Which Camping Memberships Are Right For You?

Find the right camping membership for your family.

By Adventurtunity Family
Camp Ambassador

The resurgence of adventurers, families, and friends heading out on camping trips is refreshing and exciting. Campgrounds are busier than ever; national parks are all abuzz, and Mother Nature is in her glory. But for first-timers, these adventures can be a little overwhelming — specifically securing campground stays when availability is limited, and some are already booking for 2022.

Additionally, the in-season rates can be sky-high! You may find luxury/resort campgrounds that cost just as much as, and sometimes more than, hotel stays. The good news is there are several businesses specifically dedicated to helping campers have the best experiences. These businesses offer campground discounts, discounts on camping supplies, priority booking, options when campgrounds are sold out, roadside assistance and so much more!

To help you find the right memberships for your family, we are sharing a few that have worked well for us. Some you may be familiar with, like KOA and Good Sam, and others, like Harvest Hosts, may be new to you. Each membership is a little different, and you may find that you become members of a few of them.

KOA – Kampgrounds of America

KOA is an extensive network of 500+ campgrounds all over the United States. Its campgrounds offer an array of sites, cabins and amenities. Its RV and tent sites vary from gravel to paved, 30 amp to 50 amp, as well as pull-in or back-in to meet your budget needs. One of the best perks of KOA campgrounds is that you can book a KOA stay without being a member. If you do become a member, for $33 per year you will receive 10% off each nightly stay and accumulate points toward cash credits on future stays. The annual fee usually pays for itself quickly, especially if you plan to stay over a week or a handful of times per year.

The KOA website is very user-friendly. You’ll be able to preview all of the KOA campground locations, check open availability and book your reservations directly online. This has been a nice benefit for us when trying to book an evening on the fly. Most campgrounds have phone numbers to book with them directly, or you can use the 1-800 number for an agent to help you book your travel.

(Photo: Adventurnity Family)

Good Sam

Yearly memberships with Good Sam start as low as $29 and go up depending on the depth of your membership interest. Similar to KOA, Good Sam provides you with 10% off your nightly stay at over 2,100 participating campgrounds. Most campgrounds clearly mark if they are Good Sam members, but it’s always a good idea to ask when booking or arriving. In addition to the nightly discount, Good Sam members receive discounts on products and propane, free dump service and free shipping on orders over $49 at Camping World and Gander RV & Outdoors. The membership also provides you with discounted gas fill-ups at select Pilot Flying J locations, as well as options for RV insurance, extended service plans and roadside assistance that includes all your vehicles.

Besides our monthly membership, we also have the roadside assistance and extended service plan for our RV. While we haven’t had to use it, we are certainly happy to have it.

(Photo: Adventurnity Family)

Thousand Trails

Thousand Trails is a great membership program for the right traveler. It has over 190 campgrounds in its network, generally located along both coasts and in Texas, Florida and the Great Lakes area. We knew we would be spending most of our time out west in the Utah, Arizona, Wyoming and Montana area and decided to pass on this membership for now. We have, however, met a handful of families who are members and really enjoy the program.

The premise of this membership is that you pay an annual fee and are able to stay at a participating campground for free up to 14 or 21 days in a row, depending on your membership level. You book 60 days or 180 days in advance and must book prior to arrival, so make sure you have places to stay in between the trips.

This membership is more expensive than some others, but it offers a lot, and for the right family, it can save thousands of dollars on camping stays. If you are interested in this membership, make sure you do your research. There seem to be a lot of different levels, exemptions and caveats to consider. So, make sure to read through all the details before deciding if it is right for you.

(Photo: Adventurnity Family)

Harvest Hosts

Out of all the camping memberships we have, the Harvest Hosts program has been our favorite! For $99 a year you are able to stay for free for one night at over 2,000 businesses throughout the lower 48 states, Alaska, Canada and Baja California. Typically, the participating businesses are composed of wineries, vineyards, distilleries, breweries, farms, museums, attractions and more! The businesses will not charge you for your one-night stay, but through the program, you are asked to support or donate to the business. For example, if you are staying at a winery, buying a bottle of wine would be supporting the business.

To become a Harvest Hosts member and stay at the participating locations, your RV (unfortunately, no tents are allowed) must be self-contained. The participating businesses do not provide bathrooms, showers or hookups, although you may find a very rare few that offer electricity and water. 

(Photo: Adventurnity Family)

We have stayed at seven Harvest Hosts during the last 10 months of our journey, and we usually stay at them to break up longer travel stretches when moving to new campgrounds. Harvest Hosts is the perfect way to turn an eight-hour trip into two four-hour trips without having to paying for an additional night at a campground. We have experienced incredible businesses we might not have come across otherwise, and we have met incredible business owners. We are very passionate about supporting local and small businesses, and this program is the perfect opportunity to do so. Some of our stays have really been the highlight of our journey. Harvest Hosts is more than just nightly stays; it’s about connecting with others and hearing new stories. This is one that’s worth far more than its membership fee!

(Photo: Adventurnity Family)

FMCA – Family Motor Coach Association

The Family Motor Coach Association is an organization centered on equipping and educating RV owners to get the most out of their RV experience. It provides all kinds of resources, such as educational information on maintaining an RV, discounted rates on products and services, and even rallies to gather RV-owners in one place, encouraging camaraderie, story swapping and helpful advice.  

The name implies you must own a motorized RV (class A, B or C) to become a member, and historically, that has been the case. But recently, the organization opened its membership eligibility up to owners of fifth wheels and travel trailers, as well. This gives almost any RV owner the opportunity to join FMCA and take advantage of the resources it offers.  

(Photo: Adventurnity Family)

Escapees RV Club

Escapees RV Club is another membership organization that provides a plethora of services and resources for its members. In addition to discounts on all sorts of RV-related products and services, it also offers a mail-forwarding service for those who choose to hit the road full time and live in their RV. Escapees is also all about meetups and bringing people together. It has several different rally and meetup categories that let you find and meet other RV owners with similar interests and camping styles.

Membership organizations like FMCA and Escapees can be a great way to meet new friends in the RV community, whether you are a newbie or a seasoned veteran. And being able to take advantage of their group-buying power to provide their members with savings on all sorts of products and services makes their modest annual fees well worth it.

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