Now that you have an RV, you are eager to get out on the road! I don't blame you. This article will help you hit the road with success. If you haven't yet read the previous articles in my series, I encourage you to do that now.
RV 101 - So You Want To Be An RVer?
RV 101 - How To Choose The Perfect RV
RV 101 - Types of RV's
RV 101- The Great Debates - Fifth Wheels vs. Motorhomes, Diesel vs. Gas, New vs. Used
RV 101 - Tips For Buying Your First RV
RV 101- Tips For Buying A Used RV
RV 101 - The Ultimate RV Buying Checklist
RV 101- How To Dump, hookup and Park
Choosing a place to stay sounds like the easy part of travel. In truth, it can be frustrating and confusing. There are a variety of issues to consider when choosing a park for short or long-term stay. This article will walk you through the basics.
Staying for 1-6 nights
This is the most expensive way to stay at an RV park. When you stay less than seven nights, you are charged the nightly rate. The nightly rate is the RV park's highest rate and the price will vary based on amenities, location and time of year. The average RV park in North America is $35 a night for a full hookup site. Expect this to vary widely. I have seen basic parks increase their price by up to 50% in high season. In order to save on nightly parking, you may want to purchase a membership to an RV Club. The savings add up fast, so it is well worth the membership.
In nearly all cases, the nightly rate will include your full hookups. Be sure to ask. If there are limited hookups or if they charge for electric, they should tell you up front. Read your contract when you sign in at registration!
Staying for 7 nights
You will see a significant discount when you stay seven or more nights in an RV park. In most cases, you will save at least the cost of one night stay. In some cases, you will save up to two nights of lodging fees!
Be aware that some parks will charge a refundable deposit for your pets or for your electric. Check to see if electric is included in the cost of your stay. Some parks do not include electric in the weekly rate and you have to pay that extra. Find out in advance what is and isn't included in the rate.
Staying 1 month or more
At the monthly level, RV parks give a huge discount over the nightly rate. This price often includes full hookups, WiFi and possibly T.V. It does not usually include the cost of electricity. This charge is usually billed at the end of the month when your meter is read. RV parks are likely to require a month’s security deposit or an electric deposit in advance.
Staying 6 months or more
In the South and Southwest, many RV parks offer annual and bi-annual stays. These snowbird style rates offer huge discounts if you commit to a park for a longer period of time. In some cases, RVers leave their rigs at the park full-time and fly back and forth to use them. Charges will vary greatly depending on the location and the amenities, but don't be surprised if you save up to 50% off the low, low monthly rate.
Finding An RV Park While Traveling
In today's day and age, it is easier than ever to locate places to stay. Here are a few of my favorite apps sure to help you sort through your RV park options:
Here are the steps I take to find the perfect place to park
Step #1 Look On The Map
If we are traveling and we don't know exactly where we will stop, I begin searching out our options at least three hours before we stop. My first step is to look on Google Maps. I get an idea of the names of the towns on the route we plan to take.
Step #2 Look On RV Parky
Personally, I like to use RV Parky. It's not 100% accurate (no app is!), but I like its interface. Inside the app, I see a similar map of the area I just researched, but I also see the lodging opportunities. RV Parky allows me to click and search names and websites of possible RV parks. I can also take a look at recent reviews. At this point, I am not reading reviews, I am simply looking at possible locations.
Step #3 Narrow Down The Search
My husband and I talk about whether we want to stay in an RV Park or if we'd rather park at a Walmart or a Rest Area. If we decide we want the hookups an RV Park can offer, I look at the websites of each park. I am looking for the following information:
Rates - If the park doesn't give me the rates up front on their website, I move on. I don't have time to fill in a form and have them get back to me. I also look to see if there is a reservation fee. If so, I look elsewhere.
If the rates seem fine, I look at the hookups and amenities along with ease of access.
If the first two items look good, I move onto reading reviews. I am not looking for the gripes of previous tenants. Instead, I am looking for comments about the actual parking situation. We have a big rig and we can't park it just anywhere. I look for comments like, " I have a 40 foot coach that was towing and we got stuck" or " The spaces were so narrow" or "You have to drive down five miles of gravel road to get to the park." You will have your own set of concerns. Look for remarks that highlight issues important to your stay.
If I am still unsure, I will check Google Earth to get a view of the park prior to going. You can't tell everything, but you can see quite a few items that can be very helpful!
Step #4 Finally, We Start Looking Early.
The first place may not work out, so we leave enough time to go to choice two or three. The later you pull over, the harder it is to find a good place to stay for the night. Don't wait till the last-minute to find your spot. There is nothing worse than hooking up in a strange place at night. If you plan to do that type of driving, be sure to own a small rig!
Here's one last thing to keep in mind. Some RV parks are age restrictive especially in Florida, Southern Texas and Arizona. These 55 and over parks are generally flexible for one night stays, but not always. If you are under 55, be sure to ask about age restrictions when you call the park and before you make your reservation.