These tips for booking a campsite from a family that knows what it's like to book one. We didn't realize we had to book months in an advance and learned a few things to ask when making a reservation at a campground. Learn from our experience as we went through this a few years ago, when we purchased a pop-up trailer for our weekend camping excursions.
Full of excitement, I went to Facebook and asked my local friends for their campground recommendations. We got lots of feedback and a couple of people had actually mentioned the same campground. I waited for the summer month of June and then gave them a call to reserve a campsite.
Boy was I surprised to find out they were completely booked! My kids weren't even out of school for the summer, and campgrounds didn't have any open campsites? Well, we were able to book at some places and we had a great time. Yet, it was disappointing to not be able to stay at the campground that was recommended by our friends.
Fast forward 9 months later. I called this same campground in April. Not only was I able to reserve a weekend there for my family, we were also given choices on which spot we wanted. Lesson learned. Here are our best tips for booking a campground and reserving your perfect spot!
Find a campground
The first step in booking a campground is of course to decide which campground you want to stay at. There are two ways to go about doing this. You can research campgrounds first or you can research things to do in the area.
Visiting Storyland or Santa's Village in New Hampshire this summer? How about a trip to Six Flags New England? Or a trip to hike the Green Mountains and eat Ben & Jerry Ice Cream? Once you figure out where you want to go, it's time to decide on what campground.
A list of campground directories to all the New England states, is what I needed.
Or as mentioned above, a way to find a campground is to ask your friends and family. A recommendation goes a long ways in my book!
Next step in booking a campsite is to figure out what kind and location of the campsite. Here are some questions to ask yourself or the campground owner when determining the location of the site in the campground.
- Do you need to be by the bathrooms or playground, because you have small kids? We've gotten great sites close to everything when we requested a bathroom location, however keep in mind, it may also be nosier when trying to get the kids to sleep at night.
- Would you prefer to be closer to the camp store or activities at night?
- Are you looking for a campsite with more of a "woodsy" feel and want to be away from it all?
- Are you able to park your campsite or do you have to carry everything to the site. (Be sure to ask this it will help a lot when it comes to packing!)
- Do you need water and electric? (Most sites do, but always good to ask.)
- Does the site come with a fire ring, picnic table and trash can? (Although most sites do provide these basic items, not all campgrounds are the same!)
- Do they cater to families and kids? What activities do they offer? Are the free? (Some campgrounds have fun games like candy bingo or a dance party; often times a nominal fee is charged to participate which goes towards the cost of having the activity.)
- Are there state parks and/or hiking trails nearby? Will they provide maps?
Many answers of these questions, can usually be found right on the campground's website or Facebook page. If you can find the answer to your question, before you book whether it be on the phone or online, call them or email them and ask them. I can't stress this enough. Please don't assume. Just ask.
Spring is the time you should be booking your campgrounds for the Summer. Now that you have a list of campgrounds that you might like to try out, select a few dates.
Call the campground or go online to reserve. You may get a faster response and your questions answered by calling. But, if you are flexible on location or weekend dates, then the online reserve works well too.
If you aren't sure, tell the person when you call to reserve, your situation and ask them what campsite would they recommend. People love to give their opinion and we've gotten some ideal campsites this way!
If the campground you want has no vacancies , ask if they have a wait list. Or try them another time, people do cancel and you might be able to snag that last-minute cancellation! It's always worth a call.
Check the cancellation policy
Life happens, the kids get sick, an event comes up, the in-laws come to visit. If you need to cancel, most campgrounds will let you, minus a small deposit if you cancel within their time frame. Before you reserve with the campground, check their website to see what it is or ask them when you call them on the phone.
Remember that campground I was telling you about above, the one we waited 9 months to book? Well, we still haven't made it there! We had a conflict in our schedules and I actually had to go and cancel the reservation two weeks out if I wanted to get most of our deposit back. Perhaps, this summer will be the year!
Don't forget why you are going camping in the first place! My kids get to play in the sand and dirt. We get to enjoy being outside and we all seem to sleep better with lots of fresh air around us. Whether you will be taking a trip up north or down south (and by south for me, I mean Connecticut or Rhode Island), camping is a fun way to go.
Book now for those fun weekend trips that create memories to last a lifetime.