Thousand Trails is one of the more popular choices when it comes to RV campground subscriptions, but is it worth it for you and your needs? While I can’t answer that question for you, I can walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of paying for this as an RVer.
When it comes to the quality of a Thousand Trails campground, the results can vary greatly depending on where you want to stay and what type of contract you have. Me and my family have stayed primarily at three Thousand Trails campgrounds over the course of our travels, and each was of noticeably different quality. I’d like to tell you that there are easy ways to identify beforehand if one of their campgrounds is going to be a good fit, but it seems pretty hard to.
One campground we stayed at in San Diego was functional, but was located in an ugly, remote place with zero cell service.
Another we stayed at was in a bustling city in Florida, one that proved to be quite lovely, although we could only stay there a few days, due to a scarcity in available campsites.
And lastly, we stayed at one of their campgrounds in the Florida Keys, and this one was by far the best. Situated right beside the water and with great amenities, we had an absolutely fantastic time here.
Overall the resort campgrounds will be better, and you may experience better amenities if you’re a higher paying member. Despite my misgiving however, I will be the first to admit that all of their campgrounds are at the very least, serviceable, with functioning hook ups, showers, and laundry facilities. It’s just that some are more glamorous than others.
The price of Thousand Trails may depend on whether you get one of their older contracts (which you can buy through resale), and how many add ons you choose. The base price for their current contract is $630 annually, but this only covers one fifth of the U.S. This option should be fine if you plan on staying at only one campground, or if you don’t like to travel far, but if you’re explorers like my family, you’ll have to pay an additional $70 for each subsequent zone.
In addition, they also have the Trails subscription you can sign up for, coming in at $330 annually. With this, you get access to a select number of sites that Thousand Trails has reserved at other campgrounds. This can be good if you want more options, but I’ve found they still leave a lot of states completely void of any campgrounds at all.
Conveniences & Inconveniences
As mentioned before, Thousand Trails has had multiple tiers of subscription, and their contracts have changed a lot over the years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it will add a layer of complications when trying to decipher what you do and don’t get.
For one thing, newer members have a stricter limit on how far in advance they can book sites, and there will come plenty of times in which campgrounds simply won’t have any space for you if you show up last minute.
Who Is Thousand Trails For?
All of this begs the question: who is Thousand Trails for? Certainly it’s not for the adventurer with an exact destination in mind. Nor is for the luxury camper who only wants the absolute finest. There are, I believe, three criteria that you must have in order for me to recommend a Thousand Trails membership to you.
The first would be if you’re a full time RVer who needs to be centralized most of the time.
Next, you can’t be picky about where you travel to when you do have time for a road trip.
And lastly, you must also be located in one of these states (Washington, California, Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, or in the general North East U.S.). As you can see from their infographic, Thousand Trails only has campgrounds in about half the U.S., and while they do have campgrounds in such places as Nevada, Colorado, and Tennessee, your options will be extremely limited if you live in any of these places.
If you meet all three of these requirements, I think Thousand Trails will be a good fit for you. You could, of course, pay any regular campground for long term staying, and that might benefit you more if you know a great campground that will give you a discounted monthly rate, but if not, then Thousand Trails is your next best bet.
If you’re still unsure bout whether Thousand Trails is worth it, think about what kind of campground you need, and think about the kind of RV lifestyle you desire. Lastly, if you don’t want to stay at Thousand Trails, but you need to save some money while RV living, try these. You can also check our our sister blog for a more personal and in depth take on how much it cost for our family of 7 to live nomadically.