Getting a campground reservation seems impossible these days, but cancellations pop up often. Here's how to find campground cancellations before the next guy…
Camping has become increasingly popular in the past couple of years. It can be hard to book sites even months in advance!
So what do you do if you are looking for reservations for overbooked campgrounds?
Maybe you need to consider buying your own land so you don't have this problem. See all our adventures in this area on this YouTube Playlist — bookmark it as we are still working on it! More videos to come!
The following are my tips for booking a last-minute reservation or snagging a cancellation.
How to Find Campground Cancellations
The following are seven ways that you can find last-minute camping reservations.
You can try looking directly for cancellations. Or, be flexible with your travel dates and location.
I also include a list of helpful camping apps that you can use to find a reservation. Or you can set-up an alert service that does it for you!
1. Use a Camping Cancellation Notification App
There are some great camping apps out there. Some of which offer an alert service that tells you when vacancies open up at sold-out campgrounds.
The following camping apps help you score reservations at sold-out campgrounds:
Sometimes, it helps to search different sites for the same campground. Some aren't updated as quickly as others, and some may have a bigger percentage of campsites to rent from the same campground. Some other helpful booking sites include:
- Recreation.gov – National Parks
- Reserve America – State Parks
- The Dyrt
- RV Life Pro – our favorite
These apps all have a different approach for helping you identify places to stay last minute. Test out different ones to find out which one is the most user-friendly to you.
If you receive a reservation alert, be very quick to reply! Those alerts may be going to many different people. The quickest one to reserve the site is the winner!
Keep in mind that when you book sites using these apps you’ll most likely have to pay in full at the time of booking.
Many of the apps also allow you to check a box indicating that you are flexible on your dates. That way, you can receive an alert for a campground that you want, even if the dates do not align exactly.
While we're here – check out all our RV Lifestyle Partners!
2. Look Directly for Cancellations
As tedious as it may be, sometimes the best thing to do is repeatedly check your desired campground for last-minute cancellations.
You can keep a tab open on your phone and check their website a few times a day. I know it's not fun, but it is effective.
If there is an available site, book it quickly! Don’t think, book!
Waiting to compare your options can cause you to lose out on that spot. If you are still within the cancellation window, you can book the site and keep searching for others as well.
3. Be Flexible with Your Timing
When trying to book last-minute reservations, you may never see an opening during the exact travel window you want. Especially at very popular locations.
If you can be flexible with your timing, you can open up your dates and possibly find a spot that you won’t otherwise.
Another great tip is to look midweek. If you were planning to arrive on Thursday and leave Sunday, think about shifting your days to midweek. Finding a Tuesday through Friday reservation may be easier when booking last minute.
4. Be a Walk-Up Camper
Have you heard of walk-up camping? Many campgrounds, including popular locations, allow you to reserve some spots online and save the others for “walk-up campers.”
These campgrounds want to save space for those that want to camp on a first-come, first-served basis.
Not every campground saves the same number of spots. Some may reserve 25% of their spots for walk-up campers, while others save 50%.
Some campgrounds only offer first-come, first-served spaces.
5. Go Boondocking Instead!
I don’t know if you like dry camping but Jennifer and I prefer it!
We love to go off the grid, and truly get away from it all. We boondock whenever and wherever possible.
If you cannot find a reservation at a regular campground, consider hitting the backcountry.
While you’ll miss out on some amenities, like showers and fire pits, you will benefit in other ways. Boondocking is quiet and allows you to truly connect with nature.
You can also see other things that you would not see in a typical campground.
If you decide to go dry camping, be sure to see if there are any permits you need. Also come prepared with a charged battery and full tanks, as you will not have access to these amenities.
To learn more about boondocking, check out our Beginner's Guide to Boondocking.
6. Be Flexible on Location
Like many things in life, being close-minded can cause you to miss out on opportunities. This is no different with camping!
If you are interested in visiting a specific area, try opening up your search to campgrounds in the area. Being flexible on the place you stay can open up more opportunities to visit your intended location.
You may even end up loving the campground!
Many areas that are located near popular spots offer similar natural attractions and hiking areas.
I know it can be disappointing to miss out on camping at a campground or area you know and love. But you never know what other ones have to offer.
7. Change It Up
One last thing you might consider is changing up your camping trip completely. I know you love your RV. But consider tent camping or backpacking instead!
Many campgrounds might be booked solid on their RV spots, but still have tent campsites available. You can always nab one of those and change up your camping plans.
If you used to love to tent camp, you might feel nostalgic doing this again.
Or, if it has been a while since you went backpacking, you might quite enjoy the change.
At the very least, it’ll make you appreciate your RV even more on the next trip!
Your Tips on How to Find Campground Cancellations
Do you have any tips on how to find campground cancellations? If so, please share your advice in the comment section below.
Camping can be expensive.
Especially if you are spending more travel time in outdoor spaces. Or, perhaps you’re living and working from your RV.
Traditional campgrounds can also be crowded and noisy. It can sometimes feel like the opposite experience you are seeking by getting away from civilization and into nature.
That may be why you are looking for cheap or free RV camping sites and that’s why I’m here to help. I’m going to introduce you to boondocking in off-the-beaten-path campsites and then teach you how to find them.
This ebook (not a print book – but you could print this one out on your own if you wish) is available right now.
Here's your Ultimate Guide to Cheap or FREE RV Camping Sites