Is Thousand Trails RV Membership Worth It?
If you’ve spent any amount of time learning about the RV life online, you may have heard of Thousand Trails. Many RVers (including ourselves) recommend this camping membership to anyone who wants to save money on full-time RVing.
But, is Thousand Trails really all it’s cracked up to be?
We know that Thousand Trails is totally worth it for some RVers. The big questions is…are we (or possibly you) one of those RVers.
Let’s talk about our personal reasoning regarding it’s value to us.
Here we go!
What is Thousand Trails?
Thousand Trails is a collection of campgrounds around North America that are owned by the same company. This company sells memberships for customers to enjoy these campgrounds at no cost (many restrictions and variations apply depending on membership).
Thousand Trails campgrounds and resorts are typically large with many resort-style amenities. Many are located in prime locations.
How do Thousand Trails Memberships Work?
There are many different types of Thousand Trails memberships, and they all work differently. Some memberships allow you to stay 14 days in a park, then 7 days out. Some allow you to go park-to-park with no days out.
This is all dependent on what membership you choose!
All memberships have great benefits. And, Thousand Trails is a great way to save money as a full-time RVer if you enjoy RV park life.
We know there are many reasons to join Thousand Trails. But, you don’t hear the negatives of joining very often. So, here we’ve compiled 5 reasons it loses value for our RV experience.
Some Facilities Are Run Down
It’s true. Some Thousand Trails facilities are pretty run down. You can learn this without ever visiting one, just read the reviews on different campground review websites.
Thousand Trails campgrounds are run and managed independently, so each park is different. Different rules, different standards of service, and so on. Many Thousand Trails Resorts have a family lounge and an adult lounge. Also, some have a kids pool and an adult pool.
This might not seem like a big deal, until you’re trying to enjoy peace and quiet in the adult pool or hot tub and kids barge in being loud and splashing everywhere.
Membership Terms Can Be Really Confusing
Every experienced Thousand Trails member knows this: membership terms can be super confusing. Thousand Trails has a call center of salespeople selling memberships.
Most of the time, these people have no experience with RVing and just have a sales quota to fill.
This can lead you to getting roped into paying way more than you need to.
If you do your research, and lots of it, you will find that there are many ways to become a Thousand Trails member. You can even buy resale memberships at a lower price, and it’s totally within the terms and conditions to do so.
If you’re thinking about joining Thousand Trails, do your research and talk to experienced members.
Pro Tip: Take a look at this guide to Thousand Trails Membership Options here.
You Have To Make Reservations Several Months in Advance for Some Parks
For the most popular Thousand Trails parks, you have to make reservations well in advance. Some of these parks are in prime locations. Or, are prime locations for a certain season – like Verde Valley RV Resort near Sedona, or Palm Springs RV Resort in Palm Desert.
These are winter RVing hot spots, and, as a result, are always full!
Having to make campground reservations several months in advance is common for many RV campgrounds, not just Thousand Trails. But, for a membership that you want to exclusively spend your time at, it can be a slight annoyance. Especially if you’re a go-with-the-flow person instead of a rigid planner!
Cell Signal Can Be Challenging at Some Parks
Just like RVing in general, some of the parks in the Thousand Trails system have spotty or non-existent cell service. This is tough for those digital nomads out there!
Many parks make an effort to provide wifi for guests, but this isn’t always reliable, as you might have learned from other campground experiences.
If you rely on good wifi or strong cell signal to get work done, do your research before booking a park. And, as always, have a plan B… and a plan C.
If you are serious about internet, we suggest traveling with an RV cell booster.
Parks Are Independently Managed – Leading to A Possible Inconsistent Experience
As we stated in #1 – the parks in the Thousand Trails systems are independently managed and run.
This means that while the campgrounds are under the same company and many have the same facilities, they’ve got different management and different rules.
Before booking a Thousand Trails park, be sure to read the reviews.
Always take reviews with a grain of salt. Some people have a much higher standard than others. And, some people can find something to complain about no matter what.
The most important thing is to know what you are getting yourself into before you head in to pick out a campsite.
Should You Get A Thousand Trails Membership?
In our opinion, the positives of Thousand Trails far outweigh the negatives. What is a deal-breaker for one person might not even be noticed by another.
That being said, if you decide to join Thousand Trails (and we recommend it), just do your research. Be educated, be informed, and have fun!
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Saturday 4th of September 2021
I was thinking about joining TT but after reading all of these reviews, I better give it some more thought. I m flabbergasted at some of the things I read.
Tuesday 31st of August 2021
I have camping for nearly 40 years and in the beginning I traveled from campground to campground. As the price of camping went up I elected to join a campground association which was great for me because of the size of my family. I could come and go whenever I liked without any problems. Now a couple of years ago the association sold out to Thousand Trails .and everything was ok I had no problem with Thousand Trails. Now that Thousand Trails decided to allow their parks to have seasonal camp site all the campgrounds in certain you can't get into them no matter what and the seasonal campers consider us as transit campers and they don't feel that we should be aloud in their park even though it is a Thousand Trails park. I stopped at one park and the seasonal camper was complaining that he paid a lot of money to have a seasonal site and they shouldn't let us transits in . I hate to tell him but I paid a lot of money to join the association and now I pay 1500.00 a year to Thousand Trails in maintenance fee and I can't even get into a campground. Everytime I try to make a reservation I get told that there is no site available for my motorhome, now that was at the campgrounds in my area, but it seems to be in other states too,That doesn't make me a happy camper!
Thousand Trails Com
Saturday 28th of August 2021
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Wednesday 4th of August 2021
I am a member at my park starting last week you could not leave the pool without taking your towels leave them they will go out side this is rondout valley NY. SATwas appreciation day. Guess I was supposed to take my pool things to the free lunch. Fri came back got the same table. Sat 11 out of 20 tables open. Been going for 30 years first ever complaint.
Saturday 31st of July 2021
We bought a used elite membership in 2016 and added the trails collection. We paid $2100 and paid a paid a broker $1000 plus the transfer fee $700. We have been using the Thousand trails and encore camp resorts almost full time with any real issues until covid came along, yes we found it difficult to get though for reservations with almost no return call backs.. but we finally figured out a system that works for us. Thousand trails has been mostly positive and definitely as been worth it for us, and has paid for it self over and over, it costs us $960 a year that’s with all the upgrades and we pay it in full instead of making payments which they change a fee for. Bottom line is the TT membership is great for us, you buy it you need to use it that’s what makes it worth it.