Campgrounds vs Boondocking – RVing Podcast #2

The following is a transcript of my podcast on “Campgrounds vs Boondocking”:

“Hello everyone and welcome to the RV Inspection And Care channel podcast.

Today’s subject is “campgrounds versus boondocking”. And you know, really there’s so many ways to go camping in your RV.

And there’s no one right way for everybody. Lots of folks love to spend most of their time in campgrounds, if not all of their time.

Then there are others that love to spend most or all of their time boondocking. And then there are those that mix the two together.

Whatever works for you is fine. Now, for the sake of our discussion today though let’s go ahead and define what boondocking is.

That’s because it means different things to different people. But for this discussion, boondocking doesn’t mean overnight stays.

You know, at rest stops and Walmarts and places like that. No, boondocking refers for this discussion to going out in rural areas for an extended period of time with no hookups.

Okay, so now that we have that definition going for us, let’s get started on the pros and the cons of campgrounds vs boondocking.

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The Pros And Cons Explained

And the first pro of campgrounds is the hookups. The easy hookups that you have available to you.

It’s so nice to just pull into your site, hook up your electric, hook up your water, and probably even be able to hook up your sewer in many cases.

And then you’re all set. Then when you leave, you just unhook and you’re gone. Well, that’s a real advantage!

Campgrounds Pro #2

Another advantage is having access to larger bathrooms and showers.

A lot of people like that. Rather than using the bathroom and shower that many times is smaller and more cramped in their RV.

Instead, they have these really nice showers and bathrooms, and so that’s an advantage too.

campgrounds pro #3

But now, the next pro for campgrounds is amenities. Things like pools and volleyball and mini golf.

And all those other things that campgrounds love to give you to make your stay there enjoyable.

Well, that’s that’s a real advantage. That’s a pro, especially if you have a family.

campgrounds pro #4

The next pro is that when you stay at campgrounds, you usually have the best possible internet access while you’re camping.

And what I mean by that is that usually campgrounds are located fairly close to towns or urban areas.

And this is where there is access to the internet, especially on a cellular use of the internet.

So that’s an advantage. And you know, I have to say that for us when we have gone across the US camping, we stay in campgrounds most of the time.

And roughly 90 to 95 percent of the time, using our hot spot, we have excellent internet access. So that’s a pro for campgrounds.

campgrounds pro #5

The next pro is that you can plan your travels out in advance well if you’re a planner.

And the reason you can do that is because of reservations. You just call in advance and you make a reservation.

And so when you show up you’re pretty well assured that you’ve got a spot. And that’s nice for those who like to plan in advance.

campgrounds pro #6

The next pro is that you can often be very close to urban areas or towns or places that have attractions.

You know, like museums and things like that, that would be nice to go and visit. So that’s a pro too.

campgrounds pro #7

The next pro is about security. But it’s not really about being secure because that’s kind of controversial.

Some people that are boondockers are quick to tell you: “Hey, we’re just as secure as anybody where we are, even though we’re out there. There’s no problem with security there”.

But we’re not going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about how people FEEL.

And very often people FEEL more secure in campgrounds. When they know especially that there’s maybe a gate at the entrance, or maybe a security force that patrols and things like that.

So oftentimes people feel more secure in campgrounds.

Well now, let’s move on to the cons of campgrounds. Because it’s not all pros.

Campgrounds vs Boondocking – Campground Cons

And the number one con is the expense of campgrounds. Yes, if you stay every night of the year in campgrounds, well you’re going to run up a pretty good bill.

Especially if you don’t have something like a discount membership, or a membership like Thousand Trails.

Those can really bring your camping costs down quite a bit. But even so you’re still going to be spending more money in campgrounds than you will boondocking. And that’s pretty clear.

campgrounds con #2

Now the next con is that you’re going to have to camp next to other RVers. And when I say next to them, usually there’s very little separation between sites.

And in some cases, it’s kind of ridiculous you know, how close you are.

In some campgrounds, you’re within inches of each other slides. And so that can be kind of irritating. So that can be a con for staying in campgrounds.

campgrounds con #3

The third con is a big one. And that is the irritation of some campgrounds.

You know, when we’re talking about staying next to other RVers, well it could be any number of things.

They could be playing loud music. Their dogs could be barking all the time.

They could be just loud people and have lots of people over. And they’re all just partying out there.

Well this can be a little bit of an irritation. Because you’re really close by someone else, and that noise just filters right over to your campsite. Well, that’s a con for some campgrounds.

campgrounds con #4

The next con for campgrounds is less nature intensive experiences.

You know, campgrounds, many of them get you closer to nature. But you you’re not really immersed in nature like you are when you’re out boondocking.

So for some that’s a con. Because they still have to get out and drive to go and really be in nature.

campgrounds con #5

The last con is if you don’t like to plan, if you’re spontaneous, well then you’re going to have a struggle for reservations.

These days especially after Covid, reservations are becoming more and more vital to be able to get a spot in campgrounds.

And so if you’re kind of spontaneous, the old days of just being able to show up and make sure you get a spot, well they’re getting harder and harder to find. So that can be a con with campgrounds too.

Campgrounds vs Boondocking – Boondocking Pros

Campgrounds vs boondocking - a lovely scenic boondocking spot
A beautiful and scenic boondocking spot

Now let’s talk about boondocking pros though. And the number one pro for boondocking is that it’s CHEAP!

In many cases when you’re staying on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, it’s even zero dollars a night.

And that’s hard to beat. So it’s a very economical way to camp in your RV.

boondocking pro #2

The next pro is that there are tons of scenic spots to choose from for boondocking.

And when I say “scenic spots”, I mean just blow your eyes out, drop dead, gorgeous spots.

And there’s lots of places on the internet where you can find out about these spots.

So you can go out there and enjoy the most beautiful places to camp. That’s so huge, and that’s a great pro.

boondocking pro #3

And the third pro is that you have more opportunities when you’re boondocking. For things like hiking, biking and kayaking.

That’s because you’re right out in nature. You’re right there!

So if you’re adventurous, and if you love to be active, well then boondocking can be a real help for that.

boondocking pro #4

The next pro is the space that you enjoy when you’re out boondocking.

As opposed to campgrounds where you’re right by other people.

In fact, it could be miles before you find another camper when you’re boondocking.

Or it could at least be several hundred yards. So if you like a lot of peace and quiet, that’s where you’re going to enjoy it.

Or if you like to play your music loud, well you can go ahead and do that.

You’re not going to bother anybody else, because you’re out there and there’s nobody near to you. And that’s a big a pro!

boondocking pro #5

The next pro is that when you’re boondocking, these boondocking spots are very often close to national parks and national forests.

So you really have a lot to choose from in those areas. Especially again, if you’re adventurous and you love nature.

So all of those are great pros for boondocking.

Campgrounds vs Boondocking – Boondocking Cons

But what about the cons? Well, the number one con is that you have to get very good at conserving power and water. (edit – you must also conserve waste as well)

And if you don’t, you’re not going to be boondocking very long.

When we’re talking about conserving, you have to bring your power along with you, your electricity.

And you have to bring your water along with you. And then you have to manage it while you’re out there.

Because it’s not an endless supply like you have when you’re in a campground.

So you’ve got to learn how to do that. And for some, that’s a real challenge. So we’ll put that down as a con.

boondocking con #2

The next con is that there’s often no nearby convenient place to resupply.

You’re often very far away from grocery stores and Walmarts and things like that.

So you have to plan those out. And then you usually have a pretty good drive to go take care of those things.

boondocking con #3

The next con is that boondocking can be very difficult for those with larger rigs.

The smaller your rig is, the easier it is to get in and out of boondocking spots wherever you want to go.

But the bigger the rig is, the more difficult it is to go out in those really rural areas.

You know, the ones way out there. So that can be a con if you have a bigger rig.

boondocking con #4

The next con is internet connectivity. Again, if you’re way out there, then the chances of cell towers being out there for internet access can be very small.

And even phone access too. So that can be a con.

If you really need access to the internet, then you’ve got to rely on something like a cell booster to get it.

But even then, that can be really challenging in some way out areas.

boondocking con #5

Now the next con is there are no reservations. You can’t call ahead and reserve a spot for your boondocking.

So it means that sometimes you’re going to drive out there and find out that it’s already taken.

Or that it’s just not what you thought it was going to be. So reservations are not something that is part of the boondock camping experience. And that can be a con for some.

boondocking con #6

The last con is that there are far fewer spots available to boondock in the eastern part of the US.

Especially as opposed to the western part. But now, the flip side of that is there’s so much land in the western part of the US that’s BLM land or available for boondocking.

In fact, you could camp for years and never camp in the same spot twice.

So you’ve got plenty of availability out in the West. But the eastern half of the US gets much more challenging.

Now that doesn’t mean that there aren’t boondocking spots there. But it’s a lot more difficult to find.

Well, those are the pros and the cons of campgrounds versus boondocking.

My Overall Conclusion

And here’s my conclusion on the subject of campgrounds vs boondocking. My general take is that campgrounds are best for RVers that like convenience.

So if you want convenience then that’s the best way to do it. If you like to stay in control of things.

And not be too challenged by camping itself, then campgrounds are the way to go.

But boondocking is best for those who love adventure. They love nature, and they’re happy to get out there in it.

They don’t mind having inconveniences and so on. Well then, boondocking is a great experience for them.

And as I said earlier, either way you go, you’re going to be able to enjoy your RV camping.

Well that’s it for now. Have safe and happy travels my friends …. until next time.”

Motorhomes VS Towables – Which Kind Of RV Is Best For You?

Motorhomes vs Towables – RV Inspection And Care Podcast #1

Hello everyone and welcome to the RV inspection and Care podcast.

Yes, in addition to all my YouTube videos I’m going to add a weekly podcast to the mix as well.

We’re going to talk about all kinds of subjects about RVing. You know, about RVs themselves, the RV lifestyle, RV camping, towing, and all kinds of things.

And there’s going to be a lot of information here on this podcast. So what I invite you to do is please subscribe to the podcast.

And that way you won’t miss anything as I go along.

Now for those of you that are watching this on video right now, you can go down to the description below the video.

And there’ll be a link to my podcast where you can subscribe there.

But I’m not only going to just talk to you myself. Today of course, it’s just going to be me on the podcast.

Click here to listen to all of my RV podcasts

future RV podcasts

However I’m also going to try to involve other RVers, you know, that we really could learn from.

There’s a lot of our RVers out there, and there’s a lot of RVers that have opinions.

But that’s really not what we want to focus on.What we want to do is find RVers that we can learn from.

You know, they have something to teach us, something to share that we can benefit from.

And I’m going to work hard to try to involve folks that I find along the way that will be beneficial not only to me but to you as well.

And I’m sure we’ll enjoy listening to them. So let’s go ahead and get started now and talk about one of the biggest decisions for newer RVers that they can face.

Motorhomes VS Towables – Which To Buy?

And that is, should I buy a motor home or should I buy a towable RV?

Now, that was a very big decision for me. And I really kind of struggled with this for a long time.

No doubt several of you have too. And even if you have a motorhome or a towable, you are probably kind of going over in your mind “Hey, I wonder what it would be like to have one of the other kind”.

So we’ll talk about that today. And the first thing we want to get into is the fact that actually there’s a lot that they have in common.

You know ,you can focus on the differences. But there’s a lot of commonalities as well.

Motorhomes VS Towables – Points In Common

For instance, when you’re talking about motorhomes or towables, they’re going to require some hookup at some point. If you use a tow vehicle with your motorhome.

So you either have to hook it up, or if you’re a towable, you’ve got to hook the tow vehicle to your RV.

And the truth is that it’s about the same amount of time either way you go. So that’s really kind of a wash as far as I’m concerned.

The next thing is that both of them are going to require a certain amount of set up and a certain amount of tear down at the campsite.

And it’s going to be similar. It’s not going to be a lot different from motorhomes to towables.

The next point is, as far as costs are concerned, insurance and fuel costs to me are kind of a wash.

You know, you might have a little bit difference between one part of the rig or the other part of the rig.

But when you take them both as a whole, well insurance and fuel costs are probably going to be pretty close to a wash.

motorhomes vs towables – motorhome pros

But now there are differences. There are things that would make either kind of RV more attractive to certain RVers. And let’s talk about that.

Now first of all, let’s talk about the pros, or the advantages, of having a motorhome.

Motorhomes Pro #1 – Weight Considerations

And the number one thing, and this was the thing that really kind of got me about motorhomes when I first was starting out RVing.

That is that all of your weight considerations are already done for you. And that was big for me.

You know, what happens is that RV manufacturers usually buy their chassis from someone. Then they build their RV on it.

And at that point, they establish the gross vehicle weight rating, the gross axle weight rating, the gross combined weight rating, and all of that.

So will you buy that motor home you’ve got it all worked out for you.I

You don’t need to have to figure out “okay, well I’ve got this tow vehicle. Now what kind of RV can you put with that?”

Or “I’m going to buy this RV, now what kind of tow vehicle can I use to pull that?”

None of those considerations are needed. It’s all taken care of for you. And that’s a big pro when you’re starting out .

Motorhomes Pro #2 – Kitchens & Bathrooms

Now the next point is that bathrooms and kitchens are available while you’re going down the road.

And boy is that nice! You know, I’ve got to tell you that when you’re traveling down the road, your on a long trip, and somebody needs to go to the bathroom, well you need to have a motorhome.

Because that’s going to make it really easy to take care of that situation. So if that’s an issue for you, well then, motorhomes are going to be a good buy!

Motorhomes pro #3 – small towed vehicle

The other point is that when you have a motorhome, and you’re towing a vehicle behind it, to run around town in, you can have a smaller vehicle.

You can have a very fuel-efficient, small kind of a passenger vehicle. And so that means that when you’re running around town you’re not burning all that fuel that a bigger tow vehicle would be burning up if you’re towing an RV.

So that’s a real kind of an advantage right there.

motorhome pro #4 – may not need towed vehicle

Now the fourth advantage I want to mention is that if you want to go really light, and you are in a motorhome, you can buy a small Class C. Or you could buy a small Class B and you don’t even need a tow vehicle.

You can actually use the RV for traveling around town. And so you’ve got all of your usable RV and over-the-road vehicle right there in one vehicle. You don’t need anything else.

Now that’s only true of smaller motorhomes. But it is an advantage that they have.

motorhome pro #5 – more storage space

Now the next point is there’s generally more storage space in motorhomes as opposed to towables.

Now I know that’s not always the truth. But it is especially when you get up into the bigger motor homes.

The diesel pushers especially. oh my goodness, you’ve got storage space! And that’s really nice to have.

motorhome pro #6 – campsite maneuvering

And then the next point is that you can more easily maneuver motorhomes in my opinion into campsites, than you can with towables.

Now that doesn’t mean the towables aren’t easy to do. But again, think about it, you only have one vehicle to get into the campsite.

So it’s pretty much like backing in a car or truck. It’s just bigger as opposed to having two vehicles that you’ve got to maneuver into a campsite instead.

So for some people, they find that backing-in procedure to be really valuable to them. So we’ll give that advantage to motorhomes!

motorhomes vs towables – towable pros

All right now, we’ve been talking about all the advantages for motorhomes. But there’s tons of the advantages for towables too.

towable pro #1 – usually less expensive

And one of the things that people really like about towables is that, number one, they are generally less for the cost of the entire rig.

And you know, that’s kind of interesting. Because a lot of people think that motorhomes are less expensive.

But pretty much, if you look at the length of almost any rig. And you check into the cost of a motorhome, or buying a motorhome for that length.

Or instead doing the tow vehicle with a towable, usually you’re going to find that the towable rig all together will be less expensive.

So that’s a big point! And it’s especially a big point for newer RVers who want to get started in RVing and like to keep their costs down.

towable pro #2 – may not need a tow vehicle

Now the next point is that in some cases with towables you don’t even need to buy another vehicle to tow it with.

If you get a small enough travel trailer. In fact, many little small travel trailers can be pulled with SUVs or even minivans, things along that line.

So you may very well have a vehicle that you already own that can tow a smaller travel trailer.

And if you do, you’re all set to go. You don’t have to make that extra expense in that case. So that’s an advantage!

towable pro #3 – easy to repair tow vehicles

The next advantage is that there are more places to repair the engine and the components of the tow vehicle then there is for motorhomes.

My point is this, if it’s a towed vehicle, it’s probably going to be some kind of regular passenger truck or something along that line.

Or some sort of SUV or minivan. And all of these can be repaired almost anywhere.

You can find mechanics to work on them very easily. Motorhomes though, are not as easy.

And especially when you get up into those diesel pushers. Things get tough because the bigger the rig the more difficult it is to find places that they can fit into be repaired.

And even mechanics that can work on them too, so in general there’s more places to repair the engine, and so on. On the the components of a tow vehicle.

towable pro #4 – costs less to repair tow vehicles

Now the next point is closely related and that is that they’re usually less to repair. Let me tell you, when you have a diesel pusher motorhome, almost everything you have done to it is going to be expensive.

The parts are more expensive. The labor is more expensive and so on.

So when you have a towable, and you’re towing it with a tow vehicle, that passenger vehicle again has so many places that it can be worked on.

The competition is out there, and you can usually repair them a lot for a lot less money than motorhomes.

towable pro #5 – better safety features

The next point is that while you are going down the highway, there’s better safety features in towables.

You know, when it’s a passenger vehicle, they are are pretty much forced to have the very best safety features in them.

And so, all of your passengers, and you, and everybody in that vehicle, has good safety features.

Unfortunately, motorhomes are very often not quite up to that standard.

Some are better than others. But some are really not very safe, especially for your passengers, if you have kids and so on. So it can be a consideration between the two.

towable pro #6 – keep tow vehicle when changing RVs

And finally, if you decide to make a change in the RV part of your rig, if you have a towable, all you’ve got to do is just change out the RV.

You don’t have to change the tow vehicle most of the time. And if that’s the case, all the maintenance you been doing on that tow vehicle, all the effort and the money you spent on it over the years, well you still get the rewards from it.

But in a motorhome, when you make a change, you change everything. And all the work you’ve done on the engine, and your suspension, and everything else on that chassis, well it’s going to go right along with it in the sale.

So that is a little bit of an advantage for towables as well.

motorhomes vs towables – overview

So as you can see there are some advantages either way. But let me make this point- it does not matter which one you choose as far as RVing is concerned.

You may have certain preferences though. You know, what I recommend is as we are going over the list here, determine what are the things that are most important to you.

What’s most valuable in your opinion, your priorities. And that will lead you toward either a motorhome or a towable.

But just understand that you’re not going to make such a big mistake that you can’t recover from it.

Both of those kinds of RVs will take you anywhere you want to go in your RV adventures. And allow you to have great fun and enjoy your time there.

motorhomes vs towables – conclusion

So what I’ve covered today hopefully will be beneficial for you. It will help you in trying to make the decision between the two.

But either way, you’re going to be able to get out there and go RVing and have fun RV camping.

Well that’s it for now. Have safe and happy travels my friends and thanks for listening to my first podcast.

Until next time ….

A Thousand Trails Review – Our RV Camping Experiences

In this Thousand Trails review we’re going to be talking about Thousand Trails Campground memberships.

Specifically, we’re going to be talking about the pros and the cons of using Thousand Trails campgrounds.

And we will also provide information about our experiences with Thousand Trails overall. And whether or not it has saved us money.

Now when you go online, you are going to find that there are some RVing subjects that are controversial.

Well this is one of those subjects. There’s lots of controversy out there about Thousand Trails campgrounds.

About whether they provide the kind of value that you would hope and expect.

Especially for the money that you invest in one of their memberships.

But even if Thousand Trails campgrounds does save money on camping costs, there are still some other questions that have to be answered.

For instance, do they provide all you are hoping they will? And are they a good value for the money that you invest into a membership?

Those are very good questions. So let’s talk about that a little bit.

Let’s talk about the pros and cons of Thousand Trails campgrounds in our Thousand Trails review.

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Our Thousand Trails Review – The Pros

So let’s start first with the pros. And the number one pro, and I mean you just can’t get around it, is that $0/night cost.

When you are making reservations in the campground system in Thousand Trails and it tells you that you owe $0/night, that’s a great feeling!

But you might say, hey, but you haven’t included the dues that you have to pay each year.

That’s true. But let’s see how much impact yearly dues actually have on your nightly Thousand Trails costs.

So lets take the dues you have to pay and maybe even add on the Trails Collection. And let’s explain what the Trails Collection is first.

The Trails Collection adds over 100 more Encore resorts nationwide for making reservations.

And that’s in addition to your Thousand Trails campgrounds.

Now the annual dues for our Thousand Trails membership at this time is about $600/year.

And the Trails Collection adds about $300/year as of this writing.

So even with all of that together, spreading that cost out through the year, it’s less than $3 a night.

And don’t forget that it’s the cost for camping with full hookups every night.

Now, to me that’s a big pro! Especially since what I’m talking about is full hookups.

And yes, Cheri and I have enjoyed full hookups including 50 amp service all across the country. Pretty much wherever we have gone in Thousand Trails.

Also Thousand Trails allows you to go from park to park nationwide. And you will still be able to maintain that $0/night figure when you do.

But there are more pros to mention in this Thousand Trails review.

Thousand Trails Pro #2 – Selling Your Membership

Still another pro is that if you decide that you want to sell your membership, you are able to do so.

Of course, we can’t see ourselves doing that for many years.

But if we decide that we are not going to be on the road anymore, we can sell our membership.

And if we do, we can recover about two-thirds or more of the original investment.

That can be done by selling our Thousand Trails membership on the used market. To us, that’s a huge pro!

I’ll discuss this a little more farther down in this article.

Thousand Trails Pro #3 – Campsites

The next pro is that you can fit almost any kind of rig into Thousand Trails campsites.

I have seen them all out there, I mean everything from tents and pop-ups to the biggest rigs.

And if you have a larger rig, you have to consider whether you can fit in some campgrounds.

But with Thousand Trails it’s generally not an issue at all.

Of course, there might be a few with tighter restrictions than others. But you can put almost any rig in most Thousand Trails campgrounds.

Here’s another pro in this Thousand Trails review:

Thousand Trails Pro #4 – Reservations

If you plan ahead, you can get almost any reservation, anywhere, anytime, with Thousand Trails.

Now I know that some folks are not big planners. They like to fly by the seat of their pants and are more last-minute kind of people.

And that’s fine. They love to be very spontaneous and that’s the way they like to do things.

And interestingly, they too are still able to get really good results from Thousand Trails with reservations most of the time.

But if you are a planner, then it gets so much easier.

In fact, you can make reservations even in parks in high traffic areas.

For instance in places like Florida, Texas and Arizona, even in the winter time.

Many of these Thousand Trails parks are incredibly nice. And by planning ahead you can usually get the reservations you want, when you want them.

Our Thousand Trails review - A scenic spot at Kenisee Lake RV Campground.
A scenic spot at Kenisee Lake RV Campground

Thousand Trails Pro #5 – The Trails Collection

Now another pro is that you can add on what’s called the Trails Collection that I mentioned earlier.

No Thousand Trails review should leave out this advantage.

This allows you to have access to so many more campgrounds throughout the country.

So what is the Trails Collection anyway? It’s a group of Encore Resorts that can be added on to your Thousand Trails parks.

And you can visit them just like you do Thousand Trails, and stay for $0/night in most cases.

So, let’s say that you add the Trails Collection parks to your membership too.

In that case, you will now have more than 200 campgrounds around the country to be able to stay at.

And that’s a really nice pro to have access to such a large network of campgrounds.

Especially when you consider the low annual cost to add on the Trails Collection to your membership.

Thousand Trails Pro #6 – Friendly People

Now here’s something else that I’ll mention on a personal basis that is a pro to us.

And that is that we have found that in the Thousand Trails system there are some really friendly people.

So if you’re friendly, and you like people, well you’re going to enjoy Thousand Trails.

That’s because there are lots of other folks in the system that are friendly and easy to get along with too.

But not everything is always rainbows right? As always, there’s some cons as well. So we need to talk about the cons too.

And here is the first Thousand Trails review con:

Thousand Trails Review Con #1 – Locations

One very big con is that Thousand Trails is not available everywhere in the country.

In fact, they tend to be settled mostly in the coastal areas, up the East and West Coast, and across the South.

So there’s a whole area right in the middle of the country that has no Thousand Trails parks available.

And some find it really irritating to have no Thousand Trails in areas where they like to camp.

For instance, where the national parks are in Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

And even going across into North and South Dakota and then heading down into the Plains states. No Thousand Trails there.

So that is a con to many who find that very difficult to deal with. They can’t just go anywhere in the country and find a Thousand Trails Park.

Thousand Trails Cons #2 – Park Conditions

Another con is that there are some parks in Thousand Trails that are not in the best shape. They should be, but some are definitely not.

But the majority of parks that we have stayed at so far in the system have been fine.

There were a few things that we might want to see improved, but overall they were really good parks.

But there are some where it’s clear that they need to be doing more work though.

And honestly, there was one park that we would not go back to at all. It’s just not being cared for.

Now, that being said, let me again say, that’s not the rule. It is the exception.

There are many, many fine parks and resorts in the Thousand Trails and Encore system.

And I have to say that we have seen evidence that Thousand Trails is investing in their parks.

They are working to try to upgrade them and really bring them up to snuff again.

So hopefully in the future, some of those lower quality parks will be cared for. And if so, I will be able to say that this is not a con anymore.

Thousand Trails Review Cons #3 – Seasonal Campers

Another con that many find irritating, is that some Thousand Trail parks have lots of seasonal campers.

Some find it very difficult to see them in a park that they are paying a membership for.

But the truth is that we’re still getting our reservation at the RV park for $0/night.

So as long as I can do that, it doesn’t bother me. But for some, it’s a real irritation.

So that could be another con with Thousand Trails Parks that needs to be considered.

But now let’s consider another possible Thousand Trails review con.

Thousand Trails Cons #4 – Rustic Campsites

Another possible con is that Thousand Trails usually will provide a rustic campsite.

So if you are not into that type of campsite, that’s a big con for you. What do I mean by rustic?

Well, it means that you’re probably going to have either a gravel or dirt campsite to park your rig on.

Of course, there are some very awesome sites set in natural settings among trees or next to lakes.

But for the most part, you’re not even going to drive in the park on paved roads.

And there will not usually be concrete or asphalt pads to put your rig on.

So if you want a really modern type park, be aware that it’s usually much more of a rustic setting in Thousand Trails.

And if you don’t like that kind of a setting it could be a problem for you.

And any unbiased Thousand Trails review needs to mention this.

Thousand Trails Review Cons #5 – Initial Investment

Another con is that it does require a significant investment to get one of the upgraded memberships.

These are the ones that allow you to travel from park to park across the country.

Generally speaking, on the used market you’re probably going need to invest around $4,000 or so. That is, as of the time of this writing.

Of course, if you are buying a new membership from Thousand Trails it starts around $6,000 now. That is what we paid for our membership.

And the cost of Thousand Trails memberships keep going up.

For some, that is just too much money to come up with for a camping membership. So for them it’s a big con.

Thousand Trails Cons #6 – Confusing Options

And there is one more con we want to talk about. That is that there are lots of confusing options in Thousand Trails membership programs.

When you speak with membership sales this becomes very apparent. So with each different add-on there are also restrictions that come with it.

After a while, it actually becomes very confusing. This is because there are just so many details that have to be understood and remembered.

So, yes it is not simple and I fully understand the irritation that many RVers feel about this.

And I agree that the system should be much simpler. It should be easier for folks to be able to decide what kind of membership they want.

And it should be very clear what they’re getting. But in many cases, it’s not.

And that is an unfortunate con about Thousand Trails to be aware of.

Who Should Get A Thousand Trails Membership?

So now let’s talk about what kind of RVer or camper best fits into the Thousand Trails system.

This is an important part of a Thousand Trails review.

First, number one and foremost, are full-time RVers who are on a budget.

In other words, they need to keep their camping costs under control. And Thousand Trails is designed to do that really well.

Now maybe you have a lot of money and it really doesn’t matter to you what you spend on camping costs.

Well, someone like that doesn’t necessarily have to think about getting a Thousand Trails membership.

But if you don’t fit that criteria, then it’s really good for full-timers that need to be on a budget.

It helps them watch their camping costs and keep them under control.

Part-time rvers benefit too

Yet another person that’s really good for Thousand Trails is part-time RVers.

They can get a Thousand Trails Zone Pass for the year for only about $500 or so.

These are campers who like to do more weekend camping or extended camping a few times during the year.

And for them it’s a great way to sample the system and see how it works. And it will save you money on camping costs too.

So even part-time campers get benefits from Thousand Trails at the zone pass level.

what kind of campsite do you prefer?

Another person that benefits from Thousand Trails is people who like rustic campgrounds. You know, they like to be in nature.

They don’t really want to be around big cities and things like that as much. In that case, you are going to really like Thousand Trails.

But a Thousand Trails membership is not going to benefit folks that want the best of everything.

So maybe you are the type of person that really wants the best luxuries and amenities.

And if you are not really flexible with not always having the best, Thousand Trails is probably not for you.

That’s because you have to be flexible and adjustable in the Thousand Trails system to be happy in it.

So you need to consider that when trying to determine your RV camping needs and wants.

Then you can decide whether they line up with what Thousand Trails actually provides or not.

how thousand trails has worked for us

Now, Cheri and I really like Thousand Trails. It works great for us. It’s saved us a lot of money.

We have also liked most Thousand Trails and Encore parks almost everywhere we have gone.

But we’re the kind of folks that are fairly easy to get along with on most things. And we easily adjust to most situations.

We don’t expect the best and we’re flexible as a result of that. So it has worked well for us.

But Thousand Trails does not work for everyone.

So we all need to be honest with ourselves about what we expect from RV campgrounds in our travels.

But there is one more very important thing to explain in detail in this article.

Our Thousand Trails Review – Dollars And Cents

And that is to answer the question – Does Thousand Trails really save you money? Especially over conventional RV parks? Is it worth it from a dollars-and-cents standpoint?

Well, we have been Thousand Trails members for about a year now.

And we didn’t want to write about this until we had fully experienced the Thousand Trails system.

But now we’ve been out there and we’ve camped in their system for a while.

And we have the dollars-and-cents figures worked out. So now we want to share that with you.

And by the way, these are not just opinions on what the facts and figures are. But rather, the cold hard facts on how they worked out for us.

So let’s go ahead and get started using last year’s camping costs on our cross-country RVing trips.

our RV trips last year

First of all, we started our trip in Arizona. Then we traveled across the bottom of the country until we got close to the east coast.

After that, we made a big turn and went right up into the Northeast. So from Arizona to our destination in New Hampshire, it was a 3300 mile trip.

We did it in one hundred days. So it took us a long time. Why? Well, we are not one of those RVers that just wants to be on the go all the time.

In fact, we think that the destination is not the only part of the journey you should enjoy. The journey as you go is just as, if not more, important.

So we like to stop and get to know the areas we’re in for a while.

And we enjoy getting out on some day trips and enjoying the culture in each part of the country.

So because of how we travel, it took us 100 days to go the 3300 miles.

Now during that 100 days, we only spent 11 nights outside the Thousand Trails system.

The only reason why we went outside is because there wasn’t a Thousand Trails park in that particular area.

Next we want to look for a benchmark figure that we can use per night to know what Thousand Trails is saving us.

our first trip costs

So on that trip across the country, those 11 nights averaged out to between $35 and $40 a night.

That is how much it cost us to stay at conventional campgrounds on that trip.

And you know, it’s kind of getting to that price point now in most places. It used to be that it was about $30 a night on the average.

Well, that’s kind of in the past now, as many other costs are.

So now, $35 to $40 a night on average for campground costs across the country seems to be a good benchmark.

Now let’s get to the math part and find out if there truly is a reasonable savings with Thousand Trails.

So let’s use the lower average cost of $35 a night. And let’s apply it to the nights that we were in Thousand Trails instead of conventional campgrounds.

We stayed a total of 89 nights in Thousand Trails. So if we multiply that out (89 nights times $35/night), Thousand Trails saved us $3,115 on that trip.

In other words, that’s what those nights in conventional RV parks would have cost us for 89 nights. That’s pretty impressive!!!!!!

our stay in the northeast

But then we arrived in the Northeast. And we were there for about 60 days.

Out of that 60 days, we spent only 7 nights outside of Thousand Trails.

So let’s use that same benchmark figure of $35 a night for conventional campgrounds.

And that means that during the other 53 nights we stayed in Thousand Trails parks in New England, it saved us $1,855!!

Now we need to make one point here about being in the Northeast in the summertime with an RV.

And that is that if you have done that, you know that $35 tonight is not going to do it as a nightly average.

You might find some places like that. But the reality is that it’s honestly more like $50 or even close to $60 a night on average at conventional campgrounds.

But we are are still going to use that $35 a night benchmark average for campgrounds across the country. Even in New England in the summer.

our second trip costs

Now after being in New England for a couple of months we left for Florida.

And our Florida trip was a 39 day trip altogether. During that time, we stayed seven nights out of the Thousand Trails system.

So once again, we will use the $35 benchmark for the other 32 nights that was in Thousand Trails.

And if we do that, Thousand Trails saved us another $1,120.

So as you can see, the savings are really adding up now.

our third trip costs

Then after being in Florida for a brief time, we headed back to Arizona for the winter. And that was a 45 day journey.

And on that trip we stayed a total of 10 nights outside of Thousand Trails campgrounds.

So then the remaining 35 days on that trip we were in Thousand Trails campgrounds.

And if we again use that benchmark of $35 a night, a total of $1,225 was saved on that trip.

All right, now I’ve gone through a whole lot of facts and figures here about our travels last year. So let’s get to the bottom line.

Our Total Savings Using Thousand Trails

And that is that we made three long trips across the country last year.

And the total saved is $7,315 on trips that took us just eight months to complete. Now why do I say that?

Because that still leaves 4 more months to go in the year. But in just 8 months we had saved over $7,000.

Now, I knew the savings were pretty good. But going over the facts and figures, I have to say that is really impressive!

Of course, I know what some are going to say though. Wait a minute Duane, you’re not being fair!

what about weekly and monthly rates?

Because you could have gotten some weekly rates, or perhaps monthly rates along the way.

You’re right, conventional RV parks do offer better rates for those time periods. But here’s the thing I have found.

Weekly rates at RV parks save you some money. But that’s not where the real savings is. It’s in the monthly rate.

And we are not doing this to be spending a month or more in a campground in any one location.

As you can see, we are traveling quite a bit. We’re not doing it fast but we’re definitely moving along.

So monthly rates were really out of the question for us.

So then we get back down to that $35 a night average for most RV parks. And I feel it’s reasonable to use that as a benchmark for now.

So there is definitely a savings in Thousand Trails, because our nightly stay in their system was only $0/night.

Our Thousand Trails Review – Adding In Our Yearly Dues

Of course, that’s not counting our dues or what we paid for our membership.

We are just talking about the nightly stay which is $0/night.

But as I showed earlier in this article, the cost of dues spread out over a year is less than $3 night. So the savings are real in Thousand Trails!

Now let me make another couple of points here. On all of these trips we stayed at Thousand Trails campgrounds where we had full hookups.

None was without full hookups which included 50 amp electric, water, and sewer. And that’s an important point to me as well.

And we also never had a reservation refused. That’s also very important.

Because I often hear RVers talk about how they just can’t seem to get reservations at campgrounds.

Well, we never had one refused, and have never had a single problem reserving a spot.

Of course, we planned our trips out well in advance. We like to do it that way, and by doing that, it no doubt helped us.

But we had no refusals for a reservation at any Thousand Trails Park. It all went very well.

Our Thousand Trails Review – Adding In Our Membership Costs

Of course, we have to say in all fairness that we have an upgraded membership. So we have to consider the cost of that.

But you know what, by adding it all up this way Cheri and I came to some important conclusions.

We figure that in these first three trips alone we have saved over $7000 in nightly camping costs.

And that more than covers the cost of our upgraded Elite membership. And that is in the first eight months alone.

So that’s not even considering the savings we accumulated during the other four months of the year.

What that means is that you can pretty much cover the cost of your membership by the benefits you receive in the first year.

Especially if you are full-time RVers who travel a lot.

And going forward, that original membership cost doesn’t apply from year to year any more.

Especially if you cover the cost of it in the first year’s savings.

what about the trails collection?

And what about the Trails Collection? It’s true that it costs a little bit more yearly than just the Thousand Trails parks alone.

But we like it because it gives us a lot more parks to choose from. But you don’t have to add the Trails Collection if you don’t want to.

Our Thousand Trails review - The Trails Collection

Now so far we have considered the real world savings that Thousand Trails allows on RV camping.

And I honestly don’t know how you can get your camping costs any lower than Thousand Trails allows.

Not and have full hookups which include 50 amp electric, water, and sewer all on-site.

what about boondocking?

Of course, the cost of camping can be cut down quite a bit with boondocking or dry camping though.

But there’s a lot of extra effort that goes with boondocking. And I’ve made that point in other articles.

For instance, it means you have to bring your power with you. And you’re going to have to bring your water with you too.

You’re also going to have to manage all of your waste tanks and so on. Whereas in Thousand Trails all of that is taken care of for you.

The other thing is that boondocking can only be done easily in some parts country.

So in the Eastern US, places to boondock become more and more scarce as you go. And that’s another real consideration.

Our Thousand Trails Review Conclusion

The bottom line in this discussion is that we feel that the numbers don’t lie.

The upgraded campground membership we bought with Thousand Trails has paid for itself already.

And that’s just within the first eight months of our first year of use. So without question, it has saved us some very serious money.

That means that the savings with a Thousand Trails membership are very real.

And you can travel cross-country and enjoy your RV trips with Thousand Trails. You can also stay most of the time within their system.

So if you want to investigate a Thousand Trails membership further here is what we recommend.

Contact Jim and Brandy Reneau by email at

Or you can call them at (770) 622-4188 or (717) 585-6137.

Be sure to tell them that Duane at RV Inspection And Care referred you.

That way you will get the best deal and the lowest prices on Thousand Trails memberships.

If a used membership may be more attractive contact Kimberly at

She can give you plenty of information on resale Thousand Trails memberships.

I hope this Thousand Trails review has been helpful.

Have safe and happy travels!