First, let me be totally clear:
When I say "win", I mean SCORE. You'll still pay for your camping reservation. But without trying these camping reservation tools, you may not have a camping spot at all.
RV or tent camping should be fun, not stressful. Yet, when you have to make campground reservations, stress levels can spike after finding one after another sold-out campground.
(Stop breeding, people!!!)
If you want the good places, the popular spots, you have to make them WAY ahead of your stay date.
Yep, the popular/best campgrounds are sold out WAY in advance. Sometimes by a year!
Can you say 'spontaneous trip'? No, you cannot. Not if you want to stay in some of the best/most popular places.
So what can you do if you procrastinate or you are unable to plan that far ahead?
You only need to know the secret to getting alerted as soon as someone cancels their reservation.
Savior Camping Websites To The Rescue
If you don't know about these websites, you just landed on the greatest invention for campground-stayers since, well, maybe since RV refrigerator bars were invented?
I mean, getting automatically alerted when there's a cancellation?
Um, genius! That's why I call it a 'win'.
In truth, I thought I had sort of 'insider information' with one of these websites, as I know the people that developed it. They told a group of us about it when it launched, back around 2015.
It seemed like the greatest secret ever, though I never used it, as I don't stay in campgrounds.
I thought it was the only website of its kind until I did my research for this article. Turns out, I found four different websites!
(And there may be more.)
What Do These Camping Reservation Websites Do?
In essence, they find you available spots in sold-out campgrounds.
Simply put in a 'scan' with one of the sites, and they will check the reservation website for any cancellations. If they find one, they send you a message informing you of the opening.
This keeps you from hanging out on a reservation website and clicking 'refresh' for hours to try to catch an opening from someone cancelling.
How Do The Websites Work?
The websites use coding that 'scrapes' the reservation website every X minutes, looking for openings for what you requested.
Know that these 4 websites don't necessarily check the same reservation systems.
For example, Wandering Labs only used to work with state parks that use popular ReserveAmerica.com and Recreation.gov reservation sites.
But now they also scrape a few other reservation systems. But not ALL systems.
And they are in the process of adding more.
You can set certain parameters if you wish, such as only scanning for certain site numbers, only scanning sites with 50 amp power, etc.
You can try at least one of them for free (Wandering Labs). They only ask for a donation of your choice. You don't have to donate.
However, if you DO donate, then the site will check for cancellations 2x as often and you get unlimited requests.
So, simple as the concept is, these sites can save you hours of time and a less-than-stellar vacation landing pad!
Do They Check Every Campground In Existence?
This means you will have to know what campground you want to stay in before making an attempt to reserve.
Then, check each site to see if they scrape the reservation system that that campground uses.
OR know what area you want to be in. If you can't find a campground in that area with open sites, then look for campgrounds in the area using one of the 4 websites.
State parks are going to be one of the biggest percentages of campground types scanned by these websites.
Do They Make The Campground Reservation For Me?
Nope. The action part is on you.
Once you're informed about an opening, you'd better be quick to make the reservation.
Best to keep the reservation website window open to that particular reservation page for quick and easy access.
Why? Because you'll be competing with other people using these campground reservation websites.
They are also looking for the same campground reservation opening at the same time.
So you're best off if you are available to immediately make your camping reservation.
What Are The Four Websites?
Yes, those are clickable links and they will take you to the sites.
The follow-through is very simple:
- Click on one of the four websites above
- Follow their directions
- Get your notification of an opening
- Jump to make that campground reservation for your vacation.
What a life-saver when you have to make camping plans but there are no reservations available at your campground or resort!
Don't you just LOVE things like this that make life easier???
I can't think of a better way to end the frustration of finding your favorite campground sold-out. (Well, finding that your favorite boondocking spot is full may be worse than that for yours truly, lol!)
For you campground lovers, this is a way to save you from missing out on a camping vacation.
It's worth it. Some may have a very nominal fee, but do you really have time to sit in front of your computer clicking 'refresh' in hopes of finding a random cancellation?
Yer welcome. ; )
Author: Kelly Beasley
He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona.