Is Greed Ruining the Camping Experience?

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RVers parked at a campground by a lake

Camping and spending time outdoors seem more popular now than ever. We love seeing individuals and families making memories while adventuring and exploring.

However, we don’t love the greed we’re seeing, leaving campers with a bad taste in their mouth.

While these activities may be more popular than ever, they’re also more expensive. Economists use the term “greedflation” to describe this scenario consumers are experiencing.

So is this greed ruining the entire experience? Is camping still worth it? Let’s dive in and see!

Are Campgrounds Getting Greedy?

Campgrounds, like many businesses in the US economy, operate in a capitalist economy. This means private entities can pursue profit as their primary motive. In addition, they’re unrestricted in what they charge for their product or service.

Unfortunately, some campgrounds put profits ahead of creating a memorable guest experience. We’re seeing and hearing from campers that feel some locations are becoming overly greedy while pursuing the all-mighty dollar.

Many feel that the premium prices and hidden fees are getting out of control. They think that these facilities are nickel-and-diming them during their stays. In the worst situations, campground prices increase, but management doesn’t improve the facilities.

Why Are Campgrounds Greedy?

It’s important to remember that campgrounds are like any other business. While they may pride themselves in providing a top-notch guest experience, they’ve got bills to pay too. As a result, they need to maximize profits whenever and wherever possible.

There’s a delicate balance between being good at business and being greedy. Finding the middle ground requires a give-and-take relationship between the management and customers. Many customers have no problem paying for services they think are worth it.

Customers take notice when fees get out of hand or services that should be free now come with a charge. Luckily, consumers can choose where and how they spend their money. They can always stay elsewhere if they don’t think a location is worth it.

Evidence of Campgrounds Acting Greedy

As mentioned earlier, we’ve seen and heard from fellow campers regarding some greedy campgrounds. Let’s look at the evidence that some campgrounds are acting greedy.

Increased Reservation Fees

Over the past few years, many campers have begun to see drastic increases in reservation fees. This is no surprise if you understand the law of supply and demand. With limited campsites, management can increase prices as they see fit. 

Costs continue to increase until the business sees a decrease in demand. This typically indicates they’ve reached the maximum amount consumers are willing to pay.

Over the past few years, the RV industry has experienced an explosion of growth. Many manufacturers and dealerships have had record-breaking years.

As a result, more RV owners are looking for spots to use their rigs than ever. Until this changes, campers can expect to pay a premium price.

A campground full sign

Cancellation Fees

Another way we see some campgrounds being greedy is through cancellation fees. While these are nothing new in many locations, they’re becoming more common. Places that didn’t have these fees before are now adopting them.

Some locations will waive these charges if you cancel within a specific time before your stay. You could lose a certain percentage of your booking, a single-night stay, or a set amount. Either way, you’ll be putting your hard-earned money in their pocket.

Keep in Mind: You’re not alone if you’re struggling to secure a campground. Check out these Expert Booking Tips to Help Snag Busy Campgrounds

Extra Person Fees

Want to bring a few of your besties with you? Or even your kids or grandkids? If so, you need to know that it can cost you. Some spots charge for each additional guest after two, but others it’s after four.

Charges vary based on the site, so read the fine print. If you don’t, that budget-friendly campsite could get expensive, especially for a large family. Adding $10 to $20 per night to the nightly cost can add up quickly, especially over an extended stay.

Choose Your Site Fee

Sometimes when making a reservation, you’re not booking a specific site. You give the campground your information, and they assign you to a site when you arrive.

This allows them some flexibility to move things around to be as efficient as possible. However, some places will allow you to reserve a specific site for a fee. 

We recently saw a campground charging $50 to lock in a specific site. This isn’t a mandatory fee, but it can be worth it in some situations.

Those who want to camp next to a friend or family member or avoid getting stuck next to the dump station may be willing. However, we see it as another opportunity for campgrounds to make money.

Screenshot of a campground with a site fee

Pet Fees

In addition to paying for extra people, some campgrounds are charging for pets.

These are often nightly costs per pet. For those with multiple pets, these aren’t charges you can overlook. In some instances, it may be cheaper to send your furry best friend to a boarding facility.

This is one charge that we find frustrating. Our pup, Carmen, comes along on almost all our adventures. Does she use $5 or $10 worth of utilities per night? Absolutely not.

We know there are liabilities involved with allowing pets, but charging a per-night fee is greedy. We’ve decided against staying at some campgrounds because of these fees.

Pro Tip: Before you hit the road, make sure you’re not carrying too much weight. Here’s How to Weigh Your RV at a CAT Scale!

Guest Experience Fee

We made a reservation at a campground recently and noticed the final price was slightly more than expected. Upon further investigation, we discovered they were charging us $10 per night for a “guest experience fee.” Seriously?

This mandatory fee wasn’t a per-person charge but a flat fee added to our reservation. What does it cover? Who knows! However, since we were only staying for a single night, we begrudgingly paid for it.

This is a frustrating fee because it only shows up further in the booking process. You may think you’ve found the perfect, budget-friendly spot, but that could quickly change with these charges.

Screenshot of a campground with guest experience fees

Should You Stay at a Greedy Campground?

No one likes to feel like they’re getting taken advantage of. Unfortunately, in some areas, you may not have much choice.

You’ll likely be at their mercy and must pay whatever they charge. However, if you have other options, we suggest you look for a different spot. Nobody should feel like they’re getting ripped off. 

1 comment
  1. Need to harge cancelation fees because it has gotten out of hand people not canceling a multiple day stay or if so at the last minute. I was at one camping area in FL. And the lady wanted to cancel her site on a holiday weekend. She wanted a refund because her friend wanted her to come to where she was 1hr away.The manager told her that she would loose all nights reserved, she wasn’t to happy. I said that is the way that it should be. I understand things happen and emergencies occur, but 99.9% of the time it’s not because of that. I feel it’s about responsibility. And take accountability for your actions.

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