For the better part of the last several decades, the RVing lifestyle was more often found among middle-aged and older Americans. Younger people tended to prefer hotel vacations in urban areas. They tended to prefer the exciting tourist traps over the great outdoors. But thanks to COVID, this is changing. In a post-COVID world, young people are embracing the RV lifestyle in larger numbers.
How many of them RV only for vacations, as opposed to full-time RV living, remains to be seen. The one thing we can be sure of is that the RV market has never been hotter. Manufacturers and dealers alike cannot keep up with demand.
And for the record, it is not just RVs themselves. New RV owners also want the ancillary equipment and toys that come with the package. From bikes to personal watercraft and the latest RV skirting from Connecticut-based AirSkirts, anything and everything related to outdoor living is flying off the shelves.
A Very Busy Summer
It was expected that the RV industry would suffer when the country went into lockdown in the spring of 2020. It didn’t happen. According to the Observer website, summer 2020 was incredibly busy. One particular RV rental company they spoke with saw a 4000% increase in revenue between April and October of that year.
Moreover, 44% of the company’s bookings for the last 6 years were in the last half of 2020. The company continues to see a lot of action, with sales up 145% so far in 2021. They attribute the growth to a tremendous amount of interest among millennials and Gen Xers.
Spending Less Time Indoors
RVing has typically been an older person’s game. Retirees and those in late middle age are normally the ones who purchase motor homes, fifth wheels, and travel trailers. They are the ones buying RV skirting and awnings. They are the ones investing in portable bikes and golf carts for navigating around large campgrounds.
So what changed? Our perceptions of the indoors. If there is one thing COVID has brought to the forefront it is how easily germs can spread indoors. That’s why we were shut down for so long. State and local governments didn’t want people from different households congregating indoors anywhere but at home. Some are still nervous about indoor gatherings.
COVID isn’t enough to prevent younger people from taking vacations. They still want to get away. However, they are not interested in hotel vacations because it means spending a lot of time indoors. They are shying away from urban destinations for the same reason. They see RVing as a way to have a safer vacation by spending their time outdoors.
Some Will Go Full-Time
Common sense suggests that some of these new RVers will eventually go full-time. Now that remote work is mainstream, RVing represents an entirely new lifestyle. Singles, couples, and even families can live life on the road while continuing to work from anywhere they have an internet connection.
That should translate into higher sales for some RV supplies that tend to be seasonal. RV skirting is one example. If more people turn to the RV lifestyle full-time, they are also going to need skirting for the winter months. That’s just part of the game.
One way or the other, younger people are embracing the RV lifestyle in a post-COVID world. Travel numbers at the end of 2021 should tell the story. If travel increases but hotel bookings remain flat or decrease, it is a good sign that more people are choosing to spend their vacation time camping. Millennials and Gen Xers will be responsible for any such growth.