By Barry Zander
It’s crazy! If you haven’t been made aware of the sudden under-supply of campsites as RV sales skyrocket, it will become more apparent when you try to make a reservation. We picked out our preferred campground last week, Doheny State Beach in California, looking for a date in mid-September.
We secured it for November. Had we waited two more days, that campground was full, and the next openings for more than a day or two is/was the week of February 11. The next campground was just as unavailable, and the next …
It’s tough to make travel plans when you don’t know where you’ll stay for the night.
It’s the buzz in campgrounds these days. There’s a tsunami of folks – your neighbors – who are tired of being cooped up at home and venturing out to RV dealerships to find the perfect RV, only to find many of the lots depleted.
In 2006, when we first traveled full-time, we made reservations only on major holiday weekends and, even then, sometimes not at all. We have stayed at least one night in 636 different places (that’ll be another article, maybe two), and only once were we denied a spot.
This is the perfect time to tell you to “Plan ahead.” Many public campgrounds only allow reservations six months in advance, so now we’re looking at February. Private campgrounds, most of which will go to great lengths to accommodate every traveler, are compiling waiting lists. That makes it much harder for long-distance RVers, who, tired after hours on the road, are used to being able to drive in at 4 or 5 p.m. to spend the night before going on.
The term “New Normal” applies to us, the hordes of RV travelers who bought their coaches to get away from it all. Now, it seems to be getting away from us.
Must have been a major rerun of “Groundhog Day ” to be able to spend “one night in 636 different places”.
Reminded me of the headline, “For the third time in a period of eight days, a 67 year-old man fell 400 feet to his death at the Grand Canyon”.
Beach campgrounds and state parks are almost always full here in New England. It’s slightly worse this year but not much. Some of the private campgrounds near me had crazy holiday weekends but really calm less then normal the rest of the summer.
I have had trouble getting reservations for the beach campgrounds in Southern California since 1990. Full campgrounds along the Pacific Coast is not new.
As a native Californian who grew up in S Cal and then lived 30+years in the Bay Area, I have ALWAYS made camping reservations. This is nothing new for some of us. And, it has always been competitive. You get used to being up at the crack of dawn with your finger on speed dial.
I hate that term “new normal” with a passion!! It is NOT normal! Life before C19 was normal and I don’t want any part of the “new” crap!!
Totally SPOT ON, PennyPA! Things are either “normal”, or they’re not.
Times have changed, and not just for RV’ers. I’ve lived in California all my life. When I was in my 20’s, back in the 70’s, I could drive to Yosemite on a Friday night and get a campground, no reservation needed. There are just a lot more people now.
reading Facebook posts I see over and over again “I am a newbie”. This is good but it does make for many more of us on the road. It would not surprise me if by next year or so, things will settle down. Kids will be back in school and more RVs will be sitting parked than exploring the country, going out only a couple of times a year. It is sort of like when the country first started opening up again and long lines of people formed around stores. Now we go in and out more like we used to, so long as we are masked.
I know this site is for hard core RVer’s that like to travel around the US, but times change and we all have to change with it. I have solved the overcrowded RV park situation by putting my RV into storage and traveling outside the country for half the year. I was lucky enough to have left before the virus took hold back in February and am now pleasantly, and safely staying on a beautiful tropical island paradise in the Carabbean, in Panama. If you consider yourself a fulltime traveler, there is a whole world out there with countries a lot safer than the United States is right now, and a lot cheaper too. Do some research, quit complaining and be safe. Maybe next year at this time you’ll be on a beach under a coconut palm with a mojito in hand like I’m doing right now. There are ways around every situation. I’m now 72 and you can do it too.
Good reminder. I have a 68 year old woman friend who travels the world alone on less than $800/month. She’s very happy.
Thanks for the support Judy. I travel the world on about $1,800 /month, sometimes a littlle more and sometimes a little less depending where I travel to. I could do it cheaper but why if I’m still within my monthly income.
Any hints on how she manages do to that? Certainly an interesting alternative.
To those of you that have given me a negative vote, could you explain why you disagree with my lifestyle? Do you not agree with my way of helping the overcrowdedness of the RV parks?
I am a little jealous of you but I gave you an up vote. I still need the 9-5 gig so several months in paradise are out of the question right now. Someday.
I certainly appreciate your willingness to ‘leave town’ to alleviate some of the RV overcrowding issues.
Thanks for the delightful post! Yes, if the RV sites are all full, change, adapt, grow, explore other options. Even in the US you can have a paradise experience if you look for it.
We had to rescheduled this years, early June, Yellowstone vacation to 2021. Our 2020 Yellowstone’s campgrounds reservations were Covid closed, and received an automatic reservation refund
Reserved our 2021 trip two weeks ago, and already had trouble getting overnight reservation to and from Yellowstone. It’s getting crazy out there. When I traveled in the mid 90’s we never ever made a reservation to and from Oklahoma.
The U S is a large country with lots if beautiful places to visit and we go out at least six times a year most more than a few weeks at time. we never have a problem finding a place to stay here in the Midwest, we just went to Missouri Texas Louisiana not making reservations ahead of time. Maybe I was just lucky, but maybe you should spread your wings. We have stayed at resorts, Walmart, state parks all over and small parks and enjoyed the journey.
Stephanie and I returned home from working overseas in February with plans for a year long travel adventure to Alaska, to Key West, and then home to Whidbey Island WA in June 2021 for HS graduation. We were planning for a May 15, 2020 departure The Pandemic hit, the border closed, and plans changed. Not knowing when we were ever going to get across the border, we changed our plan entirely and headed out June 22nd from The Puget Sound area for New England via the scenic route on the roads less traveled and no reservations. It’s mid August, we’re in eastern Michigan on Lake Huron in a State Park, and we can affirm that space is harder to find. I agree that long gone is the convenience of drive up camping with a spot available almost everywhere. Most everyone has gone to reservations and are pretty full Memorial Day to Labor Day. The weekend warriors fill the campgrounds and the family vacations pack the weekdays. Campgrounds ARE crowded with all makes and models of RVs. Do Plan Ahead!!!
Often wonder how much faith does a person put into http://www.recreation.gov. After all it’s run by the government or its contractor. Yes I used it and been frustrated, no vacancies or six months out only. But how accurate is this site? We tried and tried to find something in the Jackson, WY area in August, to no avail. Next thing I know, my brother and his rig are park in one of the few campgrounds outside of Jackson, posted on Facebook. Drove right in. Shish! Usually if a reservation request sends me to this recreation.gov sight, I know it’s going to be a prayer to get a spot unless it’s a COE campground. Stay private with the big bucks or boondocks for a day and wait. Grr
With the NFS campgrounds most of them will have first come first serve sites, best time to look for those sites are Sunday thru Thursday. When traveling I don’t travel Friday and Saturday I get a open spot by Thursday and stay until Sunday only time I stay longer is the Holiday weekends.
Doheny..brings back memories. I wandered in there in my 5th wheel about 8 years ago, no reservation, no problem. Not so much any more.
We managed to get all the trips I had planned for this year in but due to pandemic restrictions imposed by various governors the reservations that I made back in January (I usually make them all after the first of the year) we had to change every one of them. Luckily we were able to get new dates on them all except one in PA that I cancelled outright after changing it once. However, every one of these places was packed to capacity, a situation we’ve never seen in all the decades we’ve been RVing.
After seeing this we’ve managed to secure a seasonal site next season in a smaller, beautiful little place in upstate Vermont that has nothing for kids to do so it’s mainly adults. A lot less hassle all the way around.
Of course the downside here is we won’t be able to hit some of our favorite campgrounds in Va. that we’ve gone to for years. But even last season the crowding was getting ridiculous at them, especially on the weekends. Hopefully by 2022 things will be the “old normal”!!
We became full time RVers on April 15th. We “assumed” we’d need reservations wherever we go. We are booked thru April and don’t mind planning ahead. Maybe that’s because we never experienced the total freedom that used to be.
Wetting your toes with reservations is ok but in an RV stuff happens and sometimes you get stuck somewhere or you get where those reservations are and don’t like the place and decide to leave and look elsewhere. The more Flexible you are the more adventures you will have.
I refuse to use the term “new normal”! I hear this term bantered around for all manner of subjects. Things are either normal – or they’re not. Period.
So that is our New normal, Normal?