PPA or Passport America

PPA or Passport America

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PPA or Passport America

RVers are always wanting to reduce campground costs. Passport America, also known as PPA, is one way to reduce campground costs.

Passport America (PPA) membership is less than $50 per-year. For that you get a 50% discount at participating PPA campgrounds. Participating campgrounds are located throughout the continental U. S. and Canada, plus a few in Mexico. Many parks honor that discount 7 days per-week, others exclude Friday & Saturday nights. Still others honor the discount for certain months, (generally during the off-season).

By staying in Passport America Campgrounds that offer 1/2 price discounts one can quickly recover the annual membership fee. Saving 50% on campground costs is the kind of savings that can quickly add up.

Some states have an abundance of Passport America Parks while in other states they are as scarce as tattoos in the Vatican. Some PPA Campgrounds require reservations, others won't take reservations. Some PPA Campgrounds limit the number of days they offer the discount to a 1-day, 2-day or 3-day limit.

Many times PPA campgrounds are new campgrounds that need help in getting established. Other times PPA campgrounds may be on the outskirts of town instead of in the "prime" location thus they need to provide an incentive for campers to stay with them. Whatever the reason PPA campgrounds generally provide a much cheaper option. PPA is the only campground organization that I think is worth the cost. PPA does not have a gimmick. What you see is what you get. Once you join they send you a directory listing all participating campgrounds. The PPA directory is the FIRST directory we check when trying to locate a place to spend the night. You can check their website and see where the member campgrounds are: http://www.passportamerica.com/



Once a member of PPA they will pay you a commission if you sign up any non-PPA Campground to become a PPA participant. Additionally, PPA will give you a free annual membership for every new member that gives them your PPA number when they join. You can join PPA by calling 800-681-6810 or:

http://www.passportamerica.com/ .

The parks are generally nice, but they do run the gambit from great to not-so-great. PPA members are generally treated the same as full payers, but not always. For instance some PPA Parks reserve only a certain number of sites for PPA members and those will be the less desirable sites, like the sites nearest the highway, or nearest the dumpster. PPA also lets you give feedback concerning PPA parks on their website, so you always have a rating source. Still, even when we have been in those less desirable sites we have been extremely happy, after all I am only paying 1/2 what the campgrounds regular customers are paying.

If you have questions about whether PPA would be a good deal for you, that will be something that only you can determine. You will have to determine how many nights per-year you are going to *probably* use PPA. It should take between 3 and 4 nights per-year in a PPA park for you to recoup your investment. Obviously the more nights you stay in PPA parks the more you will save with your membership.

MANY, fulltimers and others that are out and about in their RV's find that PPA is a good investment.

But there are other considerations:

Are you a wanderer or do you go to the SAME place all the time or most of the time? Wanderers are more likely to utilize PPA parks than are individuals that frequent the same place each time they take their RV out. Determine which you are!

If you are *picky* about the campground you stay in PPA might not be for you. Keep in mind why campgrounds join PPA. They do it to increase the number of customers utilizing their campground. If they can fill up their campground without offering a 1/2 price discount then you can bet they would not be offering the discount. The reasons we have found for campgrounds joining PPA are:

1. New campgrounds
Most new campgrounds need a few years to become known and develop their repeat customer base. During these early years PPA can be beneficial to them by bringing business that they would not have had were it not for PPA. After they get established these parks drop out of PPA.

2. Campgrounds that are NOT on the beaten path or NOT close to the *Destination* places.

You won't find a PPA campground in Jackson Hole, Wyoming but you may find one 20-miles out of town. You will find a PPA campground 35-miles out the west gate to Yellowstone. We stay in a PPA campground in Canada that is part of the Great Canadian Barn Dance property & operation. It is a fairly good size campground on a wonderful piece of property overlooking the Rocky Mountains about 35-miles northeast of Waterton National Park (the Canadian part of our Glacier NP). The Great Canadian Barn Dance operation features a musical group that performs on the weekends drawing large crowds of people from miles and miles. The campground fills up on the weekend but is almost vacant during the week. To attract RV'ers to the campground during the week the Great Canadian Barn Dance offers a PPA discount. They are simply using PPA to attract customers to their campground during the week that they would not have had otherwise. It is simply good business.


Determine if you are of the personality to stay a few miles out of town for a $12 to $16 savings each night or if you just have to stay as close to the *destination* as possible.

Remember, PPA campgrounds will not be the *most-popular* campground in the area nor will it have the *best* location. Otherwise, they would be full without the 1/2 price discount. You can decide what you would rather do.

3. PPA campgrounds will NOT typically be your 10-10-10 resort campgrounds. Some PPA campgrounds are 10-10-10 resorts but most aren't.

These 10-10-10 campgrounds are attracting clientele that are not into 1/2 price discounts if you get my drift. So if your RV has got to be in a 10-10-10 setting then PPA probably isn't for you.

Now that you have gotten all this advice about PPA you might want to answer these questions:

1. Are you going to use your RV two weeks out of the year or do you plan to spend upwards of 6-months out seeing America? If you are only going to be using your RV about 2-weeks out of the year then PPA would not be for you. On the otherhand if you are going to be out and about in your RV then PPA could save you some money.

2. Are you planning to spend all your RV time at the *river* the *lake* the *race-track* the *dog show* or some other place where you would likely NOT utilize the PPA discount?

3. Do you prefer 10-10-10 *Resort* type campgrounds? If you have a yearning to stay in 10-10-10 campgrounds then you will probably NOT be happy with PPA.

Hopefully, by answering these questions about your habits you can determine whether PPA is for you or not.

I do not have any affiliation with Passport America other than being a past happy customer . I hope you find them to be as beneficial as we did. To clarify a bit, we are not staying in PPA campgrounds often enough these days to justify the anual membership. In fact it has been several years since we stayed in one. We happen to qualify for the Golden Age Discount at Federal Campgrounds like COE parks and National Parks. We tend to stay there instead of in PPA campgrounds.

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Mike & Joyce Hendrix

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