Is Thousand Trails Right for You?

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Campground memberships (Thousand Trails, Good Sams, Escapees, etc.), much like timeshares are either the greatest thing ever or the most cursed at by others (or, there’s the relatively few rational folk who see it as a tool in their quiver). Many times on forums, you’ll see the question asked, “Is (insert topic/thing here) good for me?”

I think the simplest answer is, “YES, if you use it.” (bold, italics and underlined!) Basically, if you are going to buy something with a regularly yearly fee that you’re responsible for, it’s only “worth it” if you’re going to use it and get your money out of it.

The question about Thousand Trails recently came up on RV.net and someone (nazpaz) posted in response, essentially that you have to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do I like the Thousand Trails parks as a camping destination? This includes not only the general location of the parks but also the lifestyle and feel of the parks themselves.
  2. About how many nights per year will I use my membership at the parks that I have access to?
  3. What will my yearly dues be and include? And what will my average per night cost end up being?

If you say “no” to the first one, the decision tree stops. There’s no point in continuing further.

If you say “yes” to the first one, then the decision tree continues to the last question – given the per night cost, is that comparable or cheaper than what you would be paying if you didn’t have a membership? Keeping in mind, the membership dues are required even if you don’t use your membership to it’s fullest extent.

As always, I encourage everyone to go into decisions eyes-wide-open. I wrote about my overall experience with Thousand Trails and a very general review of it. You need to be aware that there are some limitations and catches on your membership. But, for me – it’s a good deal.

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