Did we intentionally bad-mouth Passport America?

Did we intentionally bad-mouth Passport America?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
For those of you who’ve experienced the “loneliness of writing,” you know the feeling. You’ve pounded away at a keyboard for seemingly endless hours then put your work up for the public to view. And then you wonder, “Is anybody really reading this stuff?”

Well, as the man says, “I hope to shout!” Last week we posted our story of, shall we say, an “interesting” weekend at a Southern California RV park. And, of course, we wondered after the “publish” button was pushed, “Will anybody read this?” If the loud ringing in our heads from the comments readers left didn’t convince us, nothing will. Among the critiques a few questions surfaced, which we thought we’d address.

underlying photo image: didbygr on flickr.com

Are we “bad-mouthing” Passport America? Nope. Many Passport America members evidently felt we were, and stoutly defended the operation. Hey, we have no problem with Passport America. As we stated out the outset of the story, “it’s just we so seldom stay in an RV park, it didn’t seem to make financial sense.” We’ve been RVing since the 1980s, and in all those years (and many thousands of miles traveled) the number of times we’ve stayed in commercial RV parks could really be counted on all our fingers, with room to spare.

For the most part, we boondock. On occasion, we put in at a public campground, but even those sorties are pretty rare. We happen to like being at a distance from our neighbors, and quite often we just don’t have any. If we were more inclined to private RV park camping, then, yes, we’d probably consider a Passport America membership.

Others suggested that if we’d done a little better job on our homework, none of this would have happened. Well, no, we didn’t “fly over” the campground using Google Maps to check for site length. Not sure how much good that would have done us – the RV park we stayed at doesn’t give you an option of what site you want to reserve. You tell them the length of your rig, they tell you where to park. Our friends with their 40-foot motorhome had plenty of space to put the rig in and stash the tow-dolly in back, and enough side-to-side space to park the car. And, hey, they were just on the other side of the same “island” as we were parked. Guess you call that “the luck of the draw.”

And, yes, we read the comments that other users had posted about this RV park. Many were complimentary and some, taken at face value (and if there were nothing to balance them against), would have caused us to turn tail and run the other direction. If you’ve ever gone “shopping on the Internet for a doctor,” you’ve probably encountered the same situation. Some patients get along famously with a given medical provider, others find they can’t stand the guy. They all post comments, pro and con, and it’s up to you to try and figure out just which ones are right, or perhaps just “sour grapes grapers.” Like I tell other RVers, picking a good RV park is often a crapshoot.

Speaking of crapshoots, some of you wondered how on earth you could ever have a sewer hose that’s too long. Well, ours is a 15-footer. But by the time we crammed the trailer back into the corner of the site where the campground attendant wanted us, and took into account the very tight space between the trailer and the utility post, and did our best to “fend off” the next-door neighbor’s sewer hose, it’s possible that we might have been able to stuff our excess hose somewhere under our trailer. But since my old “bend-over” doesn’t quite work as smoothly as it used to, I figured it was just safer (and would probably hurt a lot less) just to dump the tanks on the way out. And who really wants to “milk” the sewer hose, picking it up and down to run the fluids from one end to the other. Since it all goes down the same sewer system, whether or not you dump at your site, or dump at the dump station, who’d have figured that the management would have demanded a special tribute to use the latter?

My friend David and his better-half spent a couple more nights in the same campground as we did – as we said, right across the “island” from our site. No, they weren’t pulled out of bed by the sound of somebody banging on the door, demanding they move their car. In fact, they were a bit shocked that our side of the island was as stuffed up as it was, while there were plenty of available sites on theirs. I guess we just know how to live right.
No, we didn’t post the name of the campground in the story, although I’m sure those who are truly interested could easily figure it out. With more of our seminars likely to be slated in the future up in Norco, the likelihood of us gritting our teeth and staying there again is very real. Put the name of the campground down, in a story, with our names in the byline? Yeah, somehow we wouldn’t be surprised if there was a little bit of “payback” in the future, or maybe just a downright refusal to put us up.

I can hear some of you now: “Stay there again? Are you gluttons for punishment?” Some pointed out there are other parks available in the area. Staying on “in the buff” or even fully clothed at a naturalist park just doesn’t have appeal. If you’ve ever accidentally stumbled into the nudist section of the La Posa South Long Term Visitor Area in Quartzsite, you’ve probably seen enough bodies that needed a once-over with a flat iron.

Lessons learned? Yeah, carry a really short sewer hose – just have to figure out where to store it. Our rig doesn’t have any “basement storage,” so space is at a premium. When we land, we’ll be sure to ask the attendant just where to park the truck so it won’t possibly be in anyone’s way.

Money talks, indeed. Spending $35 a night to stay “in hell” for a couple of days probably beats spending twice or better that amount to not have so much inconvenience. If the point of staying in an RV park were to enjoy the amenities then, yeah, we’d spend more and go elsewhere. But since California’s “Inland Empire” isn’t our first choice of desirable places to go for recreation, we’ll probably be back.

No, it’s not that we think Passport America is a bad deal. But given a choice, we’ll opt for the wide open spaces anytime.

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18 thoughts on “Did we intentionally bad-mouth Passport America?

  1. Tom

    As Moenoy stated above replace PA with any other RV park club name and you may find the same kind of environment. I have used KOA and Good Sams across the country and back and find excellent ones and also very poor ones.

  2. Bob Lambert

    As a Passport member nearing 20 years, we stay on the discount 20-30 days per year. If you are able to stay during the “off seasons”, the savings are substantial money. The only places I seem to have problems ” getting in” are the more popular state and federal parks.

  3. RB

    It amazes me how overly sensitive people have become. Just because you don’t see a need to join a particular RV club because your lifestyle doesn’t fit its offerings, you’re bashing it?

    People! Get over yourselves!

  4. WILL

    We have been using Passport America for years and have saved considerable money over the years, so much we did a lifetime membership 2 yrs ago. We travel 3 months every summer and have used PA sites 98% of the time which has paid for itself many times over. If you know the rules and travel accordingly it is definitely a saving; again suspect because we head North, North East, Mid West then back South during the summer months we tend to hit PA campgrounds that use PA where as suspect those who travel South, West during Winter may have problems. Most PA is good Sunday thru Thursday only. Not for everyone but great for us..

  5. Dave H

    Russ,

    I think us boondockers just get a little restless being cooped up in an RV park and are easily disappointed with the loss of the freedom of staying in a park. Here is a similar experience I wrote about. http://rvlife.com/boondocking-memories/

  6. Bob Godfrey

    We’ve been PA members for virtually all the years we’ve been full timing (9 and counting) and traveled 48 of the 49 states that we can get our RV to and it has paid for itself many times over. Yes, there are annoying restrictions but in many cases it has saved us many times it’s initial cost. Boondocking east of the Mississippi does not seem to work in our experience so that option is pretty much out and we have never stayed in a Wal Mart parking lot. So, I guess my point is that if you travel east of the Mississippi it pays to find as many reduced cost camping options as there are available. Not all of us have the ability to park anywhere in a forest. I might add that we’ve used RVparkreviews.com since we began our travels and found them to be very useful in helping us find good overnight spots without the use of a drone! But even then you have to weigh the experience level of the reviewer. If someone posts a negative review and has only been on the road for a week that tells you something don’t you think? Good luck out there.

  7. Roy Ellithorpe

    Absolutely it is difficult to find a PA park that offers the discount when you want it, BUT hey it’s 40 bucks, use it once and its paid for, PLUS it’s one more tool to find a park when you’re traveling.
    We found a nice park in Yuma in February that gave us a week on PA.
    Boom – paid for.

  8. Moaboy

    No need to be defensive. I just thought in the original article the problem was the Park, not Passport America. Even though I am a boondocker like u, I have found PA saves me money, especially on long cross country trips. Every club be it, PA, Good Sam or KOA is going to have a “few dogs” as members. I’m sure they would like to weed out these disappointing parks, but it is just not always possible to identify them in a timely manner.
    Safe travels.

  9. Charles Satsky

    We are Passport members and have been for a few years. If we stay at a parks that accepts Passport for two nights or so in a year it pays for itself.

  10. Paul Goldberg

    Me thinks thou does protest too much! Rather than publishing a selection of responses reflecting favorable reviews of passport America you have published 7 responses supporting your negative article.

    1. Hi, Paul. You make it sound like we “pick and choose” the comments we publish. No, we publish every comment that comes in, unless it goes too far regarding politics or religion and to the point that it is inflammatory/derogatory/rude. That’s the only time we delete a comment. So, whatever you see is what people post — not what we’ve “chosen” to publish. Thank you for writing so we can, hopefully, clear up this misconception. —Diane at RVtravel.com

  11. Alpenliter

    I think you are going to see fewer parks participating in Passport America in the near future. The premise is that the campground owner would rather take half price on a site rather than leaving it empty. If what Chuck says is true, the number of empty campsites is rapidly diminishing because of the glut of RVs being sold.

  12. Jim Anderson

    Like you said, sometimes “It’s the Luck of the Draw”!
    We’re not the boondockers that you are but we do manage about a month at Quartzsite every winter and depending on where we’re headed we will check out the Passport America campgrounds.
    Using them when it’s convenient.
    Some good, some not so good…
    I do like to check the reviews before hand and they are generally quite helpful.

  13. Lola

    We wasted our money on passport america….
    Hard to find places that accept passport America also they have stipulations of staying Monday through Thursday what about the weekends I like to stay on the weekends well I will never sign up for past America ever again any suggestions on any other clubs that we can join thank you long time traveler cross-country traveler

  14. Bill

    I to agree with everything you said nothing wrong with the truth

  15. Jeff

    We are Passport Life Members. To this day my Wife and I wonder why we spent the money. We rarely use Passport, since too many Passport sites have far too many restrictions on getting the discount. And I understand it is up to the RV Park whether or not to grant the discount.

    My Wife and I have also found that more times than not, the Passport Parks are less than satisfactory and usually below Good Sams Ratings.

    So we usually go with Good Sams Discounts or Military Discounts as well. On occasion, KOA (but that is a different story)

  16. bjensen

    I carry a regular length sewer hose on the driver’s side of our rear bumper and a long hose on the passenger’s side. That way I generally have the hose that works. It also keeps the hoses from sliding back into the tube where I can’t get to them.

  17. Vic Mazzaro

    I agree with everything you said. Passport to us we have considered but we don’t use it very much so it is not a deal to us. We go with Good Sam discounts or military. Your experience is like one we had many times before. A trip from Hell. Love to hear about your adventures keep it coming.

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