Sure, there are lots of benefits of RV campground memberships and clubs, but are they worth it for you?
Recently, I wrote an article about RV Campground Memberships and Clubs. While there are many benefits to these memberships, they only count if you truly utilize the membership.
Before diving into an RV campground membership or club, there are several things you will want to consider.
The following is my guide to figuring out whether that membership is really worth it.
Benefits of RV Campground Memberships and Clubs
There are two main benefits of joining an RV membership or club: exclusivity and affordability.
Stay at Exclusive Locations
One is to gain access to exclusive places to stay that you would not otherwise be able to.
One of Jennifer and my favorite memberships is Harvest Hosts. Its annual membership allows you to stay overnight at over 2,864 different locations across the United States, Canada, and Baja California.
You can stay overnight for free at privately hosted sites, usually at wineries, farms, breweries, golf courses, museums, or attractions.
Stay for Cheap or Free
Let’s keep using Harvest Hosts as an example. Since you stay overnight for free at different business locations, they only ask that you make a small purchase from the small business to help support them.
This is not hard for Jennifer and me to do. We would likely purchase a few items anyway. But then we can stay overnight for free!
One More Perk (For Your Guests)
Some memberships have cool perks for your guests! They allow you to invite non-members for deep discounts. For instance, some clubs allow your guest to camp next to you for a very low fee, around $10 per day.
Other memberships have trailers set up on the campground that can be rented by non-members for an inexpensive rate. One such membership in California allows guests to rent RVs for only $39 per night.
Talk about a deal for your friends or family that do not own RVs, but love to camp!
Considerations Before Purchasing an RV Campground Membership or Joining an RV Club
Remember in the intro I mentioned a recent article on this subject? It was on the 5 Best RV Campground Memberships & Clubs.
But before purchasing any of those memberships or joining the clubs, there are a few things to consider.
Contract and Fees
This is a biggie! RV Memberships and Clubs are meant to save you money while also providing exclusive access to certain campgrounds.
But do they really save you money? Let’s take a look.
Using Harvest Hosts again as my example, let’s take a close look at their membership.
(Get ready for some math!)
You can purchase a one-year classic membership for $99. They also have a pricier one that includes golf for $139 per year. For our example, we will focus on the classic membership.
For the $99 annual price, you can stay at over 2,806 locations for free. The stays are unlimited, but most only allow you to stay 1-2 nights.
You will want to ask yourself how often you would use this membership. If they have a lot of locations near you, then you might stay somewhere two times per month.
If you do, you are getting to stay at 24 different places (or 12 if you can camp for two nights at two different Harvest Hosts locations) for a total of $99. That costs a little under $4.13 per night.
If you use it one time per month, then you are paying about $8.25 per night.
Both of those show a pretty good deal for overnight camping fees!
So what if you are taking a cross-country trip or a longer road trip in one state? Let’s say you are traveling for a longer period and staying at a new spot each night until you reach a farther destination.
If you stay at a new place every night for two weeks, you are paying an average of about $7.07 for each night’s stay.
If you travel for longer, for let’s say a long summer road trip around America, then the price gets even lower! If you use the service for 30 different overnight stays, you are looking at an average nightly cost of $3.30!
And if you catch the Harvest Hosts membership while they are running a special these numbers are significantly better for you.
While those prices sound like a great deal, they only are if you use them.
You also have to consider the amount of fuel and wear and tear on your vehicle by traveling around to different places for only a one-night stay. If not staying local or taking a road trip, it may not be a good fit for you.
That brings me to my next consideration: Will you use it?
RV Campground Memberships – Will You Use It Enough?
The key to any membership being worthwhile is actually using the service.
Using our Harvest Hosts example again, let’s say you only stay at one place during the entire year. That means you just paid $99 for one overnight stay! While that is not necessarily a bad price for a hotel stay, it defeats the purpose of purchasing a membership.
So before buying a membership, you will want to assess the fees and usage restrictions to decide if it would truly be a great deal for you.
Usage Rules & Restrictions
Each membership club has its own rules and regulations.
They may have a restriction on the number of consecutive days you can stay, or limit the size of your RV. Or, they may have a limitation on how many people can be at your site before having to shell out additional money.
Not all rules and regulations are bad. In fact, most are in place to preserve the camping experience for its members. That way, like-minded campers are happy with their experience when they go.
You just want to be sure that specific membership or club rules match your lifestyle and expectations.
If you find a membership or club that interests you, be sure to thoroughly read through their rules and regulations.
Where are the membership campground locations? Are they in a spot that you can actually use often enough to make it worth the cost?
If you live in California, you probably don’t want to purchase a membership with locations only in Michigan unless you know you will be taking a long RV trip to that area.
Which Memberships and Clubs Do You Value?
We’d love to hear in the comments which RV campground memberships and clubs have been worth it for you. For that matter, which haven’t been worth it for you, too!
List of Membership Clubs for you to Explore
- Harvest Hosts (if you are reading this between Nov. 22 – Nov. 26 – you may get a special discount for Black Friday)
- FMCA — (Family Motorcoach Association) Look for some upcoming news about FMCA and the RV Lifestyle!
- Escapees RV Club
- Passport America
- Good Sam Club
- KOA Rewards
- Are you Canadian? Take a look at Explorer RV Club
You might notice a few membership sites missing from this list… our favorite clubs have changed over the years.
Best way to research these membership clubs?
Join our Facebook Group and ask! Actually, do a Group Search for the name of the club and see ten years' worth of conversations!