Thousand Trails can be a popular choice for RVers due to its network of campgrounds across the US, offering cost-effective access. However, its value depends on your travel style and locations. Advantages include savings on camping fees and access to amenities, but limitations like reservation restrictions and membership costs may be drawbacks. Assessing these factors against your needs is key.
Thousand Trails campgrounds vary greatly in quality, contingent on location and contract type. My family and I have stayed at three primary Thousand Trails campgrounds during our travels, and we noticed distinct differences in each one’s quality. Identifying in advance if a specific campground will suit your needs seems quite challenging.
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 membership 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.
Thousand Trails membership only operates in about half the U.S., limiting options for those in states like Nevada, Colorado, and Tennessee. Residents in Washington, California, Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, or the general North East U.S. have access, but for others, choices may be limited. If you meet these criteria, Thousand Trails could be a good fit. Alternatively, paying a regular campground for long-term stays might benefit you, especially if they offer a discounted monthly rate. If uncertain about Thousand Trails, consider the campground you need and your desired RV lifestyle. If not Thousand Trails, explore other options to save while RV living, or check our sister blog for a more personal take on nomadic family costs.