For years when we owned Nine of Cups, we belonged to a couple of cruising clubs and enjoyed participating, volunteering and meeting up with members. Now that we’ve sold Cups, we felt it was time to let those memberships lapse and join organizations that would allow us to make the most of our new mode of travel. There are so many organizations out there, we’re having a problem making up our minds. We figure the more we travel, the more we’ll find what suits us best. Here’s some we’ve joined and/or considered.
We already have our America the Beautiful National Parks passes. We purchased them as soon as we turned 62 and have used them innumerable times. What a bargain … $10 for a lifetime pass. The price recently increased to $80/lifetime (or $50/year), but with over 400 sites to visit, I can’t imagine traveling America without it. Not only do we receive free admission to the parks and monuments for everyone in the vehicle, but camp sites are half price for us, too. Take a look at some of the National Parks & Monuments we’ve visited.
The Good Sam Club and other RV clubs have been explored, but so far these aren’t quite the right fit for us. We do not have an RV and though we browsed at the associated Camping World, we found the prices quite high and much of the merchandise not appropriate for Blue. Diesel prices at Flying J and Pilot are particularly high, so even with the Good Sam discount, it’s more than we would pay off the highway. We may change our minds at some point, but not now.
We have checked out Campendium and this website offers lots of free information about campsites throughout the USA, Canada and parts of Mexico. Though you can join and enjoy discounted RV fees, there’s no fee for just accessing information which is what I preferred to do. I really like the fact that it provides info on free camping sites (boondocking), state parks, national parks and private campsites. Photos and camper comments make it easier to assess the site cost, what’s available nearby, amenities and how much we’d enjoy the venue.
A good friend suggested Harvest Hosts, a site that highlights wineries, farms, breweries and museums that offer free one-night stays on their properties for self-contained RVers. We assume Blue will qualify. The annual membership fee is $49 and we’ve not joined yet, but it has appeal and it’s on the short-list.
After evaluating several RV and camper van type sites, I decided that what’s more important to us than the amenities of a campsite is what we plan to see and do along the way. Hence, the reason we purchased the National Parks passes long ago so we could enjoy all the parks and monuments and forked out the money for the Roadside America app, so we wouldn’t miss anything absurd. With that thought in mind, I looked into botanical garden and museum memberships and found that many offer reciprocity. We recently became members of the Springs Preserve, a place we really enjoy locally. Through the American Horticultural Society, it offers reciprocal free admission to 400+ botanical gardens throughout the USA and Canada. Awesome!
We haven’t joined NARM yet (North American Reciprocal Museums), but it offers 900+ museums in its reciprocal program. Talk about a win-win: we support organizations we enjoy plus get free admission to other similar places when we’re on the road.
It would be easy to just sign up for everything, but that's just not our way. We’ll continue our search for organizations which are interesting and offer us budget-minded folk the best bang for our buck while supporting organizations we enjoy and admire. Got any recommendations? We’d love to check them out.