Which Thousand Trails Membership is Right for You?

Which Thousand Trails membership is right for you?

The most confusing thing about Thousand Trails ownership is deciding which Thousand Trails membership is right for you. The answer is almost always the most frustrating to hear; “it depends”. I will try to make it a little less frustrating below by offering my advice on which memberships to buy based on different situations. If you don’t know what the different membership options are I recommend checking out my other post Thousand Trails Membership Options that goes into more detail describing them.

Work a normal 9-5 and camp occasionally

If you only camp occasionally and are wondering which Thousand Trails membership is right for you, then I recommend you skip buying the membership. I hate to say it but most likely a Thousand Trails membership is not the right fit for you. There is nothing that says you can’t purchase a membership if you camp occasionally but you will probably spend less money paying for campsites directly. If you still want a membership, maybe to try and force you to camp more than I recommend the Zone Pass. Its the cheapest option and you can save $100 off using this link but you would still need to camp for 13 days or 7 weekends to make it worthwhile.

Should I get the Trails Collection?

No. If you are not able to use the zone pass to its full cost savings adding another $200 wouldn’t be very smart.

You work a normal 9-5 and love to camp

If you still live a normal 9-5 life and live in a house but love to get outdoors on weekends and out-of-town during holidays, then you should consider the Zone Pass. The current cost is $565 but there are always deals going on. If you sign up using this link you can get $100 off bringing the cost down to $465. This makes the Zone Pass worth it if you camp at least 13 nights a year ($465 total / $35 avg campsite a night = 13 nights). That is easily done with a single week during a holiday and 7 weekends throughout the summer. The other things that you need to take into consideration are the distances and locations of the sites in your zone. If there are 3 – 4 sites that are within a few hours drive it is better than a single park in a days drive.

Should I get the Trails Collection?

Maybe. The extra $200 gives you access to over 100 campgrounds but means you will need to stay another 6 nights to make it worthwhile.

Long-timer or Full-timer – Traveling Fast

If you are a long-timer or full-timer but travel fast (stay in places 2 weeks or less) and are wondering which Thousand Trails membership is right for you, then I recommend the Elite membership. The Elite gives you access to the most parks out of any of the memberships and has all the benefits of the other memberships EXCEPT it has high-use restrictions. This means that the MAX you can stay at a resort is 2 weeks if it is currently under high-use restrictions. That doesn’t matter if you are moving though! The average price for a resale Elite membership is about $4500. This means that to get your money worth you need to spend at least 128 days in Thousand Trails resorts over the year ($4500 one-time cost / $35 avg campsite a night = 128 nights over one year). Since you only pay about $500 a year to maintain your membership after the initial purpose if you cost-average over two years you only need 142 days to make it worth it (($4500 one-time cost + $500 yearly fee) / $35 avg campsite a night = 142 nights over 2 years OR 71 nights a year). The longer or more you use it the cheaper it gets! You can pick up an Elite membership on eBay or Craigslist but it is a lot to handle and verify everything is in order. I recommend using Campground Membership Outlet to source and verify your membership. Kimberly is an expert and took us through the process and answered every single one of my 20+ questions. The best part is that it is free for you! They receive compensation from Thousand Trails as part of the transfer fee. You can reach Kimberly via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 1-800-272-0401. Tell them Getaway Couple sent you and we will receive a referral bonus!

Should I get the Trails Collection?

Yes. The extra $200 gives you access to over 100 additional campgrounds. One week of use and this will pay for itself!

Long-timer or Full-timer – Traveling Slow

If you are a long-timer or full-time but are traveling slow (stay in places more than 2 weeks) are wondering which Thousand Trails membership is right for you, then I recommend the VIP membership. This is the only membership that does not have High Use restrictions meaning you can always stay the max your membership allows.  The average price for a resale VIP membership is about $3000. This means that to get your money worth you need to spend at least 86 days in Thousand Trails resorts over the year ($3000 one-time cost / $35 avg campsite a night = 86 nights over one year). Since you only pay about $500 a year to maintain your membership after the initial purpose if you cost-average over two years you only need 100 days to make it worth it (($3000 one-time cost + $500 yearly fee) / $35 avg campsite a night = 100 nights over 2 years OR 50 nights a year). Like the Elite, the longer or more you use it the cheaper it gets! You can pick up a VIP membership on eBay or Craigslist but it is a lot to handle and verify everything is in order. I recommend using Campground Membership Outlet to source and verify your membership. Kimberly is an expert and took us through the process and answered every single one of my 20 questions. The best part is that it is free for you! They receive compensation from Thousand Trails as part of the transfer fee. You can reach Kimberly via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 1-800-272-0401. Tell them Getaway Couple sent you and we will receive a referral bonus!

Should I get the trails collection?

Yes. The extra $200 gives you access to over 100 additional campgrounds. One week of use and this will pay for itself! This does have high-use restrictions and the limit is 2 weeks at a park but the number of parks it grants access to makes it completely worth it.

Long-timer or Full-timer – Mostly Stationary

If you are a long-timer (spend longer than a month in your RV at a time) or a full-timer (live in your RV full time) but stay stationary and are wondering which Thousand Trails membership is right for you then I recommend you skip the membership. The Thousand Trails membership is most likely not the right fit for you. Most memberships have restrictions on the length of your stay limiting your time in a single place to 2 – 3 weeks at a time before you need to move. These restrictions won’t work if you tend to stay stationary at a camp.

Should I get the Trails Collection?

No. It has similar strict requirements about the length of time at a resort.

Deciding Which Thousand Trails Membership is Right for You

As you can see, the answer is very much “it depends” when you ask if a Thousand Trails membership is right for you. I tried to cover the most common travel cases above but know I didn’t get to all of them. If you have any questions about your specific case, comment down below and I will give you more specific guidance.

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26 comments
  1. I have a question. Do they give you some sort of directory so you know where you are allowed to stay depending on your membership level?

    1. Each contract is a little different but once you have your membership the main booking page lists your “available resorts”

  2. This was awesome!! You guys are doing such a great job!! We follow “Drivn and Vibin” and saw an interview you did with them. I watched a few more YT videos, and now checked out your website, and I’m hooked!! Thank you!!

  3. Jason & Rae, thank you so much for all the information you have put out here on your website & blog. Somehow your video on your first time dry camping got into my feed. I am healthy 70 year old female dreamer & hopeful I’ll get out there next year once 8 downsize & sell off s&b. I usually don’t watch couples videos bc I’m single so I have to learn how to do this alone but I enjoyed your video & had a slight interest in learning about TT so I subscribed. I took a look at your blog about TT & find it intriguing.

    I will fall under the Long/Full Timer Traveling Slowly category bc I hope to travel cross country slowly maybe 3 times/yr & mix up the stays mostly in TT & TC but mix it up with a month dry camping in AZ in Jan & then visiting Natl Parks with my free Senior Park Pass & State Parks that are low cost i.e. Assateague beach campground 2 weeks in MD for $10/night (no hookups but shower & toilet facilities) 10 miles from family and low cost places FL east coast near my sister. With this plan, I think a Class C will be ideal for me.

    Thanks so much. I look forward to watching your earlier videos and reading your website info and Facebook too. I don’t understand the twitter thing yet but when I do, I’ll see y’all there too. Let me know when you plan to be in the NYC, Philadelphia or Ocean City, MD areas again (about a 150 mile circle around Philly) as I would come out to meet you & treat you to lunch or dinner.

    Safe travels, Mo in NJ

  4. Jason I have a question about booking. I’ve found it to be a nightmare finding available dates in the website. It’s a headache and I always end up calling to book my dates. As you probably know the hold times are horrible too. What’s the best way you have found to book your stays?

    1. We book using the website for the majority of our stays. The summer in the Northern states book up quicker and the same with the winter in the Southern states. Also, Holidays are harder and need to be planned. How long in advance and where are you looking? We try and book more than 1 month out but have been able to get in last minute quite a few times. We also play around with dates and create two reservations if we need but MIGHT need to move sites. We call and always get great help once we get through but sometimes the hold time is long like you mentioned.

  5. Excellent information! Thank you!
    We are on our second year of full timing. Last year we moved fast. Saw a lot. Loved it. But it was more expensive than we planned. That’s why we are thinking of your recommendation of joining Thousand Trails. I think for us being full time it will pay off immensely for us!! Woohoo!
    We are 71 and 72, but in good shape, love to play golf and use our kayaks.
    We want to move slowly this year, so I notice you recommend the VIP membership. I was originally considering the Elite membership. We spend a lot of time in the West where our family is, but in time would like to explore more states.
    Do we have to pick an area?
    I have created a list of questions to ask the broker. We are going to use the broker you recommend, Campground Membership Outlet. Thanks for that info!!
    It’s kind of complicated! And overwhelming. But thanks so much for breaking it down simply for us. Invaluable information all packaged for easy reading and comprehension. LOL Great job.

    Ellen

    1. The VIP gives you 7 additional days in a park (28 total) while the Elite gives you 21 more parks (81 total). It’s really a personal call on which you would rather have. I think that VIP + Trails Collection would be plenty of parks and you would get 28 day stays. These memberships don’t require you to pick an area so you would be able to use it at any North, South, East, West parks.

      1. Or you can buy new & get both(28 days & all parks), plus the option to buy your out weeks for $29-2x/yr & $99-2x/yr(allowing you to stay something like 6-7mos in one place….or 9wks in each of 4 places).

        Also, you can buy new & get half back when selling….or buy for half price….seriously, it is technically a wash if you think about it. Just sayin’

        Just another perspective(we just bought the top tier directly from TT because of my husband’s job and our need to be in one place longer than 4wks from time to time).

  6. Thank you so much for ALL this information! Im trying to understand the thousand trails membership after a stay in Florida this past Christmas peeked our interest. One outstanding question I have at this time is, what is the difference in campgrounds & resorts. What I can make of it is on a zone membership you get access to 3 of the campgrounds none of the resorts. What membership &/ or add on would you need to access more throughout Florida?

  7. Thank you so much for this excellent info on something I’m finding is crazy complicated! 😀 I have a question about resale. Our family is planning to FT for one year (14 months to be exact) . Could we buy a resold membership, and then resell it ourselves when we’re done traveling? I’m sure we would “lose” some money in transfer fees, dues, maybe selling at a different rate than buying, but do you think this plan would generally work? I’m concerned if we only get the Zone Pass, places we want to stay will be booked up by the 60-day window when we’d be allowed to make reservations, and so the longer booking window is appealing. Does that seem to hold true? The membership seems like a no brainer if you know you’ll be fulltiming for a while, but we’re more of the short-term, full-time variety 😀

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi there. I’m not an expert on the subject but. I am 99.9% sure that a TT membership can only be sold once. If you buy it brand new, you can resell it. If you buy it used, you will not be able to resell it. That’s the dilema. Pay more for new and get some money back by selling it. Vs. Buying used for cheaper but no resale value. Have a great day! Dennis.

      1. If you are fortunate enough to find a Platinum ,they are resellable indefinitely. However after 1st resale any upgrades will be lost. You can only buy and resale the Platinum as a Platinum.

  8. Hey there I’m looking into staying at a thousand trails a lot I’m currently in my RV almost full time but I feel like thousand trails might be the safest way to go and the most cleanly is there any advice you could give me about it and my situation

  9. Hello! We have been members of “Outdoor World” since 1981. This is an “original” part of Thousand Trails. We now have a ” Sapphire” membership. Do you have any information on this? It is not listed in your list of memberships. Thanks!

  10. I have the same sapphire membership. I purchased an “elite” membership, used, from Campground Membership Outlets. I wasn’t sure if sapphire meant “elite” but used??

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