Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What makes a campground (for us) great

As I scan through dozens of listings every time we move the rig, I've started to tighten down on a list of things that make a campsite great.  These naturally are my own opinions and reflect our situation (huge 'Merican rig, still haven't sorted out electricity conversion so dry camping, living w/ kids and dog 24/7 in the rig, etc).  Here's a list broken out by priority:

Must have:
  • Maneuver and actual space for this big rig.  If we can't get to the pitch, it's a non-starter.  Ditto for a pitch that we can't fit in.
  • Allows kids and dogs (I can't imagine hiding this rig full of attention grabbers)
Guaranteed we'll stay there (assuming the must have's are met):
  • Wifi at the pitch.  Wifi at the park center is really nice (see below), but at the site is awesome.  If you have that, we'll go 10's of miles out of our way to stay there a few nights just so that we can upgrade multiple computers and devices with all of the required & recommended updates overnight!  I might be willing to even pay for this if the pricing is right and service is fast (1GBP/30min is absurd, and I'm willing to pay to help ensure that I'm not sharing bandwidth with 200 others all streaming netflix)
  • Single vehicle mass transit to city (if we can reach an actual city in one step, awesome)
Big wins:
  • Walkable grocery
  • Walkable dining
  • Walkable attractions
  • Incredible view
  • Good sized Playground, waterpark, etc
Additive (these will help v. other nearby sites):
  • Water & Electric @ site
  • Dumping @ site
  • Playground (any playground is better than no playground)
  • Playfield
  • Reputation for clean and heated bathrooms (we have our own, so not so critical, but definitely indicative)
  • Laundry facilities
  • Free wifi at the center
  • Town/City centre w/in 10 miles (we have a toad so we can cover decent range)
  • Enough space to do the slides.  It has not been a problem here thus far as most spots seem to be square (and room for a 36' length pretty well ensures that we can do slides, and an extra car)
Things that will make us think hard/plan (if the following are true, we may not go, even with multiple big wins):
  • No fresh water
  • No dump facility
  • Grass only site (must consider the rain and our 12T weight!)
  • More than 30min drive from grocery or dining
  • More 40GBP/night -- seriously?  I'm still shaking my head over 33GBP/night
  • Reputation for stinky facilities, campsite has been "let go", year round tenants who commute to city (pensioners are nice & fine)
What baffles me most is that so many of these criteria are impossible to filter or sort on in the 6+ websites I have learned to peruse while searching for pitches (in just the UK!).  The information is in the review sites, but it's just not available to filter/search (rig size isn't there at all AFAICS).  So, I email and I call 5-10 places every time we plan to move.  Definitely room for a good aggregator to build a web site especially with availability.  Too bad I'm busy for the next several months just living.


  1. Hey Vince, Do you think that Europeans do not use the internet as much as the Americans do to obtain information? In other words, are they still more likely to use Yellow Pages and make calls? Or am I generalizing way too much???

  2. Not at all. In London I saw plenty of iPhone and other mobile device usage, and all the apartments showcased their wifi offering. I think the campgrounds here are much rougher around the edges and fine details like offering Wifi are non-existent. I suspect it will be even worse on the continent. Here 16amps of power is pretty standard, my understanding of life on the continent is 6-8amps is considered reasonable. ie, a single average circuit in an American home -- not even considered sufficient to power an appliance like a refrigerator or microwave at home. American RVs this size assume power sufficient for dual AC units, microwave/convection oven, refrigerator, TV and various other electronics... I knew we wouldn't get that, but I had hoped for at least powering our recepticles!