RV clubs are a great way to meet like minded people, explore new areas and enjoy steep discounts at RV parks and resorts, but how do you know which RV camping club is right for you?
The best RV travel club depends on your unique RVing lifestyle. To pinpoint good clubs to join, ask yourself:
- Am I a “back-to-nature” RV boondocker who avoids crowds and cities?
- Do I prefer active RV lifestyles in urban areas with popular attractions?
- Is my travel itinerary wide open for much of the year, or are my getaways limited to two week vacations from work?
- Do I enjoy meeting other RVers at reunions, rallies and seminars?
After painting a clear picture of your RVing lifestyle, the following list can help you pinpoint the best RV clubs to join:
General Interest RV Clubs
The biggest RV camping clubs with the widest range of benefits and discounts are general interest RV clubs. Most RVers are familiar with The Good Sam Club, whose 1.5 million dues-paying members enjoy benefits such as discounted roadside assistance and RV park stays as well as access to a wide network of other RVers through online discussion forums.
Another well-established RV camping club group is the Escapees RV Club, a 50,000-member strong dues-paying group of “SKPs” dedicated to providing “Support, Knowledge and Parking” for all RVers, not just full-timers. Members enjoy steep discounts at over 1,000 affiliated RV resorts and club-owned RV parks located around the U.S. Additional members-only services include a nationwide boondocking guide, RV “boot camp” seminars and even an on-site adult day-health facility for retired RVer members.
An up and coming general interest clubs includes RVillage.com, a free online community that helps campers connect both online and in the real world. When a RVillage user checks in on the website, they have the ability to find people who share common interests by viewing profiles of members who happen to be camped at nearby RV parks and other places they are currently staying in. The community is growing into a busy hub of activity for sharing information about everything in the RVing world.
Discount Camping RV Clubs
RVers who enjoy traveling to off-the-beaten path destinations will reap the most benefits from discount camping RV clubs, since affiliated campgrounds tend to be located in rural areas away from popular attractions like amusement parks and cities. The three most popular discount camping RV clubs in North America are Passport America, the Happy Camper Club and the Canadian-based Explorer RV Club.
All three of these discount camping RV clubs share the same common features, namely a yearly fee of less than $50 that entitles members to 50 percent savings at RV parks in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The quality of affiliated parks ranges from average to rustic, but by utilizing your discount club membership at least twice in one year, your membership will pay for itself with the half-off savings you receive.
The biggest drawback among these clubs is a wide variety of club use restrictions. For example, many affiliated RV parks restrict club use to off-peak times and many won’t let you use it for more than one or two nights, so you’ll need to check each location’s policies before arriving.
Campground Membership RV Clubs
Campground membership RV clubs work well for full-time RVers with a limited travel agenda and travelers who prefer full-hookup campsites and resort-style amenities. The most popular campground membership RV clubs are Thousand Trails, Western Horizons, Resort Parks International and Coast-to-Coast, all of which require RV parks to offer an extensive range of resort-style amenities and meet stringent facilities standards in order to become affiliated destinations.
Unlike discount camping clubs that are open to the general public, campground membership RV clubs are similar to a timeshare resort investment. After a customer purchases a “buy-in” ranging from one to several thousand dollars, they can reserve “free” stays for a designated number of nights in club-affiliated, members-only RV parks. Yearly dues of one to several hundred dollars keep members active. To save money on buy-ins, steeply discounted “used” membership are available through any number of online resellers. Just search for “Used Campground Club Memberships” and you’ll locate brokers.
Special Interest RV Clubs
The list of special interest RV clubs is extensive, but you can narrow your search by first looking for special interest chapters within larger RV organizations, like Escapees and the Good Sam Club.
In general, special interest RV clubs are formed around topics such as:
RV Owner’s Clubs
Need help with a mechanical repair or troubleshooting a RV issue? One of the most beneficial RV clubs you can join is an owner’s club. The web’s long lists of RV owner’s club groups is comprised of hundreds of organizations with enthusiastic members who possess extensive knowledge about specific types of RVs, from more general clubs like the Family Motor Coach Association, which is just for owners of self-contained motorhomes, to groups focused on certain makes and models of RVs, such as Newell RV Coaches and Vixen Motorhomes. Find an applicable RV owner’s group by inputting the model and make of your RV in a web search, followed by “owner’s group.”
Special Interest RV Clubs
RV clubs exist for nearly every type of RV lifestyle, population affiliation, camping preference and activity. Most are free while some charge a nominal membership fee but all provide a sense of community for kindred spirits who enjoy the same interests in the great outdoors.
The best way to find these special interest RV clubs is to go online to any of the popular RV discussion forums, most of which have areas just for communicating about general RVing activities like dry camping, mobile technology and even geocaching. You can also conduct an Internet search for your specific interest followed by “RV club.”
Some of the more unique special interest RV clubs currently in operation include:
- Boondocker’s Welcome, a club that also saves RVers money by linking members with property owning RVers who are offering free overnight camping on their land.
- Campers on a Mission, a fellowship of Christian campers who share their faith and serve in various ways while they camp.
- Fulltime Families, a club for parents and children living the full-timing lifestyle.
- Loners on Wheels, an international RV singles group for people who enjoy solo travel.
- Rainbow RV, a North American gay and lesbian RV camping club.
- Women on Wheels, a group for women who enjoy participating in RV camping, educational, and social events.
The list of active RV clubs is long and their benefits are extensive, but by getting to know at least one or two you’ll enjoy a greater sense of connection to the outdoors as you make new friends, expand your RVing knowledge and even save money along the way.