When people are just kicking off their van life experience, they often wonder if there is anything specific that they should know about that could be helpful for them in the long run. I was one of these people, and I quickly learned about a few memberships that have been an unbelievable help throughout the entirety of my van life so far!
They are all travel and vehicle-related, so they are relevant in my day-to-day life and certainly used very often. I honestly cannot imagine what I would do without them, so I figured that I had to share them with everyone that I could! Here are three must-have memberships that will help make your van life experience go a lot smoother.
1. America the Beautiful Pass
There is no denying that this pass is useful for any nature lover out there. One fantastic part of van life is the fact that you can travel to any National Park in the country that you choose. However, most, if not all, of these National Parks charge an entrance fee, and many of them can get pricey – the popular Zion National Park has a $35 entrance fee!
If you enjoy National Park hopping like I do, these fees can easily add up fast and take a chunk out of your wallet. That’s why the America the Beautiful Pass is so great. This annual pass only costs $80 and gives you free entry into every single National Park in the country – all you have to do is flash your card and ID at the entrance. This pass also covers other public lands, such as land managed by the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
My pass was helpful for when I stayed in certain BLM spots and allowed me to park at trailheads in Sedona without having to buy a Red Rock Pass. The pass covers entry for up to 4 people (including you), so feel free to bring some friends along. There is also the option to add a second passholder’s name if you have a partner that wants to split the cost with you.
2. AAA Membership
Let’s face it: getting your van stuck somewhere is inevitable, and it’s happened to the best of us. Remote campsites are all fun and games until you drive a little too far into the sand or mud with no hope of getting out on your own, no matter how hard you push.
This lifestyle basically requires driving through all different types of land and finding some pretty interesting spots to camp overnight, so getting stuck is almost a given, especially early on into your van life experience. While you might learn your lesson pretty fast, it’s extremely helpful to always have someone to call and help you out when you’re stuck, especially when you’re in the middle of nowhere or entirely unfamiliar with the area you’re in. AAA always makes sure that you’re somewhere safe and sends somebody over to help you as soon as possible so you can get out of there in no time.
Not only are they reliable for help, but this membership can also give you discounts on museums, restaurants, gas, and more, which is a great bonus for vanlifers since we are always traveling and exploring new areas!
3. Planet Fitness Black Card Membership
This membership gives you access to every single Planet Fitness in the country – and trust me, there are a lot of them. Every location has showers located inside their locker rooms, so you will almost always have a designated spot to shower no matter where you are. This is especially important for vanlifers who do not have showers inside their vans or have limited water usage.
The cost comes out to only $20 per month, so it is a cheaper option than showering at truck stops that typically charge $10-$15 per shower! A lot of locations are also open 24 hours so you can stop in at any time, which can be helpful for long travel days.
The Black Card membership also gives you access to the Planet Fitness Spa, where you can go tanning (if that’s your style), get a nice massage, and more. It also allows you to bring a guest for free, so you can bring a partner or friend along with you – this is perfect for me since I am traveling with my partner and we can split the cost!
Since these memberships are used nearly every day, I find them to be well worth the money. I’ve been to more National Parks than I can count, so I’m already getting my money’s worth out of my annual pass! I can sleep a little better at night knowing that I have someone reliable to call if my van is stuck anywhere, and I LOVE that I am able to soak in a nice hot shower almost everywhere that I go. If you’re looking for a few things that might help make your van life go a little smoother, these memberships are definitely for you!
For more van life tips, check out this video from Vanlife Sagas:
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Continue reading: 5 Lessons We Learned From Our First Week On The Road
7 thoughts on “3 Must-Have Memberships For Van Life”
I have AAA and when my van broke down they refused to pay for it’s tow because I said it was converted into a camper van. So make sure you have AAA’s “RV pkg” even if your van is a normal sized van.
To the author, Have you ever actually used AAA on a distress call? Maybe in some areas of the country it’s better… but in KS where I live you’d be hard pressed to find a AAA tow operator. About the country, I’ve had tow operators hang up on me when I told them I had AAA; others have said have cash or a credit card available when they get there, and “you” can deal with getting reimbursed by AAA. Cruise the internet, there are plenty of AAA horror stories from billing practices to dispatch issues causing extreme waits for a response to outright no-shows.
Hey Rob, we are sorry to hear about your negative experience 🙁
Hey Julie! This is a really good tip. Thanks for sharing!
I agree with the others, AAA isn’t reliable. We have all 3 of our vehicles with our insurance company. We were towed over 40 miles when we got stuck in the boondocks. We paid $6. I think we pay an extra $12/year for the towing insurance on all vehicles. The camper is completely covered, plus the contents are also covered by our Homeowners insurance.
As for AAA, Good Sam, etc, I have had both good and bad experiences with both. It seems to all depend on the contractor they send your call to.
Something I just learned with the Planet Fitness black card membership today: you’re limited to 10 visits to non-home clubs per calendar month. This applies per-club, so if there are a bunch of PF clubs where you’re visiting you can rotate between them. After the limit is hit you have to pay $5 per visit.