Think Passport America Isn’t For You? Here’s Why You’re Wrong.
We love RVing for so many reasons. Traveling the country, seeing amazing sights, and doing it all on our own unique budget.
One of the great things about the RV lifestyle is that it can cost as much or as little as you want it to. And there are many discount clubs and memberships to help you with that!
One discount RVing membership that we’ve used is Passport America. It gets mixed reviews. Some folks love it. Some folks don’t.
If you think it’s not for you, you’re probably wrong.
Let’s dive in.
What is Passport America and How Does It Work?
Passport America is known as ‘the original 50% off discount camping club’. This discount camping club offers 50% off of camping fees at over 1000 campgrounds around the US.
This company is a network of participating campgrounds that offer discounts to encourage getting customers. All campgrounds are independently owned, run, and managed.
Here’s the catch – there are “black out” dates for certain campgrounds, there are unique use-limits for each park, and the parks vary greatly with amenities. Sounds iffy, right?
Let’s get one thing clear, Passport America will get you 50% off the RV park rate. That means a $250 bill, will only cost you $125. That’s a big savings.
Find Reservations That Work For You
Passport America has over 1400 participating campgrounds in the United States. The campgrounds are scattered all over the place, but they’re not everywhere.
Fortunately, their website has an easy to use map that plots out each campground. You get a great visual of your road trip and can see if any of the participating parks are en route.
Sure, finding a reservation in a tourist hot spot during a holiday weekend can be challenging. However, if you’re traveling during a regular weekend, it’s pretty easy to score that 50% discount.
Keep in mind the 10 Year Rule: Even if you’re a Passport America member, you may be denied at certain RV parks if your RV is 10 years old or older.
Plan Ahead Because Campgrounds Have Blackout Dates
Most participating campgrounds have blackout dates. Blackout dates are dates when the discount is not honored.
Many times, blackout dates are during summer holidays. Sometimes they last an entire season in extremely popular destinations. Most importantly, blackout dates aren’t consistent from park to park, because each park is independently managed. This can make it difficult to plan and difficult to find a discount campground for the dates that you need it.
You can use this to your advantage.
The shoulder season is a perfect time to book reservations at tourist hot spots. Popular camping destinations in Arizona, Florida, and California cost a lot of money.
Passport America can cut a $60 night rate down to $30. We’ve used this during the shoulder season in many locations. You get to visit right before or after peak season, crowds are smaller, and your bill is smaller!
If Your Prefer Free Camping Like Us, Passport America Parks Are Great for Refreshing Your Tanks
No matter how much we love free camping, we eventually need to stay at an RV park to refresh everything. The black & grey tanks need dumping, the fresh water needs refilling, and I need a long, hot shower.
Passport America is the best way to refresh.
With our flexible schedule, we don’t worry about black out dates.
And, at 50% off, we can stay at a luxury resort with hot tubs!
Pro Tip: Here are the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.
Some Passport America Parks Are Less Than Luxurious , Others are Awesome
Since all the parks are independently owned and managed, there is no standard for cleanliness, amenities, or anything like that.
In fact, some the participating parks are just like RV parking lots. If you only need an overnight stay, it’s no problem.
However, in addition to the great PA parks we’ve visited, we’ve stayed at a few slightly concerning locations. Reading park reviews is essential if you use Passport America.
Most importantly, if you’re camping at a Passport America park that doesn’t feel safe, let the PA team know! They have a three-strike rule. If a park receives multiple complaints, it’s likely they’ll be removed from the program.
They’re on top of quality control, but need to hear from you if a park isn’t great.
Is Passport America Right for You?
Passport America is a great discount camping resource. If it fits your RVing style, by all means, go for it!
A membership can pay for itself within 1-3 uses, depending on the cost of the campground.
This discount membership is well loved and well used by RVers all over the country. Even if you’re like us and love free camping, the Passport America program can fill in the gaps between off-grid trips.
If you want to learn more about Passport America and participating campgrounds, check out their website here.
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).
You should give it a try!
As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
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We have never been able to use our Passport America membership. Not only because of blackout dates. The last place we tried to stay told us that PPA members couldn’t make a reservation, we had to just take a chance that something would be available when we got there.
We need to have electric camp sites and are willing to pay up to $25 for the service. We are older and have problems using computers effectively. Do you have any books that handle these needs?
Do you have thousand trails or coast-to-coast memberships?
I’ve had mixed results with Passport America. I haven’t stayed in a bad place, but as you highlight, most of the time when we travel almost all of the Passport America spots are blacked out.
I find Passport America a good “lifetime membership” investment. Yes, there are blackout dates, limited stays, and silly rules like take your chance and we only take cash. But come on folks, this these issues are present anywhere. Blackout dates – a LOT of RV parks will have no reservations for you during large, local events. Some RV parks have designated spots as nightly (with limited stays), weekly and long term. While there is comfort in knowing where you are going to stay ahead, but I have to bet many of us have made last-minute reservations, stops, or calls in hopes of getting a site. So the issues, including “shady” parks, exist everywhere, regardless if they are PA parks or not. I treat my PA membership as a tool in my quiver of memberships, free site resources and favorite places to stay. I just make my travel plans to fit what’s available. Not for everyone, but works for me. Happy Camping!
I agree with everything jalapenokid56 posted. I would also like to add, that some of our favorite campgrounds now, we found because we used them as Passport America campground for an over night stop.
Generally we have had good luck with PA but lately we are finding the parks have closed or no longer accept PA even though they are on the list. And the last lace we reserved was soooooo scary we felt safer in in a parking lot.
We have always kept our PA membership. I figure for the cost of it it pays for itself in a couple of stays. I admit I don’t purposely try and stay at their campgrounds but always enjoy the surprise discount when we do.