Friday, June 2, 2023


How to choose a campground: Tips for vetting before you go

By Cheri Sicard
Frank and Tori (of the Frank and Tori YouTube channel) recently stayed at what was for them, the worst campground ever. That experience, which they talk about in the video below, prompted them to create this video with tips on how to choose a campground.

Frank and Tori do not want others to waste a trip with a bad experience, so they are here to help you vet the campground before you travel there.

In the video, they did check out reviews and photos before they went to their so-far worst campground. They learned that both can be deceiving.

It started upon driving in. The place was far smaller than it seemed on its website. Okay… Onward, they started to set up, although backing into the extremely tight spaces took some maneuvering. What was wrong with this campground besides it being extremely tight parking?

  • The sewer cap was a 2-liter bottle filled with water turned upside down
  • Unlevel campsites, both side to side and front to back
  • Campsite had not been cleaned
  • The intra-campground road was rough
  • No shade and no grass or trees
  • Fireworks going off until midnight
  • Every 15 – 20 minutes a STRONG whiff of sewage would waft into the trailer

Then, trouble with the neighbors, who seem to be permanent residents, started. Despite going the requisite 5 mph speed limit, four of the locals decided to give our host a profanity-laced reprimand for allegedly going too fast!

Just to make sure there were no issues, they went to the office. They did say that camp employees were all very nice, and when they decided not to stay for their entire reservation, the campground refunded the money and said they would check into the women who harassed them.

But that lead them to figure out tips for how not to repeat the experience in the future.

How you read reviews affects how to choose a campground

While our hosts had looked at reviews before booking, they learned they did not pay close attention to certain clues. After leaving they started pulling up all the 1-star reviews. These perfectly described the experience our hosts had.

What they learned is that even though a campground might have WAY more 4- and 5-star reviews, you need to also pay attention to the minority of negative reviews. You should also examine the positive reviews for patterns as well.

Now, it’s true that it will be difficult if not impossible for any place to always get all perfect reviews. However, when evaluating reviews of campgrounds, or anything for that matter, context matters.

Check out the campground reviews and if these scenarios apply, look more closely:

  • The negative reviews contain a common theme regarding what the problem(s) were.
  • The negative reviews all started at a certain date, which can indicate a change in management and/or campground conditions.
  • Is there a pattern to the positive reviews? Our hosts determined that most of the 5-star reviews for this campground were coming from its permanent residents.

They also go into how photos and even videos can be deceiving.

In the end, the owners of this campground were so nice, Frank and Tori did not share the park’s name (although they gave you plenty of clues if you are traveling to the area of how to avoid it).

That’s OK. They gave us a lot to consider when booking a campground you have not seen before. That, to me, makes this video worthwhile.

In three years of RVing, this is the only campground that was bad enough for the couple to leave.

How about you? Have you ever been so disappointed in a campground that you chose to just cut your losses and leave? Let us know about it in the comments below.



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8 days ago

I’ve been disappointed in some, but it’s never been bad enough to leave. I guess I read reviews well enough. Some of our one-night stays, chosen for their low cost, were well, cheap. But we knew that going in, and one night is usually tolerable.

9 days ago

We stayed at a campground in Southern Utah that is ranked in the national top ten on Campspot. It has hundreds of raving, adoring, 5 star reviews. I inadvertently did not pay the extra $20 lock in fee ( at the time I didn’t really understand what it was, now I do) & we were moved from the site I reserved to a site right up against the construction for the new septic leach lines with all the smells & noise. When I complained the owner lost his mind & insisted we leave immediately because he didn’t want someone staying there that might leave a bad review. He screamed and carried on for half an hour & because I don’t like to be bullied we stayed. It was beyond strange. We were tired of traveling, so we put up with the bad vibe and smell for a few days & left early. I should have read the few 1 star reviews because other people complained about the crazy owner.

Matt Colie
9 days ago

We are travelers more than campers, so we have spent single nights at more than a few campgrounds. (I like to find one every third night so we can dump.) I have never written a one-star. I have rarely written five-star. I have read about every place we stayed before we stopped. If you see a place with a few low scores, read the whole review. At one time, we seemed to be following a group that scored on the swimming pool and game room. Many times a low score is based completely on a single issue.

Bob P
9 days ago

We usually read the reviews and if the 5 star reviews sound too good to be true they usually are. If the 1 star outweigh the 5 star be forewarned.

Mike Payne
9 days ago

I always put the campground’s address in Google maps & look at the aerial shots & zoom in & sometimes the 360* view to get another wide view from the ground view. You can see the surrounding area & trees/shade, road conditions, etc.

9 days ago
Reply to  Mike Payne

Google Maps uses the same satellite data as Google Earth. There may be a lag of up to a few years before you see the new images and the way a location looks in real life.

Bring up Google Earth and look in the lower right corner for the imagery date. Mine says says 12-13-2015. You can’t judge the lay of the land in real time by looking at Google Maps or Google Earth.

9 days ago

We keep a log of the places we have stayed and make our own comments as to good, bad and ugly. This list drives our likely return (or not) and has two parts: 1972 -2004 (history) and 2004 to current year (active)

Ellen L
9 days ago

We left a campground in Waldo, FL after 2 weeks of our 1 month stay and forfeited the rest of the money. Gravel everywhere, very little grass, poor drainage and the mud bog racing just adjacent to the park started their season on Memorial Day. Did I mention the squirrels? Loads of squirrels that drove our beagles crazy. The lady 2 rows over fed them. The good side to this story, that’s how we found our permanent home park at Ocala North RV Resort in Reddick, FL. Good things can come out of bad experiences.

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