7 Camping Membership That Can Save You Money on Your Next Trip
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You may subscribe to Netflix, get weekly meal deliveries from Blue Apron, or pay a monthly fee for a box of toys for your dog, but what about camping? More and more camping memberships are popping up, each offering different advantages and geared toward a different type of camper. While some may cost less than $30, others can cost close to a grand when all is said and done.
Are you curious about which one(s) will work for you? Here’s a look at some of the more popular memberships used by Campendium users.
Good Sam memberships are geared toward RV owners looking to save some cash. Their membership is similar to AAA, where your membership fee gives you a small but consistent discount at many businesses and campgrounds.
Their membership is definitely on the cheaper side at only $29 a year, but as a result, you also get a bit less than you will see with other programs. The membership includes 10% off at more than 2,000 different campgrounds and RV parks across the country. It also includes discounts at popular retail stores like Camping World and Gander RV and Outdoors, plus five cents off of gas at Pilot Flying J locations.
Good Sam is also heavily focused on getting people out the door, including offering an online trip planner on their website and roadside assistance insurance plans (for an additional fee).
Passport America is another program offering discounts when you make camping reservations, but with this program, you get 50% off at more than 1,450 participating locations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
At $44 a year, membership pricing is similar to KOA or Sam Good, but with a bigger discount on camping. The difference is, the card does not carry as many perks as you may see with others at partnering businesses, and campgrounds can set rules on when they do and don’t accept the discount (some offer it only on weekdays, or only on off-seasons).
The membership is best for RV owners but also includes discounts for tent camping at certain campgrounds that allow it.
KOA is one of the biggest household names in camping around the country. The nearly 60-year-old company has more than 500 franchised campgrounds across the U.S. and Canada.
KOA’s Value Kard Rewards program is similar to Good Sam’s in price and benefits but may have some extra appeal for those with brand loyalty. The program is $33 a year and offers 10% off camping reservations at KOA locations. Members accumulate points with each stay, which they can use later for bigger discounts on camping reservations. Also, once a year for a week, camping is free for members.
There are also some additional store discounts at places like Goodyear, Discovery Parks, and more.
Like Passport America, the Happy Camper Club offers access to discounted stays at campgrounds across the United States. However, one difference is that Happy Campers grants members “up to 50% discount” at campgrounds, with the discounts varying by location.
This program costs $40, and while you will not find additional discounts at partnering companies, they are focused on “no gimmicks” and assure members there are no additional fees and no contracts.
They’re currently partnered with just under a thousand campgrounds but are looking to expand uniquely—they will pay their members $25 if they refer a campground owner to sign up with Happy Campers.
Escapees RV Club
Escapees RV Club aims to get both full-time RVers and casual weekenders together under one roof. Their membership includes a strong social aspect, including an opportunity to join their online groups and in-person meetups like their “Escapees Hangouts.” These are events held over a few days at different campgrounds or camping areas, designed for like-minded RVers to meet up and enjoy potlucks and campfires.
Membership for a year of Escapees starts at $50 for U.S. members and $60 for Canadian and Mexican memberships. Perks include access to Escapees’ own campgrounds across the U.S. and discounts ranging from 15% to 50% at an additional 800 parks.
They also offer discounts at other businesses like Goodyear and other auto repair options, plus there’s a 50% discount for a Passport America membership if you’re already an Escapees member.
Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA)
The Family Motor Coach Association focuses on RV education and keeping travelers on the road. The organization has instructional videos and other guides for both new and seasoned travel members.
FMCA’s membership perks include FMCAssist, which is an emergency medical evacuation and repatriation coverage, discounts on items like tires, roadside assistance, and mobile internet hotspots, a monthly magazine, and access to local chapters for connection and community-building.
While it doesn’t offer any major discounts on camping, membership does grant you two free nights a month at their member-only campground in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The annual price of a membership is $85.
Thousand Trails is a very different type of membership program than those listed above.
Thousand Trails owns close to 200 different campgrounds and RV parks in 22 different states, divided into five different zones. Membership grants you “free” camping in a Thousand Trails zone or in several zones, depending on your membership level. For example, a one zone pass, which starts at $615, gets you access to campgrounds in your selected zone, such as the Northwest or Southeast. Other zones may be added for an additional fee.
Thousand Trails campgrounds often come with amenities like swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, and laundry rooms.
Because of Thousand Trails’ upfront cost, it’s best to do your research before purchasing a membership. Because not every state has campgrounds available, you’ll want to be sure that your plans match up with Thousand Trails’ offerings so that you’re making the most out of your investment.
How to Filter by Camping Membership on Campendium
Have a camping membership? Campendium makes it easy to filter on campgrounds that accept whichever membership card(s) you have tucked into your wallet.
Begin by searching for the destination you’re traveling to. Once you have a list of area campgrounds and campsites, tap “More Filters” and then scroll to “Discount Clubs.” Then, can click on one or more membership clubs to filter your results.
Remember that depending on which membership you have, campgrounds may have rules and regulations about when they offer discounts. If you have any doubts, call ahead to be sure you’re covered.