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Should Passport America Be Your Passport to America?

Should Passport America Be Your Passport to America?


avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 06/30/2020
Posted On 07/01/2020 10:15:00

United States | Canada | Mexico | Camping | Campgrounds | RV Parks | RV Resorts | RVing | Passport America | Benefits | Discount Camping Clubs | Camping Discounts | Save Money | Is it Worth It?



There are a variety of choices when it comes to discount camping clubs. With the many options available, it can be difficult to decipher all of the ins and outs to decide which makes sense based on your RVing or camping style. If you are wanting to save money on camping fees, this article will answer all of your questions about Passport America.

After an overview of the program benefits, we review how to use Passport America to take advantage of camping discounts in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Once you understand how a membership works, you need to know how much it costs and, of course, how much money you can save. We've got you covered on that front as well!

We've even included a detailed cost vs. benefit breakdown from our actual experience in 2 1/2 years as members. You'll be able to see which campgrounds, RV parks and RV resorts we have stayed in using our membership discount as well as how much money we've saved. Before we wrap up with our "Is it worth it? " verdict, we also reveal the positives and negatives of being a Passport America member.

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(To sign up today, just head to Passport America and The Wordy Explorers will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We truly appreciate your support!)

Benefits of Passport America

The primary benefit of Passport America, and the reason RVers purchase a membership, is the 50% discount off of the regular nightly rate on campsites. (The discount is good for a single RV / RV site and is not combinable with any other discounts.)

According to the 2020 Camping Directory, there are close to 1,600 participating "quality RV parks and campgrounds". Campgrounds are located in 49 of the 50 states within the United States (everywhere but Hawaii). There's even participating campgrounds in Canada and Mexico.


Passport America's International Camping Directory (29th Edition)

Passport America's International Camping Directory (29th Edition)

In addition to savings on campgrounds, members can get discounts off of select other accommodations. Most discounts range from 10% to 50% and include lodging such as RV rentals, cabins and even some motels. Members also receive an online subscription to RV America, a digital publication available on a quarterly basis.

Passport America members can also earn credit by participating in a referral program. Each time a new member credits a current member for joining, the referring member will receive $10.00 toward their membership renewal. (By referring a new campground, members can get even more - $50.00 towards their renewal!)

Passport America won't forget you during your membership term. You will receive regular emails with renewal offers, discounts on RV related services and information on new participating campgrounds. You'll also be informed about any upcoming RV events or rallies scheduled for members.

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How Passport America Works

Passport America members can find participating campgrounds in either the Camping Directory, by doing an online search or using the My Passport America app. Searches can be done by city, state, along a specific route or even searching for locations with specific amenities.

Once you find a campground that you have an interest in, it's critical that you read the Important Campground Notes. Since each campground sets the terms and conditions for discounts at their location, it's here that you'll find the details including:

  • when Passport American discount is / isn't valid;
  • maximum number of days discount can be used;
  • number of guests per site (and age restrictions, if applicable);
  • whether pets are permitted;
  • exclusions (or additional charges that may be incurred);
  • reservation requirements; and
  • acceptable forms of payment.


Our First Stay at Hidden Valley RV Park

Our First Stay at Hidden Valley RV Park

In most cases, making a reservation will require a phone call in order to take advantage of the Passport America discount. (Of course, reservations are always subject to availability.) Some campgrounds will ask for your Passport America membership number when taking your reservation. Most will require presentation of your personalized travel card at check-in.

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Cost of Passport America Membership

Barring any discount that may be offered, the cost of a one year Passport America membership is $44.00. Longer term memberships are available at the following discounted prices:
  • 2 Years: $79.00 (a $9.00 savings)
  • 3 Years: $109.00 ($23.00 savings)
  • 5 Years: $179.00 ($41.00 savings)
  • Lifetime Membership: $399.00

The lifetime membership is frequently offered at a lower rate. Additionally, renewal rate specials are regularly advertised. Should you choose a shorter term "trial" membership, just be on the look out during your initial membership period for a renewal rate that you are happy with.

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Example of Savings with Passport America

It's pretty simple! In most cases, you pay 50% of the standard rate. For example, the nightly rate for a Premium Plus site at Circle W RV Ranch in Rockport, Texas is $50.00. With a Passport America membership, the 50% discount reduces the rate to $25.00 for a maximum of 6 nights.


Enjoying the Hot Tub at Circle W RV Ranch

Enjoying the Hot Tub at Circle W RV Ranch

Based on the $44.00 rate for a one year membership, just two nights at Circle W or any park with similar pricing makes your investment worthwhile!

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Cost vs. Benefit Comparison of Passport America

The easiest way to compare the cost vs. benefits is to share a real life example of having a Passport America membership. We originally purchased a three year membership on February 26, 2018. (To allow for mail time, the membership is extended for 2 weeks making our expiration date March 12, 2021.)

Here's a list of the campgrounds / RV parks where we have used our discount. We've included the number of days that we stayed as well as the total discount that we received:

  • March 16, 2018 at Hidden Valley RV Park near San Antonio, TX: $21.00 savings on 3 nights (50% discount on second night only)
  • March 29, 2018 at Treasure Isle RV Park in Hot Springs, AR: $15.00 savings on 3 nights (50% discount on first night only)


    Treasure Isle RV Park in Hot Springs, AR

    Treasure Isle RV Park in Hot Springs, AR

  • October 6, 2018 at Spring River Estates & RV Park in Roswell, NM: $80.00 savings on 4 nights (50% nightly discount)
  • October 26, 2018 at Sun Valley RV Resort near Petrified Forest in AZ: $47.72 savings on 2 nights (50% nightly discount)


    Sun Valley RV Resort near Arizona's Petrified Forest

    Sun Valley RV Resort near Arizona's Petrified Forest

  • April 9, 2019 at Plantation RV Park in Natchez, MS: $64.20 savings on 3 nights (50% nightly discount)


    Great Landscaping at Plantation RV Park

    Great Landscaping at Plantation RV Park

  • May 5, 2019 at Mark Twain Landing near Hannibal, MO: $103.50 savings on 3 nights (50% nightly discount)
  • October 8, 2019 at Fort Willcox RV Park near I-10 in AZ: $1.67 savings on 1 night (Although discount advertised at 50%, signage on the door indicated a special single night rate. Since we would have qualified for this rate, I calculated our benefit based on the single night rate.)


    Lots of Available Space at Fort Willcox RV Park

    Lots of Available Space at Fort Willcox RV Park

  • October 16, 2019 at Rincon Country West RV Resort in Tucson, AZ: $55.00 savings on 2 nights (50% nightly discount)
  • October 18, 2019 at Valley Vista RV Resort in Benson, AZ: $33.00 savings on 2 nights (50% nightly discount; $4.00 daily resort fee not discounted)


    Enjoying the Desert Scenery at Valley Vista RV Resort

    Enjoying the Desert Scenery at Valley Vista RV Resort

  • January 20, 2020 at Maxie's Campground outside of Lafayette, LA: $39.72 savings on 2 nights (50% nightly discount)
  • January 26, 2020 at Panacea RV Park in the Florida panhandle: $30.00 savings on 4 nights (50% discount on 2 nights maximum)
  • February 27, 2020 at Gulf Coast RV Resort in Beaumont, TX: $45.00 savings on 2 nights (50% nightly discount)


    All Set Up at Gulf Coast RV Resort

    All Set Up at Gulf Coast RV Resort

  • February 29, 2020 at Hidden Valley RV Park near San Antonio, TX: $22.50 savings on 2 nights (50% discount on second night only)


    Our Encore Stay at Hidden Valley RV Park

    Our Encore Stay at Hidden Valley RV Park

  • June 17, 2020 at Circle W RV Ranch near the Texas Gulf Coast: $100.00 savings on 4 nights (50% nightly discount)

The sum of the total savings that we have received in our first 28 months is $658.31. After deducting the $114.00 upfront cost of our three year Passport America Membership, our net savings is $544.31. Plus - we still have another 8+ months remaining on our membership!

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The Positives and Negatives of a Passport America Membership

As with almost everything, there are some pluses and minuses.

On the Plus Side

After over two years of membership, here's what we like the most about Passport America:
  • The 50% savings is better than almost every other discount, so we nearly always start our search by looking for Passport America campgrounds.
  • We have stayed in some resorts that we likely would not have stayed in had we not gotten such a big discount.


    Our Courtyard Pull-thru Site at Rincon Country West RV Resort

    Our Courtyard Pull-thru Site at Rincon Country West RV Resort

    Small Sampling of the Amazing Amenities at Rincon Country West

    Small Sampling of the Amazing Amenities at Rincon Country West

  • Overall, we like the Passport America app and the available search functions.
  • We have found that the information about each campground's requirements is almost always up to date in the app (maximum nights, weekend availability, excluded events, age requirements, etc.).
  • We have had good success with finding participating campgrounds.

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On the Downside

Based on our experience, here's a few negatives that we have found:
  • You do have to read the Important Campground Notes carefully as each campground is different.
  • As always, it's a good idea to search for reviews before making a reservation - even with member campgrounds. We have definitely found places that we chose to avoid based on the number of negative comments. (We frequently use apps such as RV Life, RVParky and even Trip Advisor to read campground reviews.)
  • Since taking advantage of the discount almost always requires a phone call (no online booking), reservations can only be made during business hours.
  • You will receive a LOT of emails with advertisements for services offered by Passport America and their partner companies.

There's also two updates that we hope will come in future versions of the Passport America app:

  • In the "list by city view", it would be helpful to include both the city name and the area where the city is located. (For example, do you know where Bernalillo, NM is located? It's actually only 20 minutes away from Albuquerque. Staying in Bernalillo would likely be convenient when exploring Albuquerque, but it takes extra research to know that.)
  • The "map view" allows you to "zoom" into all of the campgrounds in a specific area. By selecting a particular park, you can then look at the details. The problem is, when you want to return back to the map view, you are returned to the default search (rather than to the zoomed in view). Because of this, comparing multiple parks takes additional effort in order to scroll back to the view each time.

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The "WE Bought It!" Verdict

To wrap up, we'll answer the question, "Do the Wordy Explorers recommend Passport America?" Hands down, absolutely YES! We have more than recouped our original investment and are extremely pleased with the net savings accumulated thus far. (In fact, we surpassed our break-even point on our three year membership after less than 8 months.) We have stayed in resort-style campgrounds that we probably would not have stayed in without the 50% discount.

Shortly after the beginning of our third year as members, we took advantage of a promotion to renew and extend our membership. We paid $149.00 for a discounted five year renewal with two additional years free. (In total, we've paid $263.00 for ten years of discounts. In under 2 1/2 years, we have saved over $650.00 , making our net savings just under $300.00. And, we still have over 7 1/2 years of discounts to look forward to!) In addition to our discount card, our renewal came with the 2020 Campground Directory, his & her fisherman's hats and a key chain.


Clowning Around with our Passport America Freebies!

Clowning Around with our Passport America Freebies!

(If, after reading this, you've decided to invest in a membership, it's so easy. Just sign up at Passport America and The Wordy Explorers will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We truly appreciate your support!)

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America the Beautiful National Parks Pass

If you are considering visits to some of the national parks in the United States, take a look at our post titled "Is the America the Beautiful National Parks Annual Pass Worth the Annual Fee?". After two years of being holders of the national parks pass, we provide a similar analysis to help you decide whether or not this pass is right for you.

Best Discount Camping Club

Which discount camping club have you found to have benefits that make joining the club worth the cost?





Should Passport America Be Your Passport to America?





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Comments    
What a surprise!
avatar   Teri
hiddenvalleyrvpark.com
07/02/2020 17:22:04

Came across your blog post by accident because I googled Hidden Valley RV and your post came up as mentioning us. We noticed your blog title and once we went to the post remembered y'all right away. Nice photos of all the parks you visited on your trip...so glad we were part of it. Looking forward to another encore visit in the future. Teri and Rachel
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Great Times at Hidden Valley RV Park
avatar   Stacy
arewethere-yet.com/wordyexplorers
07/03/2020 17:49:15

Great to hear from y'all!

We certainly have fond memories of both of our stays at your RV park. Loved getting to meet you and our fellow guests at the Friday night campfire during our visit earlier this year. Still remember your yummy cheesecake. You can be sure that we will return for another encore visit.

Stacy (and Scott)
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