Sunday, December 3, 2017

How We Keep Our Campround Costs Low

For a lot of people, camping seems to be expensive. And it is true that in some cases, there are a lot of costs associated with camping. Some upscale resorts (yes, there are RV resorts) will only allow certain types of vehicles no older than a certain number of years. They charge $100++ per night for a leveled pad facing the water, complete with outdoor fireplace, campfire ring, patio furniture and private BBQ. Some people might require the most upscale locations, situated conveniently next door to the attraction they want to visit. Some might want the all inclusive type of resort, complete with hot tub and spas, next to the golf course.

For us, this seems excessive and unnecessary, since we spend most of our days either doing chores (laundry, groceries, oil changes, home improvements, repairs, bills to pay, etc) or exploring for the day (which is 100% better than chores!). We would rather spend less and be away from the major attractions, but still able to visit them by driving an extra 25 miles for it. You can spend a lot more for convenience, not only for your sticks & bricks, but also for your RV!

Our free campsite near a Carlsbad, NM attraction
November Campground Fees *

Our campground fees were at $616 CDN. That is $21 CDN per night. When you consider that a cheap motel is at least twice that, paying $20 a night to have my own kitchen, shower and toilet is priceless. A motel location will usually be pretty noisy, while our home on wheels is usually in quieter locations and with a view. And if we don't like it, we can just pack it up and move.

Campground Memberships

We prepaid for a few camping memberships. We renewed our Passport America membership in November since we seem to use it more than we thought. It allows us to pay half price on the participating campgrounds. Most of the States (and also in Canada) have at least 20 campgrounds listed, ranging from posh to meh. We stay at these when it makes sense (we won't go out of our way) and if the online reviews are good. We paid that membership in November and have used it already (the hot springs resort - nice bonus!). The cost of that membership is 45 USD per year and it has paid for itself already many times over. 

Happy campers at the pool - Passport America campground in Tampa, FL (Feb 2017)

The other membership we purchased before leaving for the States is a camping pass with a company called Thousand Trails. We used it last year for the East coast and the cost of the membership was spread over 53 nights, which means 56 USD per month. The more you stay, the better it is obviously. This year again, we paid upfront 600 USD for the West coast. We will only be able to use it once we reach California and all the way up towards Canada (they have locations through the coastline). We figure that we need to stay a total of 55 nights to say it was worth having.

We also have a KOA membership (that we received free the first year when we purchased our RV; it renewed automatically for the second year and we haven't paid for it...). The membership is 30 USD per year. You get 10% discount on their rates with your card and you also accumulate points that you can redeem towards your future stays.
For example: we get 10% off the nightly rate and a 50$ discount (from points accumulated) for our 4-night stay at the KOA Grand Canyon, which brings the cost to $25/night all inclusive to stay close to one of the most popular attraction in the Southwest, use our kitchen & bathroom and be in our own bed at night. Can't complain about that!
This year, we also jumped aboard the Escapees/XScapers program. For 40 USD per year, we can get discounts at a lot of RV parks and also special prices at their private parks. For example, we were able to stay a week for $50 + electrical at their Ranch location in New Mexico. That's pretty hard to beat and we also met a community of truly wonderful people. We will also be attending their annual Xscapers Convergence in Quartzsite, AZ in January. It will be nice to meet other non-retirees who still have to work!

Our SKP Ranch site - Best campground community! 
There are many others campground memberships that gives you discounts, free stays or prepaid campgrounds fees for the year. We have a few others, such as Harvest Hosts, Explorer RV Club, Good Sam and so on. These are for another post, since I have babbled long enough already!

On a final note, when we visited the Carlsbad Caverns, we purchased a pass called "America The Beautiful". This pass costs 80 USD and good for one year. The pass gives you free entrance to national parks, as well as national monuments and other federal locations where you pay a per person or per car fee. Once we enter the Grand Canyon, the pass will have paid for itself in less than a month. Anyone who plans on spending a winter RVing through the Southwest should get this pass!

* All these annual fees are included in our monthly expenses for campgrounds.

Thank you for reading,


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