“… You never know what you’re going to get.” —Forrest Gump
Choosing a campground can sometimes be challenging. The valuable reviews done by fellow RVers are a big part of our research before booking in an unfamiliar area. We utilize several different avenues for finding parks or resorts–Google, All-Stays, state parks, RVillage or Facebook group recommendations, Good Sam, Passport America, etc. There are several other sources to choose from, but experienced RVer reviews carry tremendous weight.
The following are our top 5 desires in researching a campground to park our 40-foot Class A. We use these criteria when reading reviews on campgrounds and they are our top five when writing a review. Please note that we do not currently boondock because of work, so these are for RV parks only.
1. PRICE POINT, CLEANLINESS, AND APPEARANCE
You get what you pay for. Sometimes it can be a steal, and others a total bust. Is the campground clean and well-kept? Are the facilities updated and maintained? It’s our home for the next few days, so it’s okay to be picky. Sometimes pictures on line are deceiving and reviews can make or break the decision.
2. EASE OF ENTERING AND EXITING THE SITE AND ACCESS TO HOOKUPS
Although we try not to arrive at a campground in the dark, it does sometimes happen. Easy maneuverability through the park and access to our campsite is significant, especially if backing into the site. Hookups should be in good repair and easily accessible.
We are currently bare-bones and no-frills because we are targeting campgrounds close to family. The fancy amenities may be more important to us in the future. Does it have a pool? A dog park? Do they provide a gym? Are the laundry facilities in good repair and clean? Can the rig be washed while parked? Is there a community room for activities? Are there picnic tables and ample room at the site for outdoor cooking and visiting? Is the wi-fi strong? Beware, the answer to the last question is, for the most part, a big resounding, “NO.” They may advertise free wi-fi, but it is usually extremely slow and unreliable.
4. FRIENDLINESS OF STAFF
Friendliness goes a long way in engaging customers. RV campgrounds are no different. If someone at the front desk is sour and put-upon, it sets the tone for the entire stay. If the escort to the site is gruff and grumpy, it makes us want to keep on driving through and go to the next campground on the list. How do they address a problem? Do they enforce the park rules? Basically, are they welcoming?
5. WOULD WE STAY AGAIN?
That’s the most important question. Did we enjoy our stay? Was the location central to everything we wanted to accomplish? Were the utilities constant and reliable? Did we make friends? There is always a chance we’ll be back since family is nearby, so the decision to keep a campground on our favorites list means we really loved it.
There are other things to take into consideration. Are there partial or full hookups? Is the park family friendly? Do they allow our breed of dog? Is it in the city or more of a nature park? Do they allow golf carts or other ‘toys?’ Those are considerations paramount before considering booking a reservation. RVers should have their list of requirements when researching places to stay and share their review of RV parks so others can be informed.
What’s on your list? Are there additional requirements important to you when reading reviews? Please share them so I can provide more thorough opinions on the RV parks we visit.
Until the next time,
you’ve really covered the bases. Just before we hit the road the first time, my husband had made an extensive list of parks we thought we’d like, of gas stations along the way, of shopping near by as we didn’t pull a car. But none of that worked for us so from then on, we just drove, stopped when we felt like it and hoped for the best. Mostly, it was. Our only travel tip is to stay away from KOA. They are not what they advertise and are too expensive for what they have.
We’ve dedicated this year to staying in parks close to family for visiting, so we plan it out a couple of months ahead because of the locations and busy seasons. I like your style of just going and seeing what happens. Hopefully, next year we’ll have less restrictions on our stays and be able to free-form like you do. I totally agree with staying away from KOAs, just simply because of the cost. Dawn
My grandmother used to stay at an RV Park close to the Amish place. Fond Memories.
When I was young, our parents took us to a campground on the edges of the Amish community in Berne, Indiana. My siblings and I have wonderful memories from those days, as well. We went to a bakery at an Amish farm and would get a cherry and apple pie to take home–I still remember those smells today. We used to take drives in the countryside and loved seeing the Amish farms. Even back then, I admired their simple life. You brought to mind lots of memories from those younger years. Thanks for stopping by.
Before we started using Cracker Barrels for overnights during travel days we used passport america and alot of their campground are pretty run down. On one in asheville,nc the place had a junkyard look at the owners junkyard dog almost attacked me when i walked in the office. The same place had a perm. Resident that turned his traveler trailer into a tank, including turret and fake chains.. His campsite looked more like something you see at the DMZ in Korea.
…back to the topic.. For longer dtays we use campsitephotos.net and their youtube version as well as google maps and satellite view to get an idea of the place.
The website design is also a good indicator on what to expect..reviews and their photos are usually staged and not that good in terms of what reality looks like. We stayed on the DelMarVa once and paid good money, arrived in the dark and when we woke up we were shocked on how run down the place was.
Very good points, and I’m going to check out campsitephotos.net for future bookings. Before we started full-timing, we had hit and miss campgrounds that looked wonderful on line and were hideous when we got there. I’m so thankful for Wal-Mart and Cracker Barrel for those just-got-to-get-some-sleep overnight stays. I also love doing some shopping or eating a hearty breakfast to thank them. That’s why I love reviews–while some of them need to be taken with a grain of salt, sometimes there are ones that truly offer insight to what we’re going to get. Thank you for your comments and your suggestions–definitely going to put them on the list for our next campground booking. Safe travels! Dawn
Looking locally at RV parks we might use during our transition to FT RV life has been an eye-opening experience. I’m not necessarily looking for a resort every time, but if I’m going to be in the equivalent of an RV parking lot I’d rather find an *actual* parking lot than be charged for something decidedly un-parklike.
So I guess for me an important point would be how far up in our business the next rig will be. And definitely whether there are permanent structures – tanks or not – around it.
I feel sure I’ll get a reality check within our first week of FT life, and that I’ll mostly suck it up…and maybe stay inside until we can leave O_o
It is a learning experience, I’ve found. I’m going to put a concerted effort in reviewing the ones we stay at so people can get a good idea of what they’re going to get. We’ve gotten some doozies when traveling before full-timing, but when we’re parked for 30 days at a time–it’s ‘home’ for a while. 🙂 I appreciate your comments. It’s also important to us how close the sites are together. I appreciate your comments! So happy you are in the transition stage–it’s all so exciting! Dawn
It’s so funny that you posted this today. We literally JUST updated our entire website to include campground reviews. We’ve found that we get the best information from fellow RVers on their pages as opposed to the big review sites, because so many people on the big review sites focus on things we don’t necessarily focus on. Campgrounds reviews really are so subjective. So we started writing our own reviews and I wrote up a whole post talking about what our criteria is and why: http://www.chapter3travels.com/campground-reviews-what-do-we-care-about/
Some of your criteria is the same as ours, but some is different. The biggest thing to us is privacy and space. We really dislike being right next to our neighbors. So we’ve found that state and county parks make us a lot happier than commercial parks. BUT, a lot of those state parks only have partial hookups, and often, we end up spending 20 or 30 minutes trying to get the RV level…which is the last thing we feel like dealing with on travel days. Commercial parks tend to be SO much more convenient, BUT, we miss the privacy.
We definitely agree with your criteria on general site quality, the importance of a friendly welcome, connectivity, and easy accessibility for big rigs. The other really important measure for us is value. If a place is lacking, but it’s relatively cheap, we’re ok. But if it’s lacking AND it costs a fortune, we tend to get pretty grumpy.
I agree with all of the above. You have been on the road a few months ahead of us, so your wisdom is appreciated. Seems like we learn something new every day, and that’s not a bad thing. We like the same type of parks that you do (I saw the picture you posted of a Georgia State Park, and they are my favorites–we would travel an extra hour or so just to camp in one of them for a weekend before we were full-timers). Currently we need access to good cell service so my husband can do his super-techie job and we don’t like to be up in our neighbor’s business all the time. Love your website and I’ve subscribed. Looking forward to following your adventures. Thank you again for your comments and suggestions. Safe travels! Dawn
Good post! We have stayed in a number of run down places….ugh.
Thank you for the feedback. Even with all the ways to research a place before we stay, there is always that element of what it’s truly like in person. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by! Dawn
I’m glad that you mentioned it’s important to have easy maneuverability throughout the park site. If I were to guess, having that space to move and navigate can really make the trip more enjoyable. After all, you’ll want to be able to enjoy your trip right away.
It does help to know ahead of time if it’s easy to maneuver or not, especially if it is a bigger rig with a towed vehicle that may not be able to reverse out of a bad situation. Thank you for your feedback–I try to give honest and fair park reviews, and every suggestion, clarification, etc., helps to do that. Thank you! Dawn