Our Schedule

Monday, September 5, 2016

Camping costs

Turkey Creek Escapees Park
Hollister, MO

Last Thursday we moved from the COE park near Poplar Bluff, MO to this small Escapees park near Branson.

One of the larger expenses in the full time RV life is the cost of campgrounds.   To manage the costs I look for parks within certain systems.  I say "I" because my RV partner and hubby, Leonard, wants nothing to do with any planning, including parks, routes, etc.  He tells me to just point him it the right direction.

Our memberships:

Escapees  (  www.escapees.com )  Headquarters in Livingston, TX

The first membership we joined back in 2007 (3 years before we got on the road) was Escapees.  At that time the annual dues were $80.00.  The last few years we've paid $40.00.   For that cost, we pay a discounted rate at their Rainbow parks and Co-ops.

Rainbow Parks are Escapees owned and operated.  SKP Co-ops are owned and operated by member group of Escapees and only members can park there.   This week  our cost at Turkey Creek near Branson is $135.00.  We have also stayed at their parks in Summerdale, AL; Pecos, TX; Livingston, TX; Deming, NM; Congress, AZ; and Heiskell, TN.    These are non-frill parks.  Do not expect swimming pools.  There are some planned activities such as Potlucks and Jam Sessions.    We've stayed at 3 of their coops:  Hondo, TX; Benson, AZ and Casa Grande, AZ.  A month in Benson cost us $287.00 plus electric for full hooks up plus cable. That was back in 2011.

Passport America

Then we joined  Passport America.   ( www.passportamerica.com  )This is quite a bargain at $44.00 a year.    PA has close to 1,900 campgrounds that are part of the system.  These campgrounds give a 50% discount rate to members.  BUT each campground has their own criteria.  Some not during summer months, some for only weekdays,  some at a one or two day limit.  When using PA, we (I) do our homework.  But worth it.  We like the Gettysburg area.  Our favorite there is a PA member.  The nightly cost is a beyond us paying that much......$60.00.   However, Monday through Thursday night we pay $30.00.  And on weekends they give to 10% discount for Good Sam Members.  More than pays for a few years membership.   We have used PA all over the country.

Good Sam

This membership comes along with our Camping World membership.   Many parks give the Good Sam discount of 10%.  Not a great savings, but all savings help.

Corps of Engineers   (COE)

This is our absolute favorite way to save big bucks.   Before we became "seniors" we would purchase a Federal Parks Pass that cost us $50.00 a year.  It is now $80.00.  That pass gave us free access to all Federal Parks.  When we reached 62 we were eligible for the Senior America the Beautiful pass.  What a bargain.  $10.00 and it is good for the rest of our lives.  It gives us not only free access to Federal Parks but a 50% discount at COE campgrounds and certain sites such as Mammoth Cave.

It the last three weeks we stayed at 3 COE parks between Gettysburg and Branson.  We have loved every COE park where we've stayed over the years.  Some have just electric, some electric and water.  But we have found more and more have full hook up.  Typical cost is $10.00 a night. The sites are huge, the area kept pristine.   Best bargain ever!

Thousand Trails  (  www.ThousandTrails.com )

We fell into this program when we were given a free one year membership in 2014 when we purchased our previous fifthwheel.

Thousand Trails has several plans.  It is best to consider where you travel to determine the best one for your situation.   We were offered a 4 year contract at $425.00 a year that includes two zones.  There are 5 zones throughout the country.   We choose the Northeast zone and the Southeast zone.  So we have choices from Maine to Florida and out to Texas.   Our plan allows us to stay at one of their parks for 14 nights then we must be out of their entire system for at least 7 nights.  It works for us.

So we pay the $425. a year.  The first 30 nights of parking we pay nothing.  Then we pay $3.00 a night with some exceptions where we pay $6.00 a night.    Why does it work?   There are 3 parks near the Jersey shore.  My sister also belongs we so get to camp next to each other often during the summer.  One park near Hershey, PA is 7 miles from where one of my daughter lives.  The park in Alabama is about 25-30 miles from where our son lives.    There is a park 40 miles from where the daughter near Houston lives.   These are all convenient to our plans.  Plus we have stayed at other of their properties.

One downside.   Our plan allows us to make reservations no more than 60 days out.  And all members who make reservations are guaranteed a place but not a certain site.  When arriving you drive around the park and find a site.  So, we come in on either early on a Sunday or a Tuesday or Wednesday.  We don't even consider a Thursday afternoon, Friday or Saturday.


I have a book of Casinos that allow RV parking.  Some have hookups, some don't.  Some charge, some don't.   We stayed at two and both had full hookups.   One was free, the other $5.00 a night.

 Mooch Camping

Well this is tacky.  We also Mooch Camp.   Our two favorites:   Mooneyham Nursery in New Jersey and at our friends the Halberts in Houston.   But the one in Houston has come to an end.  Our new rig is just too long to make the turn into their driveway.  It  was nice while it lasted.  Free parking and breakfast and dinner.  Ah, well.

So that's how we live.

Until next time.


  1. You have done your homework well and you sure know how to make this fulltiming work.

  2. Lol, we workamp to keep our campground costs down :) Love COE parks, and try to stay there when we can. Will be staying in Amarillo and paying for a place for a week, first time in a long time we've paid to be somewhere!

  3. Good list. We have used all of those at one time or another:)