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Ken_A
We're a couple of seniors who are new to RV'ing. Bought a 30' 5th wheel a couple of months ago and just completed a 6 week 8,000 mile trip to the West coast and back.

During our trip we talked to many people about many things to do with RV'ing - and learned a lot. However, we still consider ourselves very much newbies.

One thing we heard about was the supposed benfits including price, to be gained by joining a Member Organization such as Thousand Trails or Western Horizons. We knew nothing about this type of organization and although I've now done a fair bit of research on the Internet, there is nothing like getting some info. from people who have experienced such organizations.

First hand experience and advice would be most welcome.
Denali
In general, the expensive memberships make sense only for fulltimers. Most membership parks are "destinations", which means, among other things, that they are off the beaten path. You need to spend a lot of nights in membership parks each year to make the cost of buying and maintaining your membership.

The only exception I am very familiar with is Passport America. Two or three nights a year is enough to amortize the annual membership fee.

There is a document describing Coast-to-Coast and RPI, two of the largest campground membership organizations in the Files section of the Yahoo Campground Memberships forum.

Folks on that forum would be happy to describe their experiences with Thousand Trails and the other park networks.
Trailer Park Casanova
We belong to CRA.
When I joined it was $750 to become a member and $185 per year dues.

Today we're told it's over $10.000, with the annual dues near $1000.
That seems very pricey.

We are a younger couple, and at the old rate it was really a good deal.

Buying a membership from someone other than the organization itself looks good on paper, but the transfer fees and other red tape and restrictions makes it a bad deal. SO:

You don't buy it with the idea you can sell it if you don't use or like it.
Ya pay your money and take your chances.

Most the other campers we see are Full timers, or at least "snow birds" that camp in the sun belt states during the winter. The social side of membership is huge to them too.

Our particular organization has a "one week out" of the park policy, and a "two week in". It appears the full timers simply drive to another park for their two weeks in.

It's a lifestyle.

We're under constant pressure to "re-load" our membership with more privilege's, a practice illegal in some states, but other than that annoyance,, it's been pretty good.
Denali
QUOTE(Trailer Park Casanova @ Sep 1 2010, 05:10 PM) *
...Buying a membership from someone other than the organization itself looks good on paper, but the transfer fees and other red tape and restrictions makes it a bad deal.
Maybe that's true for your CRA membership, but it's not generally the case.

You can buy a Thousand Trails membership directly from a Thousand Trails park for $6,000-14,000, or you can buy one on the resale market for a small fraction of that, plus the transfer fee. Some folks even give away their memberships just to get out of their contracts. The same goes for other membership parks.

Of course, you need to contact the park system to determine exactly what benefits and restrictions carry over on a resale.

One excellent resale broker that I have dealt with is Campground Membership Outlet. When we were interested in a Thousand Trails membership a while back, they sent us a list of memberships in their inventory, including descriptions and prices. We ended up not buying one, but we did buy another membership from them.
Meyer Camping
When we have looked at memberships it has always come down to this: it is a lifetime membership. Not 'until we no longer want it' or anything else. You keep paying the dues until your lifetime is over. From what I understand, the best way to get one of these memberships is the secondary market. There is always someone looking to get out from under their contract and that should tell you something!
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