Motorhome owners can SAVE BIG with reciprocal memberships, which give you free or discounted access to a network of museums, zoos and more!
Have you ever heard of cross memberships? If not, get ready to learn how you can save big bucks as you visit more educational and cultural centers across the country.
So stay tuned if you plan to visit museums, aquariums, zoos, and science and technology centers during your motorhome trip.
In this article, I explain what reciprocal memberships are, how they save RVs money, and list the best ones for RVs.
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What is Cross Membership?
A reciprocal membership program is a collaboration between cultural institutions that offers benefits to all members of the participating institutions. So if you have a reciprocal membership with, for example, one museum, you will receive benefits from all other museums in that network.
Perks include free or discounted entry, merchandise discounts, special newsletters, and other great offers.
Benefits of reciprocal membership for motor home owners
The biggest benefit of reciprocal membership is being able to visit more museums, zoos and science centers for less money! Purchasing a membership at a participating center (e.g. your local zoo) will give you membership benefits in many places.
If you buy a membership from a local institution, you can use it more often, both when you are at home and when you travel. However, you do not have to purchase a membership locally. Typically, you can purchase a membership from any participating institution to enjoy the benefits of the network.
There are more benefits. Let’s just list them all:
- Save money by purchasing a membership to receive member benefits at multiple participating locations
- Get access to more places while traveling for free or at a discount!
- Affordable and easy way to add to your road school curriculum
- Be inspired to travel to more places depending on where the participating centers are located
By the way, using reciprocal memberships is one of 7 ways to find cheap or free activities while RVing.
The 7 Best Reciprocal Membership Programs for Motorhomes
There are some great reciprocal memberships for travelers. Deciding which one is best for you will depend on your interests and the location of the participating centers.
If you travel on the east coast most of the time, you don’t want to buy one with participating west coast locations. Unless, of course, you want to broaden your motorhome horizons!
*Just read the rules and policies of the mutual membership program for each program carefully. Different programs offer different benefits. Also, different participants may offer different discounts and benefits within the same program.
1. Your local zoo, aquarium, museum, etc.
It is best to start your search with your local organizations. You will make the most of programs that you can access locally. This way you can use your membership both at home and when travelling.
Check with your local zoos, museums, aquariums, and other cultural centers to see if they are members of a reciprocal program. This information can often be found on the membership page on their website.
If you don’t have local options or their program doesn’t appeal to you, there are many more you can join. You simply pick a spot in each other’s program to become a member; it usually doesn’t matter if you’re a local or not.
2. Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
The AZA reciprocal membership program grants free admission or 50% off admission to participating zoos and aquariums. There are approximately 150 participating zoos and aquariums in more than 40 states. Plus, a few in Canada!
A list of participating zoos and aquariums can be found on their member page.
3. Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)
If you enjoy something STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related, this reciprocal membership is for you. The ASTC Passport Program is a network of approximately 200 participating science and technology centers and museums.
Visit the ASTC Travel Passport Program page for the current list of participating centers.
4. Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)
Camper families and road schoolers watch out! If you have young children or homeschool your children from your RV, you probably want to join the ACM Reciprocal Network.
This network includes 200 children’s museums across the country. The reciprocal program offers a 50% discount on general admission for up to six people.
Learn more about the ACM Reciprocal Network and the list of participants.
5. North American Mutual Museum (NARM)
The NARM association consists of several hundred participating institutions. Most participating organizations are museums and galleries, but their network also includes botanical gardens, children’s museums and zoos.
You can browse their network on their website and learn more about how it works. Pro TIP: Scroll down to their site footer to download the entire NARM Member List.
6. Time Travellers
History buffs, this is for you! I’m a huge history buff myself, but I’d also like to become a member just so I can call myself a time traveler.
The Time Traveler’s reciprocal program offers free or discounted admission to hundreds of historical sites, museums and societies. You can find the most up-to-date list of participants on their website.
7. American Horticultural Society RAP
This is a great program for anyone who loves botanical gardens, arboretums, conservatories, and butterfly gardens.
The American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program (RAP) grants special admission privileges and discounts at more than 345 gardens across North America.
You can search for participating gardens by location on their website.
Do you have a reciprocal membership?
The list above only covers some of the biggest mutual programs, but there are many more out there. It may take a little research ahead of time to find what’s best for you, but it’s worth it!
Do you enjoy reciprocal membership in any of the above or another program? If so, please share your experiences and recommendations in the comments below.
The best camping and RV memberships
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Speaking of memberships, you should check out the video above on the best camping and RV memberships. It’s difficult to narrow down the list to five of the best campground memberships. There is a wide range of memberships spread across the country.
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