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Author Topic: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?  (Read 2952 times)

Bill and Debbie

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Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« on: September 09, 2014, 11:59:23 AM »
We are hopefully hitting the road January 1 for 6 months to see how things go. I have questions regarding the various "membership" clubs out there. We are currently GS members and can benefit from the 10-15% discount available at most rv parks. My greater question is, for those who are on the road a lot, are the Resort type memberships, which can discount as much as 50% or just charge $10.00 or so, a good buy?

I know there is Passport America, Thousand Trails, K&M, Happy Camper, and probably others. Membership fees vary, of course, but the idea of substantially reduced costs is appealing. We also plan to stay pretty much on the West Coast...WA, OR and CA. We visited our local Camping World Sunday and were offered a K&M membership (initial fee waived) and then $350 annual dues. Not sure about them, but I've heard good things about PA....just interested in hopefully being pointed in the right direction. And therefore, would like some serious advise as we are inclined to join one!

Questions would be which one? Availability? Age restrictions on coaches? Length of stay? etc, etc, etc......Thank you. :-\
William Bonsell
Poulsbo, WA

2010 CT Coachworks Siena 35V
1999 Cherokee Sport with Roadmaster Falcon 5250

Clay L

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2014, 12:40:08 PM »
Passport America worked for us but resort membership clubs did not. All of them them that I know of limit your stay to one or two weeks. When we were not in transit we wanted to stay at least a month in one place and often longer.
During the first year or so of full timing we moved much more often but quickly changed after we got into the full time mode.
Of course that is not true for some folks.
Clay (WA5NMR), Lee (Wife), Katie & Kelli (cats), Sali (toy poodle)
Settled down after full timing for eleven years and snowbirding for one year in a 2004 Winnebago 35N Sightseer, Workhorse W 20 Chassis. Honda toad

ArdraF

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2014, 05:42:57 PM »
The apples and oranges are mixed up in your list.  There are two types of membership parks.  First are those like Good Sam and Passport America.  They're like a magazine subscription - year to year and cancellable at any time.  You can renew each year or not.  Second are those like Thousand Trails.  They're more like a time share - you buy into them and have to sell your share if you want out.  It's a more permanent arrangement.

Personally we use Good Sam and Passport America discounts but never have found the other kind useful.  For example, with Thousand Trails you have a "home park" but you can use the others.  We never felt we wanted to stay at the same place frequently (nice maybe for families who are still working and go camping on weekends) nor do we like arranging trips by going from one membership campground or resort to another.  They're just too limiting for us.  But, to each their own.  The biggest advantage of Good Sam is that thousands of campgrounds provide the GS discount and you can find one almost anywhere you travel.  The others have a limited number of campgrounds.

Because you're new to the experience I recommend you join the year-to-year clubs but avoid the other kind until you see how you like the lifestyle.  That way you'll only be "out" a limited amount of money and not be stuck with a membership you can no longer use if you decide RVing is not for you.

ArdraF
« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 05:46:03 PM by ArdraF »
ArdraF
:D :D

Bill and Debbie

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2014, 06:40:30 PM »
I've been doing a bit more research. Interesting that PA, while only $50 per year, offers 50% discount assuming one can get in. I guess that is one of our biggest concerns - availability. Has anyone any experience with Happy Camper which has a $39.99/year membership but offers significant discounts at any of their 1200 directory parks

Thousand Trails is $545 per year with one free zone...so Northwest and Southwest for $545 but may be something to consider if we end up ultimately going longer than our initial 6 month trial excursion. While we currently have GS, it would seem that joining both Passport America and Happy Camper for a total of $90 would be money well spent.
William Bonsell
Poulsbo, WA

2010 CT Coachworks Siena 35V
1999 Cherokee Sport with Roadmaster Falcon 5250

halfwright

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2014, 07:00:27 PM »
Passport America works if you are traveling, but not for an extended stay. Most are limiteed to 1-2 nights and no weekends. We joined the Moose, VFW and Eagles. Some of them have RF parks or just an electric hookup in the lot. We always look for Moose lodges first for camping because talking to the locals will give you a lot more information than any where else. We have always been treared like family.

Check into Happy Camper closely. Ther are scams out there. You pay for membership and then no campground has heard of them.
Jim And Darlene Wright
Full-timing with
Ryder, the Ethiopian monkeybeaver dog
and a
2007 Montana Mountaineer
2002 F250 Super duty 7.3 liter

Ned

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2014, 09:09:46 PM »
When I last looked at Happy Camper, most of their parks were also members of Passport America.  We use PA a lot and I don't recall ever finding a park that was a member of HC and not PA.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
1997 Holiday Rambler Endeavor LE
2007 GMC Canyon

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2014, 10:39:03 AM »
Don't rush into any long term commitments. PA and HC are inexpensive, one year, deals so almost no risk in trying one or both out. A TT Zone Pass is more expensive, but still only one year and you can try out all the TT parks in your region to see if you like them.  Avoid, however, the expensive TT Elite membership, or any other camping resort membership that requires a hefty buy-in and long term annual dues. Those may be something you ultimately choose to get into, but you don't have enough experience yet to make that sort of decision. Besides, you can nearly always buy into those membership resorts from another member who is selling out, usually for far less than the resort asks for "new' membership.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Bill and Debbie

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2014, 01:13:42 PM »
Thank you Gary and all for the advise. Seems that PA along with the GS we already have would be a pretty good value considering the extremely low annual. If both PA and HC have many of the same parks, would seem redundant to possess both. Thousand Trails for $545 annual might not be so bad considering for that cost you would get two zones...In our case Northwest and Southwest. I would think our initial 6 month trip is going to be moving every one or two weeks I would think as we have many people to drop in on.

I am intrigued by the idea of "being off the grid" somewhat by dry camping for several days at a time. We certainly don't need to be at resorts 30 days per month. That could get expensive. And as this will be on first time out for a very extended time, is it best to plan out the entire trip or just wing it?
William Bonsell
Poulsbo, WA

2010 CT Coachworks Siena 35V
1999 Cherokee Sport with Roadmaster Falcon 5250

ArdraF

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2014, 03:58:21 PM »
Wing it!  We generally only make reservations when we need to be at some specific place (family), event (reunion or rally), on holidays, or for something like a ferry.  Not making reservations allows for much more flexibility in case you want to stay somewhere longer than you expect (it happens a lot!) or if the weather turns bad and you decide to go another direction.  Canceling reservations when something unexpected happens is not only time consuming but sometimes they charge a fee so the fewer reservations you make the easier it is.  We've had very few cases where we weren't able to find a campground when needed.  Besides, there usually are places like Wal-Mart, Cracker Barrel, a mall, or even a church parking lot (NOT on weekends).  Enjoy your new lifestyle!

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Bill and Debbie

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2014, 05:04:23 PM »
Well it looks like we have our condo rented out and can hit the road December 1st. As we head south from the Pacific Northwest we may have to dodge iffy weather in the Siskiyous (?) and through the Shasta area, but hopefully we can get into the Sacramento valley without a hiccup.

Looks like we will be purchasing a Passport America pass and I just picked up the America the Beautiful lifetime pass for $10.00 Still kicking around a Thousand Trails membership for $545 for two zones. While it appears some parks are better than others, but isn't that always the case, I am curious if anyone can speak as to availability of getting in without having to call months ahead for reservations. Is it possible to "wing it" and still find a spot at a TT or affiliate park on short notice? Especially in the winter time. We plan to spend a couple of months in the Ventura, CA area but don't want to just blast down I-5...we'd like to take our time.

So much to do to get ready, but we are infinitely excited to commence this new adventure. The resources here have been just fantastic to assist us in heading out prepared...as much as we can, I guess.

William Bonsell
Poulsbo, WA

2010 CT Coachworks Siena 35V
1999 Cherokee Sport with Roadmaster Falcon 5250

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2014, 12:34:29 PM »
Some TT's are what they call "high use", meaning they are in constant demand. Hershey, PA and Orlando/Clermont, FL are two examples - the nearby popular destinations as well as high population density make them busy most of the year. Even at that we are normally able to get into Hershey on short notice, but Clermont in the winter season takes pre-planning.  There are probably TT parks like that in the Northwest and West too, but we did not encounter any problems when traveling there. It just takes some experience to judge which parks are busy and when.

By the way, that applies to any RV park anywhere - you need to stay aware of holiday weekends, school closing, and local festivals & events. I can recall arriving in a small Iowa city to find it was Homecoming Weekend at the local college and all sites booked (the park owner let us stay in an old site they had shut down for repairs) and another where we ran into a local craft festival. If in doubt, call ahead during the day of travel, and always plan on arriving early rather than after 5 pm.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

dianne9106

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2014, 07:16:53 PM »
We have a TT membership, it was free when bought our rig from the dealer. We have the CA Zone and have used it a couple of times. Lake Minden is the one near Sacramento - it's not too bad. It doesn't allow wood fires and not all of the site has sewer hook ups and the part that does is on a rotation. However, it's peaceful and quiet and in certain parts you have lots of space at each site. We have also stayed at Morgan Hill - which is a really pretty, but it does not have sewage hook ups neither. But there were a lot of full timers there that seemed to enjoy it. We plan to visit more of their campgrounds since it's free for 30 days a year and then only $3 per night after that. I think each campground runs a certain offer for staying full time/annual pass - it depends on what you are looking for. I think if we fulltime traveled (we will stay in one place fulltime while in the military), we would def pay the renewal in the CA zone. Please get down to the Tahoe area (Emigrant Gap) before the snow, otherwise you will need chains on your rig. It was 40 and raining there this week! Good luck and one day we will full time it on the road!

Bill and Debbie

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2014, 12:59:25 PM »
Just to provide a bit of an update on our plans. We did just purchase a two zone TT membership for $545 plus tax after exhaustive research on the pros and cons. Seems for traveling up and down the West coast it makes sense as the cost figures out to be less than $50 per month or less than 2 nights lodging at most campgrounds or rv parks. We also purchased a PA membership for $49 which seems like a good deal as it opens up significantly more destinations, and we actually have found some which will provide that 50% discount for up to 6 nights....a very good deal. And we also acquired an Escapees membership for $29. And we have bookmarked about 10 sites which provide campsite location information, including some free areas.

So, it appears we have things pretty well covered and now get to just head out in about a month and enjoy this very new lifestyle. We have money in the bank, reserves for emergencies and income coming in regularly to our bank! Life is indeed good. Now to just work out a deal with Verizon for affordable WiFi...LOL
William Bonsell
Poulsbo, WA

2010 CT Coachworks Siena 35V
1999 Cherokee Sport with Roadmaster Falcon 5250

Dream Chasers

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2014, 03:32:39 PM »
I was just at Verizon today and they are offering a plan for $130 per month for 30 GB of date.  Or $110 for 15GB.  It wasn't on any flyers or anything there, the guy I was talking to about redoing our Verizon plan actually pulled it out of his wallet.  I asked him about it, and he said they are running a promotion.  Didn't say for how long or who is eligible to receive it.  Also I am in Orlando, FL so not sure if it region-based or nationwide.  Good luck on your journey and I look forward to reading all about your travels.
Sheryl & Bobby and Roxie the Yorkie
Polk City, Florida
2015 Forest River Berkshire 34QS
2011 Honda CRV SE

Bill and Debbie

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2014, 05:48:47 PM »
Planning on talking with Verizon next week. I currently have a 8GB plan which runs about 235 a month with my wife and son on our plan. He will be kicked off soon and both my wife and I have current iphones. I think they offer a hotspot devise for $50 bucks and 20 a month. Will definitely inquire as to this 30GB plan. Will update as soon as resolved.

We are very excited to start our new adventure, though wish we could have gotten out this month instead of Dec 1....oh well. We get to do some storm watching over on the Oregon coast as there are 3 TT resorts between Seaside and Florence.
William Bonsell
Poulsbo, WA

2010 CT Coachworks Siena 35V
1999 Cherokee Sport with Roadmaster Falcon 5250

Dream Chasers

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  • Be Brave - Take Risks - Nothing Beats Experience
Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2014, 08:18:35 PM »
The $130 for 30GB didn't include the phones that was just for data usage.  This was their "Everything" plan and you can connect up to 10 devices to all share the 30GB.  Smartphones are $40 per a month each, Hotspots are $20 per a month, tablets are $10 each.  It did include unlimited Talk & Text.  Then of course there is taxes, fees, etc., etc...

Good Luck at Verizon next week and on your journey.
Sheryl & Bobby and Roxie the Yorkie
Polk City, Florida
2015 Forest River Berkshire 34QS
2011 Honda CRV SE

Ernie n Tara

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Re: Not F/T yet, but what about membership clubs?
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2014, 09:18:37 AM »
From another phone perspective, we don't have smart phones but we do have three cell phones, five gig of data (Verizon wifi) and a total phone bill of $117 per month. We also have two tablets and a pc (actually Surface III). Our phones cost $55 per MO. on Consumer Celluar. We find that we're not out so often as to require smart phones since we're retired and can do all of this stuff (shopping, email, etc.) while we're home using Verizon wifi..

Incidentally, Consumer Celluar is AT&T which we had befere we switched (three phones were about $120 prr mo.). Service is actually better with CC. For example AT&T has no service at Portal in Moab, but CC does.

Ernie
Ernie 'n Tara

2011 Winn Journey 34y
2012 Jeep Rubicon - Dozer (orange - kinda)
2006 Jeep Wrangler

 

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