People who know us might be shocked to see that we did our first Thousand Trails membership test drive last week. But before anyone starts wondering if we’ve gone soft and given up our boondocking lifestyle, let me explain why we dipped our toe in the water in the Thousand Trails Palm Springs Resort.
After Ten Years Traveling, Here’s Why We Did Our First Thousand Trails Membership Test Drive
First, full disclosure: we were offered a free stay to check it out, no strings attached. Not even this blog post was required to take advantage of it. After doing some investigation I learned that the Thousand Trails rep who contacted us was on the up-and-up. Since we were coming to Southern California to visit family, the generous offer perfectly coincided with our need to find a good place to stay. After reading stellar reviews of Thousand Trails Palm Springs, we went for it. Admit it: you would too.
And with scenery like this in the middle of March, what’s not to love? While the rest of the country is still cold and snowy, this is paradise!
We were fully prepared to get the hard sell on a Thousand Trails membership, but those fears didn’t materialize during our stay. There was no hour-long sales spiel we had to sit through and nobody came knocking on our door with a clipboard and pen. Whew!
Instead, we were left alone to enjoy our sweet RV site and all the amenities in peace. And that we did. The park’s pool and spa had just been cleaned, everything was sparkling clean. All the kids in the park took advantage of the pool every day we were there.
Speaking of kids . . . we noticed quite a bit of full-time families staying here. After doing some research about Thousand Trails memberships it seems that many full-time families find Thousand Trails to be a great bargain.
Although RVers can stay many Thousand Trails parks without actually being club members, it appeared to us that the vast majority of visitors at this park did have a membership. One night at the hot tub Jim overheard a happy member saying “it’s the cheapest way to travel,” even though he was making payments on his membership contract.
Screech! went our debt alarm bells. Payments? On a Thousand Trails membership? Oh yeah. Because the Thousand Trails base cost starts at $575 per year and goes up from there, sometimes as much as $6,000 and change. Thousand Trails offers many varieties of annual club memberships that enable the user to enjoy different levels of privileges. And according to other RVers, they make it easy to pay off the annual contract in installment payments.
We couldn’t find many details about upgraded memberships on the Thousand Trails website. Instead we dug into Google and found this excellent Thousand Trails membership price breakdown by RV Love. If you are considering a Thousand Trails membership test drive, read the article before diving in.
We gave this campground membership arrangement a lot of thought during our stay. And what it comes down to for us is this:
A Thousand Trails membership just isn’t for us. We dry camp more than we hook-up, we prefer solitude over crowds and kids, and finally, we won’t ever make payments on camping stays that we may or may not use during the year.
But that’s just us. Thousand Trails is not a one-size fits all deal. For some people who always stay at RV parks, even a basic membership can help them save money on camping fees. And for people who upgrade to a membership that offers longer stays at each campground, it offers predictability and consistency (which is probably why families love it). Finally, if you’re part of the Thousand Trails tribe, you can probably enjoy that community-style feeling that many full-time RVers miss when they leave a sticks-and-bricks lifestyle behind.
From what we can see, Thousand Trails isn’t all bad nor is it all good. It’s just another way for you to spend your hard-earned money and it’s in your best interest to crunch your numbers and do all your homework before letting go of the green.