Discount Camping RV Clubs in 2019
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
Camping's not cheap anymore, y'all.
With more RVs sold every year in record numbers, we have way more people hitting the road for the American Dream of being free to go whever their wheels will take them.
This means that campgrounds are getting more and more crowded and more and more expensive.
Enter discount camping RV club memberships. You can save anywhere from ten percent to fifty percent on a campground stay when using a camping membership.
They all have different rules and they all have different benefits.So which one is right for you?
Is it good to become a member of several RV clubs? Don't make the mistake of randomly joining all the most popular ones- you're bound to waste money on one or more.
(For example, Camp Addict Kelly got a Passport America membership from the get go and then never once used it. She started boondocking right away.)
We're going to help you decide by making the benefits of each RV discount club as easy to understand as we can.
Whether any given RV club is worth it to you or not depends a lot on your camping style.
Let's look at the camping clubs that are out there, then we will cover their benefits in full detail.
Know that some of these are just for one night of parking. Others are for discounts in campgrounds.
Discount Camping Clubs
These are the memberships who's primary benefit is to camp at a discounted rate in a campground. Each has it's own perks and drawbacks.
Escapees RV Club
Escapees (SKP) RV club just celebrated their 40th year in business. Escapees Vice President Melanie Carr says they are very proud of that milestone, and rightfully so!
Escapees RV club (Also now known for their new, but already wildly popular Xscapers membership) offers much more than campground discounts.
In fact, Escapees is well known as an RV lifestyle club. They offer mail service, campground membership and/or discounts, RVer advocacy, rallies, CARE, educational offerings including a boot camp program, and more.
Escapees members can benefit from their three different types of RV 'parking'.
- Rainbow Parks
- Co-op parks
- Discounts on 800+ commercial parks
They have 7 of their own 'Rainbow' parks, 11 'co-op' parks, and your membership provides a 15-50% discount at 800+ other commercial parks.
Escapees Rainbow Parks
The Rainbow Parks offer up four types of parking: short-term, long-term, leases, and deeded lots.
There are 7 Rainbow Parks, located in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Texas.
These campgrounds are also open to non-Escapees members, but Escapees members receive a substantial discount.
Amenities are usually quite nice. They offer utilities such as laundromats, dog parks and more.
You can even take the RVer Bootcamp course if you stay at the Livingston, TX park (Escapee headquarters).
Escapees Co-op Parks
The co-op parks are owned and operated by the co-op members. (Separate and independent non-profit corporations.)
Memberships are only available for purchase by Escapees members. These are lots that can be leased and used only by the lessee.
Lessee's are required to maintain their Escapee's membership for the term of their lease.
Lessee's may choose to rent out their lot while they are away on trips, but they may ONLY rent to other Escapee's members.
The lease continues as long as the member wants, then it is sold back to the co-op (or another Escapee) when no longer wanted or needed.
Some of the co-ops also offer overnight and weekly camping opportunities at low rates.
Please call the park you are interested in for details on whether they offer this option or not. Others have first-timer specials with a VERY low rate for staying.
Escapees is working on an app which is slated to be launched very soon. We will update here when it is available.
There is a great sense of community in these parks as everyone is an owner. Prices are very affordable.
If you want to own without some of the hassles of ownership, and you want a homebase but also be able to travel as well and not lose your spot, an SKP co-op lot may be good for you.
Escapees Commercial RV Park Discounts
Escapees has partnered with over 800 commercial RV parks to offer discounts ranging from 15 to 50% off.
Each campground has its own rules and limitations as to how many nights you can stay and how much of a discount you will get.
Still, with the many other benefits you get from an Escapees membership, it may be a no-brainer to join the SKPs and also benefit from the camping discounts.
Campgrounds can easily be found using their online map. (When searching, a computer is preferred over mobile devices as there is limited functionality on mobile devices.)
Who Should Join the Escapees?
If you are looking for an active community, and if you are of working age, this is a MUST-HAVE membership, just to be an Xscaper and have the community.
Especially if you are a full-timer, the people you meet will possibly become like family.
If simply getting the best deal around for as cheap as possible for as many campgrounds as possible, for few nights at a time, this is not your top pick.
That pick would be Passport America. (Bigger discounts more often and more campgrounds to choose from.)
However, if you plan to be in one spot for a long time, and they have parks in places that you want to be in, then this can be a great deal!
Especially if you want to have great community in one of their Rainbow or Co-op parks.
Camp Addict co-founder Marshall has only stayed at a Rainbow park in Washington for about a week, while Camp Addict co-founder Kelly still has not stayed in one, both of us being almost 100% boondocking campers.
Still, we are both Escapee's members and thoroughly enjoy the mail service benefits and the community of friends that we both have met through their Xscapers convergences.
Escapees memberships cost just $39.95 per year. This gives you access to the Escapees and Xscapers communities, as well as access to all of their other services, resources, and programs.
Pros and Cons of the Escapees RV Club:
Passport America has to be one of the best deals available as far as a high percentage discount goes (50%).
Like I stated above, I'll admit that when I (Kelly) first started out full-time, I bought a Passport America membership that I NEVER used.
Little did I know I would stay in one place for my first 8 months, and after that I would be full-time boondocking.
You have to know how you camp in order to know if this RV discount club will work for you or not. For probably 90% of campground campers, it's a no-brainer.
The campgrounds aren't always the most desirable ones to stay in, (this goes for most camping memberships) but if you were looking for that, it's logical you won't get many of the best for half off.
The typical discount when you use your Passport America membership is around 50%, but be aware that not ALL of the participating campgrounds give a full 50% off.
Parking duration time is almost always limited. Some campgrounds only offer discounts seasonally or during certain days of the week.
Each campground varies with their rules regarding discounts.
You have to read the rules of the particular campground you would like to stay at.
The Passport America app and website make it very easy to find out what a campground has to offer.
They use icons to easily identify what amenities are available. Screenshot example below.
However, there are no reviews on any of the campgrounds within the Passport America app or website. Still, you could look up reviews on any particular campground elsewhere (such as on Campendium).
Passport America has over 1,800 participating campgrounds in their discount camping network.
Pros and Cons of Passport America:
Happy Camper is a lesser-known discount RV camping club. Why? We are not sure except for that they don't offer as many campgrounds at a discount as Passport America does, their main competition.
They offer a 50% off stay at their participating campgrounds, but they only have about 1,200 campgrounds, while Passport America has over 1,800.
The Happy Camper membership fee is a touch lower than PA, but that won't make up for the difference if you can stay at MORE campgrounds for half off with Passport America.
We're just not sure that this is the best deal out there when the competition, Passport America, is available for you as well.
Also, the Happy Camper website feels and looks cheap, for lack of a better term. Doesn't help the RV discount club's case.
Here's an example of the campground description. It's all in one paragraph, all the same size font, etc, making it hard to read.
Too bad they don't use icons like Passport America does.
Bottom line is that there are better offerings out there that are easier to use and have more available campgrounds.
They also seem to be pitting themselves against 'some other' RV club by stating that they are NOT a camping club that sends/mails printed guides. (We're pretty sure we know who they are talking about, and you might have an idea as well.)
So they think they are the end all be all 'answer' to being an RV camping club because you don't get a lot of mail? This seems an odd way to pitch ones business.
Pros and Cons of Happy Camper:
Boy oh boy. Here's where you can potentially sit back and get your popcorn out to enjoy the online disputes!
This campground membership is either loved or hated by RVers and campers. It really works for those who want to stay in campgrounds full-time and love the area(s) their campgrounds are in.
There are horrible stories on the Internet (and in person) about this RV club, and there are great stories on the Internet (and in person) about this club as well.
It seems that there is a definite love/hate relationship going on, and hardly any in-between.
We have heard from people, and have read about, painfully harsh stories of people having the worst customer experience trying to GET and UNDERSTAND the membership.
Then there are others who seemed to think it went smoothly.
Our experience? Being boondockers, neither of us have stayed at a Thousand Trails campground. However, trying to get information about a membership proved pretty challenging.
I (Kelly) did a live chat with an agent, 'Lucy'. She gave some answers but once she found out I was just getting information for 'blogging', she quickly advised me it would be best to talk to someone at the 'corporate office' and gave me a number. (833-350-7616)
I called it and it was disconnected. 🙄
So I looked up the number for Thousand Trails on the website and called it. Talked to that agent for a bit and got a pretty good rundown.
Then once I told her I was just needing facts for a blog, she realized who I was- she was the agent I was previously doing the online chat with, and she again told me to call the corporate office.
I informed her that the other number was incorrect and she gave me a new number, 312-279-1400. She quickly ushered me off the phone.
I called corporate. They said they were NOT the people to talk to. Great.
So I reverted back to the online chat. When I entered all my info and my 'message', to start the chat, I informed her that corporate told ME that they were not the ones to talk to.
However, It never showed up in the chat. Then I asked about the money back guarantee. She answered:
I don't really understand her explanation. Next, I asked if she got the message about the corporate office. She never answered.
After a bit, I asked for another phone number. Nothing.
I took the second (below) screenshot at 12:49 to show you that I basically got hung up on in the chat. She never replied to me again. ☹️ It just disappeared and showed this:
So I never got my other questions answered. The agent clearly didn't want to speak with me.
Maybe she gets a commission if she makes a sale? And knew there was no sale from me?
Therefore, this might be a tough one to really judge.
Benefits to Thousand Trails
Here's what I understood from my chats with Lucy:
Membership is $575/year. This is for one camping 'zone'. There are 5 zones to choose from.
This gives you 14 days max to stay in-network at a campground in whatever zone you buought into. Then you must be out for 7 days, somewhere else before you can stay in one of their campgrounds in that zone again.
Yes, you can buy more zones for an additional $49.
You can stay in-network indefinitely if you move every 4 days or less. But that's probably pretty hard to keep up with. Still, it's an option.
They also have a 'Trails Collection'. These are Encore Campgrounds which are also open to the general public (non-members).
If you are a TT member, you can stay in these campgrounds for 20% off.
If you buy the Trails Collection membership, you can stay in these campgrounds for free or for about $20/night. Not sure if there is a limit on your stay duration or not.
Yes, it is complicated. It's a bit like a time-share.
Still, if you are willing to do a lot of research and are willing to buy an after-market membership, it may be worth your while.
It seems if you search around a little on the Internet, there are other camping memberships available as well, such as VIP, Elite, etc. Why they don't advertise this on their website is beyond us.
Once again, knowing if this RV membership club would benefit you depends on how you camp and where you want to stay.
We have a bunch of friends who use Thousand Trails and absolutely love it. It's very affordable camping.
Maybe you will have better luck with questions about membership if you sign up.
As mentioned by a reader in the comments below, you can use "Campground Membership Outlet " to save on buying a Thousand Trails membership. Even the outlet seller claims that the membership options are "complex". Though we have not tried it, this may be a great way to save money and overcome the confusion of buying Thousand Trails through their direct sales.
Pros and Cons of a Thousand Trails Membership
Good Sam Club
Easily the most popular and well-known of the camping clubs, Good Sam Club offers a whole lot more than just campground discounts.
The discount on Good Sam approved campgrounds is nothing to write home about- just 10% off of the 2,100+ campgrounds in their network.
However, the Good Sam Club also offer discounts on RV related items.
They discount propane at Camping World, give you free dump at select Camping World stores, gasoline at Flying J stores, discounts on Camping World purchases, roadside assistance, and much more.
They boast over 1.8 million members and the membership fee is only $25. So depending on your style of RVing and how often you take to the road, this camping membership can easily pay for itself quickly if you will be using the benefits that Good Sam offers.
Good Sam Club Products
Good Sam offers several other products besides the Good Sam Club membership described here. Visit our Good Sam Club Membership page to learn more about these other products and services.
Pros and Cons of Good Sam
Boondockers Welcome is pretty much like it sounds. It's an RV club offering places to temporarily dry camp (usually) from people who own private land.
Most of the time the parking area will be right beside their home. Otherwise, it can be on land that they own but do not live on.
Members are only asked for a few rules to follow, which most sound like common sense if you have read the rules about staying and how the camping membership works.
Limitations might be no hookups, the length of your rig, or having pets, depending on the host you are looking to park with.
Read their stipulations before you contact the host.
- Homeowners (hosts) who are RV friendly and are sometimes RVers themselves can, for free, offer up their spot for your use for a very limited time (usually a day or two)
- They get half off a boondockers subscription
- They also get a few months free added to their membership when they host someone
- They get to meet new cool people and if they don't know much about it, they can learn a lot about the RVing lifestyle.
- Of course, you get a place to stay for free (after membership, which is cheaper than many campgrounds)
- Meet cool new people
- Avoid campground fees
- Unlimited stays at locations throughout the United States (but there are limits to how long you can stay at a single location - usually just a day or so)
- Discounts on RVing related memberships and products
- Stays available in other countries
The fee for Boondockers Welcome is a super low $30 per year. 3 years is only $75.
They have over 1,000 hosts in the United States. Some people have traversed the country using just Boondockers Welcome!
Hosts may or may not have utilities for you to use. Use of utilities may incur you an additional fee, which is up to the homeowner.
This is truly a grand deal. Especially if you want to check out cities and you can go a day or two off the grid. For $30, it's another no-brainer. ($75 for a three-year sub.)
Pros and Cons of Boondockers Welcome
Harvest Hosts offer up unique places to park for the night- mostly dry camping stays at wineries, farms, and attractions.
In exchange, it is implied that you will explore the place you are visiting as well as purchase an item or two in appreciation for allowing you to stay.
The bonus is you get a fun and unique experience as well as a camping spot for the night. Sometimes you may be invited to stay more than one night, if you're cool peeps and they like you.
They have over 710 hosts, many being east of the Mississippi, and a few in Canada.
There are some rules to be able to stay. For instance, your RV must be self-contained. It MUST have a fully functioning bathroom.
You may not dump your grey tank on their property... these are logical rules that should even be able to go unwritten. But... you know...(some) people.
You cannot have/use any type of outdoor kitchen at a host's place. Read the rules. AND follow them!
The membership fee is $79 per year. You are automatically set up with the auto-renew program. Just email them at any time if you want to opt out of auto-renew.
Harvest Hosts offers a 100% money back guarantee. They want you to be satisfied with your experience so this is a no risk purchase.
You get 15% off the cost of membership if you use our link below!
Pros and Cons of Harvest Host:
Harvest Host Discount Code
When you join Harvest Hosts using the below button, you are offered a 15% discount off the membership. Just make sure you make note of the discount code that will display at the top of the Harvest Host website.
RV Golf Club
Here's a lesser known, but very creative idea on places to park. RV Golf Club offers five different overnight parking types.
- Golf clubs
- Resort hotels
- RV resorts
- Private country clubs
- Virtual golf centers. (Whatever THAT is!?)
In addition, you will be treated as a member at most of the resorts or clubs where you stay.
At most of the providers, you will also be able to enjoy the amenities at many of the resorts.
Most hosts offer discounts on golf, shopping, and restaurants. Some of the world class resorts offer their amenities for free.
So you can enjoy their pools, saunas, tennis courts, etc, as if you were a paying guest.
It's only similar to parking at Walmart as in it's courteous to make a purchase from their establishment as a thank-you.
However, they have a few places offering only 2-night stays WITH full hook-ups. (Hook-ups being the reason you can only stay two nights.)
A couple of their RV resorts, instead of free, offer a 50% discount, while a few others offer $29.95 for 2-nights. Still a great deal since you have hook-ups.
The RV Golf Club is designed for traveling RVers, one night per place, per visit.
If you wish to stay a 2nd or 3rd night you need to check with your host for approval. Their approval could be based on two main things:
- If there is no large event scheduled the next day/no crowd expected
- If you are spending money at the property
It's probably also based on how good or bad of a guest you have been, logically. It's at the provider's discretion.
You can stay at one location multiple times, just not many nights in a row. The membership is made for stopping while traveling, not for parking for a week to explore the area.
You don't have a check-in or check-out time. While you call ahead, ask if they have any sort of length limit just to be sure.
Property addresses and names are not disclosed until you are a member. (There IS a map of the general locations of participating properties.)
This is to protect the properties from scammers coming in and trying to stay without having a membership. Once a member, you have full access to actual locations and contact information.
Simply call where you want to stay before arriving, and you should be granted space.
RV length is rarely, if ever, a limitation. (The RV Golf Club website states that there is no length limitation. However, with new properties being added all the time, we think it's a good idea to ask when you call.)
Pros and Cons of RV Golf Club
We would like to call Hipcamp the 'Airbnb' of RVing. Hipcamp is a fairly new one to the industry. Founded in just 2013, it has grown at an impressive rate to include over 285,000 properties to choose from.
It works just like Airbnb. You search for properties to park your RV at instead of searching for houses and rooms to rent.
Hipcamp has a very simple interface for you, the user to easily find what you are looking for.
There is no fee to join Hipcamp, but you must register in order to book. Hipcamp gets its money from service fees, which is a variable percentage of the amount that you book.
The site is very good at being descriptive as far as amenities on the property and photos of each property, being the owner's responsibility to fill out.
Filters make it easy for you to find what you are needing in a camping spot. (Filter for hook-ups, pets allowed, activities, etc.)
Hipcamp is really a DREAM for those who don't like campgrounds or who just want a more unique camping experience.
The only rules are those that are set by the homeowner or property owner. Sure, if you are an idiot while you stay and have a few bad reviews, you could get banned.
That can happen with any type of site where you have an account and are reviewed by the host.
Pros and Cons of Hipcamp
National Park Service Senior Pass
This is not exactly a campground membership, but it is such a great discount on camping, we had to include it.
If you are a senior citizen (62+ and must be US citizen or permanent resident), you can benefit greatly from the National Park Service Senior Pass. 100% of the proceeds go towards improving and enhancing visitor recreation areas.
The National Park Senior Pass is a 'senior' version of the America the Beautiful Pass (which is available for anyone to purchase - no age restrictions) but has additional benefits including camping discounts at many Federal campgrounds.
You can read more about the benefits of the National Park Senior Pass here.
Two Versions Of National Park Senior Pass
There are two versions of the National Park Senior Pass that you can purchase - and annual pass ($20) and a lifetime pass ($80). However, unless there is a compelling reason to only buy an annual pass (good for just 12 months), we don't see a reason to not just spring for the lifetime pass (good for, well, your lifetime).
The National Park Service Senior Pass grants holders access to all of the Federally operated recreation sites (there are over 2,000) in the USA for free. (Up to 3 additional adults in the same vehicle also get in for free.)
This pass also grants, at times, a 50% discount off of amenity fees such as camping. Not all camping fees are going to be discounted, such as extra fees for electricity.
Free Access Pass For The Disabled
The parks service also offers a FREE access pass for those who have been medically determined to have a permanent disability. Free if obtained on-site, $10 if ordered online or through the mail. More information can be found HERE.
Still, this is one not to miss if you are a senior and you like to stay in Federal parks.
Pros and Cons of a National Park Senior Pass
Processing Fee For Online Orders
There is an additional $10 document processing fee (you have to upload proof of residency and age) for orders submitted online. So a total of $30 for the annual senior pass and $90 for the lifetime senior pass. To avoid this additional fee, visit one of the Federal recreation sites that issues annual pass (view PDF list here).
ANNUAL Senior Pass ($20)
LIFETIME Senior Pass ($80)
Did you figure out which is the best RV campground membership for you? There could even be more than one. We hope this helped to clear up some things about the crazy world of RV discount clubs.
Luckily there are many options. It's just about figuring out which one is best for you! Being boondockers, Camp Addict co-founders Marshall and Kelly have not much, or at all, used most of these programs.
However, we both will likely start soon as Kelly wants to explore more cities, and Marshall might as well.
Just get out there and start doing what you like to do and if you don't know which camping membership is right for you now, you will figure it out as you go.
Camp on, Addicts!