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9 Tips for Finding the Best Campgrounds for a Baseball Road Trip

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Now that we know our Baseball Fan Grand Slam route, we need to find the best campgrounds for our baseball road trip. If you are planning a road trip and are staying in hotels, this post won’t be very relevant to you. But if you plan to tow your home behind you, like we do, I have some initial tips to share!

Tip #1: Don’t bother searching for campgrounds until you have your route

It took us several months to settle on our route. When I needed a break, I spent time searching the internet for the campgrounds that were closest to each of the MLB ballparks.

In the end, I hardly used any of the places on my original list. That’s because the timing of the route itself significantly impacted where we wanted to stay and why.

For example, we will be at a mid-day game for Tampa Bay Rays on one day and an evening game the next day in Miami. Since the two cities are only about 4 hours apart, we decided to stay in between the two and enjoy one of Florida’s state beaches. After Miami, we have a very long drive up to Atlanta. We decided it would be better to split the drive up between two days. We’ll leave Miami right after the game and drive several hours north before stopping for the night. As a result, we didn’t end up staying near any of the campgrounds I had so carefully researched.

Tip #2: Make your list of what’s important – and expect to compromise

When I started researching locations, I made a list of what a campground would need to qualify as one of the best campgrounds for a baseball road trip. My initial list included full hook-ups, quiet surroundings, high ratings from other campers, secure surroundings, and proximity to the next ballpark.

While it was certainly helpful to consider what was important to our family, the places we plan to stay really vary. I did try to find places with reviews from campers who felt the locations were relatively safe, but we compromised everywhere else. And we decided that was fine.

For example, we have decided to stay in a few rest stops along the way. None of the reviews say they are particularly quiet, they don’t have any hookups, and they are likely far less secure than an established campground. But they will allow us the flexibility to stop when we are tired and continue on early in the morning.

Tip #3: Discuss your vision for the road trip before you book campgrounds

I am not a late-night person. Most baseball teams will still be playing long past my preferred bedtime. So, as I was envisioning this trip, I saw us making a quick commute from the baseball stadium to a quiet campground for a good night’s sleep. On those longer stretches, I had already set my mental alarm clock for 3:00 a.m.

When I began to discuss campground choices with Brad and Ryan, the looks on their faces suggested that their vision of the trip was very different! Ryan and Brad both stay up much later than I do, and expect to be pretty wound up at the end of each game. They envisioned driving on from the stadium toward the next day’s game, rehashing each exciting play, discussing the players’ skills, and reviewing statistics on the way.

Brad thought we would spend most nights on the road, pausing to sleep in rest stops. He also wanted to spend at least one night “tailgating” in a stadium parking lot that would allow us to spend the night.

Our son, Ryan, thought my idea of a 3:00 a.m. departure was completely unreasonable. (Those are my somewhat tamer words, not his.) From his perspective, it would be better to drive longer in the evening and sleep later in the morning. He also wanted to spend two nights in the same place whenever possible.

Our final schedule of accommodations includes some of what each of us wants, and compromises for all.

Tip #4: Use Google Maps to calculate distances – not drive times

When I put together the baseball road trip route, I tracked distances between ballparks on my spreadsheet as we considered the schedule. I used Google Maps to figure out the best route and noted the distance between the locations. However, I didn’t rely on the travel times Google calculates. That’s because they are assuming that we’re driving a regular passenger vehicle.

Towing a travel trailer will require us to travel more slowly than we would in a car. I did a little research and found that most people recommend using 50 miles per hour as the average highway speed for travel with a recreational vehicle. This assumes that you are driving no faster than 65 miles per hour, which is the recommended top speed for most travel trailers. It also assumes you will need to stop occasionally for fuel, food, or a break from driving.

I look forward to seeing how well the 50 mile per hour rule of thumb works for us on our trip. On longer drives, like the one between Detroit and Denver, it adds several hours to the travel time. However, it certainly seems better to use a slightly more conservative number than the one provided by Google Maps. We certainly don’t want to miss a game because we have underestimated travel times!

Tip #5: Use Campendium to find the best campgrounds

I started out by using Google to search for the best campgrounds for a baseball road trip to a particular stadium, then visiting each site. Fortunately, Brad reminded me about Campendium. This handy site allows you to enter the location you’d like to camp and review all of the options in the region. It includes reviews from previous campers, lists of relevant amenities, and other useful details. It also includes the website link for the campground, if they have one.

Like any social site that relies on the input of campers, I did find that some of the information was out-of-date, or that the campground was no longer operational when I clicked on the website link. However, using the site saved me hours of searching. It also includes free camping locations (such as Walmart parking lots) in addition to public and private campgrounds.

Tip #6: Don’t assume you can park at the stadium with your RV

When you are towing a trailer behind your car, you need a parking space that is bigger and taller than a standard parking spot. Some stadiums have parking available for RVs. Others don’t. Make sure you do your research regarding the specific stadium if you plan to drive to the ballpark then drive on toward your next destination. You may need to find someplace to park the trailer while you drive to the game.  

For example, we plan to drive from Cleveland to Minneapolis, arriving just in time to watch the Twins play the Pirates. After the game, we plan to drive on toward our next destination (Chicago). However, Target Field does not have any RV parking. That means I need to allow time to park off site.

Sometimes, we ended up reserving a campground spot simply to have access to parking. For example, when we are watching the Toronto Blue Jays play, our trailer will be at the Bronte Creek Provincial Campground awaiting our return. We paid for two nights at that campground, even though we don’t intend to stay the second night. However, it allowed us to park our camper safely during the game.

Outdoorsy has a great summary of the parking situation at each field. I always verified what they wrote by checking the individual stadium’s parking site, but most of the time the Outdoorsy information was accurate.

Tip #7: Plan for boondocking

While I don’t mind boondocking, I didn’t want to have to haul our generator and extra fuel with us. I also know it is likely to be hot and/or humid in July and August, and the idea of sleeping without air conditioning is unappealing. So, as noted earlier, I thought the best campgrounds for a baseball road trip would include full hookups.  

In reality, we’ll be dry camping, or boondocking, about half of the time. I have now long since abandoned my hope of leaving our generator behind. We plan to take the generator and a couple extra canisters of fuel to ensure we can cool down the trailer enough to sleep well at night.

While most established campgrounds do have hookups, not all of them do. In one case, the camp sites with electric hook-ups were fully booked by the time we made our reservation (five months in advance). Since I was really excited about this particular campground, we chose a “basic” site with no hookups.

And, of course, most rest stops and parking lot options are dry camping-only. If you want the option of some flexibility along the way, plan to haul your generator along with you.

Tip #8: Know the rest stop rules

Sometimes the best campgrounds for a baseball road trip aren’t campgrounds. For the nights where we have no fixed accommodations, we still want to be relatively confident we can stay the night someplace that works on our route. We have some flexibility, but not a whole lot. And we don’t want to need to drive all night simply because we couldn’t find a parking lot that would let us camp overnight.

There are many generous retailers who will let a camper park overnight in their lot. Proper RV etiquette suggests that you must first ask permission from the manager. Then, be sure to make a purchase at the facility as a way to thank them for their generous hospitality. In our case, most of the days without camping reservations involve arriving at our overnight location after normal business hour. Asking permission and making a purchase aren’t very feasible for us.

Rest stops don’t require such notice and are perfect for the weary traveler. The idea of a rest stop is just that: stop and rest. Don’t take out your carpet and barbeque or consider this to be a “campsite.” It isn’t. It’s the state’s effort to ensure driver safety.

If you are considering rest stops, be sure you know that state’s rules and pay attention to any posted restrictions. A sign that says “no camping” is referring to pitching a tent and/or sleeping outside of a vehicle. A sign that says “no overnight parking” is referring to campers like us who plan sleep in our vehicle overnight.

Restrictions vary considerably by state. Some will only allow you to stop for two hours. Others allow overnight parking. I started to make a reference sheet for myself (and you), then found one online!

Boondocker’s Bible maintains a very helpful and frequently updated State-by-State Summary of How Long You Can Stay at a Rest Area. I printed out the downloadable pdf and kept it on-hand as I considered our driving schedules and campground choices.

Tip #9: Consider memberships with discounts

Brad wasn’t wild about joining Good Sam or any of the other discount programs. He wasn’t interested in receiving a lot of spam from them, and he wasn’t convinced they would provide significant benefit.

After completing my first draft of campgrounds, I added up the discounts we would receive by becoming members and found that was a financial benefit to joining Good Sam and KOA. The other program that provides a significant financial benefit for a trip of this length is AAA. Our local chapter is AAA Washington.

I will note that I joined these organizations using the email account we created for this trip, and I’m glad I did. Despite attempts to limit emails to those that relate specifically to reservations, Good Sam (and Camping World, which comes through via Good Sam) each send me about five emails per week. KOA is somewhat more respectful of my email account. I only receive one or two each week from them.

The Best Campgrounds I Found for our Baseball Fan Grand Slam Road Trip

After weeks of researching and reserving, we now have our intended list of campgrounds. In some cases, we have secured reservations and are ready to go. In other cases, we will be playing it by ear.

If you want to stop by and meet us as we pursue our Baseball Fan Grand Slam, here’s where you’ll find us when we’re not at a game:

List of camping locations by date, with the city in which each camping location sits.