For this week’s Question of the Week, we asked readers to tell us which campground clubs they have joined, their experience with the clubs and the associated campgrounds, and whether they believe it was worth the upfront cost of joining the club, or not.
“Passport America. I swear by it! I just returned from Key West and stayed at a Geiger Key RV and Marina. They are a participant and their normal rates are $100 to $112 a night. I paid half that per night. So a one night stay there gave me back over the $44 a year membership fee. The savings go on from there at all other campgrounds.
I just renewed for five years at a Good Sam Rally in Daytona, Florida. A few campgrounds have rules and limitations. It is important to read all the information on the campground either through the book or the APP. The APP is real time and constantly updated.
Some campgrounds play games and you just have to report them to Passport America. An example is giving the worst site and starting the prices aren’t updated. The APP is real time.” – Don Kingfield, 2008 GMC 2500 HD, 2008 Lance 861
“I believe Good Sam and Passport America are worth the cost. The Good Sam discount is nice and the Passport America discount will pay for itself in as little as three overnight stays. I usually find a couple of Passport America campgrounds on any trip over 1,000 miles. Most campgrounds we are likely to stay in will honor the Good Sam discount.” – Robert Hicks, 2008 Chevrolet 3500HD, 2011 Lance 992
“I think Good Sam Club is worth it at $20 a year. There are many different benefits available, some included, and some at a discount. The provided information on different campgrounds, and the ratings, are very valuable.” – Tim Chapell, 2013 Ford F150, Palomino Bronco 1251
“We feel that we did not get our money’s worth out of Passport America membership. The experience was mostly good with some exceptions. There were just too many block out dates.” – Alan Bryant, 2002 Ford F250, 1992 Shadow Cruiser 851
“I belong to Escapees, Good Sam, and Passport America. Since we RV full time, all three pay for themselves, many times plus the social benefits. We enjoy Escapee parks and rallies. We haven’t done Good Sam Rallies, but we buy a lot at Camping World. Passport America gets us into some nice parks for half price.” – Terry Currier, 2006 Chevy Silverado, 1997 Lance, 2000 New Horizon 5W
“Passport America is $44 a year, at last check, and it’s worth every penny. I get that in discounts over two to three stays. After that it’s money in the bank. The campgrounds seem happy that the club brought them business even at half price.” – Roy Del Pozo, 1999 Dodge Ram 2500, 2013 LivinLite CampLite 8.6
“We use the KOA Value Kard. It costs $24 a year. I think this is a great deal. I travel around and dry camp eighty to ninety percent of the time. It is good to be able to pull into a consistently good campground every five or so days to recharge. I also like KOAs as a base camp when I explore on one of my motorcycles. I am confident that my rig will be looked after while I’m gone for a couple days.” – Jeff Yarborough, 2005 Dodge Ram 3500, 2009 Lance 915
“Escapees and FCRV (Family Campers and RVers). The cost is so minimal; $50 to $60, I think. We enjoy fellow members because they are friendly and generally have the same interests. We also enjoy visiting the various Escapees campgrounds and seeing fellow Escapees members.” – Mike Chiles, 1999 Dodge 2500, 2009 Lance 915
“Passport America. It has pricing by the number of years you want to pay for. One year is $44, two years is $79 and so on. It is definitely worth the money. Participating RV campgrounds give a fifty percent rate to club members.
We made the fee back and more in just one camping trip. We have had very good experiences with campgrounds associated with Passport America. The only negative for some would be that some of the campgrounds do not offer the discount on weekends or holidays. This has really not been a big drawback for us, but might for some others depending where they go camping.
We have used Passport America all over the United States with great discount rate results. I recommend it to anyone.” – Richard Janssen, 2004 Chevy 2500HD, had a 1994 Lance 880
“Good Sam. It’s very good.” – Bill Dalton, 2001 Dodge Ram 2500, 1999 Lance 845
“I am a Good Sam Life Member and belong to Passport America. Yes, they are worth it. I have been Good Sam President’s Club member for more than twenty years and became a life member when they first offered it. I have always saved more with their discounts than the cost.
The same for Passport America (and its predecessor) except for one year when illness kept us from camping. Passport America’s discounts introduced us to four campgrounds that we continue to visit and go out of our way to stay at because we enjoy them so much. Saving money and having fun is the name of the game!” – Ron Ramos, 2003 Dodge, Ram 3500, 2001 Adventurer Slumber Queen, 9 Foot
“Escapees Club was well worth the price. I have met a lot of great people. They have some great rallies. It’s great!” – Edward Lonergan, 2006 GM 3500, Lance 1121
“We belong to Thousand Trails. We paid just about $10k for our Thousand Trails VIP Membership. We originally joined Thousand Trails (TTN) twelve years ago when it was strictly members only and reservation only for non-members to inspect for possible membership. Since that time, ownership has changed and now the public can come in as long as they pay the fees and make a reservation. It’s a little concerning with what we paid for a members only campground and with what we pay for dues.” – John and Laurie Pedrick, 2010 Dodge Ram 3500, 2011 Adventurer 86FB
“Snowflower Preserve is absolutely worth every penny we paid for this restricted non-profit membership. We love our campground so much that we also bought into a private club that owns half of our home park. We enjoy camping almost every weekend in the summer now! It’s well worth what we have paid. We know our neighbors and they know us. We look out for one another, which is great. We have our own potlucks, card games and just general camaraderie that you don’t normally find in this type of setting.” – John and Laurie Pedrick, 2010 Dodge 3500, 2011 Adventurer 86FB
“Thousands Trails is great at closing the deal, but fall very short on keeping their contract. The problem with these time shares is that the snowbirds have all day to sit on the phone to get into the better parks. Those of us who are still working have a small window to call ahead to make reservations at nearby parks. Our “home park” turned into a fly infected nightmare from a dairy that moved in nearby and the sellers forgot to tell everyone about that little situation. I ended up dumping their program and discourage anyone from getting involved in these camping time shares. They never seem to run out out of spots to sell.” – Alex Blasingame, 2007 Ford F250, 2002 Lance 815
“I joined Good Sam through Camping World. I had been a member once before and honestly they had little to offer me. That is not to say they have little to offer, it just wasn’t beneficial to me or my style of camping. Escapees may be a better fit for me.
I joined Good Sam because of a discount on a single Camping World purchase I made was as over three times the membership cost. I did not want to join, but it was financially imperative.
One of the benefits of joining Good Sams is one free night of camping at any Good Sam park. A couple of days after joining, I used my free night. Well, it wasn’t free. I had to take $31 out of my trip budget to pay for a terribly unlevel site in a park that was a nightmarish maze after dark. I had to mail the certificate and receipt to Good Sam for a $25 refund. As the saying goes, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. – Rusty Bridges, Dodge 3500, Arctic Fox 990
“I think Good Sam Club is worth what I pay. I am only a basic member. It has a few perks. I use only one campground that is a Good Sam member and have had a good experience with them. No complaints.” – Jeff Hagberg, 2002 Ford F250, 2006 Travel Lite 800SBX
“I have been a member of the Good Sam Club on and off for many years. When I stay away for a while, I get a coupon that I just can’t ignore. The last coupon was for three years at $25 for the membership. It also included a coupon for a free night’s stay at one of their campgrounds for $25. So, the price was free, so it was it worth it.
I have also been a member of the Escapees Club. When I was on the road full-time, I absolutely loved going into their campgrounds for a night or two. It was absolutely worth it.
With the high priced membership parks, if you are thirty years old and just starting out, yes, they are worth it. With most of the high priced membership parks, if anyone is interested, I know at least a dozen people who would love to get rid of their memberships, so contact me.” – Joei Carlton, 1997 Ford F250, 2004 Adventurer
“We’ve been members of the Passport America club for several years and we feel it’s well worth the $44 annual fee. We’ve stayed at many of the Passport American campgrounds throughout the United States and we’ve found them to be very good.” – Linda Behrens, 1999 Ford F250, 2011 Panther Cascade
“With Passport America sometimes you can’t use it on the weekends, and they will also change the price. I was on the way to Florida for the winter and stopped at the Smokies. They changed the price, so I only stayed one night.” – Jim Siler, 2012 Chevy, 1998 Shadow Cruiser