Across the country, campgrounds range from desert scenery with a picnic table and firepit to RV resorts nestled in trees and mountains offering all the bells and whistles: laundry facilities, pools, recreation activities, go-kart rentals, and more.
Although the latter options may sound like good places to visit, we typically avoid anything that has “resort” in the name. Here are four reasons why:
1. We Don’t Use the Amenities
Most RV resorts include some combination of cable TV hookups, Wi-Fi, swimming pools, showers and bath houses, laundromats, miniature golf courses, and pickleball and/or tennis courts. Some even feature weekly movies, hay rides, pancake breakfasts, and things like that.
Although those are appealing, we don’t have much use for them. As full-time RVers, Tagalong is our home. He stores everything we need for daily living and recreation, other than a washer and dryer.
2. They’re Geared for People on Vacation
RV resorts, like hotel resorts, are really targeted at people on vacation. When you book a site for a week at an RV resort, the property managers expect you to take advantage of all they have to offer.
When our kids were young, we spent our summer vacations in a travel trailer at a KOA near the Grand Canyon. It provided something for all of us: a playground, game room, and movies for the kids; a pool, mini-golf, and hayrides for the family; and a relaxing getaway for us as a couple while the kids played with friends and immersed themselves in activities.
More recently, we stayed at an RV resort in Vermont because of its proximity to some friends we wanted to visit. In our full week there, we didn’t use the pool or mini-golf once, although we did visit the on-site laundromat.
Since I work all week, the noise of vacationers can be a distraction. RV walls are not very thick. Fortunately, I have noise-canceling earphones that prevent background noise from trickling through my microphone on Zoom meetings.
3. They Nickel and Dime You
Some of the aforementioned amenities come at a price. The Vermont RV resort charged for Wi-Fi, for example. If you’re already paying more at a resort than you would at a campground, shouldn’t Wi-Fi be included in the price? Because we travel all over, we had our own Wi-Fi setup and didn’t need to pay for that service. (This was before we purchased Starlink.)
This resort also charged $9 per bundle of firewood for the convenience of having it in the camp store. Resourceful campers could find it cheaper outside the campground if they looked. The same bundle of wood cost only $5 at the campground we stayed at in Maine.
4. They Have a Lot of Rules
It seems that part of the fees at RV resorts go to establishing and communicating rules. Whether or not those restrictions are enforced is another story.
The Vermont resort wanted to charge our friends $4 just to enter the park to visit us. Maybe the operators thought our guests would use the amenities? Kelly called the office and sweet-talked her way out of the fee by assuring the worker that she and Jim would not be using the amenities.
Rules have a place and are important to ensure order. But if we have a choice between paying extra money to stay at a location that has lots of rules or camping where we can be carefree, we’ll choose the latter every time — unless the first is our only option in close proximity to some friends or family we want to catch up with.
You might also like How We Determine Our RV Stops.
This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.