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It’s hard to believe that this is our sixth year as Thousand Trails members! And boy has it saved us a ton of money over the years!
Thousand Trails Membership in a nutshell
Thousand Trails is a membership camping club with 81 campgrounds throughout the US.
Basically, a membership allows you to stay at any of the Thousand Trails campgrounds according to the terms of your particular membership with no additional nightly fees. That said, there are a few rare campgrounds with fees of $3 to $5 per night for an upgraded site (e.g. 50 amp service).
A Thousand Trails membership is a game changer for full time RVers. It is absolutely the most economical way that I know of to camp with hookups and travel too.
There are two main categories of memberships:
Thousand Trails Camping “Zone” Pass
The Camping Pass is the most basic type of membership and a great way to try out Thousand Trails. The Camping Pass provides you with access to the Thousand Trails campgrounds in a specific zone of the country. Northeast, Southwest etc. You can stay at any Thousand Trails campground in your zone for up to 14 nights. After a stay, you have to be out of the system for 7 nights before you can go back to a Thousand Trails campground.
Thousand Trails Upgraded Memberships
New upgraded memberships include all 81 Thousand Trails parks and allow members to stay at a Thousand Trails campground from 21 to 28 days (depending on the upgrade type). After a stay you can go directly to another Thousand Trails campground with no time out of the system. So, you can go from park to park and camp as many nights as you want at Thousand Trails! As you can imagine, this is great for full-time RVers.
Used, or resale memberships can be purchased too! This is a great way to save some money on the cost of an upgraded membership but you’ll need to do your research, know exactly what you want in your membership and make sure to confirm all benefits directly with Thousand Trails before purchasing. Because of the history of Thousand Trails there are hundreds of different used membership types that include a variety of benefits. Some of them do not include all of the parks, or only allow for 14 night stays.
And there’s more, Trails Collections is an optional add-on membership to Thousand Trails that provides access to another 100 plus parks across the country.
About our Thousand Trails membership
- It is an upgraded resale membership called Elite Connections.
- Includes all 81 Thousand Trails campgrounds.
- Allows us to stay for 21 nights at a Thousand Trails campground with no additional nightly fee and then go directly to another Thousand Trails campground.
- Twice a year we can add an extra week after a 21 night reservation (and stay for 28 nights) for $29.
- Access to RPI membership for a fee yearly if desired.
- We can book 120 days ahead for Thousand Trails, NACO & Leisure Time campgrounds.* (60 campgrounds)
- We can book 90 days ahead for Outdoor World and Mid Atlantic campgrounds. * (21 campgrounds)
- 3 year contract with ability to extend year by year as desired.
- Can put membership on hold for and not pay yearly dues if we do not want to use it.
*NACO, Leisure Time, Outdoor World & Mid Atlantic are all membership campgrounds that were purchased by Thousand Trails. These campgrounds are part of all new Thousand Trails memberships but not necessarily part of used memberships.
Trails Collections is an add-on membership that gives us access to another 100 plus parks where we can stay for up to 14 nights.
After a stay at a Trails Collection park, we can go directly to any Thousand Trails park but may not go to another Trails Collection park until 7 days have passed. (Note: A basic Camping Pass with the Trails Collection add-on would require the member to be out of Trails Collection and Thousand Trails campgrounds for 7 days after a stay at a Trails Collection park.)
We have a 60 day booking window for Trails Collection parks.
Most Trails Collection parks do not charge an additional fee for a stay but some prime parks have a $20 nightly fee. Also, some Trails Collection parks are 55 plus.
How much did it cost?
Back in 2015, we purchased our membership on the resale (used) market.
We paid $2250 for the membership plus a $750 transfer fee for a total of $2950.
Each year we pay dues to Thousand Trails, they were $549 the first year and go up a little bit each year according to the US Consumer Price Index.
Trails Collection is currently $315 per year.
We used a broker called the Campground Membership Outlet and we were very happy with the experience. They found a membership that included all of the options we wanted & handled all of the paperwork electronically at no extra cost to us. If you are going to buy a used Thousand Trails membership we highly recommend using the Campground Membership Outlet. You can contact Kimberly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800-272-0401. She understands all of the ins & outs of the myriad of membership types and can help you find the best membership for you. Tell her Towing Home sent you!
Exactly how much we paid for our Thousand Trails membership over the past 6 years!
- Thousand Trails Resale Elite Connections membership cost including transfer fee $2950
- 2015 Dues $549
- 2016 Dues $557
- 2017 Dues ($558) & Trails Collection ($199) $757
- 2018 Dues ($565) & Trails Collection ($199) $764
- 2019 Dues (577.48) & Trails Collection ($214) $791.48
- 2020 Dues (591.34) & Trails Collection ($299) $890.34
- Miscellaneous costs over 6 years (site upgrade fees, extra week, Trails Collection prime parks) $348.99
- Grand total for 6 years of Thousand Trails membership $7607.81
What did we get for our money?
1464 nights of camping, mostly with full hookups, across the country over 6 years!
That breaks down to $5.01 per night and an average of 244 nights per year.
Yes, Thousand Trails is absolutely worth it!
How much did we save with our Thousand Trails membership?
Campground prices vary widely but in our experience the normal price range depending on location, season and amenities is anywhere from $15 to $60 per night.
Let’s say that the average price of a site was $25 per night over the past 6 years. That’s probably a low estimate but let’s run with it.
If we had paid $25 for each of the 1464 nights we camped using our Thousand Trails membership, it would have cost us $36,600! (1464 nights x $25 per night)
We actually paid a grand total of $7607.81 so we saved $28,992.19 over 6 years with our Thousand Trails membership.
Even better we traveled the country while we did it!
Would we recommend Thousand Trails?
Yes, definitely. I love my Thousand Trails membership.
If you are a full time RVer Thousand Trails can save you a lot of money. If you are planning an extended road trip or live in an area where there are lots of Thousand Trails campgrounds nearby it is a great option for you as well.
I really do not know of a better way to save money full time RVing. Maybe boondocking, but honestly, I really like my hookups!
With over 80 Thousand Trails campgrounds and an additional 100 plus parks in the Trails Collection there is a lot to choose from. You could be way out in the country or in a more urban setting, in the mountains or by the ocean. Some campgrounds have full hookups and some don’t. Data reception is great in some locations and non-existent at others. We read reviews of each campground we are thinking about visiting and go to the ones that have the amenities we want. Check out the Thousand Trails campground map.
One more thing, most of the Thousand Trails (not Trails Collection) campground sites are first come first serve, so when you make a reservation, it is not for a specific campsite. When you arrive, you get to drive around the park and choose the site that works best for you! How cool is that?
More about Thousand Trails
Try our Thousand Trails Upgraded Membership Cost & Savings Calculator to find out how much you could save. Enter how many nights you expect to stay each year and we’ll break down your costs and savings over 5 years.
Check out Thousand Trails (What You Need To Know) for an in depth explanation and comparison of all the membership levels.
Want to try Thousand Trails before you buy a full upgraded membership?
The Camping “Zone” Pass is a great way to try Thousand Trails!
You can visit multiple campgrounds and get a feel for what they have to offer without committing to a more expensive membership.
If you like it you can upgrade to a higher level membership.
Camping Pass basic details
A Camping Pass is the most basic membership, it allows you to stay in a Thousand Trails campground for up to 14 nights in a row. After a stay of 4 nights or more, you have to be out of the Thousand Trails network for 7 nights. (You can not go directly from park to park.)
The Thousand Trails campgrounds are grouped, by geographic location, into five zones. You select the zone(s) that you want and you get access to the campgrounds in that zone.
One zone is $615 and additional zones, if desired are $65 each.
Pro tip: The Camping “Zone” Pass is $615 but keep an eye out for sales! (As I write this article it is on sale for $499.)
You can book campgrounds 60 days ahead of your stay. (It may be difficult to get reservations just 60 days ahead of time in high season in some parts of the country. Florida in the winter for example.)
Trails Collection with the Camping Pass
You can add the Trails Collection ($315) to your Camping Pass membership which gives you access to another 100 or so RV resorts nationwide.
Most Trails Collection park stays are free of charge but there are some parks that charge a fee of $20 per night. Also, some are 55 plus. Definitely take a look at which parks you want to visit before you add the Trails Collection.
Camping Pass Cost & Savings Calculator
Is a Thousand Trails Camping Pass worth it for you? Use our Thousand Trails Camping Pass Nightly Cost & Savings Calculator to find out how much you could save! Just enter the number of nights you expect to stay over the year to find your savings and nightly price.
How to join Thousand Trails
Camping Pass or New Upgraded Membership
Thousand Trails Member Specialists, Brandy and Jim Reneau can help you get the best price and the membership that fits your camping style. Contact them via email at email@example.com or by phone at (770) 622-4188. Tell them Towing Home sent you:)
Resale Upgraded Membership
While you can purchase a resale Upgraded Thousand Trails membership on your own, the memberships are complicated. In fact there are some older resale memberships you should steer clear of entirely. (For example, they may only include a few campgrounds or have very high dues.)
We highly recommend using the Campground Membership Outlet if you are interested in a resale membership. You can contact Kimberly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800-272-0401 – tell her Towing Home sent you. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and she knows all of the ins and outs of the many membership types so she can help you get the membership that works best for you.
We hope you enjoyed reading our 6 year review of our Thousand Trails membership. As you can see, we saved a lot of money over the past six years. For a full time RVer Thousand Trails can be an extremely economical way to camp and travel the country.
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We’ve been full-time RVers since 2012. 127,000 miles and 45 states later, we are still towing our home around the United States.
On TowingHome we share what we have learned along the way; what we love (and what we don’t) about the RV lifestyle, tips and tricks, our favorite campgrounds, places and gear.
We hope that it makes your journey a little bit easier.