Which Campground Memberships Are Right For You?

Nightly campground fees can be expensive with fees that can run up to $200 a night. Since these are one of the main costs of camping, finding a way to save money can quickly pay off. This can be in the form of weekly or monthly stays at reduced nightly rates or campground memberships.

When we first hit the road, we joined almost every campground membership and RV club but quickly found out which ones would work for our travel style and which wouldn’t.

While RV Clubs do have some campground discount benefits, we will be focusing mostly on campground memberships because they have the greatest savings.

If you have ever asked someone if a campground membership is worth it, you most likely got the dreaded “it depends”.

Depending on your camping and travel style, different memberships will be more worthwhile. We will cover the main camping styles below but feel free to leave your specific style in the comments below if you want personalized advice.

Our goal is to help you decide which campground memberships are right for you. 

Camp on the weekends

Do you love camping but still work a normal job?

Do you only get out on weekends or for a week or two a year?

Love hanging out with friends at the campground?

These are the recommendations for you!

Thousand Trails Zone Pass

Maybe. If you typically go to a Thousand Trails park or there is one that you would like to go to this membership might be worth it for you.

At an annual cost of $450 (with our coupon code), it would only take 8 or 9 nights to make this campground membership worth it.

This membership would not be worth it if you don’t have a Thousand Trails campground you want to stay nearby.

It would also restrict you from staying at the campgrounds other than Thousand Trails until you get your monies worth at 9 nightly stays.

They also only have campgrounds in select states and only a few of those states have enough to make it worthwhile to switch between them.

This means it might be more worthwhile if you camp in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas, or Florida.

Thousand Trails Upgrade

No. This membership has a steep upfront cost of $2000 – $10,000+ and then an annual cost of $400+, it would take more camping than just weekends to make it worthwhile.

Passport America

Yes. This membership has a cheap annual cost of $65 and grants 50% off nightly stays.

This means that you can pay it off in a few nights. It also has a large network of independent campgrounds who accept it.

This means more options for you to choose from.

There are no special reservations to make just show up at a campground and present your card.

The downside of this membership is that each campground gets to specify its own rules so you need to review those each time.

Example: One campground will allow you to take 50% every night of your stay, another will only allow 50% off a single night, and another will allow 50% off every night Monday – Thursday. 

Good Sam

Yes. This campground membership is like the AAA discount of the camping world.

You receive a small 10% discount off at thousands of RV parks.

This is a small discount compared to other memberships but it has a much larger base of campgrounds it can be used with.

It also has other benefits and discounts that help offset its low annual price of $25 – $29.  

Harvest Hosts

Yes. This membership allows you to camp at wineries, museums, breweries, golf courses, and more for a night or two at a time.

The best part is that the nightly rate is free! It has an annual cost of $79 which is easily recouped with one stay.

It makes for an excellent date night since you get to go to an awesome place, have a great experience, and still sleep in your own bed.

You save money on a Hotel and Uber ride you would normally encounter when visiting a winery.

Or stay at other hosts and check out these amazing national parks in California.

Seasonal Camper

Do you tend to camp at the same location all summer?

Do you full-time but stay stationary?

Do you have a seasonal site?

These recommendations are for those of you who bring out the camper in the spring, set it up at their site and don’t put it away until the end of fall or those who stay in one place year-round.

Thousand Trails Zone Pass

No. While having a Zone Pass might enable you to get a discount for a seasonal site at a Thousand Trails resort it might not be necessary.

Thousand Trails campgrounds will usually offer lower seasonal rates to anyone looking for a long term site. Give the campground a call directly to find out.

Thousand Trails Upgrade

No. You will not get your money worth if you are looking to leave it for the whole season.

The top upgrade package only allows 28 days at a time until you need to move your camper from the campground.

Passport America

No. The rules will typically exclude monthly rates from the reduced rate you get from Passport America.

Good Sam

Maybe. While you may not be able to get your money worth from the camping discount the other discounts may still be worthwhile to review.

Harvest Hosts

No. Most hosts only allow a stay of a single night or two. This campground membership would be a waste for seasonal campers.

Full-time (move every 2 – 4 days)

Are you traveling in your RV for more than 6 months out of the year?

Do you move every few days? Always on to the next adventure?

These recommendations are for those full-time nomads that want to see if all!

Thousand Trails Zone Pass

Yes. This campground membership is perfect for you. It has an upfront cost of $450 (with our $100 off coupon) and no nightly fee.

You only need to stay 9 days to pay off the upfront cost and then you will start to have an amazing return on investment.

The Zone Pass allows you to go from membership campground to campground if you stay less than 4 nights.

That mean’s if you move every 4 days, you can stay in Thousand Trails campgrounds all year for only the annual fee.

The downside is that if you decide to stay longer, you will need to stay out of member campgrounds for 7 nights.

Thousand Trails Upgrade

Yes. Even though the Zone Pass will work for most people in this category, some will want the additional benefits that come with an upgraded campground membership.

Upgraded memberships will allow you to book further out than the Zone Pass allowing you to make sure you get those sites you want.

Some parks are popular and book up faster, like these ones on the Oregon coast in the summer.

They will also allow you to go park to park if you decide to stay longer than 4 days.

These membership costs vary based on the upgrade package but check out all the Thousand Trails Membership Options here.

Passport America

Yes. If you can only get 50% off on two of your nights, would you?

Absolutely! This $65 annual membership has a ton of member campgrounds to choose from.

Even with the rules changing from campground to campground you only need a few 50% off nights to more than make up for the annual cost.

Good Sam

Yes. It’s cheap. It’s accepted all over the place.

You get discounts on not only campgrounds but also fuel and camping supplies.

At $25 – $29 a year. It will pay for itself in no time.

Harvest Hosts

Yes. While you won’t be able to stay longer than 1 -2 days, you will still most likely see enough use from this on long travel days.

At $79 a year, it takes two nights to make this campground membership worth it.

We see this membership being used by full-timers when they are traveling long distances between stays.

It makes for a night of better sleep and better experience than Walmart parking lots.

Example: We used this membership when traveling between Ocala, Florida and New Orleans, LA. We stayed at a Gator Farm in Mississippi and took a fan boat ride through the swamp!

Full-time (move every 7+ days)

Do you move slowly from campground to campground?

Do you work remotely so need to adhere to a normal workweek?

These are the recommendations for you if you are a slow full-timer. This is the category that we fit into with our travels.

Thousand Trails Zone Pass

Yes. This campground membership has an annual fee of $450 (with our coupon code) and allows stays up to 14 nights with no additional nightly fee.

The downsides of this membership for this type of travel style is that you will need to stay outside of the campground membership network for 7 days after your stay.

It also has the smallest booking window of any Thousand Trails campground membership of 90 days.

For those reasons, we highly recommend checking out the Thousand Trails Upgraded Membership options.

They will provide way more return on investment if your this type of traveler.

Thousand Trails Upgrade

Yes. Yes. Yes. It is almost financially irresponsible for you to not have this membership.

If you are interested in saving money, purchasing a used upgraded Thousand Trails membership will pay off in spades.

You can stay in campgrounds from 14 – 28 days depending on your membership.

Upgraded memberships will allow you to book back-to-back Thousand Trails campgrounds for the entire year with booking windows ranging from 90 – 180 days away.

We recommend saving money and checking out the “used” or resale memberships. We purchased ours through Campground Membership Outlet and they were great.

Check out our article on choosing the Thousand Trails membership for you.

Passport America

Yes. This membership is worth it with just a few nights stay at its low annual price of $65.

With up to a 50% discount, it will only take a few nights to “pay this one-off”.

This is a great membership to supplement the areas that have no Thousand Trails campgrounds.

Good Sam

Yes. This membership will pay itself off not only with 10% off campground discounts but all the other ones it offers as well.

Like the 5 cents off gas and 8 cents off diesel it grants you at Pilot and Flying J truck stops.

At a cost of $25 – 29 a year, why not get it.

Harvest Hosts

Maybe. This membership is awesome for only $79 annually.

If you like to stay stationary for a week or more at a time, you may not use this membership.

Harvest hosts stays are limited to 1 or 2 nights which are not convenient for most slow full-time travelers.

They are a great opportunity but are a better option for those with a little more flexibility in their schedule.

We had the membership for a whole year but because we always planned our stays a few months out, going from campground to campground, we never used it.

Now, we plan Harvest Host stays into our travels but don’t have to move with the rigid work week anymore.

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2 comments
  1. Was wondering why in your list of memberships options for weekends or non full timers you didn’t recommend Coast to Coast or RPI ? Both options we can do for a reasonable price and it gives a couple hundred camping options at $10 per night.

    1. Hey Ken, I’ll be happy to add them just need to know the initial costs and annual costs. We got RPI through our TT membership so don’t know how much it costs to buy into the system outside of TT.

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