Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I are fairly new at RVing. We didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to secure a campsite when and where we travel. The reality of this time consuming chore never entered our minds during the years we dreamed of roaming around North America in our travel trailer. It has taken The adventure out of our sails. Our utopian plans of throwing out the anchor wherever the wind blew us has turned into the nightmare of securing reservations well in advance and putting ourselves on a schedule. We thought our time clock days were behind us and now find ourselves rat-racing around and keeping a daily planner again. Is this a syndrome that many Rver’s suffer with or will we finally overcome our fear of being site-less and end up in long lines with people that refuse to be sent to the reservation system?
--Dan in Demming
It’s a fact of life. A majority of campgrounds have become bookie joints. The future holds more of the same. You can let it corral you or use it to your advantage. It is not a perfect world we have created. The old saying, “If given lemons, make lemonade,” applies here to your feelings. The realities of the road are often much different from the picture ads you have been drooling over for years. That said, it is still a wonderful lifestyle. You have to weigh the difference of planning your trip far in advance and knowing you have secure sites, or winging it and taking your chances. The deck is stacked against you if you decide to wing it. There are actually scalpers who buy up the best sites and seasons in many state and national parks and resell them in bidding auctions on Ebay and Craigslist. In Florida, for example, many state parks have gone completely to reservations. Even if you do find a site during the week, you often have to move out on the weekend because they have been completely booked months in advance. Many National Forest Campgrounds have gone to reservations. I wouldn’t be surprised if soon it won’t be necessary to book ahead at Camp Walmart. The boondocking days are dwindling. It’s a numbers game we call supply and demand. Many places that used to be free are now charging for two reasons -- #1 because they can, and #2 because of overuse. In the present economy you will find many free campgrounds full of unfortunate people who have lost their homes to foreclosure. There have already been attempts to erode the Senior Discount from government campgrounds, and with state budgets in the black water tank you are finding fewer services and less maintained facilities at higher fees. My advice is to stop dwelling on lemons and adjust the sails and make lemonade. There are still many wonderful places to drop anchor. You can arm yourself with more information using campground directories, computer websites, fellow campers and news media to find those gems that few have discovered. Eventually, you will find places appealing enough and you will know when you want to return and for how long. At that point “Book ‘em Danno,” and you will end up loving the reservation system.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink