It’s only a few weeks into January, but we are already have some great camping trips planned and some more planning in motion. Since we are in full planning mode for some nice, long distance, several stops summer vacation road trips I thought I would take the time now to share how we plan camping trips and what resources we use to make it the best trip we can. So let’s get into it.
- Pick a Destination or a part of the country you want to explore. Once we have agreed upon a place or an area we want to travel to and visit, I check these two websites first for campgrounds:
Good Sam Club: You do not need to be a member to use the site, but you do need to be a member of the club to get the 10% (nightly) discount offered at a ton of campgrounds in the country. Good Sam Club also offers discounts at Camping World, which is where we got the membership to begin with, for free when we purchased our camper, but we will continue to renew the membership because it’s a handy one to have. It’s costs around $27 a year for the membership, they often have some kind of offer going on to make it extremely affordable. They also have a mobile app for this site, which is very helpful when you are on the road and want to find your next stop.
One of the things that I rely on the most from the Good Sam website is their overall rating of campgrounds. They rate the Facility, Restrooms and Appeal all on a scale of 1 to 10 and they so far have been really accurate as far as I’m concerned. To me the most important rating they give is the restroom rating. If they give a place a 9 or a 10 for restrooms, I’m pretty sure they overall campground is well maintained and clean. It might not have the fanciest of pools or best playgrounds, but it will be clean and that’s important. (to me) Other RVers can leave reviews on this site as well, but I do mainly rely on the Good Sam Club site to find out what campgrounds are in the area and what are their ratings.
Campendium: I LOVE THIS WEBSITE! I use this website all the time. There are several things I like about this site. Most of the reviewers seem to be full-time, well experienced RVers. A lot of the people I encounter on this site reviewing campgrounds like the same kind of camping we do. Some of the reviews are works of art, in the sense that they are so well written and really thorough with their information about the campground. I have left a few reviews so far and I can only hope people have found mine as helpful and as enjoyable to read as I have found theirs. Another thing I like about this site is that you can sort very easily to show ONLY State Parks or County Parks or only RV Parks, whatever is your preference if you want to narrow done a search right away. There are also very nice pictures left with the review as well that really give you a good sense of what the campground is like. Reviewers can also link a blog post they may have written about a campground as well, which may really go into a lot more depth than the review did. And lastly what I like/love about this website is that one really gets (or at least I get) a real sense of community from this site. You do not have to pay to use the site and you don’t even have to register (although you do if you want to see the pictures of the reviews), but I would suggest registering because they send out a weekly newsletter with 5 star reviewed campgrounds from that week, which always has me ready to hop in the truck, hitch up the camper and get on the road. Great camping eye-candy. 🙂
Their rating system is based on 1 to 5 stars, 5 being the best and the reviews usually contain details like, the cost of the nightly stay, how long the person stayed and what kind of cell service they got while they stayed there.
Some Apps I use:
AllStays (Camp and RV): This app will detect the location you are in and show you campgrounds, reststops, pilot gas stations, wal-marts, RV related stops. You can filter out some type of stops or organize it however you like. I find it extremely helpful especially when we are on the road and we want to find out where is the next rest stop for example. You can find the AllStays App here:Camp & RV – Tent Camping to RV Parks – Allstays LLC
AllStays also offer a desktop version called AllStays Pro, that looks awesome for planning large, multi-stop road trips. We have not used it yet but do like the AllStays App and the company seems very good so I’m sure the AllStays Pro is great as well. You can find the AllStays Pro App, by clicking here.
RVParky: This app is similar to AllStays but a much simpler version, meaning you won’t get all the detailed info that AllStays offers but you will be able to zoom in on what campgrounds are in your area. I like the clean visual of this app and the way you can easily tell where the state parks are in the area your looking to camp. You can find the RVParky App here:RV Parky – RV Parks and More – LennyTerris
I also have the Good Sam Club App, KOA App and Google Maps App on my phone.
- Decide on a Campground: Once we have narrowed down a destination and then narrowed down a few campgrounds in that area that we’d like to look into. I start reading reviews and blogs like crazy until we pick one. Like I mentioned Campendium has great reviews so sometimes that’s all we need, but sometimes I dig a little further. I have several peoples blogs that I follow and we seem to have similar camping styles and taste so I will check their blogs to see if they’ve ever stayed at a campground I’m interested in and what they thought of it and then I will check places like Tripadvisor to see if there are any further reviews or different angles to look at of what the places are like. I have even read Facebook reviews on some places. Of course you can go nuts reading reviews and sometimes they can conflict with each other. I am mostly reading reviews to see if the campground is well maintained, how are the campsites (spacious or small, tree in the middle of it?), what is the best site to reserve if they tell you that, what kind of amenities are offered at the campground. If some just mentioned the staff was not friendly when they arrived, well I take that with a grain of salt but if they review that their campsite was full of trash, the bathrooms were not clean and they even leave pictures… we are moving on to another campground.
- Pick your dates and reserve your campsite. Do not assume that a campsite will be available when you show up. That’s why we are already planning our summer trips, especially. And forget about Florida. We have a trip planned in April of 2017 that we booked in July of 2016 and their weren’t many sites left even at that time. If you are looking to camp somewhere popular or camp during the busy season at a particular location. Make your reservations as soon as you can.
- Enjoy the planning process and have fun!
Once we have picked our destination and made our reservations. I can breathe for a few minutes and then I start planning what we will do once we get to that area. Usually the first place I go for a general idea of “Things to Do” in an area is Tripadvisor. From there I can branch out to the Chamber of Commerce’s website for that particular area or if that area has a “Visit _____” website. Like “Visit Myrtle Beach” those kind of websites usually have a lot of great information for what to do in their area. I also us the website Groupon when planning trips. Groupon has been around forever and you never know if a place you really wanted to visit while in an area will have a groupon going on during that time. You can often find Groupons for admission to places like Zoos, Museums or great deals at restaurants. We just purchased a Groupon for two nights of camping in a Georgia State Park, pretty cool.
A few other resources we use for trip planning are: the Idiot’s Guides: RV Vacations we always have this book on hand and look thru it to see what types of campgrounds, things to do and restaurants Jeremy and Stephanie recommend in an area we’re interested in visiting. I will also re-listen to one of their campground of the week podcasts if they are reviewing a campground that we’re interested in staying at. You can find their Podcast here: Campground of the Week – RVFTA Podcast Network You can also go on Instagram and look up hashtags like #visitmyrtlebeach or #exploregeorgia and see what kind of pictures and places they bring up to get some ideas from there.
So that’s how we go about our trip planning specifically for camping trips. I hope you have found this helpful and I have given you a few tips that you will use when planning your next camping trip. Let me know if you end up using any of them for the first time and how you liked it or if you already use some of the ideas I recommended. How do you plan your camping trip? I would love to hear about any great tips you might have.
Here is a Summary of this trip planning blog post:
- Pick a Destination
- Decide on a Campground
- Pick your dates and reserve your campsite
- Enjoy the planning and process and have fun.
Websites I find helpful:
- Good Sam Club
- Reserve America
- Local Chamber of Commerce websites
Apps I use:
- Good Sam Club
- Google Maps (what kind of Map App do you use?)
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