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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Campgrounds - What's Your "It" Factor?

Some campgrounds have it, some don't quite, others never even come close.  Today we went exploring the area around our daughter's house to look at other campgrounds, just in case we can't get a spot in the Wood Smoke campground (2 miles from her house) when we need it.

We've stayed at all kinds of campgrounds and resorts in the more than 20 years we've been RV owners.  Our absolute favorite place to stay is Disney World's Fort Wilderness Resort in Florida.  Of course, it is expensive so we seek out the value seasons when the prices are more reasonable, usually January and the first half of February.  Fort Wilderness is beyond clean and neat, immaculate comes to mind.  For us, it has the ultimate "It" factor.

Today, we looked at nearby campgrounds that when we drove around them, sadly, we found them to be on the other end of the scale.

Most of the campgrounds were not campgrounds at all but were long term trailer parks with old recreation vehicles and trailers instead of mobile homes.  They didn't have any transient sites.  Many of the trailers that were there were of ancient vintage, covered with leaves and pine needles and were various shades of green from the moss growing on them.  All kinds of items were laying around the units, old toys, grills and various trashed boats or dead cars.  It's a shame to see places where old RVs go to die.

Understandably many people could be down on their luck and these accommodations are all they can afford.  Not to be judgemental, but it makes you wonder why the campground owners let their parks deteriorate to these levels, when simple things like cut grass and litter being picked up would go a long way to making things much nicer.  It may be a pig, but at least it could be a clean pig.

The campground we're in has many long term residents, but it is clean, neat with no trash or non-running vehicles around.  They have a good standard and they stick to it.

We prefer full hook up sites, preferably with 50 amp power.  We do enjoy a little shade, but like a clear shot of the sky for our satellite TV (I loathe having to set up our portable dish and avoid it whenever possible).

If we have a cement pad, that is a plus, but a nice, level site works well, too.  The showers and restrooms don't mean much to us because we never use them.  Occasionally we use the campground laundry if we have such an overload of dirty clothes that overwhelm our little washer/dryer.

Pools are nice, but for us a hot tub is the icing on the cake (with a cherry on top).  That combination is pretty rare.

Price is another factor.  We budget $750 an month ($25/night) because we have and will spend much of our travels east of the Mississippi River, where things are more costly. 

One gem for us has been military FamCamps.  They are usually very nice, have good amenities and  often are located in killer locations, like San Diego, right on the bay, or Key West just a block or two away from Duvall Street.  The prices are very reasonable, too, we save money on our budget by using them.

Location is always important, but for us, location is a little different.  We like to be close to our spread out kids and grandkids.  Since we've hit the road full time, we've been able to spend much more time with them than ever before.  That's a major "It" factor for us.

As we progress further into our full time life, we'll be able to visit the National and State park campgrounds, the Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds and enjoy all they have to offer.

Right now the world is our oyster.  :c)

What makes a campground have an "It" factor for you?  We're always looking for other's ideas and opinions. 

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


  1. Are you reading my mind or what? I have been thinking about a blog on this same thing. This year our sites have been so different than what we wanted last year. I love the spots close to our kids most of all. However, winter takes us south. We've not had great sites this year and that has caused a lot of stress. I prefer transient parks over snowbird parks because the people usually are just looking for another friendly face and not someone they already know. I don't want to be so close to my neighbor that our windows are on top of each other. I want internet, clear satellite, a hot tub, laundry, good weather, big grassy sites or ocean view, ATV friendly, nice people .... I just want it all and I want it under $25 a night. Is that too much to ask for?

  2. the 'it factor' seems to be a common subject the last couple of what would be at the top of our list for 'it' factor?..just depends on where we are?..nice view..amenities..we aren't too fussy at the moment...just to be out and camping would be a good thing!!

  3. Sure do envy you those FamCamps for cost savings.

    I'm the other end of the spectrum. Seldom have full hook ups. W/E and a dump station is about as fancy as I go. Don't really like resort parks with planned activities and lots of socializing. Do like RV Dreams rallys with socializing but otherwise I'd love to find a boondocking location on the ocean. Having lots of space and quiet and dark dark dark at night birds and other critters as neighbors rather than my "fellow man" is what I like.

    Sure hope we can get back to those kinds of places soon.

  4. We like elbow room and some shade. Water and electric...sewer is a plus. Good Verizon reception along with roof top satellite. Preferably a body of water nearby. No traffic sounds and all about 20-25 bucks.

  5. Well, as you probably know from reading our blog we aren't "real" campground type of people. We don't need all the WOW factors, we are pretty simple people. Price is usually our number one factor and the remoteness is usually the number 2 factor. We like to be in the middle of nowhere where we can hike and enjoy the solitude of nature.

    We have stayed at Disney and really enjoyed it but that was years ago and we tent camped (one of the few) with our two children. It served our purpose at the time but I doubt it would be a place we would go again unless we were with our grandchildred and wanted to spend time at Disney, then I would have to say it is the place to go.

    Kevin and Ruth

  6. We LOVE the Wilderness and NONE have come close to compare since. The customer service was beyond anything we have ever experienced and have not come close to compare since.

    Our "it" is price, we stay at many nice resorts for $10 with our membership and we get spoiled...not wanting to spend more for a site, but know realistically we will.

    We like room and not touching our neighbors, we prefer water, electric 30amp and sewer. We must have good Verizon signal for our MiFi. We never use their restrooms so it doesn't matter, but if we have to do our laundry we care about those facilities. We love resorts that are on the ocean, lakes or rivers.

    That all said, we will live without all of them for an overnight stay, just not for long periods of times

  7. Harry and I are also full hookup people. The best would be open sites where we can use our satellite, someplace close to hiking/walking trails and preferably rural enough that we can use our bikes to get around as much as possible. Being on the water and/or having great views would be a plus. :)

  8. Nature, Nature, Nature with beautiful view plus electric and water. Would like to have level site, near water with good MIFI. The cheaper the better;o)) Up to now, clean bathrooms with hot showers were a concern as we camped in a VAN;o)) But with our new motorhome, I think that will not be as important as it once was.

  9. A quiet, clean park with a view, and at least 30A electric, would likely do it for us. Internet access is important, but we could live without it if we're not staying any great length of time. Space between sites for a long stay would be very important. We don't need a whole lot of amenities since we don't use them often, although Mui would really enjoy a swim if there's a pool. Of course this is all based on our experience so far ... who knows how the "it" factor will change when we're on the road fulltime.

  10. I know that George & I will keep an eye out for more sites that have less cement, more grass & trees, preferably with a water view :) Of course we have that now, but...

    For awhile FHU would be better, but as we learn how to conserve, that will become less important.

  11. Before we were full time, I would have answered like Sherry& Nancy and Bill but I like having full hook up. So, we stay in more RV parks than I would have guessed. I like a little elbow room between spaces and a clean neat park.

  12. Lots of space around us, quiet, dark at night, room to hike and walk our dog without doing laps around a concrete park. This winter we stayed in a very nice RV park after two years of boondocking in the AZ desert. I must say I enjoyed being able to use my convection oven and washer/dryer. But I missed the serenity and privacy of the desert.

  13. Our "it" factor changes from place to place....If we can get a great rate and stay under budget for us (20.00-30.00 a night) at a nice resort type place, we love it. If we are in a wonderful, natural area with beautiful nature, rivers, whatever, then a minimum hookup in a more remote setting suits us just fine. We seem to mix it up quite a bit and that works great for us. One thing we've discovered, is we really miss an internet connection when we don't have it, which is a sad thing to have to admit! :-)

  14. Our very favorite parks are the COE parks. There is usually plenty of space between sites and they are usually on the water. We don't have a satellite so never worry about that but do prefer some openness for our crank up antenna. If we don't have TV, it's not a huge deal but do want a good Verizon signal for our aircard/router. There is usually no sewer hookups at COE parks, so we usually stay a week, go dump and then find a full hookup site for a couple nights to catch up on laundry etc.
    It works for us :) I just wish there were more COE parks! :)

    Having said that, we are in a full service, winter Texan location for the last 3 months and have enjoyed it here too, but looking forward to leaving and heading straight for the nearest COE park!

  15. There's no one "it" factor for us, but more a combo of things. Price of course, but location,friendly hosts and cleanliness are our top 3. Wifi and cable round out the package or at least a good anntenna signal.

    That being said, some of our best experiances have been at, The Low Key Hide-a-way, Ceder Key, FL; Mayport NAS, Jacksonville FL; and Boot Hill RV Resort, Alamogordo, NM.

  16. the 'it' factor for us is lots of space..some trees but a good shot for the sat tv...wifi is a plus and of course good cell reception...I like transient versus perms because I find they are happy to meet other travellers...good pricing is a bonus for sure...and full hookups....during our travels this winter we were in a couple of 'tight' spots..but just for a night or two...