Recreational vehicles (RVs) are soaring in popularity in the United States.
Prior to the pandemic motorhomes and trailers were growing a large following of outdoor enthusiasts. Then COVID-19 hit and traveling to the great outdoors in your own personal vehicle complete with beds, bathrooms and everything you need to cook and sleep seemed like the best way to getaway—for those willing to travel—as the virus spread.
RVShare, a peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace, has found that, while the pandemic may be losing steam, traveling by RV remains as popular as ever.
TravlePulse spoke with RVShare CEO Jon Gray about the boom in the RV market and how the rental industry is blossoming and providing new opportunities for travelers.
Unlike some fleeting pandemic trends, traveling by RV seems to have found a foothold and gone from a nice idea to a mainstream product.
“As the global travel industry makes its return, we focused our research on more deeply understanding and assessing the emerging motivators and desires of today’s travelers,” said Gray. “Our findings are encouraging and reflect the ongoing evolution of the travel industry, proving that desire to hit the road has never been stronger. While 2020 and 2021 may have been a time of discovery for many when it comes to RV travel, the category is growing in demand as more and more people find RV and motorhome accommodations appealing for a number of priorities and reasons.”
Gray also noted that the pandemic increased the awareness of flexible lodging.
“People are going to go back to international traveling, but the big takeaway is that flexible work has completely changed how travel is going to work,” he said. “Further, RVs are a nice way to get back into travel.”
National parks are obviously one of the most sought-after destinations to travel to with a motorhome, but many people are discovering new ways to utilize this flexible accommodation option, including as a place to say at events and festivals.
Gray said that many RV owners are okay with travelers taking their vehicles to festivals, noting that users should expect to pay a premium.
“Sometimes owners increase security deposits or have GPS systems for where drivers cannot go,” said Gray. “We’ve found that people tend to be willing to pay more to bring cars to festivals.”
Trends in the RV rental industry have been transforming as the pandemic has transformed the way people think about travel.
Gray noted that there are essentially two main rental profiles: long weekend getaways from Thursday to Sunday and weeklong rentals. During the pandemic, RVShare saw many more 14-plus day trips. The average trip length is seven days, which is up over the last two years.
The most popular type of RV that travelers are looking for is a Class C. These vehicles, where the cab of the truck is attached to the motorhome, offer more capacity and are ideal for families. The RVs that have the most bookings per unite, Gray said, are Airstreams and Sprinter vans.
One thing RV renters should consider is where they are going to take their RV once they have rented it. With a surge in popularity of renting RVs, there has been a similar surge in demand for places to camp.
Popular campgrounds often are booked months in advance, but Gray highlighted other options for camping, including peer-to-peer camping websites such as Hipcamp; boondocking; and private campgrounds located near popular destinations.