If you are new to recreational vehicles, RV clubs are probably unfamiliar territory for you. Since most of them hit you up for a membership fee, you want to know if they are even worth joining. Everybody likes extra benefits and discounts, but many groups promise much to members and deliver little in exchange for the cost to join.
Before you get your motor running and head out on the highway with your RV, take some time to get to know a few RV clubs and see if any of them are right for you. With a little research, you'll know if any of them are worth joining before you hand over your hard-earned money.
History of RV Clubs
RV clubs have actually been around since the advent of RVing in the early twentieth century. The Tin Can Tourists of the 1920s and 1930s are considered the first loosely-organized RV club. These brave souls traversed America from coast to coast prior to the modern highway system. In 1966, as RV camping was booming in popularity, Good Sam Club was founded. Today they have the largest membership of all RV clubs with over two million members.
Types of RV Clubs
RVers today have a wide range of RV clubs from which to choose. There are RV clubs available based on your specific model of RV. Whether you own a motorhome, a travel trailer, a Winnebago, a camper, a pop-up, or a van, there is an RV club tailor-made for you. You can also find RV clubs directed toward geographical areas, age demographics, and lifestyles. Regardless of what type of an RVer you are, you will find multiple clubs suitable for you.
Benefits of RV Clubs
RV clubs offer a myriad of benefits for members. Most offer some type of discount for campsite fees, which usually translates to members saving a tremendous amount of money per stay. Along with this discount, many clubs also provide a detailed description of amenities, their rating of the property, and customer reviews. These are invaluable tools when deciding where to park your RV.
RV clubs also serve as social networks. In fact, some of them are founded with this as their primary purpose. Many of these RV clubs host rallies and events all around the country where you can meet people of similar interests and stay connected as you travel.
Another advantage of RV clubs is the discounts they offer for products and services. From fuel and tires to insurance, members can rack up incredible savings. Some RV clubs even offer RV-specific emergency roadside assistance, insurance coverages, travel guides, and educational tools.
5 WORTHWHILE RV CLUBS
The sheer number of RV clubs out there can be mind-boggling. How do you know which ones are right for you? If you are going to pay for the cost of membership, you want to get plenty of value for the investment. When looking at their prices, keep in mind that their membership fees may change. Worthwhile RV clubs give you access to a wide range of campsites, discounts, services, and social networks that more than compensate for the price of membership. Five RV clubs stand out as well worth the investment.
Good Sam Club
Good Sam Club is one of the oldest RV clubs in America. Membership costs $ per year, but you can save a few bucks by purchasing a 2-year or 3-year option. Members save 10 percent off the normal price for stays at any of the over 2,400 Good Sam parks and campgrounds. Plus, you receive access to their ratings as well as customer reviews for each property. Because of their partnership with Pilot Flying J, you can save $0.05per gallon on gasoline and $0.08 per gallon on diesel. When shopping at outdoor and camping retailers such as Camping World, Gander Outdoors, and Overtons, you can flash your membership card and score an extra 10 percent off your purchase. For additional costs, Good Sam Club also offers an emergency roadside assistance program, an extended service plan for your RV, and a variety of insurance coverages.
Why is Good Sams Club worth it? Honestly, the 10 percent you save at campsites is minimal and probably not even worth the $29 sign-up cost if that was the only benefit. However, the fuel discount is substantial even if you only travel a few times a year, thoroughly justifying the price of membership. In addition, the Good Sam Club emergency roadside assistance program is quite reasonable and invaluable to many RVers.
Passport America was started in 1992 and is the fastest-growing RV club. The annual membership fee is $. As a member, you will save 50 percent off your stay at over 1,800 locations all across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. When searching for campsites on their website or handy mobile app, you will find very helpful descriptions of the location and amenities. As a cherry on top, they offer a very generous referral program of $10 for any additional members you are instrumental in sending their way.
Why is Passport America worth it? For $ you will only pay half-price at each Passport America campsite. This alone makes the membership cost a no-brainer. Their mobile app is also a big plus for younger RVers. Add in the referral program and you now have an RV club that is a must-have.
Harvest Hosts is relatively new and quite unique among RV clubs. They are a network of over 600 wineries, farms, and other attractions that allow RVs to park overnight. Membership costs $ for a year, but the stays are free. As a member, you get access to a list of unique places that open their arms to RVers. There are a few rules. First, you must have a self-contained RV. These sites do not have hookups for water and waste or services such as toilets and showers. Second, you may only park for one night unless your host has allowed a longer stay. Third, you are highly encouraged to support the host. This can be done by buying a bottle of their wine or purchasing whatever product they produce.
Why is Harvest Hosts worth it? At $, this a reasonable cost for access to some beautiful sites that are off-the-beaten-path, particularly when the overnight stays themselves are free. This is a wonderful way to meet interesting people, try regional products, and support local businesses. And, who doesn't love a good bottle of wine or farm-fresh foods beside a campfire?
Boondockers Welcome is the couch-surfing of RV clubs. This membership costs $3 per year and provides of list of people all across the country who allow RVs to park on their property. Boondocking is another term for "dry camping" so the locations also don't have hookups. As you browse the directory you can see what services are available at each host property. Once you find a property you like you can send the host a secure message with your dates and get permission to stay.
Similar to Harvest Hosts, the overnight stays are free. Unlike Harvest Hosts, you are not limited to one night, but members are recommended not to overstay their welcome. Both host and guest are able to leave reviews for one another, which help others down the road.
Why is Boondockers Welcome worth it? The annual membership fee of $ is low. When compared to what a typical campsite fee is per night, the membership pays for itself in one night. If you like meeting new people and want to save money while RVing, this is a great RV club to join.
Escapees is an RV Club that fancies themselves as a support network for RVers. You can join for $$ a year. Members get access to a myriad of benefits. They do offer a 15 to 50 percent savings at over 800 campsite locations, but this is not one of their primary perks. In addition to being a social network that connects members with other RVers, Escapees also offers some highly-rated educational tools. These include RVers Boot Camp and RVers Online University. They also partner with companies such as Costco, Goodyear, and Dish Network to offer their members great discounts. For additional costs, Escapees also has fantastic options for mail forwarding, emergency roadside assistance, healthcare, and even a job exchange network.
Why is Escapees worth it? For a mere $$, members receive campsite and partner discounts that easily justify that fee. When you add in the incredible educational tools, this stacks up as an invaluable RV club membership. As a bonus, your Escapees membership gives you equivalent membership in their sister club Xscapers, which is designed primarily for younger RVers.
MAXIMIZING RV CLUBS
Even if these RV clubs are worth joining, it is still up to you to get the most out of them. Only sign up for the RV clubs if you will actually utilize their perks. If you only plan to hit the road a few times a year, then do your research and carefully pick which ones best fit your itinerary and lifestyle. If your plans involve months of RVing each year, then you will most likely benefit from all five.
GO AHEAD AND SIGN UP FOR SOME RV CLUBS
Before you jump in your RV and head out to get lost in America, go ahead and sign up for some RV clubs. These five are well worth joining. It will be money well spent as you enjoy all their benefits out on the road.
What are your favorite RV clubs, did we miss yours on our list? Let us know below!