I have started to research the many RV clubs out there trying to figure out what might be the best for us. We’ve always had AAA for our cars, but I couldn’t find good information on their RV assistance. So, by default when we purchased the motorhome, we went with Good Sam Platinum. We get a discount on campgrounds with the Good Sam Membership, a number to call for technical assistance (which for the first year might prove to be invaluable, or a complete waste depending on who is on the other end of the line), and most importantly, tow coverage for the RV & our cars. We will evaluate how useful this club is over the next year.
There are many other clubs out there so I decided to jot down my thoughts about them now and see if anyone has any input on what else is beneficial to join. We plan on only really traveling around 3-4 months a year, as the other remaining months we will (hopefully) be working and in one spot (although probably moving around the city we are working in).
Escapees – this is a popular club, with lots of supporters. They seem to really focus on fulltimers, which is great, but I also get the feeling they are more for retirees (which makes sense). They have special parks for their members, lots of niche groups and seminars. Since we aren’t retired, I don’t see us being able to take advantage of a lot of what they offer, unless we decide to domicile in Texas (which currently we are leaning away from, even though Texas was going to be our next relo spot before this RV craziness entered the picture). While we want to check out a rally eventually, I am not sure it’s on our top must do list for the first year. I am leaning towards waiting on this club, and maybe talking to a few people that are involved to see if there is something I am missing that we could really use. **update 3/31/15: We’ve been Escapees members a year as we did decide to domicile in Texas in 2014. We’ve been beyond impressed with Escapees as a mail forwarding service. We haven’t used the discount much and haven’t attended a rally, but the people and service have been top notch.**
Passport America – This club bills itself as the original 50% discount camping club. I am all about a deal, so 50% off sounds wonderful. However, while there is a great deal of campgrounds listed, I looked at the route we plan on taking in December and didn’t really find any that would work. It’s $44 to get a membership, and while I can see that being recouped quickly depending on where you are traveling, part of me also doesn’t want to be limited to certain parks or areas just for the ‘deal’. It also seems like many campgrounds have restrictions that the discount is only good for one night, or not on the weekends. That makes sense from a business perspective, but from a consumer perspective, it is even more limiting.
Happy Camper Club – Another 50% off club, it requires no contracts, no home park and no point systems. Excellent. Yet, I still found a limited number of parks that we would take advantage of, along with restrictions at many of them. The biggest detractor for me was the site navigation. Lists of campgrounds do not help me – I would much rather see on a map where they are versus searching through a scrolling list and hunting & pecking to see if they come close to my route. Another club that might be great for those set to wander, but I am not sure it is for us, especially at $39.99 a year.
FMCA – The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) has a range of benefits, from emergency road service, to a mail forwarding service. It’s a professional looking site complete with relatively active forums. The focus does seem to be social and indicates the greatest member benefit is fun & camaraderie of other RVers. However, I am still not sold for $50 a year, as many of the benefits overlap what we already purchased with Good Sam. Perhaps this is a superior service, or maybe just an alternate others have chosen. This is another club that I look forward to chatting with people about to see if the benefits are worth it.
CampClub USA – Here is another 50% club, with a yearly rate of $49.99. This site has a mapping function that lists the potential campgrounds that are associated with the club on a route (of course, this provides the direct freeway route, but at least it helps with where the campgrounds are located in relation to your general direction) How up to date it is remains to be seen, as the first campground I clicked on took me to a dead URL. My expectation is if this is a paid service, links would be kept up with. When I clicked on another campground to get details, it merely refreshed the map. Not so helpful after all. I fared much better by just using the find a campground location, and having it load in google maps. This is the first club that has a campground on our planned route for December, but I again remain skeptical if it is worth the money.
Overall, I am not really sold on joining clubs – I am not sure it fits into our travel plans & needs. Has anyone joined these clubs? I would love to hear feedback. Have I missed a great club that is out there? Let us know!