I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to make the most of their RV vacations.
If you are one of the many RV travelers who have had problems finding camping spots in recent years, it is important for you to understand the issues involved with overcrowding so that you can come up with ways to deal with them.
Overcrowding puts a dent in people’s vacation plans, costs them more money than they would like to spend and sometimes keeps them from finding places to stay when they are on the road.
These things are frustrating and can create a certain amount of discomfort for travelers, but you need to understand that there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from the types of problems that overcrowding creates.
Why Is This Happening?
In the past RV travel was a simple matter of choosing a destination, packing up, hitting the road and then using your campground guide to help you find sites for any given day. No reservations were needed because there were always spaces available.
However, in recent years traveling this way has become increasingly difficult due to the ever growing numbers of people who are buying and traveling in campers, travel trailers and motor homes.
According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, in 2017 504,599 RVs were shipped, which is an increase over the previous year of 17.2%. This adds up to more than a million more travel units on the road if you add one tow vehicle per RV into the mix.
Since the majority of RV owners travel during the summer months and most like to visit the more popular tourist areas, it’s pretty easy to see why finding camping sites in some areas is becoming a problem.
Whether you run into problems or not depends on where you go, when you go and how well you plan.
For many years now I have been stressing the importance of taking the time to make careful travel plans.
If you don’t do this, you’re going to find yourself
- being stuck without a place to park your coach,
- paying far more for a site than you had expected and
- dealing with heavy traffic.
It is very difficult to create a plan once you are on the road. However, if you do so while you are at home, you can totally control you ability to have campsites waiting for you upon arrival to your various destinations and pay a reasonable amount to rent them.
One of the most helpful articles you can read about this subject is How to Estimate the Cost of Your Next RV Trip. Doing so will save you a ton of time and a great deal of frustration, so do take the time to give it a look!
Do Some Research
Creating a good plan requires a good deal of research.
Taking the time to learn about the areas you wish to visit provides you with pricing information and also lets you know the best dates for going to see them if you want to avoid crowding problems.
Research will also help you find free and inexpensive camping facilities along the way that will help you to reduce your overall costs.
Live for Free in Your RV provides good information about find such sites.
Use Helpful Books
Informational books such as The Good Sam RV Travel and Savings Guideare great resources to use because they provide direct contact numbers and other important information for camping facilities all over the country. My husband and I have used this guide forever and have found it invaluable.
We use it to plan trips as well as to help us get important information while we’re traveling. We would never take an RV trip without keeping it on board.
You can use this information to call RV parks and find out if they will have sites available on the dates you expect to visit, what the costs will be and similar important information.
Avoid Popular Places
There are approximately nine million RV owners. If all of them went to the same places at the same time, they would create a nighmare’s worth of problems for each other.
We live in a beautiful country that provides numerous wonderful places to visit.
You can enjoy camping at most of them and will find them just as great to see as the more popular areas, but without the crowding problems.
One of the most pleasant experiences my husband and I ever had was when we found a small fishing area in Montana called WolfCreek. It was serene and the scenery was magnificent. The fishing was fantastic, and it cost us nothing to camp there!
There are many such spots, and all are worth seeing, but people miss them because they think they have to go to all of the special events and big venues.
It’s a choice you make, but if crowds are a problem for you, it is one worth considering.
Travel During the off Season
The wonderful places you visit in the summer are just as terrific in other seasons of the year.
Seeing them during those times gives you more freedom and better access and also can save you money.
Most people RV during the summer months because their children are out of school, but if you don’t have kids, there really is no reason for vacationing at those times.
By traveling during the off season you get an entirely different and more relaxing vacation experience, so if you don’t have children, this can be a smart way to go.
Buy an RV Lot
One of the best ways to avoid overcrowding is to buy a deeded RV lot in a popular vacation area.
The Best and Worst Points of Buying a Deeded RV Lot explains more about this option, but if all you want is an opportunity to enjoy a camping experience without having to tolerate the problems that come with overcrowding, this might be a good choice for you.
Owning a campsite guarantees you’ll have a spot waiting for you. One of the best benefits is that you can leave your RV on it year round. This makes driving much easier and faster, so you get a great travel experience without the hassle.
Avoid Coastal Areas
Since the majority of Americans live on the East and WestCoasts, you would be wise to avoid those areas because the locals fill campsites before you can ever get to them and traffic is usually horrible.
You want to go to areas that have more open spaces that are beautiful, peaceful and still offer activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, bird watching and the like.
Your Good Sam Travel Guide will help you to find them.
If you like going to the more popular tourist areas, you might want to give volunteering a try.
There are many jobs that offer free campsites with hookups. If you take advantage of them you can work part time and enjoy an entire summer of camping at no cost.
The work is easy and fun. Furthermore, volunteering gives you the opportunity to get to know people and learn more about the area you are visiting. It’s one of the best ways to visit popular places and not have to compete for a campsite!
What You Need to Know About RV Volunteering provides helpful information on this topic.
Privately owned campgrounds hire seasonal help every year to help with the overflow of RVers that come their way.
There are many parks all over the country that will give you a full hookup site as well as an hourly wage in exchange for your labor.
This is a great way to avoid crowds and also reduce the cost of your vacations.
You 40 hours a week but still have plenty of time to sightsee, so it’s a pretty good deal.
The Choice Is Yours
As you can see, there are many ways you can travel in your camper, trailer or motor home without having to fight the crowds.
Overcrowding clearly is becoming a problem and one that will continue to grow, but if you handle it correctly, you can still enjoy your coach and your vacations with only minimal problems.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on November 15, 2018:
Poppy: Thanks for commenting. Sounds like you had fun as a kid!
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on November 14, 2018:
We never had an RV, but we used to camp a lot in tents when we were younger. As a fairly poor family, we always went off-season because it was much cheaper and I have memories of listening to the rain (but being very cosy and warm) in tents in winter. There were people in RVs too, and I imagine going during peak season (summer in Scotland) would make it difficult to find a nice spot. These are great tips for people owning one of those impressive vehicles.
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on August 09, 2018:
Lisa Westwood: Thanks. I do think people need to know that this problem exists so that they can take steps to avoid problems. Hopefully they will!
Liz Westwood from UK on August 09, 2018:
This is a very useful and interesting article. I still have vivid memories of going from site to site in my parents' camper van many years ago because they were full around Lake Garda, Italy in the summer.