Top 5 Regrets Of Buying A Thousand Trails Membership

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A man stands in front of his RV and feels the pain of his thousand trails membership regrets

There are so many purchases to make when RVing, you’re bound to have a few purchases you regret. One purchase we hear many RVers make is a Thousand Trails membership. It often seems you either love Thousand Trails, or you hate them. Today we want to share with you some of the most common Thousand Trails regrets people have. Let’s get started!

What Does A Thousand Trails Membership Include?

When you purchase a Thousand Trails membership, you can gain access to over 80 campgrounds in 22 states and British Columbia. There are a variety of membership levels for every budget. The higher tier memberships will have more campgrounds available and fewer or no days required out of the Thousand Trails system. No matter what level you select, RV camping with no nightly fee is included.

The Top 5 Regrets Of Buying A Thousand Trails Membership

Buying a Thousand Trails membership is an investment in your RVing adventures. Let’s look at a handful of the top regrets we hear of buying a Thousand Trails Membership. Let’s take a look!

Not Buying A Used Membership

Many memberships were originally purchased with resale rights. The resale right allows the original purchaser to sell their membership if they’re no longer using it. Buying a used membership is one of the best ways to save more than just a buck or two. If you play your cards right, you can save thousands of dollars by purchasing a used membership. 

In addition, you may be able to find the same plan, or an even better plan, by shopping through used membership vendors. One of the biggest regrets we hear from Thousand Trails members is how they severely overpaid for their membership. 

Not Staying At The TT Parks Enough

You’re paying good money for a membership, be sure to use it! Despite having campgrounds across the country, it takes planning to get the most out of your Thousand Trails membership. The more you can utilize the campgrounds, the better value your membership will provide you. Not staying at the Thousand Trails parks enough will quickly cause you to regret this purchase.

A road sign set against clouds says next exit membership - hopefully they don't regret their thousand trails membership.

Not Understanding the Limitations

You should always completely understand what you’re receiving before signing. Another common regret we hear from Thousand Trails members is that they didn’t fully understand the limitations they agreed to. 

Some of the prevalent limitations Thousand Trails members experience are park-to-park access, the booking window, and the high use policy. It’s important to learn the limitations and restrictions associated with each membership level. In other words, discovering that your expensive camping membership has some unexpected restrictions can quickly cause you to regret your decision.

Realizing There Aren’t Parks In Every State

While Thousand Trails has campgrounds in 22 states and British Columbia, they’re not in every state. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure to take a good look at where campgrounds are in the US. You don’t want to discover that the area you plan to do most of your camping doesn’t have any campgrounds for you to use your membership. You’ll quickly regret your decision to purchase the membership or make a choice to change your travel plans to utilize your membership.

The Cost

The famous saying is, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. While one of the benefits to having a Thousand Trails membership is your RV sites are included, they’re not free. Buying a new Thousand Trails membership, or even a used membership, can easily cost several thousand dollars upfront. There are also annual dues that vary based on the different plans. 

We can see how the cost could cause some members to regret their purchase. The price is a large pill to swallow, especially if you’re not optimally utilizing your membership. Be sure you understand the costs associated with the membership before signing to avoid this regret.

Is Thousand Trails Worth The Money?

Having a Thousand Trails membership can be an incredible value, especially if you’re traveling full time. If your camping style involves spending a generous amount of time in campgrounds and RV parks, you could save thousands of dollars every year. If you’re only looking to camp on the weekends, prefer the boondocking style of camping, or be camping in an area that doesn’t have Thousand Trail parks, it would not be worth the money. 

Overall, Thousand Trails has a generous amount of campgrounds available in some of the most popular tourist and RVing areas. In other words, we highly recommend that RVers spend some time looking into a Thousand Trails membership and make the best decision for their unique RVing situation.

Do You Have Thousand Trails Regrets?

In conclusion, Thousand Trails memberships are a highly discussed topic in RVing circles. They have some great campgrounds in incredible locations across the country. Where do you fall in the Thousand Trails membership discussion? Do you see yourself purchasing a membership soon?

  1. We visited a couple TT Campgrounds in the northeast in 2014. We found their amenities and sites to be not so great. One in Wells Maine our site was parallel to the road. From our slide out there may have been 2ft at most. On the door side we couldn’t put our awning all the way out. Only good thing I remember was the transportation to the beach.

  2. Top 5??? OMG That’s all? How about:
    – Thousand Trails is pretty useless without the Trails Collection.
    – The website rarely works.
    – If they even answer the phone you’ll be on hold for at least an hour.
    – Many of their campgrounds are awesome, but you will only get the leftover dregs sites dedicated to the TT system.
    – Campground may have many openings, but if dedicated TT sites are full, you get nothing.
    – If you get desperate and just PAY for a better site in an Encore park, you still have to get out of the TT system for your next campground stay (because the computer saw you in a TT campground).
    – Just try to explain an extenuating circumstance to TT to vary your stay within the system a little. (Campground managers are a bit more understanding.)
    – TT campgrounds are generally a FAR distance from where you actually want to be.
    I could go on, but that would just be whining. I will say that for saving money… TT is the best deal despite all the crap you will endure. I have the one year contract with the Trails Collection included. I doubt I’ll be renewing.

  3. We r TT members, but can hardly ever get a reservation where we need. Most campgrounds are older and cannot accommodate our 48′ 5th wheel TH. In particular out west. We have yet to try the east coast. We home base in Florida and getting reservations are near impossible. We second guess our TT membership often. We did buy used, but still over 8 grand, plus annual renewal fees. We retired and started full time right before covid in February 2020. Seems like forever ago. Still trying to work with TT. But even their customer support is lacking as it takes hours to get call back and web is in desperate need of updating. We continue to be optimistic to give it some more time.

  4. Absolutely no regrets. We started out with the camping pass and two zones. We then upgraded to the membership (purchased from TT). We use it a lot. Over 250 days in 2020. It’s a bargain…

  5. I have been seeing a few rv you tubers online, extolling the virtues of “getting the heck out of Thousand Trails”. We I listen to their logic, in reference to my logic, theirs doesn’t stand up. Been reading about a couple that have been having rough times with their CG neighbors,. Hey, it happens, if you have a problem, and cannot work it out intelligently, speak with the CG mgr. You don’t say, this must be Thousand Trails fault, I am leaving them and use my Sam’s Club and Passport America…….May I say…”HaHaHa”…these clubs will in no way make up for the difference in expenditures…..Let’s get REAL. And one big thing…..TT cannot be held responsible for your problems with your neighbors, for one thing, if they have a membership, they are not screened, before entering a TT park….if people are screened before entering, you may not be entering, either….And they cannot screen “Attitude”…..

  6. Doing your homework is key with a TT membership, level set your needs and expectations. We went full-time 2 years ago and bought a used Elite membership with the expectation we would use it as often as possible. We understood some of the limits and learned others along the way. The Encore Parks in the Trials collection are generally nicer than the TT Parks but the 60-day windows can make it hard to use our membership at some (FL in winter for example). So some we just pay for because of the location and our travel plans, but we try to work in our “free” nights whenever possible. We try not to plan our route by TT locations, but sometimes it makes sense $$ to do so. At last check, we were averaging $28 a night over the span of our TT membership and this continues to decrease with each new stay.

    1. We bought a single zone membership and “broke even” in one 3 week trip, because there was a discount going on. We hope to get more use later this year. A guy we met at a TT campground advised us to maximize our zone membership the first year, then get an Encore membership to go nationwide after. Naturally, we have to assess this advice for our plans. I love that you can buy resale (like we bought our timeshare for 25% of retail cost!) and have resale rights, in some instances. Do you research as to what fits for you, and buy wisely!

  7. There are negatives to everything. We have spent since last July in Florida, in TT and Encore parks. Some we loved, some not so much. But even the not so much ones weren’t horrible, just not to our liking. We bought a used membership and for the money we paid and our annual fees, there is not a more economical way to live this lifestyle. Last December we spent the month in a private park because of wanting to be near our family and our average cost per night was still under $5. If you think you are going to get perfection for $5 a night, you will always be disappointed.
    We have had great service on the telephone, yes you have to wait for them to call you back most times but we have never waited more than an hour and they were super helpful when they did call back.
    I’ve noticed a growing trend towards complaining about TT, but I just don’t see it. It is what it is, it may not be for you. Do your research and then make your decision.

  8. We just use the zone pass every year and make adjustment annually, has a few disadvantages such as booking windows and park to park but if you use it for 6 weeks out of the year it pays for itself and we can quit at any time. We don’t want to live in the TT network but use it part of the time.

  9. Zero regrets. I paid full price to upgrade to an Elite plan (less some promotion) because so many of the “top” resellers couldn’t get it in gear and get back to me in a timely manner or were generally unprofessional. $7k may seem like a lot of money but I live van life full-time so that was only about 2 months of my former rent/utilities in SoCal. I’m coming out soooo far ahead in the dollars department. I also work and need reliable cell service for my hotspots. While being on the road and staying in remote locations is appealing, it gets old fast when you’re constantly driving around looking for a signal. I have been staying almost exclusively in TT parks (some are definitely better than others) for a while now. I got the membership because I wanted an annual spot in my favorite park but the waitlist is several years long. Next best thing is to be in the park for 21 days and in a neighboring TT or RPI location for 7. Or I’ll stay in a state or NPS campground and the extra week isn’t a huge cost. I get an 180 day booking window so as of today, I’m already booked out through next April. I can also cancel or change my plans last minute without losing a night’s stay fee and there aren’t any online booking fees. It is just nice to have a steady, secure place to sleep with electrical hookups so I can use my appliances and electric heater/portable AC without worrying about my batteries. This has extended the time I can stay in certain locations when I would have normally left sooner due to the weather. I also don’t love using my propane heat and stove and I’m actually considering removing them at this point. I’d gain counter space and several cubic feet of garage space by getting rid of my sealed and vented propane locker. My situation is a little different because I don’t hook my van up to sewer and a lot of parks only have a dump but that is really the only negative I can think of if you have an RV. Not to be dramatic but it is one of the best decisions I have made in several years of being full-time.

  10. We bought a Used Odyssey VIP Membership in late January of 2022. Buying used meany waiting about 3-1/2 weeks for all the paperwork to go through. The cost was $8,700 which was paid in full. We also had to pay the annual membership fee and Trails Collection fee which together added up to an additional $900 thru January 2023. It allows us to reserve 180 days in advance, gives us 21 days in TT parks, park-to-park reservations, no High-use limitations (A big deal in Florida, Arizona, and South Texas in the Winter and California and Oregon in the summer) except for three parks, two in Oregon and one in Pennsylvania. With the Trails Collection, we are limited to 60-day advance reservations and 14 days stay limitations. We also have to have seven days out of Trails collection parks between stays. This membership can be resold which is different than most TT members which can only be resold one time.
    We went full-time in June 2021. We have our 40′ Class A Toyhauler (My office is in the 80 SF “garage” space) and I need to have robust internet. We already have a Pepwave MaxTransit Duo router with AT& and T-Mobile service, but we’re still finding cell service deficient.
    We actually prefer to split our time evenly between boondocking and being in parks but found ourselves closer to civilization because of the internet limitations. We are about to get our Starlink Dishy so that may change things. I expect in 2023 we will be able to do more boondocking (Dishy doesn’t like trees though).
    In 2022 year we expect to save $9,625 in park fees (Depending on where we are I value it between $40 – $90 per night). So we pay for the membership in 2022 even though we didn’t start until mid-February, we will spend five weeks in Canada, and will be spending seven weeks in Asia later this year which will have zero TT benefit). It amounts to 160 nights. That means in 2023 we will pay for the basic Pass and Trails Collection ($900) making our further stays dirt cheap. Plus we will be able to sell the membership for probably around $4,000 in two years.
    So yes it is worth it to us.
    The downsides are, many of the parks are less than stellar, although we have loved several parks already and found them to be equal to most RV and even state parks. These are not luxury resorts and some of the parks are downright nasty from what we have read. You have to do your research if you plan to have an enjoyable stay. There are also surprises like suddenly canceled reservations that happen every once in a while. If you want to travel only to the best places. This is probably not the right solution for you. If you are full-time and on a very limited budget this will be the salvation for your monthly budget as folks who spend most nights at TT & Trails Collection parks find they are paying around $10 a night after factoring in membership and annual pass costs) That is an unbelievable deal.

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