Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Life on the road: Membership Programs

The USA seems to run on coupons, memberships and discounts!

Camping Memberships

Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts' is a membership program costs as little as a one or two night stay in an RV park. You can stay at various locations like wineries, breweries; agri-tourism sites, across North America fee free, but may feel obliged to . You need a self contained RV.

You can sign up at Camping world stores. 50% off selected RV parks. The downside is that some parks have blackout dates during peak season, weekends and a limit of days that the discount applies. Some also ask to be paid in cash. Membership is about the same cost as one to two nights in an RV park. We became members last year and have stayed at a couple of RV parks and yes you do pay half price. There is an app for your phone or tablet to makes finding a campground easier.

A complicated membership program. They have divided the USA in zones and you pay for a zone or multiple zones. The RV parks are dedicated thousand trail parks not always in the places that you want to be. You can stay in a park for up to 14 consecutive days, then you have to have a 7 day break before going to another park. The first 30 nights are free, then you pay a small fee for each night after that. Not a bad program if you like the locations of their parks. The Elite package allows up to 21 days at a time, then you can move to another park without being out of the system.

Coast to Coast
Probably the most complicated membership program out there that is sold by high pressure salespeople. The initial cost runs into the thousands of dollars (up to 10k) and then there is a yearly fee as well. Members in the highest package can still only stay for one week at a time unless it is their home park which is two weeks. I don't know a lot about this program as they don't give out a lot of information unless you sign up. We have seen second hand memberships being sold on sites like Craig's List for a lot less than buying a new one, not sure how this works though. 

Discounts are offered at a wide range of RV parks across the country for a 15% to 50% discount.

Long Term Discounts
Nearly all RV parks and some County parks give you a weekly or monthly discount. Unfortunately all State and National parks are only on a daily fee.

AAA, Good Sam, KOA
Have memberships that give you 10% off camping fees. Good Sam also has a good trip planner that shows things to do along the way. Good Sam Elite gives you discount fuel at Flying J and Pilot.


Store Memberships

I don't think any RV'er could get away without ever stepping into a Camping World. Being a member gives you discounts on everything you buy.

Costco
Costco in North America is vastly different than the ones in Australia. They have everything. Contrary to what I used to believe, you don't have to buy millions of everything there either. Each membership allows you to have two cards and you don't have to have the same surname, you just need to have something that shows you live at the same address. It could be an invoice for something you buy online and have delivered to your friend's house!

Columbia Sportswear
Sign up for free and get discounts on all your purchases at POS.

REI & Best Buy
Sign up for free and a percentage of your purchases comes back to you as a voucher the following year. You don't need to carry around your card, just give them your phone number.

Supermarkets
Many of the supermarkets have cards that give you extra discounts that aren't available to those without the cards. Annoying but true. Luckily they are free to join, but remembering whose card goes with what store takes some remembering.



There are other programs out there, click on the hyperlink for second hand memberships for other names and things to be aware of. We are only members of Camping World, Good Sam, Costco and Passport America, so do you own research before joining any of the above.

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