Has your RV life been turned upside down by COVID, inflation, and the floods of new RV-ers on the roads? For many long-time RVers, the current landscape is almost unrecognizable.
Here are some considerations in finding an affordable, safe camp-out spots now and in 2024:
- Seasoned RV travelers know it’s smart to make new reservations in person as you check out of your current campground. There’s no substitute for face-to-face service. It may also avoid the reservation fee you’d pay when reserving through a service.
- Closer attention is now paid to eviction laws, which vary by state. Your rights and obligations as a tenant vary according to whether you are a short- or long-term occupant. Eviction laws apply differently to long-term stays. Tourist taxes may also apply differently to long-term stays.
- Many resort campgrounds now admit day visitors to use the pool, fitness facilities and other amenities for a price. With day visitors inside the gates and the pool more crowded, will you feel less private and secure in the campground?
- Resort fees are a popular way for campgrounds to charge more without raising basic rates. Fees are usually per site, per night so they add up quickly. They may also be called a destination fee, facility fee, or amenity fee. Also, creeping into the camping world are energy surcharges, service fees and charges for the beach shuttle, access to ATV trails, trash pickup and/or metered water or power.
- Cash is no longer king. Some campgrounds are cashless. Others charge a convenience fee, usually about 4%, for using a credit card.
- Always ask: What do you get for your resort fee and can you opt-out? If so, can you opt-out piecemeal or must you take the whole package?
- It’s wise to check your bill during a stay in case the kids are running up a big bill at the snack bar, or you see incorrect or unexpected charges. Errors and disputes happen. It’s easier to deal with them during your stay than at check-out.
- A new trend in campgrounds is to build them on flood plains. This is a win for campers because it means extra campsites that may be usable for years before the next mandatory evacuation. It’s also a win for communities that can make use of land that can’t otherwise be developed. The campground is built with a minimum structure that can be replaced after a flood. With evacuation always in mind, it’s smart to keep your mobile home mobile.
- Does the campground have a storm shelter and a tornado warning alert? Many do.
- Because of the increase in wildfires in recent years, fire bans are becoming more frequent, sudden and strict. It may mean no campfires or no open-fuel fire at all, from charcoal to candles.
- Everyone talks about the controversial 10-year rule, which discriminates against an RV by year, not condition. Enforcement has been growing, shrinking, ignored, subject to challenge, and otherwise confusing, depending on who is checking you in. Know before you go.
- Be prepared to be subjected to a background check and/or credit check, especially if you are reserving a seasonal or long-term stay. Security checks are becoming more common.
- Has the local Chamber of Commerce/BBB had complaints about the campground? How were they resolved?
- Will you be eating at the campground restaurant or nearby restaurants? Many states have an app for getting reports from health inspectors. Still, it’s hard to find current information. Try Food Safety News to see restaurants in your area.
- It’s easy to check crime rates by city or neighborhood and to find maps showing the locations of sex offenders who live near the campground. See Family Watchdog and NSOPW.gov You’ll need to search by physical address, not the name of the campground.
- For crime rates in general, see AreaVibes.com, SpotCrime.com and CrimeMapping.com. Different websites have different criteria and different access to statistics and updates, so check several sources.