a hard time making campground or RV park reservations a year in advance, perhaps you have a few things to learn from reader Bob Staples. Bob wrote, “We’ve only been RVing for eight years, but we learned early on that reservations are a must. It forces us to plan ahead, so we maintain a five-year calendar. We make our reservations 6 months to one year in advance. Staying at a full RV park doesn’t bother us much. What is troubling, however, are the prices. Corporations are buying up the most popular, revenue-generating RV parks. And they invest a lot to upgrade and enhance their RV parks so they are very nice places to stay. But, they charge a very high premium rate and do not offer discounts. When we started, we could stay near Yellowstone for $600/mo., but now many spots cost $75 – $100/night; they do not offer weekly or monthly rates. I’m concerned that when we want to visit Yellowstone again, we won’t be able to afford it.”
MAKE NIGHTLY MINIMUMS, AND RAISE PRICES!
Reader John Rakoci isn’t messing around. He says he’s willing to pay resort (higher) prices for campgrounds that are quieter and have more management control. Here’s what he has to say: “Retired and shut down June-August. I prefer over-55 campgrounds and I’m happy to pay resort prices even without using amenities as they are generally quieter and better run, with more management control. I no longer bother with public CGs. Empty sites reserved with no fee consequences for not cancelling. Open sites in private CGs during the week as weekends fill. Those that want to spend a week or more are not going to Walmart over the weekend and return… One day CG owners will wake up and have a 3-night weekend minimum and 4-day holiday minimum. They are losing a ton of revenue. Low nightly fees are another revenue loser! Wake up to supply and demand with the lowest CG at $50 a weeknight and $75 on weekends minimum!” You tell ’em, John!
RVS NEED TO BE AT LEAST 6-FEET APART TOO…
Reader Brenda Odom sent us this photo and wrote, “How close is too close? This was our view this morning. I don’t think this even qualifies as more than 6 feet under COVID guidelines! Lol! Seriously: Parking on the grass (spaces have very large gravel areas) this close to another rig? I can’t help but feel a little claustrophobic.” We’d feel claustrophobic too, Brenda!
SMALLER RIG, BIG RIG, SAME CAMPSITE
Reader Curt Coffee brings up a good point. Have you ever thought about the fact that no matter your rig size, most often you are in the same sized campsite as everyone else? Here’s what Curt says about that, and why it’s important to think about: “We have the experience of having a smaller rig (26 ft.) that we are placed in sites that no one else can fit in, you know, the ones next to the trash can, dumpsite, the small ones in the back, etc.
We pay the same amount as those 45-footers that have tankless water heaters, 2 bathrooms, dishwashers, etc. We have even encountered a fold-down deck that was next to our front door let alone a sewer hose next to our table. We have also encountered being sandwiched between two bigger rigs and, oh, here come the slide outs. Our lot has shrunk by a third on both sides. One park had awning-to-awning parking which is great if you love your neighbor, not so much if you don’t know them. If everyone would exercise respect for each other it would be so much nicer.”
“THAT ISN’T CAMPING!”
Do you think the pandemic has changed RVing in other ways that you haven’t seen discussed here? Denise McNaughton does, and here’s the result of it for her and her family: “We were an RV family for 9 years and we loved it. Spur of the moment is what we needed to leave with the jobs we had. We were able to get beautiful sites and not crowded National Parks. A year before COVID we couldn’t get our usual places – they were booking a year in advance. No can do with our schedules. I figured first it was the tiny house movement, then COVID hit and everything went in the bucket. We sold our beautiful 5th wheel and F-350 dually 2 months ago. Just wasn’t going to fight the crowds of two movements. We are very sad but RVing isn’t meant to live in full time. It’s supposed to be a catalyst to get away and enjoy a new experience, and now the experience is sadly gone. Staying up late around the campfires and having fun, with people you meet from all over the world is the experience… Not having to be quiet by 9 pm ’cause the camp next to you has a Zoom meeting at 7 am. That isn’t camping! I might as well stay home. Good luck from the Pacific Northwest.”
RIDING THE RODEO…
Here’s a helpful tip from reader Robin Connell: “We have learned to look for local or county fairgrounds as a campsite location. In the Midwest and West, they are very common and usually have electricity and water at a very reasonable rate. We have often had the entire place to ourselves and have often had free evening entertainment as local rodeo enthusiasts use the grounds for practice sessions.”
Now, some questions for you:
• Are you finding more and more campgrounds booked up? Or are you having no problem finding places to stay?
• 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.