RV Snowbirds Inundate Florida Parks, Here’s How You Can Still Reserve a Campsite
Reserving a state park campsite during peak season in Florida is nearly impossible. To their credit, the Florida state park campgrounds are beautiful and well maintained.
However, the biggest challenge to scoring a site is competing with all the snowbirds. According to the Palm Beach Post, one million northerners head to Florida for the winter. Many make the trip in their RV.
This creates the perfect storm for reserving a Florida State Park campsite.
Today we’re sharing a “backdoor” that has repeatedly helped us book the best campsites (even in the Keys) during peak season…without having to reserve a year in advance.
How Do Reservations Work at Florida State Parks?
The Florida State Park system uses Reserve America to book online reservations. This is the same booking system used by 100s of public campgrounds.
Reserve America is great for a few reasons. First and foremost, when booking a site you can see a picture of the exact site with all of its unique specs. This means you’re never arriving blind.
Secondly, the website is built for a high volume of traffic. Even when thousands of RV campers are trying to make reservations, the website won’t crash.
How Long in Advance Can I Reserve a Florida State Park Campsite?
Reservations open up 11 months in advance. Experienced RV snowbirds are waiting online the day reservations open up.
Reservations can be booked for a length up to 14 days once online sales are opened.
Cancelation Policy is Great
Adding to the reservation bottle neck is a great cancellation policy. Here’s what the Reserve America website says about the policy:
A $17.75 cancellation fee will be assessed for each reservation being cancelled. Visitors canceling on the day of arrival will be assessed a $17.75 cancellation fee and the first night’s use fee.
For instance, an RV snowbird reserves a Florida Keys campsite for two weeks the day reservations open (11 months in advance). The reservation probably costs around $650. For a measly $17.75, they can receive essentially a full refund up to 24 hours before arrival.
PRO INSIGHT: 95% of RV campers surveys said the coronavirus scare isn’t changing their travel plans.
How To Work Around This Reservation System?
We’re notoriously late planners. Taking an RV trip to Florida in January initially proved to be a huge challenge.
That was until we learned about Wandering Labs.
How Wandering Labs Works?
Wandering Labs takes advantage of the rampant cancelled reservations among Florida State Park campgrounds.
The website allows you to request a window of dates you’d like to camp at a certain State Park and then, multiple times a day, Wandering Labs will check on cancellations for you.
The free version of the tool will email you when an opening becomes available.
The “Paid” Version is Better
Technically, there’s not a paid version.
However, if you leave a donation of your choice, Wandering Labs will double the amount of times it checks your request and, better still, will text you once an opening becomes available.
The text feature is how we where able to secure awesome, previously sold-out, campsites.
You Still Have To Act Quickly
We submitted multiple requests for Florida Keys campsites. In the span of a few weeks, we received five texts alerting us of availability.
The first five times we acted quickly, but not quick enough. Other Wandering Labs users scooped up the sites before us.
On the sixth try we were able to secure a 12 day reservation at John Pennecamp State Park in the Florida Keys.
We also scored great sites near Daytona Beach and Orlando.
Florida Keys are the Hardest, But Still Very Doable
It took us a few weeks to secure a Florida Keys State Park Campsite and about a week to secure the others.
If you need recommendations – here are the best campsites in the Florida Keys.
The Best FREE Camping in the USA
We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.
If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.
Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.