RV Pro Tip: Mutual memberships for museums, zoos and more

Campers can SAVE BIG with reciprocal memberships that give you free or discounted access to a network of museums, zoos and more!

Have you ever heard of reciprocal affiliations? If not, get ready to learn how to save big bucks while visiting multiple educational and cultural centers around the country.

So, stay tuned if you enjoy visiting museums, aquariums, zoos, and science and technology centers on your RV travels.

In this article, I explain what reciprocal memberships are, how they save campers money, and list the best ones for campers.

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What is a mutual membership?

A mutual membership program is a collaboration between cultural institutions that extends benefits to all members of the participating institutions. So if you have a reciprocal membership with, say, one museum, you’ll get benefits from all the other museums in that network.

Perks can include free or discounted admission, discounts on merchandise, special newsletters, and other great offers.

Benefits of mutual membership for campers

The biggest benefit of reciprocal memberships is being able to visit more museums, zoos and science centers for less money! Purchasing a membership from a participating center (like at your local zoo, for example) gives you membership benefits in many places.

Buying a membership from a local institution means you can use it more often, whether you’re at home or on the go. However, there is no need to purchase a subscription locally. You can usually purchase a membership at any participating institution to enjoy the benefits of the network.

There are even more benefits. Let’s list them all:

  • Save money by purchasing a membership to get member benefits at multiple participating locations
  • Get access to more places while traveling for free or at a discount!
  • An affordable and easy way to supplement your school curriculum
  • Get inspired to travel to more places based on where the participating centers are located

By the way, using reciprocal memberships is one of the 7 ways to find cheap or free things to do while RVing.

7 Best Mutual Membership Programs for RVs

There are some great mutual memberships for travellers. Deciding which one is best for you depends on your interests and where the participating centers are located.

If you do most of your travel on the east coast, you don’t want to buy one with attendee locations on the west coast. Unless, of course, you want to expand your motorhome horizons!

*Just be sure to read carefully the rules and guidelines of the mutual membership program for each program. Different programs offer different benefits. Also, different participants within the same program may offer different discounts and benefits.

1. Your local zoo, aquarium, museum, etc.

The best place to start your research is with your local organizations. You’ll get the most use out of the programs you have local access to. That way, you can use your membership when you’re at home as well as when you’re on the go.

Check with your local zoos, museums, aquariums, and any other cultural centers to see if they are members of a reciprocal program. This information is often 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 others you can become a member of. Simply choose a place in their mutual program to become a member of; it usually doesn’t matter if you’re a local or not.

2. Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)

The AZA Reciprocal Membership Program offers free or 50% discounted admission to participating zoos and aquariums. There are approximately 150 participating zoos and aquariums in more than 40 states. Plus, some in Canada!

You can see a list of participating zoos and aquariums on their membership page.

RV Pro Tip: Save BIG with reciprocal passes to museums, zoos and more 1
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3. Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)

If you like anything related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), this mutual membership is for you. The ASTC Passport Program is a network of approximately 200 participating science and technology centers and museums.

You can see the current list of participating centers on their ASTC Travel Passport program page.

4. Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)

Attention families of campers and roadschoolers! If you have young children or are homeschooling your children from your RV, you will probably want to join the ACM Mutual Network.

This network includes 200 children’s museums across the country. The Reciprocal Program offers 50% off general admission for up to six people.

Learn more about the ACM Mutual Network and Participant List.

RV Pro Tip: Save BIG with reciprocal passes to museums, zoos and more 2

5. North American Mutual Museum (NARM)

The NARM association is made up of several hundred participating institutions. Most of the participating organizations are museums and galleries, but their network also includes botanic gardens, children’s museums and zoos.

You can search their network on their website and learn more about how it works. Pro TIP: Scroll down to their website footer to download the entire list of NARM members.

6. Time travelers

History buffs, this is for you! I’m also a huge history buff, but I also want to become a member just so I can call myself a time traveler.

The Time Traveler Reciprocal Program offers free or discounted admissions to several hundred historic sites, museums and societies. Check their website for the most up-to-date attendee list.

7. RAP American Horticultural Society

This is a great reciprocal program for anyone who enjoys botanical gardens, arboretums, conservatories and butterfly gardens.

The American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program (RAP) offers 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 beforehand to find the best one for you, but it’s worth it!

Do you like a reciprocal membership in one of the above programs or another? If so, share your experiences and tips in the comments below.

The best subscriptions for camping and motorhomes

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Speaking of memberships, you should watch the video above on the best camping and RV memberships. Narrowing the list down to five of the best camping memberships is tough. There is a huge variety of passes available and they are spread across the country.

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