It may be difficult to believe, but preplanning where you’re going to stay next season really begins now. This is because a lot of campgrounds are filling up well in advance, and more people want to immerse themselves in the local scene. How do you go about picking your perfect sites for next year’s camping season?

You can start homing in on your perfect campground – your home base – in one of two ways. Search for campgrounds by what you’d like to see included on-site, such as a lake or a swimming pool or a clubhouse or a full schedule of activities. You can narrow down by amenities on our website.

Look for campgrounds nearest an attraction or activity you’d like to do or experience, such as hiking within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore or visiting wineries in the northwest region of the state. Maybe you want to try biking a particular trail or visit a museum in Detroit or attend a festival. Maybe you’re looking for simple space and quiet, as can be found more readily in the Thumb region. You don’t need to be immediately nearby, either, so be flexible with your arrangements as far as location.

Look at reviews. If you’ve never been to a particular campground before, then look at reviews from previous campers. Sometimes a campground website has these reviews, but branch out and look at what people are saying recently (within a season or two) on social media platforms, forums, and other review websites readily at your fingertips. Don’t focus on the negative, either, as somebody will always have something to say. If the reviews are relatively positive, then it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll be pleased with your experience, too.

Once you’ve narrowed down your campground search, take your time choosing a site. Look at the site maps and get as many details about the site spots as possible. Most have clear details mentioned, such as shady or sunny, near a trail, etc. Check the type of foundation your RV will be parked on – Concrete slab? Gravel? Graded dirt? Make sure the site has the appropriate hook-ups for your RV as well. Maybe you want to be near the showers or the playground or on the beach side so that you can catch the sunset. Have your first choice, second choice, and third choice ready at hand when you book.

Make reservations early. This is the number one rule. Many campgrounds, including state and national ones, open up several months in advance. You need to make your summer reservations in the fall and winter, and fall reservations in the spring. This will also help ensure you get the site you desire, because you’ve already done the leg work of figuring out which sites at the campground you would prefer. Many campgrounds have online booking; make sure you read all instructions and descriptions thoroughly when you utilize these platforms. It saves the campgrounds time if they receive bookings online rather than over the phone or via email. Of course, campground owners are generally happy to respond and assist you if you have any trouble.

Be open to new ideas. You may not be able to get into the campground you want or get the site you want, depending on competition and timing of making your reservation. Be open to choosing a different weekend, going during the weekday, visiting a different region, or visiting during a different month. As with anything with RVing, it is important to be flexible. You may end up having a better camping experience than you ever expected.

Good luck!