5 things I learned from my first ‘RV resort’ stay
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If you told me a year ago that I would spend November 2020 planning to hop RV resorts, I’d surely wonder which one of us was crazier.
In order to travel as safely as possible and maintain my family’s sanity, we bought an RV. In my quest to continue learning as much as possible about RV-ing without the entire campground staring at my site as I inevitably mess things up, I booked a series of short stays at different kinds of campgrounds for experience’s sake.
After spending a week in the RV at Disney’s Fort Wilderness and a few short hops to state parks, I headed out to our first “RV resort” only an hour from my house to see what exactly made an RV resort, well, a resort. Here are the five things I learned about RV-ing and about RV resorts.
RV Resorts have resort amenities — but with their own character
If a coffee bar and sauna weren’t on your list of things to expect at an RV park, you’re just like me.
The Pine Mountain RV Resort in West Georgia offers everything a normal RV park with full hookups offers, meaning water, power and sewer connections. On top of that, it also has a swimming pool area with separate kids’ pool and separate whirlpool, playground, on-site store (where the coffee bar is located), fitness room, sports courts, dog park, activities pavilion and multiple bathhouses with showers, laundry and restrooms.
Before you begin picturing a Marriott or Hyatt resort on the beach with 4 and 5-star facilities, these amenities are a bit more humble than what you may expect if you’re more of a mainstream traveler. They are nice to have and from what I saw well maintained, but there may not be a ‘wow’ factor.
Large corporations are now running many resorts
If you look around at RV resort websites, nationwide you’ll see many have apparently have been bought up by large corporations who have seen the cash flow potential and begun to brand their RV resorts much like a hotel chain. A company called RVC Outdoor Destinations owned this resort in Georgia and has properties in nine other states according to their website.
You can argue the merits of what happens when a locally owned and established business is sold to a corporate entity (this RV park has been around since I was a kid) but it likely helps elevate a business such as an RV resort. The staff was very friendly and the campgrounds well maintained. Many RV resort companies are now even offering their own loyalty programs like Jellystone Parks, owned by Sun RV Resorts.
The last bit of news I was curious about with a large corporation running this specific resort is how it would code on my Chase Sapphire Reserve. I was hoping for travel, and sure enough, I earned 3X points on the transaction.
You really need checklists
The order in which you get ready to tow an RV, set up or breakdown at the campsite and the amount of gear you need to RV is far too much to remember, even for pros. After my trip to the RV resort, I created checklists to make sure I don’t forget anything going forward.
When we arrived at the campground and found our site, it was the end of a very long workday and I was in rush to get things set up and be able to relax. This led to me forgetting the order in which a few things need to be completed. I almost bent my rear stabilizers (seen above) which I forgot were deployed when I raised the front of the RV to get the coupler off my tow hitch. My new, laminated checklists will be used each time with a dry erase marker to prevent mistakes or injury.
RV people continue to be my kind of people
I’m not sure what defines an “RV person”, but at the resort, everyone we encountered continued my experience of RV people being friendly and willing to help. Before I even had my parking brake on in my truck the gentleman in the site next to us was already out spotting to make sure I was positioned well in the slip. He continued to help through the setup process and before I knew it his wife was bringing my 6-year-old snacks. I chatted to a couple of people about their TV set up as they had an excellent looking tailgate going for football season.
Everyone accepts that we all likely will need help. Beginners, such as myself, apparently stick out like a sore thumb and so far I’ve always found people lending advice and help, usually without asking. RV people continue to be my kind of folks.
I found a new way to hurt myself
RVs are houses that go. That means you have charged electrical systems, batteries, plumbing, water, mechanical systems, appliances and household items — each of which could hurt you — and it all moves down the road at 60+ miles per hour. Safety has been paramount in everything I’ve done thus far with towing and RV-ing, but I continue to find new ways to either hurt or almost hurt myself.
At this RV resort, as with every stay, I plugged in my surge protector to the site’s power to first make sure it was a good supply that wouldn’t damage the electronics in my RV. However, it’s best practice to then turn the power off before grabbing your large electrical cord that goes from the surge protector to the RV. While plugging in the large cord you don’t want to potentially shock yourself or find out something has shorted.
I forgot to turn off the power this time but luckily my neighbor in the site next to us reminded me to first turn the power off. The likelihood of a shock is low but better safe than sorry. There’s always a new way to hurt yourself while RV-ing.
The adventure so far has been half the fun of undertaking the RV lifestyle. I hope future lessons become less focused on safety and general RV culture and more specific on systems and repairs. I’m also completely aware not all RV resorts are created equally, so diligent homework on your intended resort is wise.
I’m not convinced after my first stay that putting ‘resort’ in the name of the campground will lure me for a stay, but I have seen some pretty fantastic ones online. I’m sure there are plenty more stays and equally as much learning in the near future.
Featured image by Richard Kerr/The Points Guy.
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