Membership clubs

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tgianco

Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2018
Posts
11
Newbie here, so excuse my ignorance. Because I am buying my new 5th wheel from Camping World, i receive Good Sam membership (not sure if it's 1 year or 3 years), but I have a bigger question in terms of which memberships are worth it.

For instance, Passport America sounds awesome, but then I see that many of the campgrounds where I'd want to use it only offer PA part of the year or don't offer on weekends. My wife and I are at least 10 years away from retirement and have little ones, so we're still weekend warriors, mostly.

Also, most of our travel will be out west... mainly CA, but we'll venture to OR, WA, NV & AZ most, although ID, WY, MT, UT & CO sound inviting. Are there particular membership groups that might be a better fit for younger(-ish) families who travel mostly on weekends or for long weekends?

Thanks in advance if there are any that might be more of a fit for a family likes ours'.
 

ArdraF

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Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Posts
10,682
Good Sam has a thick directory of more than 12,600 public and private campgrounds in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  If a directory entry is for a Good Sam park it will have the GS symbol which means you get a 10 percent discount.  That can be a good deal.  If there are two equally good campgrounds near one another, we might choose the GS one just because of the discount.  KOA (Kampgrounds of America) caters to families with playgrounds, pools, etc.  Although they're a little more expensive, each time you check-in you get credit toward a free night or sometimes a free annual membership.  In any case, if you use them often enough KOA also can be a good deal.  One year we used it a lot because of needing to be near relatives and the following annual membership was free.  Passport America is relatively inexpensive and one stay at the right time might pay for the annual membership.  At least that's what happened to us.

As you've already discovered both KOA and PA have to be near where you want to visit because they have a limited number of facilities as opposed to GS which has thousands of listings.  By the way, not all campgrounds list in the GS campground directory because they do have to pay for their ads.  Some of the listings are minimal and others are extra large.  When the economy dropped a few years back many campgrounds stopped advertising and others only kept one of two listings they thought would bring in the most business.  Hopefully more will start advertising again as the economy improves.

ArdraF
 

kdbgoat

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 16, 2014
Posts
6,313
The key to any membership club is whether or not you will actually use it. For a lot of people, Passport America is one of the most recommend. As your research shows you, it's not worth it for you as you won't be able to take advantage of it in your situation. The GS is free to you, so you get a chance to see if it works for you, and whether or not it would be worth it for you to pay to renew.
 

grashley

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Joined
May 7, 2015
Posts
6,586
Location
Western Kentucky
Welcome to the Forum!

As others have said, the definitive answer is - it all depends on if you will use it.

With young kids, the KOA may be more your style.

There are other discount / timeshare programs out there. Research carefully to see if there are campgrounds where you will be going, and if they have the amenities you want.  You can always come here for our opinions, too.  Consensus here is good for Good Sam and KOA and PA if you will use it.
 

Lou Schneider

Site Team
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
11,150
Passport America is designed to let campgrounds fill sites that would otherwise go vacant.  They have the largest discounts (50%) but also the most restrictions on when you can use them.  To their credit, they make their entire campground list available on their website, available to view before you sign up, and they plainly state the restrictions under each campground's listing.

At 50% savings, you only have to use their service a couple of times a year to have it pay for itself.  But as you noted, it depends on whether or not you can use it.

Good Sam is owned by Affinity Group, which also owns Camping World, Trailer Life and Motorhome Magazines.  As Ardra noted, commercial campgrounds have to pay to be listed in the Campground Directory (even the small listings cost money) and they get special notice in the listing if they also purchase a display ad.  If a campground doesn't purchase a listing or ad, they aren't included in the Directory.

In return, Good Sam members get a 10% discount on daily stays.

Escapees RV Club also publishes a campground and commercial vendor guide, while not nearly as large as the Good Sam directory, participating campgrounds offer a 15% discount to Escapees members.

 

Ghostman

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Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Posts
466
Location
Illinois , Casey
We also carry good Sam and KOA we travel over the road now only 3 weeks full time the rest is just weekends. We still save money by using these memberships. The Good Sam will also get you fuel saving with flying j or pilot .  We also buy the Passport America. It is $80 annually. this will get you in any national park in the united states. we have even saved parking at a couple national parks. just had to put our card in the window.  If you are not sure you will use it enough save your receipts for the parks you have payed for and the will take them as credit if you hit your $80 and give you the Card.
 

Heli_av8tor

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2017
Posts
921
Location
NW Illinois
Ghostman, you are confusing Passport America with the National Parks Pass.

There are two very different things.

Tom
 

Ghostman

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Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Posts
466
Location
Illinois , Casey
I was referring to national park pass. Thanks for clarifying. I must have had passport America stuck in my head.
 

beaverfever

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Joined
Feb 3, 2011
Posts
527
be nice to your mail person. you are about to be overwhelmed with offers from good sam and camping world. some is good and a lot is repetition .
 

ZinLuvR

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 23, 2018
Posts
129
Location
Colville, WA
I would add that the Good Sam ratings don't seem to be very reliable.  Most GS listings were pretty good.  However, we booked into a GS park that was an absolute dump.  How this park has been able to stay as a listed GS park is beyond me.  To add insult to injury, it was $50 for the night for a an absolute dump.  One thing that may help in choosing a GS park is to tell in the listing if the park is allowing full time year long residence, which in some parks is getting pretty trashy.
 

scottydl

Site Team
Joined
Jul 1, 2006
Posts
8,946
Location
Land of Lincoln
We had Passport America for our first couple years of camping, and it worked great... we specifically chose member campgrounds for the discount, and discovered some neat (and some fairly plain) locations that way. It pays for itself after 2-3 uses because of the 50% discount, and works well if working your way across a few states, etc. where you can stay in a different spot every 1-2 nights. The other discount clubs always seemed like a ripoff to me, offering only 10-20% discounts which amounts to a few dollars at a time.

Over the last 11+ years of RV'ing (all of that as a family with kids), we have done probably 90% of our camping at state/county parks. There have been some private places in there too but almost no "chain" campgrounds... which I find to be overpriced in general. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer parks are among the nicest, and many of the public spots use www.reserveamerica.com for easy online planning.
 

av8tor

Active member
Joined
Nov 13, 2016
Posts
34
Location
Somewhere in the U.S.
We bought a Thousand Trails membership last year, I figured we would try some of their parks and see.  Great deal 30 days free each year, and then only $4 per night after that if you go over the 30 free ones. Some odd rules like you can only stay 14 days is a particular park, then you have to leave for 7 days, but then you can go back for 14 etc.  Still, if you are going to their facilities, it's a great deal.
However, the parks we visited (all on the West Coast, Calif., Ore., and Wash.) are pretty rustic.  All of the ones we stayed at are pretty remote, nothing fancy, and mostly older parks.  Example.  One of the Calif parks, near Sacramento, surrounds a private lake.  Nice? Well, yes but......lots and lots of insects (due to the lake), roads not well maintained, of the 9 dump stations in the park, only one (1) was functional and it was a thirty min drive to the nearest town to get anything. 
Anyway, after visiting 6 parks over 3 months, we decided NOT to renew the membership for a second year. 
Perhaps, elsewhere in the country the parks are more modern/updated, but not any of the ones we stayed at.
 
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