Guide to Finding the Perfect Campground in 2021
Your Guide for a Unique Year
Camping in 2020 was a unique experience for all of us. With the COVID-19 pandemic changing pretty much everything and a record number of campers out there enjoying the great outdoors, there were some unique challenges that everyone had to overcome.
Those challenges didn’t suddenly disappear now that we’re into 2021. It may be a new year, but many of the same issues persist.
According to The Guardian, camping and glamping booking services saw business increase by as much as 400 percent. The simple fact of the matter is that campgrounds and camping areas were busy in 2020, and they will continue to be busy in 2021. This means finding the right campsite can be more challenging than you might expect.
All the while, the pandemic continues to be a concern—and likely will continue to be well into or throughout 2021—so you’ll need to factor that into your plans as well.
With all this in mind, having some help guiding you to camping bliss this year is needed. Below, you’ll find the info you need
Planning Is Essential
I’ve been on plenty of camping trips that were thrown together last minute. We simply jumped in the RV or the car and hit the road. However, 2021 might not be the year to do that.
With how busy many campgrounds are and COVID-19 causing closures and issues in various areas of the country—not to mention different needs for quarantining depending on where you are—planning is a must.
Be Mindful of COVID-19 Restrictions
As I mentioned above, COVID-19 is still a very real concern. It was disruptive in 2020, but it’s going to continue to be disruptive in 2021, causing canceled events and closures of attractions across the country.
Before traveling anywhere, keep this in mind. Do your research and know what the situation is with the pandemic in specific states and specific areas. You’ll need to make sure you’re traveling appropriately and also that the things you want to do and see will be available once you get there.
It’s also worth saying that taking precautions for your own health is a must when traveling. You’ll need to wear a mask when possible and follow guidelines laid out by healthcare professionals.
Be sure to bring plenty of disposable or washable masks, have hand sanitizer ready for your family to use, and have a plan in place in case you do get sick.
Use Digital Camping Planning Tools
There is a long list of apps and websites out there designed to help campers and RVers plan their trip from apps for finding a campground to resources for finding dump stations and the best gas stations.
Here are some of the best options out there for planning your trip:
- Allstays Camp & RV: Helps you find truck stops, rest areas, free RV dump stations, free camping, and more.
- GasBuddy: Helps you find the cheapest fuel—a must on those long RV trips.
- AccuWeather: Perfect for keeping up with the weather in a specific area.
- Campendium: Helps you find campgrounds that you might want to stay at.
- Roadside America: Helps you find cool roadside attractions and places to visit.
- Roadtrippers: Helps you plan your trip and find new destinations.
- CoPilot GPS: A great GPS app for RVers.
- Sani Dumps: Helps you find a place to dump your holding tanks.
These are just some of the apps available. The list is always growing, and with more and more people out RVing and camping, there are bound to be new apps that pop up. So, keep an eye out for new camping and RVing apps.
Reach Out Ahead of Time
In 2021, it will be more important than ever to call or reach out in some way ahead of time. If you’re making reservations, that’s great (do so whenever possible). Even if you’re not able to make reservations, it’s still worth it to reach out to the places you’ll stay at and visit to ensure that you’re still welcome there.
With everything going on, there’s a chance we will see far more museums and attractions shut down temporarily. Reaching out via email or phone ahead of time will help ensure your trip isn’t a bust.
Plan for the Weather, Too
The pandemic is one thing to try to plan around, but you still have the weather to contend with like always. Keep that in mind. Use the weather app mentioned above or whatever you like to use. You should also keep in mind the seasons and weather patterns around those seasons.
For example, June through November is typically hurricane season for the eastern U.S., especially for southern states like Florida and South Carolina. While this doesn’t mean you can’t plan a trip to these states during that part of the year, it is worth taking a good hard look at the weather patterns ahead of time and listening to experts.
Have a Plan B, Just in Case
Don’t assume your plan is going to work out. In 2021, things are going to change rapidly. You should be ready for that to happen. You can’t keep things from changing, but you can learn to roll with the punches and still have a fantastic time.
With this in mind, I highly advocate having a plan B just in case something you want to see or a campground you want to stay at shuts down for a period of time. Heck, having a plan C isn’t a bad idea either. You want to be ready in the event that you can’t do what you have originally planned to do, so take some time and think about a couple of back-up options.
Your Checklist for Finding the Perfect Campground in 2021
Below you’ll find a checklist that will help you plan your camping and RVing trips in 2021. Follow the steps below and you should do well this year.
Create a List of Possible Destinations for Your Trip
Quite often, you’ll have an area of the state you want to visit in your RV. Have a list of places you want to visit within that area that you can make sure you’ll get to in the days you have available for your trip.
- Narrow Your List to One or Two Must-See Destinations
Due to time constraints, you might not be able to visit every destination on your list, so narrow down your list to just a few that are in close proximity to each other. This will allow you to hit one or two destinations on your trip and make the most of every day.
- Research to See if They’re Open to Visitors
As is mentioned above, the pandemic has caused all sorts of places to shut down. Do your due diligence to ensure the places you want to visit are open to visitors.
- Find All of the Campgrounds in the Vicinity
Once you know where you’re going, you can search and create a list of campgrounds in that area that you could possibly stay at. Good Sam provides a fantastic resource for finding campgrounds within a specific geographic area.
- Research and Rank the Campgrounds to Find Your Top Choice
Once you have a list of campgrounds within an area, it’s time to do a bit more research and rank them from your number one choice and on down the list. Again, Good Sam is a helpful resource for figuring out what is available and which campgrounds are truly worth vising, though there are plenty of other apps out there such as Campendium.
- Check to Ensure The Campground Is Available and Make a Reservation
Do you have a campground you think you’ll like? Check to make sure there are vacancies when you plan to arrive. You can often do this online. In some cases, you might need to call the campground. If possible, make a reservation so there will be a campsite waiting for you when you arrive.
- Have a Backup Campground Just in Case
Making reservations is smart, but if 2020 has taught us anything it’s that plans change. Because of this, you should have a backup campground in mind.
- Check-in Regularly to Make Sure Nothing Has Changed
In the time leading up to your trip, make sure to check-in regularly at the campground and the places you want to visit. Things change and what’s open and ready for you one month might not be the next. You don’t have to obsess over it, but checking in occasionally will help ensure that you don’t end up driving to somewhere that has closed up for a while.
If you follow this eight-step checklist, you should be able to plan your trip pretty easily and have a great time out camping in 2021. Just remember this year will be a little different and things can change on a dime, so you’ll need to be flexible. If you have back up plans and are prepared for things to change, you’ll enjoy yourself far more than if you have rigid plans for all of your trips.