KOA Predicts RV Craze Could Cause Shortages Through Winter

The COVID-19 Pandemic has given us many flash-in-the-pan trendy activities to occupy ourselves during the quarantine. Most of these trends helped keep us sane but quickly faded away like baking bread, “Tiger King,” and home gym building. The automotive world, in general, has had to shift and adapt to help out and stay occupied. One new craze that shows no signs of letting up is RV camping. 

Car and Driver reports that the KOA (kampgrounds of America) surveyed to see if winter would dissuade campers from traveling. With, yet again, another rise in COVID cases, the usually slower winter season seems to be continuing the camper craze, especially for young people. 

The Winter months promise to be busier for campers 

The KOA survey shows that although the Summer and Spring seasons were super busy, up by 21 percent to be exact, the Fall and Winter months are projected to double those numbers at an overall 42 percent increase. 

Snow blankets Joshua Tree National Park and RV camper van
Snow blankets Joshua Tree National Park | David McNew/Getty Images

This should come as no surprise. Traveling via RV is safer than flying or driving and using hotel rooms. Because of the safety aspects, more people of all kinds of backgrounds are taking to the RV life than ever before. Of the 3500 people surveyed, almost half went camping for the first time this year. 

The RV demographics are changing

Of that group of new campers who took part in the KOA Survey, 55 percent of those were millennials. While this sudden uptick in a new, more diverse population of campers has resulted in more boutique and high-end modern campers, it has created a strain on the traditional RV inventory. 

Many would-be campers have reported finding campers to rent nearly impossible during the summer. KOA says that, again, around 50 percent of campers still plan to buy a camper. This number remains largely the same since May. Knowing that RV sales have been way up this year means that the number of prospective buyers must also be growing. 

Home away from home

Part of the KOA survey inquired what campers wanted most from their RVs. The answer, while obvious, is extremely timely. Most campers wanted something that felt like home while traveling. In this context, I think it’s fair to assume the meaning of “home” here translates to somewhere safe amongst unfamiliar terrain.

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The study showed that having their own bathroom is highly important to 48 percent of leisure travelers and 42 percent of campers. Of course, the overwhelming majority of campers stated that going somewhere more remote was preferred in hopes of having a less crowded campsite. 

What about folks without an RV

The KOA study shows that while RV sales are up and promise to continue to grow (which could lead to limited rental or purchasing inventory), more traditional tent campers are still interested in going back out even as the temperatures drop. 

It shows that people who had other travel plans for the remainder of 2020 have replaced those plans for more socially distant and safe camping road trips. As more glamping (glamour camping) accommodations are made for the less seasoned campers, we will see this number of new campers continue. In 2019, 19.1 million families reported camping. The trend was expected to continue growing even before the pandemic. The pandemic has only added fuel to an already roaring flame.

If you feel inclined to get out in the wild during the colder months, consider looking into RVs or cold-weather camping gear before things ramp up too much. Be advised, many campgrounds during COVID operate on reservations only and have a limited capacity to keep campers at a safe distance from one another. Plan and stay safe out there.