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View Full Version : Thousand Trails vs KOA


kjohn6363
02-21-2021, 11:36 AM
Thousand Trails Membership or KOA??? Which would serve to be the better choice?

jsb5717
02-21-2021, 12:12 PM
I went with KOA. It seemed to me that there was more availability with KOA with more sites that provided ample space for 35' and larger trailers plus more with full hookups. Isn't there a difference in business models? Doesn't TT charge an annual fee with no charge to use their parks? Maybe I'm not remembering correctly but I remember not wanting to be heavily committed to using specific parks in order to get my money's worth. It's been a while since I looked into it but that's how I am remembering it.

DutchmenSport
02-21-2021, 12:44 PM
KOA has an annual membership that is renewed every year. Currently, their web site says $33 for an annual membership. But with promotion codes and such, it can be less.

Thousand Trails has a one time membership that can be an outrageous amount and then you are locked into a lifetime membership and still required to pay annual fees and such. Their plans are regional, meaning your plan is only good for a specific geographical location.

If you are a full time camper, this can be a win situation. If you are a week-ender and a 2 week Summer vacationer, you are doomed to loose money viciously.

KOA's are located all across the country, and you get a discount for your campsite costs. This can more than pay for itself after only a couple visits. KOA's are independently run, but franchised under the KOA banner.

The nice thing about KOA's, if you use a KOA for 3 night, you've just paid for your membership. If you decide to camp somewhere else, you don't feel guilty or cheated out of spending a lot of money on a product you are not using.

We carry two card memberships: KOA and Good Sam. Good Sam offers a 10% discount at all their campgrounds if you are a member. It's also an annual renewal with no other commitments. And if you shop at Camping World or Gander Camping Mountain World (or whatever it's called now), you also get a discount on your purchases.

The third card we carry is the Indiana DNR Annual Parks pass. Entrance fees into Indiana State Parks are now $7.00 a vehicle. If you are in-state, the annual fee is $50. If you camp a lot at Indiana State Parks, the card pays for itself after 7 visits. If you are an in-state resident and over 65, the annual pass is only $25.

The thing about Thousand Trails is, you are locked into a lifetime contract and about the only way out is to sell your contract to someone else.

Again, if you are planning on full timing and if you plan it right, and if you use Thousand Trails 100%, it can work and you might have a savings over the cost of just camping with no memberships. But, if you are a week-end warrior, Thousand Trails is a loosing proposition. Unless you just want to part with your money.

Hblick48
02-21-2021, 01:40 PM
We have Thousand Trails (zone pass), Good Sam, KOA, and Passport America. Never pay full price for a space.

kjohn6363
02-21-2021, 04:33 PM
We do KOA, just wondered if we should also consider TT

mhs4771
02-21-2021, 07:43 PM
When we started camping 45 years ago, we used KOA all the time, now hardly ever since they have gotten quite pricey for us. We generally use GoodSam discount parks or PassPort America parks.

rames14
02-21-2021, 07:57 PM
We also use Good Sam and Passport America. Plus, the Golden Age pass is half off at COE, USFS and National Parks campgrounds.

Ram Montana High Country
02-21-2021, 09:44 PM
Which would serve to be the better choice?

I'm not sure any of us can answer that question for you. I see you are new to MOC - there are a lot of answers here ... as a group we might be able to provide better feedback if we new more about your camping history, Know what you like to do while traveling/camping. In the short time we've camped our LIKES have changed. Are you full time or a short number of trips a year? Co you want to see a lot of North America? What do you see as the advantages of each of the two choices? Dis-advantages?

NOT all KOA's are equal and the same for Thousand Trails - always do you homework about the areas and campgrounds.

BB_TX
02-22-2021, 09:39 AM
If you have done KOA many times, you are probably already aware they established 3 levels of parks a few years ago. They have Journey parks (fewer amenities designed for travelers looking for overnight or short term stays), Holiday parks (designed with more amenities for longer stays to sight see the local area), and Resort parks (the most amenities). Prices depend on both the type of park and the location of that park.

Hblick48
02-22-2021, 04:15 PM
Thousand Trails is totally different than Good Sam, Passport America, etc. You pay an annual fee ($500 range). Unlimited nightly stays within your zone with restrictions (14 days in, 7 days out). There are other plans, cost more.

Cyride
02-28-2021, 02:24 PM
We stayed at a Thousand Trails site for a couple of weeks this last summer. Had a complementary membership for a year with our new RV purchase. RV park was OK with no complaints. Just didn't have any places to stay within a 5 hour drive around our home. I have reserved several weeks at KOA's out west for this summer. When I made one of the reservations I asked about renewing my 1 year trial we had received from KOA. The person I talked to said I get the same discount with my ARP membership, the only advantage with the KOA membership was getting points for my stays. Not sure if that is correct but it has kept me from renewing with them as of yet. KOA's I have stayed at have all been good places to stay, they do cost a little more.

paulinbaja
02-28-2021, 02:55 PM
We used the TT one year and loved it. We had plans on being at FLYING FLAGS in Buelton, CA for the forth of July (4 days). That cost for the number of persons that weekend was within $10 of the Zone Pass at TT. There is a TT campground near there so we told the salesman if he could get us in there that weekend we would buy the membership. He did and we did. We used that membership all over Calif. that year. Would have done it again but became professional campers after that.

cinskeep
02-28-2021, 03:09 PM
We have KOA and Good Sam. We have used our KOA more and we had enough points to pay for our renewal. I find it easier to make reservations at a KOA. If I have to call a RV park to see if they have an opening, I will look for a KOA that I can book online.

JRogers
02-28-2021, 03:22 PM
If you got money TT maybe.

The regular package is pricy, and you will never get a campsite.

Make sure you pay with a credit card and document everything. When you find they are not what they project, and you cancel within the cancellation period. The only way to get your money back is through the credit card company!

DaveK
02-28-2021, 03:40 PM
I always cringe at this topic because it can end up like other guaranteed hot button topics like Ford vs Chevy, gas vs diesel, payload, you name it.

I've already read responses to the original posting that in my mind are so misleading and inaccurate. Go to a credible TT representative for information. I know a couple very nice TT representatives and would be glad to provide names.. We own both KOA and TT, and enjoy both.
Comparing the two is like apples vs oranges. As I write this, I've been in FL over a month and spent zero for nightly campground fees. I've probably saved 3 times my original TT membership cost in the last 6 years. Nothing is perfect.

JABURKHOLDER
02-28-2021, 04:23 PM
[QUOTE=Davekendall1@yahoo.com;1214359]I always cringe at this topic because it can end up like other guaranteed hot button topics like Ford vs Chevy, gas vs diesel, payload, you name it./QUOTE]

I wholeheartedly agree. TT is a hot button for me. Absolutely nothing good to say about them. I have vented about them in two other threads so I won’t repeat myself here.

That being said, it depends on your camping needs. Do you like locking into a limited number of campgrounds with a high, up front membership fee and free or nearly free camping for the year ?
If you like camping in the same place all the time, , then maybe TT is for you.

With KOA, you get discounts at ALL KOA’s across the country for a $33.00 annual fee. You automatically get a discount on the nightly rate. You earn points with each stay that can further reduce your camping cost. Lots of promos with free nights.
My experience with KOA though, has usually been less than stellar. Old parks, tight spots, noisy, lots of kids. (My kids/grandkids are ok, not a fan of other people’s kids. Haha)

Anyway, your wallet, your choice.

Byron B
02-28-2021, 04:35 PM
We travel the US in our Rv about 6 months per year. We use Golden age pass for COE parks and other discounts. We have a Good Sam multi year membership as well. We did not want to be restricted to the TT membership nor deal with the different regions.
We stayed frequently in KOA until about 2 years ago. We realized their parks were older, less amenities and much less maintained and less clean. Our annual membership at KOA almost made me think that we were automatically put in the least desired spaces. When we returned to the office to ask for a different space we were told they were reserved. Wake up the next morning and no one in the spaces....strange but true!
And yes, we were always courteous and friendly. We are from Texas after all!

ejerni
02-28-2021, 04:53 PM
We do KOA, just wondered if we should also consider TT

We have an Elite membership with TT. I suspended our dues because we weren't using them. We got very unhappy with them because they let tenters camp in any spot now. I really regret buying it.

Nightop
02-28-2021, 06:00 PM
There is not a simple answer to this. You need to do your own research and try to determine what works best for you.

For what I see:
KOA, you pay an annual fee, which then gives you a discount off of their rates. A few nights a year gives you the savings to pay for the cost of the membership. However you still pay a fairly good amount for each and every night you spend there. Even wth a discounted rate of say $30/per night can add up quickly if you are camping a lot.

TT, there are so many variables and depending on which path you choose with them it can be cheap and restrictive or expensive and much less restrictive. As some have mentioned above, there is the basic annual fee, with no commitment other than that year, this is called a camping pass, and is restricted to one general region, then there are other variations of this where you can add zones or regions, and still only be committed to a single year of time,
Then you start to get into their other programs which cost a lot of up front money and then a re-occuring annual fee. These programs include all the zones, allow you more days in park, and then depending on the level you buy in at can include things such as park to park access, and a longer booking window, which gives you a better chance of getting into the park you want. I think that there are 7, 14, and 21 day stay programs with 90 120, and 180 day booking windows. The cost per day with these programs is $10/day.

Looking at the basics a usage of 30 days a year would be something like:
KOA - Discounted rate of $30/night = $900 + $40 annual fee, so around $940/yr
TT - $10/night =300 + 600 annual fee = $900/yr, but the you have to add in the initial buy in cost of TT which can be thousands of $'s. Of course there is a secondary market or TT memberships which seems to be half the cost of buying TT direct. The membership we looked at was about $8k through TT or $4k 2ndary. This membership would have given us 180 day booking window 21 day stays with no out of system requirements. There were some peak season restrictions that might have been an issue.

Ultimately we ended up going with a local camping program, that gave us access to RPI, Coast to Coast, Good Sam, and some TT. We also pay for a yearly KOA, and have Harvest Hosts, and Passport America.

You need to look at all of these programs and determine what the option are and how they will best fit your camping needs.

Greg

JRogers
02-28-2021, 06:01 PM
I always cringe at this topic because it can end up like other guaranteed hot button topics like Ford vs Chevy, gas vs diesel, payload, you name it.

I've already read responses to the original posting that in my mind are so misleading and inaccurate. Go to a credible TT representative for information. I know a couple very nice TT representatives and would be glad to provide names.. We own both KOA and TT, and enjoy both.
Comparing the two is like apples vs oranges. As I write this, I've been in FL over a month and spent zero for nightly campground fees. I've probably saved 3 times my original TT membership cost in the last 6 years. Nothing is perfect.


I live in florida.
Joined so I could go visit family also in florida, could not find any places in florida, much less the ones I wanted. All booked up past my membership advanced booking period.

Then went to the places as a non tt member, plenty of vacancies.
Called tt, they were honest, though the camping area had 180 spots, only 12 were availabe to tt. So yes I could book as a non tt person, but no chance as a tt person.


Makes me wonder??? that you have all kinds of spots, especially in florida, available to you.


If you have money and can afford, and have the time to plan ahead, the membership that you can book 6 months ahead, maybe....????


Plus, your logic is kind of like, don't ask the customer that bought the car, ask the car salesman???

chapman
02-28-2021, 06:45 PM
KOA runs hot and cold on how nice the park is, not cheap and some are really old and run down. Thousand Trails, don’t know much about except they are never where I want to camp.

DaveK
02-28-2021, 06:45 PM
It's like anything else, an educated consumer is the best customer. I personally know some of the Thousand Trails membership specialists. They're not like the proverbial car salesman in our experience. Any time I'm ready to quit RVing, I can sell my membership. IMO, I don't think a person reading contradicting comments I see here will be very informed.

JABURKHOLDER
02-28-2021, 07:00 PM
We have an Elite membership with TT. I suspended our dues because we weren't using them. We got very unhappy with them because they let tenters camp in any spot now. I really regret buying it.

It’s really rare for someone to publicly admit buyers remorse. Most folks who spend that kind of money will defend that purchase to others just to try to make themselves feel better. Secretly, they regret it every day. I wish more people would be candid about mistaken purchases. Live and learn and learn from others.

zippertom
02-28-2021, 09:41 PM
Most of the comments regarding TT are misleading, inaccurate and just plain wrong. The writers either, don't know or don't care. We have been TT members for 4 years. We started as zone pass members. We e are higher than average users with 286 nights last year and estimate more than 300 this year. I suggest that you ignore these negative threads and talk with a membership specialist at one of their parks and get the truth.

We spend most of our winters in Florida. We have always been able to find a vacancy to fill. The reservation system is online or you can phone in to a reservation specialist who have always been able to help. You can change zones with a phone call. You dues cost is frozen for life at
age 65. You can pay monthly dues monthly with you credit card. You can upgrade if you want to but no one is going to pressure you. You can add The Trails Collection which gives you access all Encore parks all across the county. One thread said the nightly cost was $10. Absolutely Wrong. There us no cost, zip, zero NOTHING. Earlier, I said that we had 286 nights last year. Our cost was NOTHING beyond the dues we pay which were frozen 4 years ago. Call a membership specialist to get the truth.

CaptnJohn
02-28-2021, 09:51 PM
I travel so multiple zones would be rediculous. Neighbor bought tt after market and saved $$. 2 years later sold and lost $$. Abought 55% of KOA are decent even for an overnight, still over priced. There are some nice ones. I'll be traveling 7 months this year and will stop at 2 KOA that I know, Generally I avoid KOA for nicer and less expensive sites on the road and stay at the nicest destinations no matter the cost.

zippertom
03-01-2021, 08:10 AM
I travel so multiple zones would be rediculous. Neighbor bought tt after market and saved $$. 2 years later sold and lost $$. Abought 55% of KOA are decent even for an overnight, still over priced. There are some nice ones. I'll be traveling 7 months this year and will stop at 2 KOA that I know, Generally I avoid KOA for nicer and less expensive sites on the road and stay at the nicest destinations no matter the cost.

Cost does matter to us. Our objective is to travel, see the country, see the sights, have some $ to spend when we get there and no to go broke with nightly fees and other park related costs. We have been doing that successfully for the past 4 years and saving $ while doing it. If you enjoy paying "no matter the cost" then God bless. We like most people we have met have limited income and make practical choices. TT has been a good choice for us and has saved us thousands of $$, many times more than the cost of membership.

captjac39
03-01-2021, 08:56 AM
we are now on our 3rd year using TT. For our package, it cost us about $800 for a year, well last year we used $7000 worth of camping costing us nothing. This year we made our money back in two months. We are still both working but find ways of using it. The lifetime programs can be very costly at first and you still have yearly membership cost. Once you pay off that lifetime membership and you are full timers it should only cost you at most $1000 a year to live in your camper all over the country.

richfaa
03-01-2021, 09:09 AM
We use KOA and Passport America when in travel .KOA is like the holiday inn of RVing as you pretty much know what you are getting. We want pull through, 50 amp full hookups even on over nighters. TT is also fine but it does not meet our travel needs.

JABURKHOLDER
03-01-2021, 01:42 PM
Several folks here claim there is a lot of misinformation being posted about TT and everybody should ignore the negative comments. A well informed consumer listens to the good and the bad. The problem, as I see it, is the TT elite are blind to anything negative about TT and are trying to justify their membership. I prefer not to drink the kool aid.

Each person that expresses their experience, is their personal experience and not misinformation. A few years back I had camping passes for two “zones”. It did not work well for me. I got real specific about my experience on an old thread dedicated to TT.

Each membership level has its own advantages and disadvantages. The TT family advertises 194 campgrounds and there is a membership level that will get you access to all of those parks. On the surface that sounds like a lot. But, where are they ?
I’ll tell you where they aren’t ...
Arkansas
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Georgia
Idaho
Iowa
Kansas
Louisiana
Maryland
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
New Mexico
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Utah
Vermont
West Virginia
Wyoming

Big bucks to ignore half of the country.

Apologies for any hurt feelings. Just expressing my experience and knowledge as a former TT member.

(In case you haven’t figured it out, this is a hot button subject for me)

BB_TX
03-01-2021, 02:00 PM
I have no dog in this fight. But a TT map should help a lot of people in their decision as to the usefulness to them, not considering price.

https://thousandtrails.com/explore-campgrounds/mapsearch

DaveK
03-01-2021, 03:14 PM
First of all, no one ever said ignore the negative comments. For someone to characterize someone's positive experience with TT as a good value for them is drinking the Kool Aid is ridiculous.

There is definitely misinformation on this thread. No new information has been added, just sarcasm, which doesn't serve to inform anyone.

Any informed TT member knows where campgrounds are. If a person doesn't like the locations, great. Don't buy a membership. It's great to read negative comments to assess the credibility of the comments. As soon as someone disparages those who enjoy their membership, then meaningful dialogue is impossible.

JABURKHOLDER
03-01-2021, 07:27 PM
First of all, no one ever said ignore the negative comments. For someone to characterize someone's positive experience with TT as a good value for them is drinking the Kool Aid is ridiculous.

There is definitely misinformation on this thread. No new information has been added, just sarcasm, which doesn't serve to inform anyone.

Any informed TT member knows where campgrounds are. If a person doesn't like the locations, great. Don't buy a membership. It's great to read negative comments to assess the credibility of the comments. As soon as someone disparages those who enjoy their membership, then meaningful dialogue is impossible.

The MOC version of a Twitter war.

Firstly, “no one ever said ignore the negative comments”
Post #22 by Davekendall1@yahoo.comm
“I don’t think a person reading contradicting comments I see here will be very informed”
Post #24 by zippertom
“I suggest that you ignore these negative threads”

Secondly, “There is definitely misinformation on this thread. No new information has been added, just sarcasm, which doesn’t serve to inform anyone.”
Please elaborate what the misinformation is. I know everything I posted is accurate. The list of states not covered by TT was new information. I use sarcasm a lot to make points on how extreme some folks and comments can be. Sorry that sarcasm offends you.
Sorry that you feel disparaged.

Finally, people have buyers remorse about a lot of things. They try to justify it to others just so they feel better about their purchase. Everybody has done that. It happens and you try not to make that mistake again. I’m not saying that you, specifically, or anyone else here has buyers remorse (I may have hinted at that) about their TT membership. Although ejerni in post #18 regretted buying their elite membership. No one membership is better than any other. NONE. It’s all about what works for you and your wallet. As I have stated, TT is a hot button for me. I will tell anyone who brings up the subject how bad it was for me with specific information about specific parks and the lack of coverage in the whole of middle America.
I will defend my displeasure as strongly as you defend your pleasure with TT. Neither of us is wrong.