If you’re trying to plan your first springtime camping trip, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. After all, there are a lot of campgrounds to choose from, and picking the one that’s right for you can feel intimidating. What should you be looking for and how do you find that information?
Luckily, there are ways to narrow down your choices and help ensure you have an awesome camping trip in the ideal campground. Read on to learn what experienced campers look for in a campground, and what you might want to keep an eye out for as well.
1. Location, location, location
Depending on what your travel goals are, location can play a big part in where you choose to stay. For instance, if you want to see NYC, staying very near the city and taking public transportation to get there is going to be your best bet. On the other hand, those who are looking for a quiet, relaxing camping trip—and don’t really care about sightseeing—may not care at all where their campground is located.
You’ll have to decide whether or not you care about the location of the campgrounds you choose. If you do care about location, it’s easy enough to see where an RV park is in relation to other things using Google Maps. However, RV LIFE Trip Wizard makes it even easier to find a park near where you want to be.
2. Cleanliness and maintenance
No matter what your camping style is, cleanliness and maintenance of the park matter to some extent. However, those who prefer to stick around the campground will probably care even more about this.
Additionally, those who prefer to use the campground bathhouses rather than the bathroom in their rig will want to keep an extra close eye on the cleanliness of any park they book. After all, who wants to shower in a dirty bathroom?
The issue is finding out which parks are clean and which ones aren’t. If you aren’t close enough to visit on a day pass, your best bet is to read reviews of the park. We really like RV LIFE Campgrounds for this purpose because the people reviewing parks on this site are experienced RVers.
3. Cost and discount/membership options
Obviously, cost also tends to play a role in where you stay. If you’re on a tight budget, boondocking and state parks may be your best options. However, there are plenty of cheap private parks out there (be sure to ask for weekly and monthly rates if applicable), and if you have any sort of camping membership or join a camping club, you can camp for even less.
These are the discount clubs and memberships we find the most useful:
Those who plan to use a discount club rate can usually find that rate on the club’s website. Meanwhile, those who’ll be staying in a park that is part of a membership group will find the information they need in the contract they signed upon joining.
If you are having trouble finding an affordable park near where you’d like to be, RV LIFE Trip Wizard is, once again, a wonderful option. This website allows you to search for campgrounds that participate in certain clubs or are part of certain memberships. This makes the search for an affordable campground much easier.
4. Amenities and activities
Some people want to know what kinds of amenities will be provided. If you have a dog in tow, you may want a park with a dog run. Meanwhile, those with children may insist upon a playground, a pool, or fun activities. Of course, if you won’t be in the park much, you may not care about any of these things.
Usually a list of amenities can be found on the campground website. That said, these lists don’t always provide little details such as the hot tub being broken for months or the fact that the mini golf course is no longer usable. For this reason, we recommend visiting review sites such as RV LIFE Campgrounds to hear what guests have to say.
Sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp can also be useful in this case, as they tend to provide photos of the parks in question.
5. Who is welcome?
Of course, if you have kids or pets in tow, you’ll also want to make sure they are welcome. Some RV parks do not allow children, or only allow a certain number of people per site. Meanwhile, there are many parks that don’t allow pets or only allow certain dog breeds.
It is best to call or email the campground directly to ask about these things in order to ensure you receive accurate and up-to-date information.
6. The perfect campsite
Perhaps the most important consideration you’ll want to make has to do with the campsites themselves. You see, not all campsites are created equal, and finding out whether a park has a site that will suit your needs before you go is always a good idea.
Wondering what exactly to look for? Here are the most important things to keep an eye out for:
- Site length — Is the site long enough for your rig? Some campgrounds only have very short spots.
- Site width — This information is not always easy to come by. However, it is important if you have slides on both sides that make your RV wider than most. If you have to, call ahead to make sure you’ll fit.
- Level site — This particular aspect of a campsite is less important as long as you have leveling blocks on hand. Additionally, info on whether a site is level can be hard to find and requires digging through reviews and photos.
- Hookups — Do you require water, electric, and sewer hookups? If so, better be sure the site you’re booking has those. Some sites may have only water and electric. Others may be only water or only electric. Decide what you’re comfortable with and double-check that you have what you want before booking.
- Shade — If you’ll be staying in an especially sunny or warm place, you may want to ask for (or seek out) a site with shade. Check photos online to ensure the campground in question has shade trees to block some of the sunlight.