Big Shoals on the Suwannee River, Florida's largest rapids, White Springs, FL, 11/05

Should You Be A Member Of One Or More RV Clubs?

The short answer is Yes. Why? Because membership is relatively cheap and you will more than make up the annual membership fees if you take advantage of just a few benefits of being a member.

So Which Club or Clubs Should You Join?

Well, which club or clubs is a matter of preference. Here are factors to consider:

  • How Much Can You Afford Annually?

  • How Much Can You Recoup In Benefits As A Member?

  • Why Do You Want To Be A Member?

  • Are You Joining For Benefits Offered Or To Be Part Of A Group With Similar Interests?

  • How Much Do You Want To Be Involved In A Club?

  • If You Have Been In Clubs Before, Did You Use Your Benefits?

  • If You Have Been In Clubs Before, Was It A Valuable Experience?

  • Do You Want To Be A Member For Benefits Or To Meet People?

  • Do You Want To Be A Member Of A Club Catering To Owners Of Your Type Or Brand Of RV?

    Narrowing The Choices

    Here is your dilemma. There are over 80 different general RV clubs and membership associations. There are over 20 different campground discount and membership clubs. And there are over 70 different RV owners clubs for particular manufacturers or RV models.

    General RV Clubs & Associations

    There are just so many of these clubs and associations, that it would be almost impossible to discuss specifics here. However, let's talk about them in general terms and then identify a few of the mainstream organizations.

    By general RV clubs & associations, I mean those that cater to RVers and have numerous different benefits for their members. They may be for specific target groups of RVers or for the general RVing population.

    Examples of niche groups are Loners on Wheels for single campers and RVers, the 50-2-60 RVers Club for those in their 50s & 60s, RVing FlyFishers for the obvious, the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) for owners of motorhomes, and Escapees which is a general RV club with great resources for full-timers. FMCA and Escapees are two of the more widely known and have thousands of members.

    On the more general side is the Good Sam Club which has around 1 million members and is the largest RV club. There is also the Explorer RV Club which is Canada's largest club, RV Club, RV Consumer Group, National RV Owners Club, and many more.

    These general clubs even have smaller groups within them based on geography or special interests. These clubs offer 10% to 15% discounts at campgrounds and they offer a variety of other benefits to members.

    Campground Discount and Membership Clubs

    First we have to distinguish between membership clubs and discount clubs.

    A campground membership club is one in which you purchase a membership up front to a particular campground that is part of an association of private campgrounds. The up front fee can be a few hundred dollars or several thousand dollars.

    Then you pay annual dues for the right to stay at associated campgrounds for discounted overnight fees. The dues I have seen range from around $100 per year up to a few hundred per year.

    Examples of campground membership clubs are Thousand Trails and Coast to Coast.

    Discount clubs are ones whose primary purpose is to provide RVers with deeper discounts on stays at several hundred campgrounds across the country. With membership you get 50% off of normal nightly rates at affiliated campgrounds.

    Examples of the 50% discount clubs are Passport America, the Happy Campers Club, and the new Camp Club USA which is affiliated with Good Sam.

    Campgrounds affiliate with the discount clubs because they help them fill spaces that would otherwise not get filled.

    You see, the campgrounds offer 50% discounts through the discount clubs on their off-peak seasons, slow days, and non-premium campsites. Some campgrounds offer the 50% discount without restrictions, but many do not allow the discounts on weekends, holidays, or in peak camping seasons.

    Passport America - Save 50% At over 1100 Campgrounds in the USA, Canada and Mexico

    RV Owners Clubs

    If you do an internet search on virtually any RV manufacturer, and often specific models, you are likely to find an RV owners club. Some are run by the manufacturers themselves, but many are started simply by a group of enthusiastic owners.

    There are wide varieties in the formality of these clubs. Some have formal requirements to be a member. In most, anyone can be a member. Some have hosted forums online for owners to discuss questions and problems related to their rigs. Some require an application and fee to join, while many are free.

    My advice. Once you purchase an RV, be sure to find out about its owners club. This can be an invaluable resource in obtaining information about your specific rig.