Monday, April 16, 2012

Passes and Discounts for RVers

Thought it would be nice to revisit this topic as more and more people are starting to full time and we've got more readers following......When a lot of campgrounds close around Oct. 31st, the search for where to stay  gets a little more challenging. The answer for a lot of RVers is--head SOUTH and that's what we've been doing. But let's say you don't want to automatically head for Texas, Arizona, Florida or California right away when temperatures start heading towards winter. There are some other ways to find places that may have not yet closed or stay open all year.  Eldy checks out the US Army Corps of Engineers sites as one option. These sites are found on The sites are federally government owned all over the country where there's usually a dam, reservoir or some sort of service/engineering project that the U.S. army corps of engineers has completed..He has a discount card that entitles him to half off. Since the corps of engineer parks campground rates are around 18.00, this means we can stay for 9.00 a night! Wowee! One thing about Eldy, he is a GREAT researcher! He is very methodical and thorough about checking things out. I love that about him! I get in a hurry, I make impulsive decisions--which is not always a bad thing, you can analyze till you're paralyzed, but he doesn't do that.  He has a Senior Pass or Golden Age Pass that we will use for these types of properties. The cost was 10.00 and you have to be 62 to get it, it's a LIFETIME pass. What a deal!

What other kinds of discounts and passes are there out there for RVers? Well, there's Good Sam's camping discount card. For 19.00 a year, you get a magazine, RV tech advice, RV trip planning and 10% off campgrounds who belong to Good Sam's...there are over 1600 Good Sam's parks/campgrounds in the U.S. We have used this membership a LOT. Another membership we have used a lot is the Escapees membership card. It's a little more pricey, it's 70.00 a year for new members. There are only 19 parks across the nation, so the jury is still out on that one whether we will use it enough another this year to renew for next. They do have a tremendous number of services that comes with your membership such as RV travel planning, a pharmacy drug program, a mail forwarding service, free I.D. theft insurance, and some other things...they also have the CARE facility, a rehabilitation center in Texas for RVer members recovering from surgeries and injuries....and of course there's Passport America. This membership card (44.00 a year) entitles you to half off campground rates in participating campgrounds. Often the half off rates apply only to Sundays thru Thursdays, but not always. Sometimes, a campground will honor the Passport America rate on different days, or the full week, or as in the case of Emmaus Park in the Gulf Shores area in Alabama, they honor it for your entire stay, even if it's for more than a month! You get a magazine with this membership, free email address, trip routing, an iphone/ipad app, discount mail forwarding if you want it, and there are roughly 1600 campgrounds participating in this discount rate program.

There are other memberships out there--Thousand Trails is another one. You pay a membership fee, and depending on what part of the country you want to take advantage of the Thousand Trails parks, you purchase the membership by travel zone. Last year we purchased one camping zone for the northwest zone for 199.00. We got 30 days of camping for that price, and once we used up the thirty days of camping, it was 3.00 a day after that. This year, we bought the entire country, all four zones plus the Florida Max Pass which gives you six extra parks in Florida. The cost of the entire US zone was 499.00, the Florida Max Pass was 199.00. We get 60 days of "free" camping and after we use up those 60 days, we will be paying 3.00 a day for parks IN THE THOUSAND TRAILS SYSTEM, roughly 83 parks. In addition, if the park is an Encore park, we get a decent discount which varies from Encore to Encore park, as Encore parks are owned by Thousand Trails. So now we have quite a system of available parks to stay in.  We purchased this combo at the Tampa Super RV Show. This is what enabled us to stay in the Florida Keys for approximately 11.00 a night for two weeks, depending on how you juggle the numbers. You can stay two weeks in a TT park, then you have to move out of the system for a week, then you can come back into the Thousand Trails system. With the entire U.S. zone, we are allowed to book a campground 90 days out, which helps for long term planning if we need it. The Florida Max Pass adds six additional parks to the zone membership, and Sunshine Key down in Big Pine Key, FL, was the KEY to our purchasing the  Max Pass. Sunshine Key was charging 120.00 a night for an inside lot, we stayed for 11.00 a night down in the Florida Keys. Can't beat that!

There's also FMCA--Family Motor Coach Association....Here's what you get:

First-Year FMCA Membership is only $50 ... Renewal $40. The value of FMCA's member benefits far exceeds the cost of the annual dues. Benefit highlights:
  • Family Motor Coaching magazine -- free subscription
  • Discounts at FMCA commercial member campgrounds
  • Group rate on roadside assisstance
  • Michelin Advantage tire program
  • Preferred pricing on motorhome insurance
  • Pilot Flying J fuel discounts
  • Approximately 500 special-interest chapters to join
  • Chapter rallies, area rallies and conventions
  • Exciting RV caravan tours at discounted rates

We have not joined this membership, as we are primarily interested in camping discounts. In two years, seldom have we seen a campground that offers an FMCA discount, and those are usually at more costly parks. We've got lots of benefits through the Good Sam's program as far as roadside assistance and other discounts, and Flying J offers a rewards club for people who sign up for their card. So, we don't belong to FMCA, but plenty of people do and like the program.

And I think that about covers it....


  1. VERY interesting!,I have been a TT/N member since 1983, I have NOT heard about the Florida Max plan. This does interest me.
    Escapees also have a DISCOUNT book of Private RV parks, some give as much as 50% off. most all give more than 10%.
    FMAC is for motorhome owners,only. So I never looked into it as I had a fifth wheel. Did you have trouble making reservation for the Florida parks?

  2. Nice summary of the things available Jeannie. We have Good Sam but probably won't renew it as we really haven't used it. The only other one we have is Passport America which has proven VERY useful especially for overnighters. Still haven't been moved in the direction of any of the others you mention. Yet. :-)

  3. Good research.
    Having been fulltimers now for six years. We also have Resorts of Distinction, AOR and Coast to coast. That we use exclusively. More money to buy upfront, but have recouped our investment 10 times over. About 80 parks are free twice a year up to two weeks at a time. Another few hundred are 9 or 10 dollars a night. So there is a lot of very good choices out there.

  4. Nice summary; we have Good Sam and have used it on occasion; considering some of the others, but will join after we're on the road fulltime.