It’s a common summer problem: campers trying to plan their weekend getaway end up without a campsite because every place they look at is fully booked.
The good news is there might be some hope, thanks to a couple of Erics in BC who created an app that campers will appreciate — it’s called Campnab.
Campnab is a website that scans parks in Canada and the US for last-minute cancellations. It then sends an alert via text message once a spot that meets your criteria opens up, and it’s up to you to make the quick move to book. You can filter scans based on your needs, including specific campgrounds, dates, and duration. It’s a convenient way to outsource the search so you can focus on other things that are more fun than repeatedly hitting refresh on a booking site.
The idea was pitched by Eric Shelkie, whose wife found herself in the scenario of spending lots of time on a booking site searching for an opening. She finally got one, but Shelkie knew there had to be a better way. He took it upon himself to build the tool, and together with long-time friend Eric Karjaluoto, who created the front end, they shared Campnab with the masses.
Using Campnab is safe and easy to use, says Karjaluoto. You don’t have to download anything; just go to the website, sign up and enter your parameters. They also want to reassure the public that Campnab does not book campsites, as some people are becoming more concerned that bots are selling out parks. Campnab has been connecting campers to available bookings for five years now, and they say the feedback has been mostly positive.
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Karjaluoto has some tips to share with users to encourage an alert. Here are a few:
- Use filters sparingly – The more specific your filters, the more narrow the search will be.
- It helps to be flexible – Try not to stick to a specific date or campsite, and allow the app to scan for other availabilities.
- Set a short minimum stay – Sometimes it’s harder to find a site with a long window, so a shorter stay will still allow you to get away, even if it’s a few days shorter.
- Expand your horizons – Try booking outside of the more popular parks and try other campsites that are private or off the beaten path. They say sometimes a slightly further drive could result in more opportunities.
- Go midweek – If your schedule is flexible, weekdays have less demand.
- Scan close to your arrival date – Some people do cancel last minute, and this is a great way for those campsites not to go to waste.
If you need more tips and tricks, their YouTube channel has several tutorials you can watch.
Regular and occasional campers can benefit from Campnab. The service is available on a pay-per-use system starting at $10, but avid campers may want to sign up for a membership plan, which starts at $10 per month. The membership allows users to search multiple parks and dates simultaneously. This video can help you find the right membership for you.
All that’s left now is to get the s’mores ready because your next outdoor adventure could be a text message away.