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Thousand Trails Membership Worth It ?

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We have been considering purchasing a Thousand Trails Membership. We have enjoyed staying in the Encore resorts.

 

We are concerned that we won't be able to take advantage of the disconuts as the resorts may be booked, we will have to pay full price on top of the membership. Can anyone share some experiences with us regarding the Thousand Trails Membership......  Pros and Cons ???

 

Thank you,

 

Kevin & Barb

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Kevin,

From what I have heard some of the TT Parks are in need of upgrading while others are still pretty nice. 

As a casual camper I personally would not recommend a membership. However if I were a full timer than I would consider it. It just isn't practical for someone that isn't going to places to stay for several weeks at a time.

Good luck with your decision.

Herman

 

 

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We stayed at the TT campground in Lancaster PA last week. It was nice and the staff seemed on top of things. We got a decent discount using Passport America membership. I would Cindy's joining if we were full time or even half time, but otherwise not.

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13 hours ago, F467598 said:

We have been considering purchasing a Thousand Trails Membership. We have enjoyed staying in the Encore resorts.

 

We are concerned that we won't be able to take advantage of the disconuts as the resorts may be booked, we will have to pay full price on top of the membership. Can anyone share some experiences with us regarding the Thousand Trails Membership......  Pros and Cons ???

 

Thank you,

 

Kevin & Barb

 

 I got talked into a TT (Thousand Trails) membership. At the time we purchased our Zone Pass in2014, they were running a “buy one zone, get one free” deal for $545, so we got both the Northwest and Southwest Zones for that price. The sales rep we spoke to, added Encore properties to the deal. The big hook for me was were guaranteed 7 days at the property just outside Yosemite National Park.

We were staying at the TT property Medina Lakes outside San Antonio Texas for a rally. I did not realize that this place pretty much mired the rest of the parks. Older Run down narrow camp sites. The campsite was on dirt no patio no table or outside amenities.

The roads were dirt with lots of potholes and rough spots. There was a water leak in the dirt road in front of my campsite. As an aside it made for some good wild game watching as there was a drought in the area. All the game came to water right in front of us.  The drought was so severe the lake was dry with people planting crops in the lake bed. The lake was over 80 feet below level yet according to a couple that was next to us TT was still promoting the water sports at the park when they called about a reservation.

Back to Thousand Trails.  

 South west zone includes 6 states 18 camp grounds 3 states don’t have a camp ground and Nevada and Arizona have one each. The one that I stayed at in Arizona was an Encore Property and was one of the better places. We were parked on a big flat parking lot with hookups. It is primarily for snow birds and is 90-95% permanent park model type structures.  I will say this it was one of the only places that had a readymade package of information about the area and some coupons for local attractions.

North West Zone includes 9 states 18 campgrounds; 7 states have no campgrounds. Only Oregon and Washington have camp grounds. Saying you have a zone that covers 9 states sounds good but it is actually only 2 states have any campgrounds you can use.

Read and understand the rules and fine print. Little things tend to aggravate like you can stay free but if you want 50-amp service that is an additional $5.00 per night.

The thing that made/makes me mad is they repeatedly said this was a one-year deal and I could renew it if I wanted to. Yet they charged my credit card without my permission. They said that by singing the original paperwork it became an automatic renewal. I had asked repeatedly if it was a one-year deal and was assured I would have to renew myself or it would end. I looked and my lawyer looked it over and could find no such clause. They refunded my money and we are all happy now.

 

Members are allotted 30 nights of free camping in any of the Thousand Trails campgrounds covered by your Zone Parking Pass. Additional nights are charged a small service fee. Members may stay up to 14 consecutive nights at any one campground based on availability. Reservations are advised, particularly for longer stays and during holiday periods. Keep in mind that even though camping is complimentary with membership (first 30 days), last-minute cancellations or no shows will be charged cancellation fees. Campers who stay at any Thousand Trails campground for more than four consecutive nights must wait at least one week before camping at another resort in the chain.

 The thing that made/makes me mad is they repeatedly said this was a one-year deal and I could renew it if I wanted to. Yet they charged my credit card without my permission. They said that by singing the original paperwork it became an automatic renewal. I had asked repeatedly if it was a one-year deal and was assured I would have to renew myself or it would end. I looked and my lawyer looked it over and could find no such clause. They refunded my money and we are all happy now.

The bottom line is I saved more money using Passport America the last couple of years and I can travel where and when I want and stay as long as I want. 

I have stayed at the only Encore property in AZ and it was just a big asphalt parking lot with no amenities

Any questions just ask.

Bill

 

 

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Looks like I will stay away from this deal. There is plenty of free camping available in the Arizona desert. With a little effort it is a real hoot.

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Like I said they sell it and make it sound wonderful. But you only get 30 days a year and after that it is "Market Price". For example in Las Vegas the market price was $125.00 a night for a place that took 3 different sites before I found one that the power worked. They don't asinge you a site they say go find one and tell us where you parked. yet down the road at the Oasis campground (much much nicer) it was $67.00 for their best site. 

Bill

 

 

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We looked at the TT membership two different times.  Once when we first went full time in our fiver, then again last year when we sold out again and started a second stint.  This second time we actually got so far as to visit some of their CG's.  For the most part the CGs we visited were pretty bad with very small sites and not very well maintained.

For some it may work great.  We don't plan our travels based on where we "need" to stay, we plan them based on where we "want" to go and then do our homework and find places to camp.  There are many other things we do to keep our annual average camping fees low, without belonging to TT.

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We had a TT membership and did not renew it.  In addition to the comments above, it seemed whenever we went to a TT park, all the really good spaces were occupied by empty RVs....owned by the locals.

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1 hour ago, FIVE said:

We had a TT membership and did not renew it.  In addition to the comments above, it seemed whenever we went to a TT park, all the really good spaces were occupied by empty RVs....owned by the locals.

Seems like that is something we see everywhere we go, not just TT. All the good spots are held by seasonal renters, and only a few sites up front are available to weekend or short-term campers.

The TT campground we recently visited in Lancaster PA had electric meters on nearly all of their filled sites, which we took to indicate that these were seasonal renters. Since then, we've looked in other campgrounds where we've stayed and noticed the same thing. The only sites without meters are up front towards the office and certainly not the best sites.

I don't blame the campgrounds though, as I'd be happier with a seasonal payment for a site rather than having to hope that it gets filled on a week-to-week or day-to-day basis.

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We have had a lot of experience with TT, some good, some not so much.

My parents bought their first TT membership over 20 years ago.  For them, it worked very well, as they lived full-time in their Class A for several years, and developed a system of travel from park to park with a group of friends every winter and work-camping in the summer.  They upgraded from time to time over the years, and eventually passed the membership to me and my husband.  It is an Elite membership which includes all zones, no time out between campgrounds, up to 21-day stays, and a four-month advance booking window.  We have been using it for about 5 years now. 

I believe hermanmullins is spot-on when he says that if you are not a full-timer, it might not be the way to go.  It's pricey if you're just going to use it once in a while.  Wildebill308 is only partly correct about the time out between facilities; with the Elite level membership that restriction does not apply, and you can stay up to 21 days. So if you would use it a lot, it also pays to have the higher-end level membership.  Several posters have mentioned that TT campgrounds are not very well-maintained and the spaces are narrow and cramped.  This can be true, and for a larger rig (we are 40') it can be a challenge to negotiate some of the campground roads.  But have also encountered many that, while dated, are clean, navigable, and well-managed.  They're not five-star resorts, and the sites aren't always level, either.  Despite these drawbacks, we have developed some standard TT "favorites" that we use when traveling from point to point or just to kick back at for a week or so.  For example, LaConner, Washington was a real treat, and we can always count on a clean, reliable spot at Three Flags in Florida.  TT does include some higher-end resorts, though; their Encore campgrounds, but not all Encore campgrounds are in TT.  Our membership gives us a guaranteed 30% off Encore parks not in the TT system (again, an advantage of the higher-end membership).  We use the Encore option from time to time, especially when we are heading to a specific destination to stay for only a few days.

Most TT campgrounds claim to be near major attractions, but "near" can be over an hour's drive.  Therefore, I would only recommend TT to someone who has plenty of time and is "nimble," meaning that they either are small enough to unhook and travel to sightsee on a daily basis, or have a toad. If you are the type of traveler that likes to pick a place, set up camp, and use it as a base from which to explore an area for a couple of weeks, (that's us) then TT might be a good option.  But if you prefer to go to a specific attraction, stay a day or two to see it and then move on, it probably won't work well for you.

TT campgrounds also tend to be very family-oriented, so if you aren't into sharing the campground with children, you may not have a good camping experience.  However, if you are a young family that wants to go to the same place for vacation every year, over time you'd likely develop friendships with other TT families that will be there at the same time as you are, which could be a real plus.

The other thing I would say is that in all honesty, the higher the membership level, the better your experience will be.   There are restrictions on the entry-level memberships, especially the shorter booking window.  With the shorter booking window, you might not even be able to get into the TT campgrounds you want at peak season (I have friends with an entry-level membership that have told me they have never been able to get into LaConner, for example).  Some of the posters above have mentioned that all the best sites are gone or they can only park up front.  Or, as Five stated, they seem to be filled with vacant trailers.  I have also found this to be increasingly true.  I suspect it is the campgrounds' effort to stay afloat that causes them to sell seasonal sites which then, of course, leads to the place looking shabby. We try to avoid these places, but we understand that those folks just prefer to camp differently than we do.  I have never felt unsafe in a TT campground, but I have felt blessed.  And, as Wildebill308 points out, this situation is typical of membership campground packages.

Most of the time, sites at TT campgrounds are not assigned, you just drive around until you find one you like.   We find we have better luck at getting a nicer spot if we arrive mid-week.  Again, if you don't have the freedom to do this, you're going to have a less satisfying experience. Arriving at a popular TT campground on a Friday afternoon in season is not for the faint of heart.

Not all TT memberships are the same.  Every membership is a negotiated contract.  If someone was really interested in getting one, I would suggest trying to connect with a private individual wanting to sell a higher-end one.  I have heard of these things going at reasonable prices when they transfer between private individuals.  I would also suggest that if you find a seller, look at the specific terms of the contract.   Not all Elite contracts include the 21-day stay, for example.  In the end, it's kind of like owning a vacation timeshare.  If you don't really use it, it just isn't worth it.  One other caveat:  if you aren't careful, you can let it drive your travel planning.  You might begin to reason as follows: why spend $45.00 a night, when we can camp free (except that free is 30 or even 50 miles from where you really want to be)?  Sometimes, we go ahead and spend the $45.00 (or use Passport America, as Wildebill308 suggests) because we only want to be in that specific area for a couple of nights.  Free isn't always better.  Where it pays off is when we want to be, say, near the Smokies for a couple of weeks to escape the heat.  Or go explore the Oregon coastline for a month.  Generally, we find that it does pay for itself on an annual basis, but we travel frequently.

 

Bottom line?  If you aren't on the road a lot, if you are a "destination" RVer, or if kids drive you crazy, it's probably best to pass.  But if RVing is a major part of your life and home is truly where you park it, then it's worth considering. But try to go higher-end if you do.  Happy Trails!

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Every thing you wrote, was spot on!  One little exception, Herman does not need a bigger head, than he already has! :lol::rolleyes:

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deemeehan, welcome to the forum.

6 hours ago, deemeehan said:

Wildebill308 is only partly correct about the time out between facilities; with the Elite level membership that restriction does not apply, and you can stay up to 21 days. So if you would use it a lot, it also pays to have the higher-end level membership. 

Kind of strange that all that I posted came from firsthand experience and backed up by the TT posted rules at  https://campingpass.thousandtrails.com/contract?qs=4Rule

Can you enlighten us? 

Herman is always spot on. :lol:

Bill

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After re reading OP comment and the rules link, there must be several levels off ownership and rules! :huh::blink: The more $$$$, the less rules. :wacko:

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16 hours ago, deemeehan said:

We have had a lot of experience with TT, some good, some not so much......cut...……...

Bottom line?  If you aren't on the road a lot, if you are a "destination" RVer, or if kids drive you crazy, it's probably best to pass.  But if RVing is a major part of your life and home is truly where you park it, then it's worth considering. But try to go higher-end if you do.  Happy Trails!

Very interesting read and probably spot on for the most part.  Obviously a good description from someone who has a lot of experience using them.

We rejected them mainly because we did not want anything to "control" where we went and when, since we are truly full time travelers.  We will always spend December through March in SW Florida.  We found it better to avoid the hurricane season so we do November and April in Alabama.  We also spend 3 months split up in a CG back in central Illinois during the summer for visiting family.  The Alabama CG we use is $10 a day, the Illinois CG we use is $13 a day.  So we know each year we can camp for 5 months very cheaply.  The rest of the time we keep the wheels turning and travel all over maybe doing a dry camping night here and there.  My point is if you are careful and plan correctly you can get by as cheap, and possibly cheaper than having a TT membership plus experience better parks/facilities.

I read an interesting post somewhere this year.  The person broke down his TT membership as a full timer and it came to around $20 something a night average.  He then broke away from TT and was able to reduce his annual site expenses slightly.  

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