You Must Plan Ahead

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 012016

Apparently some folks don’t understand my twisted sense of humor. So just to clear the air, no, I did not change my car’s horn to gunshots as I said in yesterday’s thought for the day. Four different people posted blog comments or sent me e-mails to say that was scary or dangerous and I might get shot or arrested. It was a joke, folks, I promise.

I’ve been hearing a lot from people complaining that they have decided to spend the winter in Florida or Arizona, and now they can’t get reservations at the places they want to go using Passport America or Thousand Trails, or at most RV parks.

Yes, folks, that’s the way it is. This is peak season, and if you snooze you lose. We have spent many, many winters in Florida, Arizona, and across the Sunbelt. Just like we have spent summers in popular places like the Oregon and Washington coast, and even one in New England. It can be done, but you have to plan ahead.

We don’t like making schedules and having to have reservations in place far ahead of time, but the reality is, there are only so many RV spaces available and a whole lot of people who want them. Somebody complaining to me about the lack of sites in Florida said that he understood that campgrounds like to have reservations ahead of time, but it was his feeling that they should leave maybe 25% of their sites open for drive-up customers.

Why? If you owned or managed a campground and you had guaranteed 100% occupancy, with reservations made and a deposit paid far in advance, why would you instead leave a fourth of your sites open because somebody might show up at the last minute? What if they don’t show up? That’s lost revenue, and no business can survive by losing money.

One of the complaints was about Passport America, whose members have access to over 1800 campgrounds nationwide, usually at half price. The person who wrote me said that he has not been able to find a Passport America campground on either the East or West coast of Florida that he can use during January and February. No, you probably won’t. Again, why would a campground do that? The reason they join discount camping clubs is to fill empty sites during their slow periods. If it’s June and a good number of your sites are sitting empty, half of something is better than all of nothing. But in your busiest time of year, when you’re turning people away, why would you want to rent a campsite for half price? I sure wouldn’t do it!

Again folks, plan ahead. Yeah, I know, we all want to think we’re free spirited gypsies running up and down the road in our RVs without a care in the world, stopping wherever we want to on a whim, and then taking off whenever the mood strikes us, looking for a new adventure. That’s great, but it doesn’t really happen like that. Not in a popular location during their peak periods. Work within the systems if you have a campground membership, plan ahead and make your reservations well in advance if you want to be assured of a place. How soon is too soon? There’s no such thing. In popular places like the Florida Keys, some RVers make their reservations a year in advance, and renew them before they leave at the end of the season.

Yes, I know. It sucks. But it’s kind of like eating your vegetables – you may not want to, but you have to, like it or not.

It’s Thursday, and you know what that means. It’s time to kick off a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Mountain Angel by my friend Suzie O’Connell. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.


Thought For The Day – I don’t have the time nor the crayons to explain this to you.

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Nick Russell

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  8 Responses to “You Must Plan Ahead”

  1. Great article, just goes to show the stupidity and or lack of common sense of a lot of people. You would think that the public would understand the concept of booking a campsite in popular areas. The same is true in all areas of the country at some time of the year.

  2. Yeah: Just try in May or June to make reservations for July at Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone NP; The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO; the Greenbrier Inn, White Sulphur Springs, WV: Isabelle’s Beach House, Martha’s Vineyard or Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, CA. There will be many disappointments.

    We got our first (of seven) rvs in 1967 in San Jose, CA. Last few years we’ve spent about 6-7 months each year on the road.

    Nick/Terry enjoyed your Gypsy Journal rally in Casa Grande, AZ Feb 2007; Escapade/SKP rally in Gillette, WY in 2008 and Gaylord Maxwell’s Life on Wheels rally, San Marcos, TX, 1997.

  3. We spent 19 weeks in FL one winter. Don’t recall making reservations ahead. Stayed at Elks, Moose, VFW, Am Leg. We were welcomed with open arms and they didn’t want us to leave when we were ready to move on.

  4. My wife and I have been going to central Florida for the last several years and have had no trouble finding a park with last minute vacancies, we do not use membership parks but do use snowbird parks in Dade City/Zephyr Hills area. We did not go to Florida last year but instead spent the winter in Tucson, also without reservations, we did have to dry camp for about 4 days in a military Famcamp before getting a full hookup site. We actually enjoy dry camping for a few days. The main reason we don’t make reservations is we sometimes get hitch itch in the middle of a stay and want to move to a different area, I know this doesn’t work for everyone but this has been our way for the last 20 years and it still works for us.

  5. Jon, I not sure it is stupidity or lack of common sense in all cases. First the discount parks strongly suggest they can be used all the time. They certainly don’t discuss sold out parks when selling the memberships, and if you are new to RVing, don’t read the RV magazines, etc., how would you know. Keep in mind that you are experienced RVers that learned a lot, some of it the hard way. These people may learn from experience or just might complain to the grave and beyond. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. Most of us will get smarter as we get older.

  6. There’s likely plenty of room in the Rio Grande Valley/South Texas
    2 Years ago it was very hard to get sites in Tucson or Mesa, just for the second week of March! AZ is way too popular/crowded for us, and the parks are much more expensive than in TX, albeit much nicer in AZ – if that’s important…

  7. If you want to be that freestyle gypsy spirit and don’t want to book your spot ahead of time, you can always try other locations! Isn’t that what a true free spirit would do?
    Me personally, I can hardly handle the thought of being south of I-10.

  8. It is amazing the thought wave of some people when it comes to this lifestyle. It was not to long ago that you could do just that. You could roam this country without a reservation period and always find a spot. Not in todays world though. There are more and more people joining the ranks of RV’ers and less RV parks available. Its a tough business for these parks, and they do what anyone of us would do if we owned that park. Good blog post Nick as always.

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