A few common questions I’ve been asked this summer are…
- “Why are you staying at a campground? They’re so expensive!”.
- “KOA’s are expensive, why not stay at the State Park?
- “Why aren’t you traveling more? You have a van, you should be going places!”
Apparently I’m not doing the normal Van Life thing. Then again, I’m not normal so… go figure.
I think what trips people up is, they look at my lifestyle as though I’m a tourist or vacationer rather than a full-time van dweller. There’s a difference between full-time mode and vacation mode.
If other’s are asking these questions, maybe you’re wondering too. So, in this post, I’ll share some insight about why I do what I do, why it may not be as expensive as you think and more.
Why I’m Staying At A Campground…
The simple reason is… because I want to.
I began Van Life almost 7 years ago. I enjoy having the option to live off-the-grid, park in someone’s driveway, stay at a campground, overnight at Walmart / Cracker Barrel / rest area or do whatever trips my trigger.
The first few years of Van Life I never stayed anywhere more than a few days. I was almost always on the go. It was a fun time filled with exciting adventures but always on the go is not a sustainable way to live.
By the time I moved in with Dad in 2018… I was on the verge of Van Life burnout (because I never slowed down).
— Did you know, many full-time van dwellers only last 2-3 years?
Periodic downtime is extremely necessary.
Since getting back to nomadic in 2020, I find I need more downtime than usual.
At the present time, a campground is my best option to get the downtime I need.
I’m not having to find somewhere to spend the day and a different place to spend the night. I always have a spot to come home to and all the necessary amenities are at my disposal.
Van Life And Flexibility Go Hand in Hand…
I wasn’t planning on staying in one place the entire summer of 2022 but I felt it was in my best interest to do so.
With the health issues I’ve recently experienced, I chose to stay in The Homeland so I could see my regular doctor and get things under control before heading on down the road.
I’m glad I made the choice to stay.
Another Emergency Room Visit…
Last week, I ended up in the Emergency Room for the third time since I’ve been back in The Homeland.
This time, the Doctor’s say it was a combination of new medication (causing an irregular heartbeat) and an infection (most likely multiple infections).
Initially, the ER thought it was Covid (I also had a fever, shortness of breath, headache, extreme fatigue and nausea). Since Covid was a possibility, I got my own private room.
Thankfully, it wasn’t Covid but the private room was nice!
— I’m on the mend and doing better each day.
Why I Chose The KOA Instead Of The State Park…
I love the KOA I’m staying at. It’s like family and I enjoy the weekend activities (even if I can’t participate, I enjoy being a spectator).
— In the town I’m staying, there’s both a KOA and a State Park.
I also love camping at State Parks. This spring, on my way back to The Homeland, I stayed at several State Parks in Georgia and Tennessee. It’s a different type of camping than the KOA but I enjoy variety.
The thing about State Parks is, most State Parks don’t allow long term stays.
The typical time limit you can stay at a State Park is 14 days in a 28 day period. Some parks allow extensions but usually not more than 30 days.
Some State Parks (such as Georgia) cost just as much or more than other types of campgrounds.
When It Comes To KOA’s And Similar Campgrounds…
Each KOA or campground has their own rates and rules. Some rates are extravagant, others are moderately priced with some being quite reasonable.
With my van, I don’t need full hook-ups nor do I need 50amp service. This means I often pay a lower daily rate than the big RV’s.
I also participate in the KOA rewards program. My daily rate is reduced by 10% and I earn reward points to get more discounts on future stays.
— I save my reward points to use when I’m staying at a higher priced KOA.
Did You Know Many Campgrounds Have Monthly Rates?…
The majority of campgrounds have daily rates. Some of these campgrounds also have reduced weekly rates and/or reduced monthly rates.
Some campgrounds have different rates based on the time of year (in-season vs off-season). Other campgrounds have one rate year round.
When the monthly rate is averaged out, it’s lower (sometimes significantly lower) than the daily rate shown on the campground’s website.
Not all campgrounds publish their monthly rates on their website. If it doesn’t show and you want to know… you have to ask.
— The KOA rewards discount doesn’t apply to weekly or monthly rates because those rates are already reduced.
As For This Summer…
I’m paying the monthly rate which, during the off-season, is comparable to most State Parks. During the in-season, the rate is a few dollars more per day but I enjoy the people, activities and extra amenities.
What’s interesting is, my monthly rate is quite a bit lower than the Georgia State Parks rate.
— Most (if not all) State Parks only have daily rates. There are no reduced rates based on length of stay.
During The Winter…
When I visit Nikki in south Florida I stay at an RV Resort (not a KOA).
I pay the monthly rate which is very reasonable for Florida AND comparable to most State Parks BUT quite a bit lower than Georgia State Parks.
I Have Nothing Against Georgia State Parks…
They are very nice parks and I’ll certainly stay again.
The fact is, the price is quite a bit higher than other State Parks and notably higher than the monthly rate I pay at non-State Park campgrounds.
I don’t live the normal Van Life and probably never will.
When compared to living off-the-grid for $0, yes, campgrounds are expensive. It’s each person’s choice how they want to live. I enjoy having options and doing whatever trips my trigger at the time.
There’s more than meets the eye when looking at campground rates. It’s not as simple as multiplying the published daily rate by the number of days you want to stay.
Many campgrounds have reduced rates based on length of stay. The reduced rates are often comparable to or better than State Park rates.
Some campgrounds also have reward programs or offer discounts for people with disabilities, Veterans, age, etc.
I’m currently in a stay at a campground phase but that’s how I roll… I do one thing for a season until I’m ready to do something different.
Most importantly… I try to remain flexible.
About The Top Picture
The picture shows the view from the deck of my campsite (at the KOA). I think I have the best campsite here!