Thousand Trails – Trails Collection Pros and Cons

We recently discovered that Thousand Trails released a new package called the Trails Collection Reciprocal Program. This neat little add-on impressed us so much we wanted to write a quick blog post about its benefits and how we’ve already put it to good use. If you don’t have a Thousand Trails Membership yet check out my post about the different membership options available and which membership would be the best for you!

In short, the Trails Collection can be added to your existing Thousand Trails membership for $199/year and includes 108 Encore Resorts (the list is here). Out of the 108 resorts available, all are free except for 18 (which are only $20 a night with the membership). Encore Resorts average $55/night on their own, so this membership pays for itself if you stay in any Encore Resort for four nights (or one of the $20 Encore Resorts for 10 nights). Let me repeat that… this program pays for itself if you stay in one of the qualified resorts for only four nights! This program was an easy decision for us to make if you couldn’t tell.

We’ve highlighted some of the most important parts of the fine print below.

100+ RV Resorts and Campgrounds for $199 a year

Trails Collection PROS:

  • No other fees will be applied at resorts except for the previously identified 18 resorts that charge the $20/night fee.
  • Unlike Thousand Trails first come, first serve policy for the Thousand Trails preserves, the Trails Collection assigns a specific site at the time a reservation is confirmed.
  • You can make a reservation 60 days in advance.
  • You can start booking at any of the Trails Collections Resorts 24 hours after your purchase.

Now before you call Thousand Trails and say “take my money!”, we wanted to call out the below four items.

Trails Collection CONS:

  • Only existing Thousand Trails members in good standing are eligible to become members of Program.
  •  They do not prorate the $199. Meaning if your anniversary date is coming up but you want the membership now, you will pay $199 now and then another $199 on your anniversary date.
  • You may stay at one Trails Collection Resort in a recreational vehicle up to 14 consecutive nights and in a tent up to seven consecutive nights. If you stay at any Trails Collection Resort for more than four consecutive nights, you must wait seven nights before you can stay again at any Trails Collection Resort.*
  • There are age restrictions (must be 55+ to stay) on some of the resorts but we can’t find a list of them anywhere. Our educated guess is there are no more than 10 resorts with this restriction.

We hope this post helps you decide if the Trails Collection is right for you! We’ve already purchased this package and booked a total of 8 nights in applicable Encore Resorts over the next three weeks (so yes, it’s already paid for itself and then some).

2020 Update

We still love Trails Collection. It offers access to so many more Thousand Trails and Encore campgrounds. I think we have stayed in more Trails Collections campgrounds over the last two years then Thousand Trails. It is a great addition to any membership.

*We wanted to make it very clear that this policy only applies to the other Trails Collection Resorts. If your current Thousand Trails membership allows you to go park to park then you are able to stay at a Trails Collection Resort and then go straight into a Thousand Trails preserve. You will only have to stay out of the Trails Collection Resorts for seven nights before staying in another one again.

Happy Travels!

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  1. When talking about the Trails Collection, you say “There are age restrictions (must be 55+ to stay) on some of the resorts but we can’t find a list of them anywhere”

    Looking at The Trails Collection tab on https://www.thousandtrails.com/membership-info it appears all TX campgrounds and all but three AZ camp grounds are marked AQ (Age Qualified), 27 sites in all. We plan to spend a good deal of time in the Southwest so this is disheartening.

    Now that you have had this add-on for awhile have you ran into this as an issue? Where have you found this add-on valuable, it looks like it adds the most value if going to Florida, Wisconsin or back east?

    We are about to hit the road full time in our 40ft motorhome, we are currently only 49 years old so the age restriction is problematic. We would like to find a big rig friendly cost effective membership but without the Trails Collection there is only one AZ resort, with the Trails collection it only expands to four resorts, still not great.

    We are still trying to decide if Trails is right for us, if so, do we just get a pass or go for a membership, the information on your Blog and videos have been very helpful. Thanks for taking time to share the information.

    1. Thanks! The AQ was added after we wrote the post and made the video! It really helps as we had to go into the campground policies before. The great thing about the Trails Collection is that the cheap price allows it to be “worth it” really quickly. It takes about one week to start saving you money (most campgrounds are more than $200 / week).

      You may find that the age restriction isn’t so restrictive. We were able to stay at a 55+ older park in Arizona when we told them we had no kids and were working the whole week. Since you are so close to the restriction, you are probably fine. Just call the campgrounds and ask. You can even just call and ask before buying your membership to see which ones are more lenient.

      I am publishing a post today that goes over if Thousand Trails is worth it for you. You will need to do the math to see potential savings. The way we travel it is most definitely worth it. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  2. Recommendation; Jason you have done a great job with the membership information. You are in a unique situation to develop a master spreadsheet of park information. A column for each membership and a row for each feature. Row 1 Maximum stay. You have covered the four big ones. After that it would be easier to review Good Sam and add a column to your spreadsheet, then Escapes, and etc. You guys are doing great, thank you. I love the park reviews that you are doing. Idea a master spreadsheet of park features.

  3. I’m thinking of getting a Trails Collection package, specifically for South Florida in December/January. But I’m considered that the availability of spots (TT says only 10 or so spots are reserved for Trails Collection at each resort) will limit my ability to utilize this program, particularly with Florida being high demand in winter for RVs. Have you had any issues getting reservations? Thank you!

  4. 1) AZ has ~ 18 TC, there is only 1 TT preserve in AZ. Florida has 3 TT, and ~15 TC
    2) new purchasers of TC are not able to go park to park, they now must be out of TC parks as many days as in, up to 7days max “out”.
    3) FL is a nightmare for reservations at TT, due to 2 of the 3 TT being labeled high-use—causing more limitations on reservation capabilities, stay lengths, and “out” time, even with a TT expensive package that has park to park privileges. The rest of the FL parks are Encore so are TC. As you can imagine, having a max stay if 14 days, not being allowed back until 28 days have elapsed, not being able to have more than 2 high-use Park rez ‘on the books’ at any time during the year (not just during high-use period), and then not being able to go park to park in the TC—FL, TX, and AZ are quite difficult to make workable for a few months in that state— unless you carry another company’s membership, or plan to pay dearly to rent by the month or season at TT or any private camp.
    4) The TC only provides for a Standard site, meaning your the ones who will be in the worst sites the camp has (no sewer, old electric that keeps tripping)— unsure if you can pay extra to ‘upgrade’ to a ‘premium site’ on the TC— or just how good/bad the ‘worst sites will be, so always ask detailed questions of the park itself if you want to have few unpleasant surprises. Some parks are all FHU, so the ‘worst sites ‘ may only be location , cement vs gravel pad, no trees/all trees, next to the trash bins, etc—May be quite doable depending on your needs/tolerances or May be just as nice as the other Encore sites
    5) TC/Encore are resorts mostly. TT are nature preserves with varying amenities, many seasonal.
    6) it’s a good concept, but like everything TT—buyer beware , the devil is in the details.

    7) there may also be a 50 amp daily surcharge, $3-5, which is quite reasonable given the drain by Class A’s and their electricity hogging for the washer/dryer/electric fireplace-heater/2-3 AC units, etc. A load of laundry is decently priced $4-5 at TT (w&d), so 1 load in the Class A already pays for the daily fee.
    8) The 60 day rez rule may drive you to drink, since you’ll have difficulty getting rez elsewhere once you’ve set up/been unable to get into TC during your planned trip. More so, if you are in TT plans that allow you to reserve 120-210 days in advance—you are left hanging without rez during the interim. Fine for retirees who are able to go elsewhere, not so good for vacationers who are making/purchasing events in a specific area.

    1. You were never allowed to go from TC to TC there was always a restriction. You can go from TC to TT though.

      We stayed for 7 weeks in Florida between TT Orlando and Miami Everglades (TC). Know your restrictions and make your reservations.

      I’ve had some of the best sites in TC. If they are the “worst” sites then I have had some TC sites that have been better than some of the “best” TT sites. It is campground to campground. I have had sites without sewer in TT and TC. I don’t see any difference between the sites I get at TT or TC other than most TT are choose your own and TC are preassigned. Call the TC park and ask for the available sites and choose your own ahead of time.

      50-amp surcharge is at some TT sites too. It varies campground to campground. Not all TC have a surcharge.

      60-day is far from “ideal” but everyone is on an even playing field with TC. Everyone has 60 days rez timeframe. TT can be worse because people are able to book way in advance of you.

      There are definitely pros and cons. It may not give you everything you want but it is ONLY $200/year. That is less than the cost of a week at most campgrounds…..

      You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    1. Nope! Only time we experience issues with space is around the holidays. Don’t wait to make last minute reservations though!

  5. Hi, quick question on the TC / TT restrictions:

    Can I stay at a TT for 7 to 14 days (i.e. over the 4 days) and then move directly to a TC or go from TC for 7 to 17 days and then move direcly to a TT resort? I.e. does the 7 days out of system resort apply going from TT to TC and vice versa. (I.e. you mentioned staying 7 weeks. Does the TC membership effectively allow you to spend 1 or 2 weeks at a resort in one system (e.g. TT) and then move directly to a resort in the other system (e.g. TC) if your TT membership is 14 in, 7 out)?

    Let us know. Thanks,
    Mike

    1. Hey Mike, That is my understanding. They are different “systems” so TC can count as your 7 days out of TT or vice-versa.

  6. So I just signed up for the zone pass last week and added Trails Collection as well since I figured it was a pretty good deal and opened up a lot more options to us. The wording on the website still indicates you can go to another TC property as long as you stay less than 4 days. When I actually went to book however, I got an error that I was violating the 7 day waiting period (even though both stays were 4 days or less). Sure enough when I read over my contract the 4 day exclusion is gone. I assume this change only affects new sign ups, but if this is correct they’ve really degraded the value of the TC as far as I’m concerned. I’ve complained to the sales rep I dealt with, will see what his response is.

    1. That changed affected all TC memberships. I don’t see that it affects the value too much because it is still a CHHEAAAPP way to camp. If you assume $25/night (which is low) it only will take 8 nights to make it worth it. Also, you can bounce from TT to TC campgrounds without a waiting period.

  7. Quick question…

    I would LOVE to pull the trigger on a full-fledged TT membership, but after much research, I’m hearing a lot of horror stories. So, I’m probably going to try the Zone Pass for a year to see the quality of the parks, level of service, etc. My question is…

    Is the Zone Pass & the Trails Collection INDEPENDENT of one another, or under the same umbrella? Reason I ask is…

    I would like to stay at each park for the max of 14 days when using the ZP or TC, which would obviously be free. But what about my 7 day outs? Can I simply jump from ZP to TC parks (or vice-versa) without having to pay anything? Heck, even paying $20 per night for my 7 day outs would be great…IF that is indeed how it works.

    I’d love some clarification on this matter, as I’ve heard that they ARE separate entities, and many jump from from one to another all of the time. However…

    I’ve also heard from people (including from one of the top reseller of TT memberships) that they are NOT independent of each other, and you cannot use a ZP park or TC on your out days, by hopping between them. Sooo…

    What’s the real deal?

    1. Things have changed over the last year the program has been around. I just reviewed the FAQ on the trails collection page and found this:

      Can I go directly from a Thousand Trails preserve to an Affiliated Resort or directly from an Affiliated Resort to a Thousand Trails preserve?

      If you have a Thousand Trails Camping Pass that has not been upgraded to include park to park travel benefits, and you stay at an Affiliated Resort or stay for more than four nights at a Thousand Trails preserve, you must wait seven nights before visiting another Affiliated Resort or Thousand Trails preserve.

      If you have an upgraded Thousand Trails membership that allows park to park travel among Thousand Trails preserves without any waiting period between visits, you may go directly from an Affiliated Resort to a Thousand Trails preserve without waiting seven nights. Likewise, you may also go directly from a Thousand Trails preserve to an Affiliated Resort without waiting seven nights. However, we may, at our sole discretion, impose reasonable restrictions designed to prevent excessive use of properties in a close proximity to each other.

  8. I was excited to try the ‘Trails Collection’ pass, but just read that Encore has a strict 15 year old age restriction on RVs. So that rules me out. Definitely a Con for me, but some may consider it a Pro?

  9. i just signed up for collection. have a 14 day in 7 days out tt. can i go from a TT to a collection without out time

  10. This Trails Collection, is almost useless for Canadian TT members. Canadians usually travel in the winter months, due to limited USA time. They are restricted to about 150 days in the USA. (starts at 180 and works down to 150, in a weird system that customs have. 150-160 is staying safe) . Soooo, if one can only purchase the Collections at their anniversary date, eg. Nov. 1st. Booking is 60 days in advance,, Can only begin camping in Jan, when most resorts are fully booked, and Canadians have to be back usually in March or April, before tax time. Of course, the lack of parks on the West coast makes it much harder. In Washington, there is one park, in Oregon, only . 5 in California. Oregon has 2, and no where to camp on a week out, even if they have park to park. The system sucks, so TT should rethink this plan,to accommodate all TT members and include Canadians.

  11. Yes we agree Canadians should have way more TT parks they can camp in Canada especially B.C.? Also the Trails Collection should have RV parks in B.C. as well as all of Canada to camp in also? Please change this 1000 trails ? From a Canadian long time member of 1000 Trails? Dec.22,2019

  12. If I wanted to travel across country from CA to FL starting in Sept, can I book all my 4 night stays 60 days out, so that I can stay continuously in TT or TC sites for the entire trip?

  13. I want to add the Encore parks to our Thousand Trails membership but I’ve heard they strictly enforce a 10 year old RV policy. Our Tiffen is in great shape having lived most of her life in a garage but is 20 years old. Anyone have experience with this issue?

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