Coupon Camping

Everybody likes a bargain. And there are many available to RV travelers. In 2007 we went the FMCA Motorhome Rally in Indio, California. It was our first rally and it was fabulous. 1700 motorhomes, exhibits, seminars, ice cream and nightly entertainment.

At the vendor booths we picked up dozens of coupons for free or low cost camping. The RV market softened in 2008 and until this year coupons were scarce. This year we got a bunch. Most of them are for Southern California and Southern Arizona. As we don't have a wintertime "home base", we can stay wherever we like each week. We follow the weather and if it turns cold, we move on. For the last 12 years we have averaged under $15 per day for camping. Come along with us as follow the Coupon Trail.

Our stay at the FMCA rally was $250 for 6 days; over our average but it included all the rally activities, and dinners.

Next we stayed two days at the Indio Elks, $25 day. Join the Elks, period! The annual dues will vary, ours is $135. We have stayed at 106 Elk Lodges for 968 days and have saved over $15,000 in the last 12 years.

After the Indio Elks, we stayed two days at Lake Cahuilla Recreational Area in La Quinta. Using Passport America we paid $18 per night. Travel full-time? Get Passport America. You save 50% each night. You must read the notes for each park to see what days they offer the discount.

Next it was two days at our good friends, Clint and Jackie. No, they don't charge us space rental and they are the most amazing hosts. Over the last 12 years, we have stayed 1,260 nights at the homes of friends and family. Visiting friends in your RV is the best. You have their fellowship during the day and your bed at night. Nice!

Now it was time to head to the Quartzsite RV and Vacation Show in Arizona. It was only 133 miles, but we stopped off halfway to see Tamarisk RV Resort. Daily rate just $35 with nice lake, golf and the solitude of the desert. This is an ownership resort where you can buy a lot and live pretty inexpensively.

Reaching Quartzsite we stayed three days for free along Dome Rock Road. No hookups, no facilities but very peaceful for a time. We visited the show with our friends Tim and Vikki and picked up more camping coupons.

A few of the coupons: One week at Silver View RV, Bullhead City, Arizona for $119; one week at Vista Del Sol, Bullhead City, Arizona for $99; two weeks at Catalina Spa RV Resort, Desert Hot Springs, California, 1/2 price. Five resorts in Yuma, Arizona offering 1/2 price month-long stays, 3 free days, 2 free days with 5 days at 1/2 price and more. All of these are destination resorts with pools, spa, pickleball and other activities. A free week at Stoneridge Golf and RV in Blanchard, Idaho. And up to 4 free weeks at a house/RV development north of Spokane, Washington.

For now we choose to go to Cat Spa for two weeks. As fortune would have it, there was a 3-day pickleball tournament during our stay. Currently we are not playing tournaments but we do referee. And they needed us. Between Ellen and Pete we refereed 42 matches. It was fun, helpful and we met old and new friends.

New friends Debbie and Randy invited us to their soiree. Good fellowship, music and ...

... yum! Now, that's a hors d'oeuvre spread.

Leaving Cat Spa, we made the 8.4 mile trek to Two Springs RV Resort in North Palm Springs, CA. This is an ownership park for the rest of us. 45 x 50 foot sites start at $19,500. For 2018 the monthly HOA fee is $220 which includes water, sewer, trash and property taxes. That's only $7.33/day after your initial investment. And you can rent your space when you are absent and lower your costs even more.

Common areas are landscaped with local native plants and rocks.

Four pickleball courts and a unique miniature golf course.

1) Owners can enhance their lots as they wish. Some are quite nice. 2) Streets are paved, lots are gravel until enhanced. The park is adjacent to the easternmost array of power windmills.

1) Starting lot for sale. 2) A owner site with plants, pavers and outdoor furniture.

Why did we include Two Springs in our Coupon Camping travelogue? We stayed two nights free in exchange for a 30 minute presentation. Realtor Mark Abercrombie spent time with us to explain their concept for low-cost RV lot ownership. Mark has been their 12 years since they opened. He was pleasant, gave us good information without any pressure to buy.

If you are "trying to see it all" as we are, there are so many specials to help reduce your camping costs: Good Sam Club, Escapees, Passport America, Elks, coupons and specials. If you find a park's web site and there are no specials, call and ask and you might be surprised what they offer.

With love, Pete, Ellen and Mandy

The Full Time Motorhome Living Guide

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