How Do I Get More Campsite Alerts?
January 20, 2021
In this Campnab FAQ video, I’ll explain how you can get more campsite alerts with your campsite notifications scan. I’ll talk about what to do when the campsite you want is sold out. I’ll also offer tips to maximize your chances of booking the campsite you want.
The problem with sold-out parks
I’m one of the two Erics from Campnab.
Today, I’m going to answer the question: How do I get more campsite alerts? First, though, let me explain the problem.
Early in the year, campsites become available for booking. Because most people don’t have firm plans for the summer, a lot of folks will just grab whatever they can find.
Over the course of the season, they often end up canceling those reservations. That’s when our service comes in.
Campnab spots canceled reservations
It spots these newly canceled reservations and sends a text message, so that campers like you and me can attempt to book these campsites.
We’ve been at this for about 4 years now. In that time we’ve sent (I believe 350,000 alerts—in excess of).
As a result, we’ve started to see how you can maximize the number of alerts you receive, which of course is nice… because that means you have a higher likelihood of going camping.
In this video, I’m going to share those tips.
Start early. I would suggest visiting your park’s website, finding out when they open for reservations, and being there on opening morning, ready to book a spot.
Now, if that doesn’t work… that’s where we come in. Come to Campnab and start scanning early because you never know when someone changes their plans and a spot opens up.
But be patient because (practically) most of these spots aren’t going to come up until closer to the arrival date. So, again, if you start a scan six months in advance, you might wait 4 months before something comes available. But if you’re not scanning you won’t find the spot.
Of course, there are no guarantees, but the longer you scan, the better your odds.
Check other parks
Monitor different parks. I know everybody wants to camp at Yosemite, for example. But Yosemite sees like 4 million visitors a year. And I believe they have something in the neighborhood of 450 campsites available.
Yeah you can get a spot there, but it’s tough. So, add some other parks to your searches. Yeah, you might get that spot at Yosemite, but if you don’t, it means you do have other options—and that’s great.
If you want, you can visit our parks listings page to research other parks that you might want to consider.
Try quieter times
I don’t know if you and me are at all the same, but I hate crowds. And so as a result I go out of my way to avoid them.
I seriously go skiing at four o’clock in the afternoon, to avoid the crowds. I will only go to a shopping mall at 8:50—just as all the other cars are leaving.
And when it comes to camping, I tend to go mid-week, or I go in the shoulder-season. Anything that I can do to avoid those crowds, increases my chance of getting out.
Especially as a result of the pandemic we’re seeing even shoulder-season and mid-week have more demand. But it’s certainly lower than on a holiday weekend in the middle of the summer.
So expand your parameters, search for some of those times that others aren’t going, and see if you can get out there. Because there are great experiences to be had.
Use flexible dates
Flexible dates. If you go under your Date Selection area in Campnab and click that little Flexible Dates toggle, that’s going to search the two days before and two days after your preferred arrival date. And that effectively multiplies the number of alerts you’re going to receive.
I know this isn’t going to work for everyone. Sometimes you have one day you have to camp. But for a lot of us, we can kind of fudge those around a little bit. And if you can, you certainly open up more alerts.
You can be hopeful, or you can be practical. I tend to go for practical. I’m kind of surprised by the number of folks who set up scans for 8 or more days. This just drops the number of alerts they’re going to receive.
So what I say is: Scan for one or more days—because you’re going to get the most alerts. And this increases your odds of actually camping.
Keep in mind that this will not leave out any larger kind of windows. If you scan for 1 or more days you’ll still be alerted of an 8 or more day opening.
But if you can throttle that a little bit, you’re going to see a lot more in the way of results.
Now, if you’re in an RV, you also could stitch together multiple 1 or 2 night stays to extend the amount of time you’re in the park— because it’s kind of easy to go and roll into another spot if you need to. If you really want to get out there, shortening that duration can help a lot.
Simplify your rig
OK—I get this next one isn’t going to work for everyone, but if you can simplify your set-up, you open up more spots.
So, if you’re camping with a long RV that needs all of the hookups, there are going to be fewer spots available. Maybe leave the RV home if it’s a campsite you really want to visit.
Maybe take a tent. Maybe try one of the walk-in sites. Often if you’re willing to be flexible like this you will see more opportunities to camp.
Get a membership
If you only camp once or twice a season, pay-per-use is probably fine. If you camp more frequently, though, a membership is a great idea.
This is because memberships allow you to run multiple scans at the same time, which obviously increases your chance of finding a spot.
Memberships also offer more features around filtering. And they offer a lower per-scan cost, starting at around 3 dollars and 33 cents a scan (per month). So, really a great thing to consider.
And again you can cancel them at any time. Just make sure to sign in and click that Cancel button, in your plan settings, before the term renews.
Max out your scans
If you’re on a membership, I encourage you to max-out your scans. Every scan package comes with a different number of scans. Awesome has 7, so, that’s 7 separate scans you can run at the same time.
Maxing those out means that you get the best value for your subscription, but it also means that you have the highest chance of getting alerts for the spots you’re interested in. So, yeah, max-out those scans.
Next up: Recycle your scans. Now, you can’t do this with pay-per-use. Pay-per-use is a “set it and you’re done” kind of deal. But with a membership you can edit your scans at any time.
So if you find the spot you’re looking for, take that scan slot and use it to scan for another time or another park. But keep every one of your scans working for you, so you can get out camping as much as possible.
Be persistent. You will receive alerts for new availabilities—and you’ll be so excited. And you’ll click on that link to find that someone has already booked the spot. And it’s going to be a real bummer.
But, I tell you, there are a lot of people who want these canceled spots. And that means that it’s competitive. If you give up then, you’ve lost your opportunity.
But I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me to say: “You know… I followed your advice, and I was patient. And I missed a few, but as time passed I actually was able to book those spots.”
So, stay calm, be persistent, odds are: another spot will come available.
Talk to us
If you’re using Campnab and not getting the results you expect, reach out to us. I’ll work with you one-on-one to go into your scans, see if there’s a way to maybe tweak them to be more optimal.
Or, in the event that there’s an issue, we will get to work at fixing that issue. But, I don’t want you to hesitate at all.
And now it’s time for a bonus tip. Canceled reservations are in high demand.
That means some of them are going to go in minutes, and some even in seconds. So if you receive an alert, don’t dally.
We send all of our alerts via text message because this is the fastest way to notify you of a campsite opening.
If you miss that alert, someone else is going to beat you to it. So turn up your ringer as loud as you can. (You might also set up a unique ring tone just for campsite alerts.) This will increase the likelihood that you hear it and can act on that alert.
Additionally, make sure that you are signed into that park’s website. We’ll provide a direct link to the booking page whenever we can, but you want to make sure you’re not fiddling for a password and user name.
My final note isn’t a tip. It’s a thank you. Campnab is a tiny project, run by two friends, and it started off the side of our desks. It’s really only in the last little while that it’s become a more full-time kind of effort.
And it’s you. You, the Campnab member, who helps us improve this product, add new features, scan new jurisdictions, make the user experience better.
I know this might sound kind of corny, but it means the world to us to be able to work on this product—and we so appreciate your support.
Thanks so much, and happy camping!
UNABLE TO RESERVE A CAMPSITE?
Get notified when a sold-out campground has availability
Tell us when, where, and how long you want to camp for. We’ll notify you (via SMS) when a suitable spot opens up at that campground—so you can nab that sold-out campsite reservation!