Real Passport America Savings?

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Real Passport America Savings?

Postby NJCamperDude » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:16 pm

I'm new to this forum and have posted my story in several other threads, if you care to look at them. For the sake of brevity however, I will soon be living full time in a 4X8 towable trailer. I've researched both Thousand Trails & Passport America.

TT seems very complicated, expensive, gimmicky and also offers a VERY small amount of CG's in the zone I need (the NE), so, I have put that option aside for now. Passport America on the other hand, is reasonably priced and appears to be more straightforward in how it works, etc.

My question, for all of those who are members...Is the 50% OFF claim mainly sales puffery, or is that what I can realistically expect to save every time I book a CG stay? Further...

Can the 50% OFF (or whatever the actual savings) be applied towards month-to-month CG site rentals? As I will be living full time in my rig, 50% OFF would be an ENORMOUS help to me, and would lighten the strain on my checkbook. However, it does sound a bit too good to be true.

Any feedback from PA members explaining the real deal would be greatly appreciated :)

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Re: Real Passport America Savings?

Postby mary and bob » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:52 pm

Not a member, but again a google search will bring up a lot of information. In just a few minutes I found (but don't exactly know where), probably on their website, a map of the US. You can click on what state you want which will give you a list of campgrounds that honor the Passport discount. Click on one you are interested in and you can find what their rules are. For example, one campground allowed using PA only during the week and for a maximum of 4 days. Not allowed on holidays. Another campground had a 2 day maximum. We belonged to Escapees which gives a discount. Tried using it in a private RV park in Florida. They put us in a crappy site way in the back near a bathroom that looked like it had been built in the 50's. When we complained we were told "those are the sites where we put people that use Escapee and Passport America discounts". Also note that some private campgrounds won't allow certain trailers, like not over 10 years old or meeting their standards.
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Re: Real Passport America Savings?

Postby NJCamperDude » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:00 am

mary and bob wrote:Not a member, but again a google search will bring up a lot of information. In just a few minutes I found (but don't exactly know where), probably on their website, a map of the US. You can click on what state you want which will give you a list of campgrounds that honor the Passport discount. Click on one you are interested in and you can find what their rules are. For example, one campground allowed using PA only during the week and for a maximum of 4 days. Not allowed on holidays. Another campground had a 2 day maximum. We belonged to Escapees which gives a discount. Tried using it in a private RV park in Florida. They put us in a crappy site way in the back near a bathroom that looked like it had been built in the 50's. When we complained we were told "those are the sites where we put people that use Escapee and Passport America discounts". Also note that some private campgrounds won't allow certain trailers, like not over 10 years old or meeting their standards.


Thanks, M & B! For the price ($50), PA isn't bad at all, IMO, especially when compared to TT. Although, to be honest, TT does have a lot of good about it, too. The free nights they offer along with the cost savings after the free nights are used is incredible. But for all I've researched, their system is VERY cumbersome to use (booking way in advance, limited CG's in certain zones, fishy sales tactics, etc.), and made me take a pass.

For a measly $50 I'd be an idiot NOT to join PA, as, even using it just 3 or 4 times pays for the membership itself. But that's for MY situation, as I will be utilizing it often since I'm full-timing it.

To be sure, I'd imagine ALL of the discount camping plans to have a bunch of catches and fine print involved. After all, they are businesses, and that is how they make money. But thus far, PA seems like the best of the bunch, and suits my needs fairly well. But maybe time on the road and experience will change my tune after a year or two.

I really appreciate your help. Being new to this lifestyle, the amount of information and choices out there on everything from the vehicles themselves, to other needed gear, insurance, safety precautions, where to stay, etc. is literally mind numbing at times! But I'm doing my best to only research the most pertinent of things...everything else will (hopefully) come in time.

P.S. - I also looked into Escapees, and for the minimal price, I might just join that, too, if even only as a backup or for further peace of mind. I remember their discounts being on the smaller side, but from what I understand, they also put out a nice RV magazine, and can even be used as a maildrop. I will research it further.

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Re: Real Passport America Savings?

Postby daveesl77 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:02 pm

In 2012 my wife and I decided to do a "round the US" camping trip. At that time had an F150 and a 24' Coachmen bumper pull trailer. I was shooting a bunch of video footage, so we were carrying all kinds of gear. We ended up going about 14,000 miles if I remember correctly in about 3.5 or 4 months. We knew we would be primarily staying in Federal areas, such as Corps of Engineers, BLM, Nat'l Forest and in three cases in Nat'l Parks. I'm an old long-distance sailor (as in two solo transatlantic sails) and so we were prepared for extended time away from anything modern, if needed or desired.

We purchased the Passport America pass for one reason, we made the decision that about every week or so we would want to pull into a commercial campground to do a full system cleanup, tank dumping and cleanout, laundry, etc.. In a couple of legs we knew that there essentially were no Federal/State areas that would be convenient, but there were Passport America campgrounds. For that it was well worth the money and paid for itself many times over in just convenience. Yes, the price was almost always at least 50% off, sometimes more. Now to the negative.

The vast, vast majority of the PA campgrounds were really trashy, run-down, no way would I stay there if it wasn't so cheap and only for a day or two. Many were right next to busy interstates, one was wedged with a train track on one side and the interstate on the other. That said, many of the operators were actually really nice people and we kind of felt sorry for them as they were not "living their dream" as they had hoped. There were a couple of extremely nice, resort style locations, which we really hated, since they were all concrete and plastic. Give me trees, rivers, mountains and the occaisional washboard, dirt road over "paved paradise and put up a parking lot". there can be a fair number of restrictions, and that is kind of understandable, think of these as "space fillers"

So, would we do PA again? Yes, IF we were doing what we did in 2012. But with how we camp now and me no longer doing extreme video shoots, probably not.

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Re: Real Passport America Savings?

Postby NJCamperDude » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:49 pm

daveesl77 wrote:In 2012 my wife and I decided to do a "round the US" camping trip. At that time had an F150 and a 24' Coachmen bumper pull trailer. I was shooting a bunch of video footage, so we were carrying all kinds of gear. We ended up going about 14,000 miles if I remember correctly in about 3.5 or 4 months. We knew we would be primarily staying in Federal areas, such as Corps of Engineers, BLM, Nat'l Forest and in three cases in Nat'l Parks. I'm an old long-distance sailor (as in two solo transatlantic sails) and so we were prepared for extended time away from anything modern, if needed or desired.

We purchased the Passport America pass for one reason, we made the decision that about every week or so we would want to pull into a commercial campground to do a full system cleanup, tank dumping and cleanout, laundry, etc.. In a couple of legs we knew that there essentially were no Federal/State areas that would be convenient, but there were Passport America campgrounds. For that it was well worth the money and paid for itself many times over in just convenience. Yes, the price was almost always at least 50% off, sometimes more. Now to the negative.

The vast, vast majority of the PA campgrounds were really trashy, run-down, no way would I stay there if it wasn't so cheap and only for a day or two. Many were right next to busy interstates, one was wedged with a train track on one side and the interstate on the other. That said, many of the operators were actually really nice people and we kind of felt sorry for them as they were not "living their dream" as they had hoped. There were a couple of extremely nice, resort style locations, which we really hated, since they were all concrete and plastic. Give me trees, rivers, mountains and the occaisional washboard, dirt road over "paved paradise and put up a parking lot". there can be a fair number of restrictions, and that is kind of understandable, think of these as "space fillers"

So, would we do PA again? Yes, IF we were doing what we did in 2012. But with how we camp now and me no longer doing extreme video shoots, probably not.

dave


Thanks for the well thought out response, Dave. I'm obviously not an expert on camping clubs, but I can definitely see the moral to your story. For $50, the reality is that one simply cannot expect luxury type KOA facilities or 5 star CG's. I know I'm certainly not. That being said however, I do hope to at least save 25% to 30% off the listed price with my membership, over the long haul.

A clean, safe, well run establishment is all I ask for. But I've been doing a lot of research lately, and the MAJOR source of the problems with many CG's in general it seems, is that they rent space to a lot of undesirables who basically set up an old rickety trailer and permanently call it home. This creates an eyesore for visitors staying short-term and give the CG a bad name, which it rightfully deserves. Or...

The CG owners are simply underfunded or overwhelmed (or both), and simply do not have the means to keep the place looking modern, neat & safe. So it slowly withers away year after year and gets by on the barest of levels.

If the majority of the CG's PA has under their umbrella are anything like the above, I will definitely NOT renew after the first year. But if I can find even 3 or 4 decent CG's through them, and can save 30% to 50% off, for me, in my situation it wouldn't be half bad.

I'm with you, I would MUCH prefer to dry camp in the desert or on federal/state land, however, here in NJ those options are extremely limited, if they exist at all. If I had the option of hightailing it out west, I'd do so in a heartbeat, but my son is here, and I just couldn't go more than a few weeks without seeing him. So, I'm stuck for now in the land of asphalt and potholes.

Do you have a YT channel with all of your adventures? If so, I'd love to see it :thumbsup:

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Re: Real Passport America Savings?

Postby daveesl77 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:16 am

My video stuff was done for broadcast TV. I did a few travel series but mostly I do "stock footage", where production companies purchase my shots for use in their shows. I don't really have a Youtube channel, I post stuff every now and then just for fun.

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