We have always preferred to camp off the beaten path. To follow a trail to an area where few people are and be surrounded by natural beauty instead of feeling like you are jammed into a parking lot. One of the main reasons solar is so important to us.
Since we sold our house rather quickly and jumped in, head over heels, into this full time life style we had little time to make a winters plan other then...we are heading to Florida! The last time we travelled to Florida the dollar was at par and we didn't notice a huge cost burden of staying in Florida. This year with our dollar being so horrible, and our last minute plans, I started booking sites to have a place to stay. I didn't want to get down here and not find a spot. I booked all our sites from Jan 25th until the end of march before leaving Canada.
At the Rally in February we met many families who belong to Thousand Trails.
We asked them about the pros and cons of joining Thousand Trails. There were way more pros then cons. Financial reasons was the main benefit we heard over and over again. The second highest ranked benefit was it allowed them to be near other fulltime families more often then not. This was a huge factor for us deciding to buy a zone pass. Our kids had so much fun meeting new friends at the rally we knew the friendship factor would be huge for us.
We read some blogs posts against it like this one. Don't let that one discourage you though...continue reading as THIS one may just put you over the edge in favour of buying into the Thousand Trails membership! Either way you have to decide what is important to your family and run with it!
There ARE huge savings to be had. Initially we were concerned if we would get our moneys worth since we are from Canada and can only stay 6 months of the year in the US. We literally paid for our two zone membership and still saved hundreds of dollars by cancelling bookings we already had and moving into the trails system over the next 5 weeks we had left to stay in the States. We will use it again next fall and will renew next Spring and maybe even upgrade as the savings is huge if you have to stay in regular camp grounds.
We bought a two zone pass with Florida Max attached (Florida Max included Bulow RV resort, Gulf View, Harbor Lakes, Lake Magic, Sunshine Travel and Winter Quarters Pasco as six extra resorts).
Our purchase gave us 23 South East Camp grounds plus the 6 max pass bonus and 18 camp grounds in the North West as we knew we were heading out West again in the fall. We also can switch our zone one time so after we return to Canada we will switch it to the South West Zone from the South East Zone so we can stay in California next Nov and December.
Here is what we saved: (all dollar amounts in this post are in USD)
We cancelled one week at Fort De Soto when my daughter broke out in a rash, which refunded us $301 and moved to Peace River for two weeks which was FREE as we have 30 days included with our membership.
We saved 20% at our time we had already booked at Terra Ceia RV Park which was an Encore resort. We could now save 20% because we are trails members. So we paid $40.80 a night instead of $50 with fees and taxes of regular rate. Savings of $36.80.
We changed our month of March reservation at Pine Island RV Park which was $1293.15 for the month, We cut it back to one week so we wouldn't incur cancellation fees and still got 20% off as it was an Encore park. They credited back our credit card $953.05.
We spent two weeks at Punta Gorda RV park which was part of our Florida Max pass for FREE.
So savings wise instead of spending $2096 for Feb 20th to March 31st (basically 5 weeks of camping) we spent $604.95 for two zones and Florida Max pass plus$239.10 in other camping fees (negative refunds) for a total $844.05 which included the membership purchase.
Doing this still saved almost $1300 for 5 weeks of camping! Plus we still have it to use in the fall to drive down to California for Nov and Dec (we will do our one time zone switch), plus if we need it for Jan and Feb before having to renew, we have the potential to save $1000's more depending how much we use it. Since we have it I can see us using it for our 14 days in and then 7 out, over and over and over again...until we upgrade :) Now if only they would buy a few more parks in Ontario and BC and we would be all set!
So what do you think? Do you see the savings?