Jeff Flowers on March 25, 2015 10 Comments What Should You Consider When Finding an RV Park? RVing offers people the chance to get out on the open road while still being comfortable. Over the last 100 years, the recreational vehicle (RV) has evolved from European-styled wagons to 40-foot luxury motor coaches, complete with all the amenities of a custom-built home. But where do you go? If you’re an avid RVer or are considering a life on the road, here is a guide on what you need to consider when looking for an RV park for a temporary or long-term stay. What Kind of Equipment Do You Own? Know your equipment before heading out. Whether you own a motorized, towable, specialty or park-model RV, make sure each campground or RV park is even able to accommodate your vehicle. What Amenities and Services Do You Require? RVers tend to share the sense of adventure and freedom that comes with extended travel. With that also come a few inconveniences due to a constant change in location. While most modern RV parks strive to minimize these inconveniences as much as possible, no two campgrounds are the same. Consider these commonly provided services and amenities and decide which ones are most important to you: Utility Hookups: The vast majority of RV parks provide full electric, water and sewer hookups, but it’s always a good idea to double check prior to booking or arrival. Internet Access: More and more parks are now offering this service. Like hotels, you may not get free WiFi, but rather pay a small fee to get on the web. If you work remotely or otherwise require web access, be sure to double check, if they even have internet access, as well as the cost of the service. Resort Amenities: If you’re looking for a pool, fitness center, laundry facility, recreation or social hall, you will find that many campgrounds do offer an array of resort-style amenities. But these types of extracurricular amenities are not always offered. So, if it’s important to you, be sure to call and check before booking. Mail Service: If you plan to be on the road for an extended period of time, you may wish to have your mail held and delivered to a particular destination. Keep in mind, however, that most short-term parks do not accept mail. Long-Term Leasing: Traditional campgrounds typically limit stays to between 10 and 14 days. However, many RV parks offer monthly lease terms, particularly during the summer season. It all really depends on the location. If you do plan to stay in a location for more than two weeks, it’s wise to ask for a monthly rate. It’ll save you a few bucks. Activities: If you enjoy the community atmosphere that accompanies this particular lifestyle, look for facilities that host gatherings, game nights or other social activities. You may even consider visiting a campground that caters specifically to senior citizens, golfers, outdoor enthusiasts or LGBT communities. Location: Not all RV parks are situated in scenic or quiet areas. Do some research. Google Maps is an excellent resource for obtaining aerial views of actual slip sites, and may even offer street view of the resort so you can see what it looks like, as well as other establishments near it. If you’re looking to stay near a particular attraction, city or simply want to be lost in nature, then location might be your deciding factor. How to Research RV Parks In the past, RVers relied on guidebooks and atlases, such as Frommer’s Best RV & Tent Campgrounds directory. This is still a useful resource, especially when you don’t have internet access. However, there are many digital directories and smartphone apps available online that can give you in-depth details on campgrounds all around the United States. Here are three great resources to start with. Woodall’s Trailer Life Passport America While these are still effective research methods, your best bet is to go online and try to hunt down the official websites of the RV park you are looking into staying at. This is where you’ll find the most current information, news and list of rules or amenities offered. Plus, there is likely an option to book directly on the site. Some seasoned RVers have found that hard-copy directories are not as broad as web-based lists and tend to focus on private, federal or other specific type of facility. Moreover, others have complained that the reviews in these hard-copy directories are not as accurate and up-to-date as those found on the Internet. In some cases, the larger hard-copy advertisements unfairly correlated with the highest reviews. While each reviewer is going to provide a different experience, the Internet at least gives you the most recent comments. It also gives you the ability to quickly filter through your desired locations, specifications and prices, and you can easily use Google Maps to for further investigation. Public Campgrounds A perk of staying at state and national parks is that you typically know what to expect as far as amenities. Plus, they’re location based, so you will likely enjoy some enjoyable scenery, lake access or an interesting monument. Some state have excellent websites full of information and booking options, while others provide a simple listing of parks that allow camping. Most federal campgrounds utilize Recreation.gov or ReserveAmerica.com as a central reservation system. If you need additional information, refer to the following sites: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/map/finder.shtml http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en.html http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/visitors/visitors.cfm http://forestcamping.com Some government parks operate strictly on a first-come, first-served basis, but most allow for both advanced reservations and walk-ins. Keep in mind, however, that many RV parks charge both a park entrance fee and a camping fee. Don’t forget about municipal government. Some cities provide excellent campsites and service options. Look into the local chamber of commerce or tourism websites for more information. Private Campgrounds When you choose private parks or campgrounds, you can enjoy an array of discount and membership options. Thousands of campsites currently partner with booking sites like Passport America, Happy Camper, Camp Club USA and Escapees. When you sign up for an annual membership with one of these providers, you are likely to snag discounts of up to 50% during the off-season. You can also use informational websites like Camping.com and CasinoCamper.com as supplemental directories. Boondockers If you’re looking to save money, BoondockersWelcome.com might be a good option. This is a network of RVers helping RVers by allowing them to park overnight on their private property. Aside from a modest membership fee for both host and guest, the service is free and offers hundreds of searchable listings. Check Reviews Once you’ve selected a site, be sure to read a few online reviews to see what other guests are saying. However, like user reviews for everything else you don’t focus solely on ratings. Even negative feedback about a remote location may be beneficial to travelers looking for a bit of solitude. RVParkReviews.com provides an extensive supply of current reviews. You can always check out the RV park on Yelp as well. Walk-ins If you don’t like being committed to a reservation, consider traveling on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Arriving early on one of these days it the best way to ensure a walk-in spot. If in doubt, call ahead the day of arrival. With plenty of information at your disposal, choosing an RV park is an easy task. Once you develop your own routine, you are sure to find a set of tricks that best works for you.