For a hard core overnight parker and boondocker, admitting to spending the night at a KOA can be perceived as a sign of weakness, that you are soft, or that have money burning a hole in your pocket. But the truth is, sometimes the KOA (or other commercial campgrounds) can meet your needs better than a night in a Walmart, Cracker Barrel, or other popular overnight parking location when you are doing cross country travel. On my most recent trip, of almost 7,500 miles, I stopped at a few KOAs, I spent the night at Cracker Barrels, boondocked on National Forest land in the Tetons, camped near Glacier National Park in a commercial campground, camped in Glacier National Park, camped in Canadian National Parks and even spent a couple of nights moochdocking (Thanks, Chuck, Kathy, and Robyn!) But, I have observed a growing snobbery towards KOAs and other commercial campgrounds and wanted to share a few reasons I am not ashamed to spend the night at a KOA and hopefully put an end to KOA-shaming.
I drive long days, usually 500 miles or more on my travel days. I need a good night sleep to keep me going the next day and nothing interferes with that like being too hot. I have a very low tolerance for hot weather and an even lower tolerance for humidity. I would rather shell out some money for a better night sleep than toss and turn because I cannot get quite comfortable.
I am not in favor of RVers scaring people away due to poor hygiene or stinky clothes and KOAs almost always have laundry facilities.
Sometimes I need to upload many images, use a good high speed Wifi connection to adjust my plans, or even connect to TV to get a good feel for local weather. There is no shame in any of this. There is a time to connect and a time to disconnect.
We can have need of shore power for different reasons. Sometimes the battery is low, need to use an appliance that requires electricity, and sometimes, I need 110v to charge a number of camera related batteries. My solar keeps me going most of the time, but sometimes I need to “splurge” on power use.
I try to make travel days a little fun for Rocky by giving him some space for exercise. Admittedly, some KOAs have more space for this than others, but we can always walk around the campground. Walking around a Walmart is not always a joy and the Cracker Barrel in Joliet, IL appeared to never have cleaned up 1 piece of dog waste, ever, from the islands and grassy areas around their establishment. It is hard to know whether to blame dog owners or the local Cracker Barrel, but it was gross. So, sometimes, it is nice to give Rocky a bit of room to stretch his legs after 500 miles or so of riding in his little seat.
I chose a KOA in Spearfish, SD as a good spot to ride out an early season blizzard. The hosts were amazing and even though they were rushing to blow out their water lines ahead of the storm, I was hunkered down, comfortably in a site that had cable TV and Wifi while I waited for the storm to pass. It was also nice to grab a site with shore power to help conserve LP when I knew I would be running the Alde the entire time.
Go, and Shame No More
Have you ever stayed in your T@b while out of town for a wedding? Stayed in your T@b and commuted to work or for an out of town work-related event? A class reunion? Family reunion? You get the picture. Sometimes we take our T@bs for travel and just camping and the KOA and other commercial campgrounds can fit the bill. Overnight parking and the occasional KOA both help me during my travel days. No, I don’t consider those stops, “camping” but some of us bought our T@bs for travel, so we do what works for us. We all use our T@bs differently and there is not right or wrong way to use your T@b just use it!