If you have one and aren’t using it, we’ve discovered that yes, you probably are. Especially if you don’t take advantage of an included one during an RV purchase. If you are in the market to purchase an RV or if you’ve ever been curious about discounted campground package, learn more about the savings and experience you can expect. This article is focused primarily on a Thousand Trails camping membership.
When we purchased our rig late 2019 it included a membership to Thousand Trails. TT for short, is just one of many campground memberships that offer discounted campground stays. In fact, here is a great top 10 list from our friends over at CamperGuide.org where they list TT.
With the purchase of our fifth wheel we were given the opportunity to sign up for a year of ‘free camping’ with a TT membership. While this membership was included with our purchase, the cost of the membership is valued at $799. Signing up required us to go to another office and sit down with a different agent, but this step has proven to be a valuable move. This free campground membership allows us to stay at certain TT campgrounds up to two weeks with full hookups. Well, free for us but for those that purchase the membership, you simply pay for the annual membership not each stay. And for the layman out there, full hookups means your campsite includes water, electricity, sewer, and oftentimes, cable TV.
Knowing we were about to go full time we thought it would behoove us to at least spend the extra time going through the rigmarole. It sure did pay off too!
That additional hour of our time has given us an average savings of $500+ for each two week stay at TT parks, eight times over.
Seems worth it, right? Let us explain more…
Campground memberships have their pro’s and con’s. You really have to weigh them and determine if they are right for you. Here is what we’ve uncovered after using ours and staying in eight different TT campgrounds and taking full advantage of those two week stays.
While all TT campgrounds call themselves RV resorts, sometimes the word resort is a stretch. However, out of the eight we’ve stayed in, only two have been below par, in our opinion. Most are extremely accommodating with sites often including either a concrete slab or deck, with a fire ring and picnic table. Campsite size varies but we’ve noticed sites are larger and just a bit nicer the more north you go. One of the nicest spots where we stayed was Brennan Beach in Pulaski, New York. Turned out to be one of the largest campgrounds we’ve ever been in with over 1600 spots. So, like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll get.
All the pools in our experience have been nice, laundry facilities generally clean, and most have had really great activities on site. As things have opened back up we’ve been able to socially-distance and enjoy such amenities as walking trails, horseshoe pits, courts, and even a beach which normally aren’t available in other private, smaller campgrounds we’ve paid to stay in.
We discovered most TT parks are located in more secluded areas where driving to the destination city may be required. In certain areas this can be an advantageous two-for-one. For instance, we wanted to visit both Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC and we were able to secure a two week stay at a TT park in between in Yemassee, SC. We were then able to visit one city each weekend. The cost of our two week stay was $0.
Turns out there is a corona-bonus to taking the roads less traveled. When stay-at-home orders were lifted, taking advantage of the TT parks being, ‘out of the way’ was a no brainer.
At this point in our trip we’ve saved approximately $4,170 for 92 days of camping with full hookups.
That averages to about $45 per night. And even if we paid the $799 for the cost of the membership, we’re still looking at a savings of $36 per night. Not too shabby. Savings like that really makes you reconsider those camping memberships.
The overall value looks good. And again, it’s about the camping experience you are looking for. We admit that some of our most enjoyable stays have been at other private campgrounds that were not Thousand Trails. However, for the savings and the amenities received, we are giving the TT membership an up-vote.
Currently we are at the point where we are considering what it means to travel next year. We know we want to go out West and that means there will be a lot more opportunities for us to boondock, which means a whole new camping experience far different than the RV Resorts of the East. We are still unpacking the details for next year but we will continue update this thread with new posts of our findings. We will also be featuring a post in the near future reviewing the Thousand Trail campgrounds we’ve stayed at this year during our East Coast travels. Stay tuned for more exciting content and thanks for following along with us.