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Picking a place to stay
When we pick destinations for traveling with our small travel trailer, we focus on picking campgrounds based upon atmosphere, amenities, and overall quality. Often, we decide to pay a premium for a place we think we'll really like. But when we are on the road traveling to a destination, our criteria is not the same.
While many people do it, we are just not comfortable staying at free places like Walmart and Cracker Barrel parking lots. We never carry our own water, and always want a place that has at least electricity and water hookups. Other than that, we tend to focus on price, as long as it seems like a place that will be safe.
America the Beautiful Senior Pass
There are two passes we have that have saved us a lot of money nationwide. The first is the America the Beautiful Senior Pass. This is a government issued pass that provides a 50% discount on camping at many National Recreation Sites. Of particular interest to us have been the Corps of Engineers campgrounds, which are always located on some body of water.
The pass offers a 50% discount on campsites. You must be 62 years of age or older, and can purchase a lifetime pass for a one time fee of $80. The biggest disadvantage for us is that most of the campgrounds are not in areas we commonly travel to. However, the pass is certainly worth having if you travel to the right areas.
This has been the good one for us. Passport America offers 50% discount during the week at about 1500 campgrounds and RV parks across the U.S and Canada. These campgrounds all tend to be privately owned, so are located all over the place.
The biggest disadvantage here is that you need to do a little research to see what the place you want to stay is like. Some of them are really nice RV resorts that have extra capacity, others are new campgrounds that are not yet well known, but unfortunately, some of them are places that nobody (including us) wants to stay. Doing some searching on Google usually gives us enough information to get a pretty good idea of what a place is like. (Be sure to use images.google.com to look for photos of places you consider.)
This pass is available to anyone and is just $44 per year. They offer discounts for multiple years, but I'd recommend you try it for one year first to see how well it works out for you. Since we only need to use it a couple of times each year for it to pay for itself, we have found enough value that we have renewed it for the last 6 years.
Our Campground Reviews
Be sure to check out our personal reviews of campgrounds we've actually visited. Each one indicates the price range and whether they offer one of these discounts. The reviews also have photos and other info we think is helpful on each place.
As always, drop me a note if you have any questions.
Denny JohnsonAfter having spent most of our adult life in Orlando, my wife Fay and I moved to Knoxville, TN in 2020. We are loving the change of seasons and being near the mountains. Plus, this part of the country is loaded with great places to camp.
We camped years ago with a pop-up camper, but got serious about it when we purchased our Casita in 2014. There was a lot to learn as we started traveling with it, and a lot of conflicting opinions on line. That's when I decided that creating a website would be a good retirement project. I started tinyTowable.com to share things we've learned along the way that have worked well for us in hopes that the information would be of help to others.
What it isPassport America Discount Campground Card
Why I like it
- It saves us money!
- Pays for itself with just a couple of nights stay
- Printed directofy and phone app to help find places while on the road
Hello from California! Do you plan to travel on West coast? Particularly California, Nevada, Arizona? We live in Northern Ca and have a hard time getting into camp sites due to no reservations available. Frustrating so we are trying to book places that are new to us. Bass Lake (Wishon camp ground) near Yosemite you are able to use the Senior Pass at and you still can get sites. Nice relaxing lake camping. Thank you for all the information you share. We have an A frame camper and are thinking of getting a slightly larger one or small Motorhome. We are a retired couple.
We went through a major move last year, and have actually not been out camping in over a year Carol. We continue to hear from others though that it’s difficult to get sites. Since we’re just getting settled here in Tennessee, I don’t think we’ll make it out to California any time in the foreseeable future. – Denny
Denny just to add a little something here. When things do get straightened around one of your trips will have to be to the Northern California Coast and into Oregon along our Coast there. Some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen and one of the reasons my wife and I moved to Oregon forty some years ago with a newborn and no job but all worked out very well. I also love your newsletter so keep up the good work!
We just may do that at some point Bob! Thanks for the encouragement about the newsletter. – Denny