Check The Campgrounds Policy
Every campground has their own policy on early check ins. Some charge for the convenience, some do not, and some will not allow it at all. Years ago I would take my kids camping at Strawberry Park in CT. They would not allow early check ins. What they would do if you arrived early (ask me how I know…lol) is send you to a separate area to wait until check in time.
It was a large field and you had plenty of room to park and relax until the time came for a check in. At the time I didn’t really understand what the big deal was about checking in early but at least we were in a comfortable area to wait.
It Has Become Very Clear
Now that we full time and workamp, it has become very clear why some parks do not allow it or charge. Before I get into some of the reasons checking in early might not be allowed, let me just say I have seen myself and heard from coworkers that people get extremely mad when they are told they can’t check in.
After reading this article you will hopefully have a better understanding of why campgrounds put these policies in effect. Trust me there are valid reasons.
Ok, Let’s Get Started
Let’s talk about early check-in fees. Not all campgrounds charge these but we will discuss why some do. You must realize that a campground is a business. Just like a retail store, restaurant, or gas station, the owner of the campground is in business to make money. They have set daily fees, weekly fees, and possibly monthly fees. They are based on someone checking in at certain times and checking out at certain times.
What would make you think it’s ok to check in early without paying at least a partial fee? Let me give you an example.
You Might Pay Less Later In The Day
If you go to an amusement park or carnival you will usually pay less if you enter the park after a certain hour. You see, almost every business bases it’s fees on a set time. I am sure you have no problem paying that reduced fee at the amusement park for entering later in the day so why would you think it’s ok to check into a campground early without paying an extra fee?
Does that make sense to you? By trying to check in early you are actually trying to get free time. Giving away free time is not really a good business practice.
Hopefully now you can see why a campground wants to charge you extra to check in early. If they don’t charge you to check in early, give them a big thank you!!!
Let’s look at another reason a campground may not allow you to check in early. This is probably the biggest reason. It is one that we understand completely.
Since we started
Site Clean Up
Let’s look at the site clean up angle first. At the start of every day the outside maintenance/grounds crew is handed a list of campers checking out. Just as there is a check in time, there is also a check out time. That means campers have a certain time they have to be out by.
Let’s say that the check out time is 11am. That means that technically that camper does not have to leave his/her spot until 11am. Obviously, if you roll up at 10:30am to check in there is a problem. I have seen this happen and even heard the camper trying to check in tell the person at the desk to tell the other camper to leave.
What? Are you kidding?
That person has every right to be on that spot until check out time. They have paid for that site until the required check out time. No questions asked. To take this one step further, after that person does vacate their site, it must be cleaned. That could entail cleaning out the fire pit, raking up around the site, or even making a repair to something on that site.
After all, you pay for your site. I am quite sure you would be a little upset if you pull up to your site ready to camp and the fire pit is full of ashes or half burnt logs. What if the electrical outlet needed to be replaced or the water spigot needed repair? See where I am going with this?
A Clean Site Where Everything Works
You must also realize that even though someone may pull out of a site, this does not mean that someone is standing by to jump right into that site to clean or make repairs. Usually every worker at a campground has a list of things to do during the day. They will have to finish whatever they are working on before they get to that site. Each and every camper deserves to get to their site and have a clean site with everything working. Do you agree?
The same goes for those renting cabins. People have until a certain time to check out. That cabin can’t be cleaned until the person checks out. As housekeepers we see this first hand. In the morning we are given a list of cabins to clean. We know which ones are going to be re-rented and we try to clean these first but again, we can’t get in until the previous guest has checked out.
It’s Not Your Right
So you see, just because you decided to show up early, it doesn’t give you the right to check-in early. You need to realize that while most campgrounds will try and accommodate you, it is not always possible.
So the next time you show up early and are told you have to pay a small fee or have to wait a little while, please be patient. Know that most campgrounds will do everything they can to get you into your site as fast as possible.
If you do have to wait, I am quite sure they will have a spot for you to park in until your site is ready. This may be a good time to just sit and relax after a long drive, bring your kids to the playground, or maybe even plan out your itinerary for your stay.
If they do allow you to check-in early with no fees, give them a big fat thank you!!!
Have you ever tried to check in early to a campground? What happened? Did they let you in, charge you, or tell you it’s going to be a while? Leave us a comment below and tell us what happened.