As an avid review reader, every time I sit down to plot our upcoming travels, I fire up the big RV campground review websites and I get to reading. What I have come to appreciate, however, is that, as with other types of reviews, what is vitally important to one person may be completely insignificant to another.
The fact is, there are all kinds of RVs and all kinds of RVers, and different folks want different things.
For example, many, if not most, RVers are not full-timers. They are people with regular homes who use their RVs to take vacations and family trips. For them, amenities at campgrounds may be very important. Tennis courts and swimming pools, mini golf courses, and activities for the kids are crucial aspects of their enjoyment. But Kevin and I don’t really care about any of that stuff. We live in our RV full time because we want to travel around and see the country.
Furthermore, RV’s come in all shapes and sizes. Some are bigger and fancier than ours. Some are smaller and more basic. That means, a lot of RVers may want or need things we don’t want or need.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I realized, as I read all these reviews, that a lot of what I was reading was not helpful to us. I realized I was getting more valuable information from reading the reviews of a select group of RVers on their individual websites. So I figured it would be helpful for us to start writing campground reviews that focus on the things that matter to us.
So, what do we care about?
Space and Privacy: We signed up to be RVers not because we wanted to vacation in campgrounds, but because we want to see the country in relative comfort. When we are “home” for the night, we want to feel like we have our own space. While all our RV neighbors have been very friendly, we don’t want to be looking in their windows. More than anything else, we value space and natural separation between campsites.
Site Quality and Big Rig Accessibility: There are lots of things we look for when it comes to site quality. Are the sites level? Are the hook ups in places that make sense? Are the utilities in good working order? If the sites don’t have full hook ups, are there central utilities we can use instead? Are those utilities easily accessible? Is the rest of the campground well maintained and easy to manage with a big rig? What about value? If the campground doesn’t have full hook ups, do the prices reflect that, or are we paying more to get less?
“Location, Location, Location”: Again, we are traveling to see the country, not to go on vacation. The campgrounds we are going to like most are going to be in and around major cities, historic sites, or areas of natural beauty that we want to explore. No matter how great the hot tubs and pools are, we are not gonna want to park in the middle of nowhere for a week and just stay on the property. Of course, sometimes there’s a lot of “nowhere” between two places we want to visit. And then it’s helpful to have a decent campground located somewhere near the highway that we can stop at for a night or three. We’ll review these places favorably as well.
Technology & Customer Service: Some campgrounds’ websites and reservation systems are ridiculously antiquated. Many still require you to call during business hours to make reservations, and some even hand write their reservations in a book. Many don’t offer any kind of confirmation number or email, so you are just left to hope that whoever picked up the phone when you called got everything right. We appreciate campgrounds that have websites that are modern, user friendly, and ideally, from which we can book our own reservations. On a related matter, while we don’t need much once we’re parked, we do appreciate campgrounds where the staff is friendly and helpful.
Internet Access: We have a highly coveted unlimited data plan with Verizon. Alternatively, some campgrounds offer free wifi access. Usually it sucks, but sometimes it actually works. Either way, internet accessibility is something we are highly reliant on and, the better the connection, the happier we are.
So, what does all this mean? It means that when we write a review, it’s going to be focused on these things. Our reviews are directed at people who are going to campgrounds because they want privacy, good utilities, and a good location. We are generally not going to include information about bath houses, laundry facilities, and social activities calendars and we probably won’t check out every single campsite on the property. But we’ll give our honest assessment based on the items listed above. We’ll also include the price per night and info on any campground discounts we utilized.
As I do more of these, and as our camping style changes based on where we are in the country, I expect the criteria may change a bit, but generally, this is what I’ll be looking at:
The Official C3T Rating System
Privacy Rating (how spacious and private do the sites feel?)
Location Rating (accessibility to points of interest or to major highways)
Site Quality and Big Rig Accessibility Rating (utilities and accessibility of campground hook ups)
Technology and Customer Service Rating (online resources, reservations, and staff)
Internet Availability Rating (Verizon coverage or campground wifi)
Summary Info: price per night, campground discounts used, other random thoughts…..