What’s the best RV Club for you?
If you are looking for a nationwide network of campgrounds with predictable amenities and consistent rates that provide a sense of familiarity wherever you go, then one of the national clubs such as Good Sam may be exactly what you need. These large nationwide camping clubs provide predictable, economical, familiar camping environments.
But there are many other camping organizations based on the concept of community—a group of campers who share a common set of interests and enjoy “getting together” to expand their associations.
There are many RV clubs, and each one has a specific set of products and services to offer. Some RV clubs offer discounts on campground fees, fuel, and online trip planning, merchandise, and more. Some commercial clubs are enterprises operating a club for their members’ benefits. Other, usually smaller clubs consist of individuals with a shared interest. They will have some degree of organization—club officers—and probably a calendar of events, meetings, and campouts. Some clubs combine camping with a specific activity such as supporting a charitable organization like Habiat for Humanity, etc.
I have identified several camping enterprises that offer alternative camping opportunities.
If you plan to drive a significant distance—say from Virginia to the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park, etc.—you will need places to stay along the way. Overnight stays in commercial campgrounds will add expense to your trip. This is a great opportunity to check out Boondockers Welcome.
Boondocking can save you significant expenses and add to the adventure. “Boondocking” is the term for free camping. Rather than parking at a noisy truck stop or a Walmart parking lot, consider Boondockers Welcome—a network of private properties that allow RVers to park free for a night or two. Boondocking enables unique camping opportunities before you reach your destination. Boondocking on the Hosts property costs nothing. Still, Hosts should be offered enough money to cover the cost of electricity and water if available and used by the guest.
Boondockers Welcome operates on a Host/Guest system. Hosts invite guests to park on their property – a farm, driveway, or vacant lot – for a predetermined time. Guests use the Boondockers Welcome search engine to look for hosts along the route and send inquiries to hosts, detailing the dates and times they want to stay. When the host approves the conditions, the guest confirms the reservation.
Fees: Boondockers Membership is $30/year or $75/3 years.
A Boondockers Welcome subscription can significantly reduce RV living costs, even if it’s just for a few nights per year. It is one of the best memberships you could have.
The Happy Camper Club provides a service to both traveling campers and more than 1,000 parks in North America including both the Happy Camper network and other campgrounds. Traveling campers need a space for the night and campgrounds have empty sites they want to fill—even at a discount.
Happy Camper works with more than 1,000 campgrounds across North America by helping traveling campers find a spot for a night—even a few days—at a deeply discounted rate, so the campground can fill vacant sites! It is a win-win situation for both campers and campgrounds.
The downside is that the vacancy may be available for only one night, but if you are traveling, a half-price campsite for the night can be a good deal. The only requirement is your Happy Camper’s Club membership. Happy Campers get a free USA and Canada campground directory and the opportunity to save hundreds of dollars a year.
The Happy Campers’ website also filters campgrounds by categories including free campground spots, campgrounds on lakes and rivers, hiking trails, campground restaurants, and even horse-friendly campgrounds, etc.
Happy Camper offers three levels of membership (online discounts may apply):
- Annual Camper: $ 50.00
- Camping Insider: $100.00
- Epic Camper: $250.00
Harvest Hosts is a celebration of abundance for campers interested in wineries, breweries, distilleries, and farms for campers looking for unique experiences.
Camping includes tours led by experienced professionals of more than 740 farms and orchards, wineries, dairy farms, gardens, museums, and wildlife rescues. And, yes, wine tasting is included.
With more than 700 sites in the United States and Canada, Harvest Hosts members can always find a location that caters to their tastes.
Membership includes a monthly newsletter.
Since the objective is to make the vineyards and orchards as accessible as possible, most camper parking sites do NOT provide water, sewer, or electricity. Also, because of the popularity of these sites, stays are usually limited to one night.
Visits are limited to hard-sided travel trailers and motorhomes. Tents and tent campers are not permitted. Pets are generally permitted, but you must keep dogs under control.
Harvest Host boasts more than 4,800 wineries, breweries, farms, and attractions that permit visitors to stay overnight. There are no camping fees or charges.
Most reviews indicate that vineyard and orchard owners are willing and informative hosts who enjoy discussing. A brief look at the map of orchards and vineyards clearly indicates that there are opportunities across almost all of North America.
All visitors get to sample fruits from the farms, and adults may get to sample local wines.
Harvest Hosts memberships run 365 days from initial sign-up and are $99. There are no camping fees for your stay, which is limited to one night per orchard or vineyard.
The mission of Hipcamp is to help people find and book camping, RV, and other accommodations to broaden their outdoor experiences, that is, get more people outside, connecting with nature.
Hipcamp is actually an app to find and book all manner of facilities for camping, RVs, and cabin accommodations. Hipcamp also provides a comprehensive listing of camping sites, RV parks, and cabins across the United States, Canada, and Mexico
The comprehensive APP provides detailed information on each location, including available activities, photos, reviews, and ratings plus a trip planner, and destination reviews.
With its easy-to-use interface and comprehensive list of categorized camping sites and parks, Hipcamp is the perfect app for anyone looking to explore the great outdoors.
There is no signup fee. Money is directly exchanged between guests and hosts. The host determines rates based on availability, amenities, location, etc.
The site even has listings that are pet and family-friendly. Hosts on HipCamp set their own rates for their guests.
HipCamp really is an adventurer’s club, with some great options for RVers. HipCamp’s brand-new app gives members access to listings, blogs, and camping guides on the go.
Founded in 1978, the Escapees RV Club was established to support all RVers, ensuring full support for full-time RVers. Escapees is one of the largest and oldest RV clubs. The organization’s goals are to provide the essential services that will permit RVers to live, work, and travel on a full-time basis.
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of being a full-time RVer is keeping up with one’s mail. Escapees provides a mail forwarding service that allows your mail to follow your journey to be collected at your destination.
Of course, finding a place to park your rig at the end of the day or end of the current trip is a constant challenge. Escapee claims to offer the “most comprehensive parking options in the RV industry.” First, there are 19 Escapees RV parks between Florida to Washington State, offering both long- and short-term parking. Escapees also partners with more than 800 commercial RV parks to offer space at a significant discount.
By becoming a member, you will gain access to the best and most supportive RV community on the road while helping to advocate for future generations of RVers. Finally, Escapee online maps provide a visual reference for additional parking spaces along your route.
For Escapee members RV travel is a lifestyle, and the combination of Escapee’s philosophy and support services makes it a leader in lifestyle education and support.
I hope this list of RV camping and travel clubs is helpful for beginning RV owners!