CarsCampers & MotorhomesAuto Buying & SellingAuto RepairTrucks, SUVs, & VansMotorcycles & ScootersAll-Terrain VehiclesSafe DrivingCommercial VehiclesAutomotive Industry

What Is the Best Type of RV Camping You Can Afford?

Updated on August 23, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I am an avid RV enthusiast who has traveled, lived, workcamped and volunteered nationwide for more than 50 years and am still going strong!

RV Camping has come a long way since the old days of the $5 a night mom and pop parks, but with those improvements have come increasingly high costs.

In fact, it has gotten to the point that many people can no longer afford to take the types of vacations they’ve enjoyed in the past. Some have even been forced to stop RVing altogether due to budget considerations.

What many people don’t realize is that there are huge pricing differences when it comes to renting a campsite. So if they do some research, they most likely can find places that are affordable.

The bigger question, however, is whether a facility they can afford will be one they want to visit!

A guide to help RVers learn about the costs of various types of RV campgrounds.
A guide to help RVers learn about the costs of various types of RV campgrounds. | Source

The Hype

When you are in the process of shopping for recreational vehicles, what dealers try to sell you is the dream.

It’s a good move for them, because they know that most buyers have been dreaming of getting away from their everyday lives using an RV to take them to pristine campgrounds that overlook unimaginable scenic beauty.

The point the dealers steer clear of is the cost of staying at these types of places. It is only when people start planning their trips that they realize that affordability may well stop them from having their dream!

The sad truth is that over time, RV camping has mostly become a rich man’s activity.

Your wealthy RV owner has purchased a larger and more costly coache that requires more space, better electrical hookups and security. He also has started demanding exclusivity. He wants to limit people of lower status from ruining his own camping experience.

While there are still many nice parks for people to enjoy, those who want all the bells and gongs are finding out that they simply cannot afford them.

Thus, those who want to enjoy RVing must find campgrounds that are both acceptable and affordable. This is not always easy to do.

Your choice of campground experience may be limited by how much you can afford to pay.
Your choice of campground experience may be limited by how much you can afford to pay. | Source

How Much Are You Able to Pay ?

If the best you can afford is a $15 a night campground, you’re going to be scrambling to find sites when you travel because unless you use measures that will reduce costs, you will be hard pressed to find anything.

Even Corps of Engineers parks are now charging $30 per night!

For $40 per night you’ll be able to stay at a mid-level park with basic amenities that is relatively clean and well managed.

If you decide that you want to live in it year-round you’ll pay an average of $5,000 to $6,000 plus electricity.

A park like this would be one that is relatively well located and have

  • a club house,
  • laundry room,
  • a swimming pool and
  • some limited activities,

but may or may not offer much more for residents.

These types of campgrounds often rent lots for $400 to $600 per month plus electricity to people who only want to use them on a monthly basis.

A Typical Mid-Level Campground

More Expensive RV Camping

If you are willing to pay up to twice the cost of a mid level park, you can camp in a park that has

  • a beautiful, active club house,
  • structured and constant activities,
  • a Jacuzzi or two,
  • beautifully manicured, wide sites with WIFI, Cable, full hookups and 50 -100 amp electric service,
  • security services around the clock
  • and more.

On a nightly basis such a campground will allow you to stay for around $60 to $80 per night. However, some of them require visitors to have motor homes that are newer than 10 years of age, are in good condition and are preferably expensive ones. Some permit travel trailers as well, but under the same guidelines. Many also have RV length limits.

Some of these parks sell, but will not rent, RV lots to people and will only rent them on a limited stay basis.

The one I show in the video above sells lots for $100,000 to $200,000! (and you still have to pay for your utilities and property taxes plus an annual maintenance fee!), but you can rent a spot there for $59 and up nightly.

A More Expensive Campground in Las Vegas, NV

High End Luxury Parks

These are the places the salesmen have led you to believe are those you can afford and will fulfill all of your RV camping fantasies. However, many have the same restrictions as the mid level parks and more.

You better get your wallet out if you plan to rent a campsite because it can cost between $123 and $275 per night to stay in one of them.

So what do they have that the others don’t that makes them so expensive?

  • Many are located on water or in places that have spectacular, scenic views.
  • They offer a plethora of activities that have been created to suit every taste.
  • All have lush and well-manicured landscaping.
  • Security is strict.
  • They are gated and patrolled to keep the “riff-raff” (you and me) out.
  • Many offer amenities such as golf courses, movie theaters, clean laundry rooms and even live stage shows.

If you can afford to stay in them, they definitely offer the best level of RV camping anybody could want.

Examples are Disney’s Fort Wilderness in Orlando, Florida ($123 per night), and Polson Motor Coach and RV Resort in the Flathead region of Montana ($275 per night).

You can stay for less in most of these resort spots if you go off-season, but prices will still be high.

RVers who visit them know they are being overcharged, but it doesn’t matter to them because they are fulfilling the “dream” that they’ve had all of their lives.

They don’t realize that as long as they are willing to pay exorbitant prices like this, the parks will keep charging!

They also don’t understand that they can have marvelous camping experiences for much less simply by doing some good research and planning.

A High End Luxury Campground

What Else is Available to the Average RVer

The bottom line is that while you may not be able to afford to visit the high end parks or may not have a coach that allows you to enter some of them, you can still find nice campgrounds with good amenities that will give you great RV camping experiences.

You do this by

  • following the advice in How to Save a Small Fortune on Your Camping Costs
  • doing internet research,
  • joining discount camping clubs such as Passport America,
  • taking advantage of national park discount passes and
  • finding out where the low cost and free campgrounds are located by using books such as the Guide to Free and Low Cost Campgrounds which I show above.

This book is extremely good to have and will save you a great deal of work. My husband and I have used it for years to help us offset the increasingly high costs of RV parks.

RV campground prices will continue to rise, but among them you should always be able to find many that will meet your basic needs.

Good Luck!

Do you now think you'll be able to find campgrounds that suit your needs?

See results

© 2014 TIMETRAVELER2

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
    Author

    TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago

    firstday: Thanks so much. Once in awhile I'll post an RV article over there just to see if anybody has an interest...apparently you do! I have a ton of RV articles here, so you may want to take a look. It's a great way to travel, that's for sure. Thanks for stopping by.

  • firstday profile image

    R Beggs 2 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

    I can't wait until this is part of my life...welcome to TSU...like seeing your posts...Thanks for posting this article...so nice to have it pop up without having to leave TSU...This article makes me think of the higher end RV's and you never know. Keep up the good work...I love to see your writing. Thumbs up, interesting, and useful if you ask me. :) I am your friend in TSU @Rebeccabe

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
    Author

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

    Michael-Milec Thanks for your kind words...it's always nice to know that people are learning different things from the articles I write!

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
    Author

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

    Nadine May Well, the US has many, many RVs and most are owned by every day people like you and me. Thanks for reading.

  • Michael-Milec profile image

    Michael-Milec 3 years ago

    Hi TIMETRAVELER2.

    Excellently written , well composed article, pleasure to read your professional style, much have learned from . Though it never be given me any opportunity RV-ing, I have gain an understanding of pleasure/sacrifices of those who have chance and choose to pursue this popular pastime.

    Voted up, useful and interesting.

  • Nadine May profile image

    Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

    Interesting article on a topic I know nothing about. I've seen these RV's on the TV but they were used by wealthy people who used them for their holiday trips. We do not have them in South Africa.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
    Author

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

    phdast7 Your brother's choice is a perfect example of how one can use a small RV to enjoy without spending a ton of money. We actually sold an older Airstream we had years ago to someone who did the exact same thing with it! Small world, huh? Are you still itching lol??

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
    Author

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

    sallybea: I cannot comment about costs outside of the US, unfortunately, but surely you could afford a small camper van for vacations there. I Traveled in a standard van once all the way from Florida to Canada with my husband and my German Shepherd for three weeks and we had a terrific time. Hope you get to give it a go, and thanks for stopping by.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
    Author

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

    billybuc: This one was tricky to write because I know people want to see actual figures...problem is that the range is so wide depending on the choices people make that showing figures is tough. I do have an article about the real cost of owning an RV that I'm sure you've already read, but other than that, cost issues are wide open! Nice to see you again, my friend.

  • phdast7 profile image

    Theresa Ast 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    Excellent and well-balanced presentation as always. You give people encouragement and hope, but also remind them to do their homework first, be realistic, and match their RV plans to their real income. My younger brother bought a very small old RV and it serves as his camping and hunting base.

    It is fairly primitive, but it is just perfect when he and my son go hunting. They can sleep under the stars if they want, but if they need the warmth or safety of their "Hunting Camper" they have it. And it has been a very reasonable financial investment for them. Gtreat Hub! Hope all is well. :) Theresa

  • sallybea profile image

    Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

    Very interesting. I guess I am not alone in wishing I could have a mobile home. I love to travel but owning a RV with petrol and camp sites being so expensive in the UK I very much doubt this would ever be an option for unless one were to travel abroad with a very small campervan. No harm in dreaming though.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Nice job of answering a question I'm sure many are asking. We still haven't totally decided what we will do when the time comes...stay tuned.