One of the decisions we face when arriving at a campground is whether to pay for more than one night in advance. Sure, it’s convenient to ante up for several days or even an extended stay all at once, and some campgrounds may even require you to do so.
If this is a location where you’ve stayed before, and you’re confident you’ll enjoy your visit, that may not be a problem. It’s good to keep in mind, however, that getting a refund can sometimes be a challenge, especially at government-run sites. If the people in the site next door turn out to be addicted to late-night karaoke, you may not want to have more invested in this campsite than you’re willing to write off.
A good example of the perils of paying in advance was sent to me by a reader of RV.net. After purchasing their first RV, our camper, her husband, and father-in-law set off on a 4-day outing. Her husband was tired and suggested they go someplace close by, so she whipped out her guidebook and suggested a private park on a lake.
After driving for several hours on winding, two-lane roads, they paid at the campground entrance for 3 nights–nonrefundable. They parked their rig, ready to rest and relax, in a nice site with an unobstructed view of the boat ramp.
They were barely settled in when a nice woman approached and commented to the group that they really didn’t want to be there this weekend. (Hmm….Not an auspicious beginning to their first camping trip.)
A logical response to the advice, “You’ll soon wish you weren’t here” would be:”Why?”
The answer in this case…speed boat races.
As our camper described the experience, “Talk about noise! Even when the boats were not actually racing, their motors were being revved for fine tuning and repairs.”
In a classic example of there’s good news and bad news, the setting sun brought an end to racing for the day. After all, the racers and fans needed a little time to unwind. Our on-the-scene reporter continues: “Saturday night we were treated to live music until one a.m. with the frequent refrain, ‘Baby! Baby! Baby!'”
Campgrounds are almost always wonderful places to meet nice people, but this event apparently brought out a somewhat different clientele. Our correspondent noted that by Sunday evening they’d had numerous visitors to their site who were not sober enough to drive home, so their prime location near the boat ramp became a crash landing zone of sorts. Sounds to me like this site definitely qualified for a group discount.
By Monday morning the survivors could finally appreciate how pleasant the area could be under normal circumstances. There was just one other detail, but it clinched this trip’s bid for certification as a Melancholy Situation. All the resorts around this particular lake were shutting down soon, so the area could be returned to a more natural setting. Lacking any motivation for long-term outcomes, the campground owners had not maintained the restrooms, showers, toilets, and other facilities. I’ll let you experienced campers imagine the results of that program.
As our camper concluded, “Needless to say, it was a very unexpected weekend!”
Pay for a lot of nights in advance? Baby, baby, baby… just be careful!
Have you had a “wish I hadn’t done that” experience after paying in advance for a campsite?
Life – it’s an adventure…. Find something to smile about today!
Jim’s book Hey Ranger! True Tales of Humor and Misadventure from America’s National Parks is available from Trailer Life Directory.com