KOA Reports New Camping Trends

In an earlier post we in reported that more than 6 million new North American households have adopted the camping lifestyle since 2014.

The number of campers who camp three times or more each year has increased by 64 percent, according to results from the 2018 North American Camping Report.

Camping at Smokiam RV Resort, Soap Lake, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Smokiam RV Resort, Soap Lake, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Further, new campers in 2017 are more diverse than the overall population with a nearly even split between white and non-white campers.

The representation of Hispanic and African American/Black new campers is in line with U.S. Census figures, while new Asian American campers are represented at three times that of U.S. Census figures (new Asian American campers represented 17 percent of new campers in 2017, against 5 percent from Census data).

African American/Black campers are most likely to report an increase in camping, while Asian Americans are most likely to say that their camping will remain consistent year over year.

Camping at Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Those who serve the outdoor hospitality sector should plan on higher levels of camping across the board, but primarily among younger campers who may drive the camping economy as they experiment with different types of accommodations and camping.

Six out of every ten Millennial households tried some type of camping or lodging in 2017, but the experimenting is being driven by Hispanics (71 percent) and African Americans (78 percent) trying out new ways of camping.

Camping at Hilltop RV Park, Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Hilltop RV Park, Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearly all Millennials (93 percent) and Gen Xers (93 percent) would like to try some type of new camping in 2018. Millennials are the most likely to want to experience backcountry camping and/or glamping, while Gen Xers seek unique accommodations. Both Millennials (66 percent) and Gen Xers (58 percent) are changing their camping habits and included both more weekends and weekdays in their trips this past year.

A past determinant of camping has been having access to information about some of the issues that may have hindered camping in the past, such as safety and security. These issues can now be addressed with social media networks and searching the internet, putting information at the prospective camper’s fingertips.

Camping at Dakota Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Dakota Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearly all campers (97 percent) state that they bring some type of technology with them while camping.

In a continued upward trend since 2014, campers are significantly more likely to go online while camping. Yet, in departure from the results observed last year, campers are significantly more likely to say that the use of technology detracts from the overall enjoyment of their camping experiences (38 percent in 2016, 49 percent in 2017).

What’s more, the idea of “unplugging” while camping is in fact unlikely to mean a complete disconnect from technology. About a third of all campers saying they have their smartphone with them, but they don’t turn it on (used for safety only).

Camping at Jack's Landing RV Resort, Grants Pass, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Jack’s Landing RV Resort, Grants Pass, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The use of social media to share photos and videos while camping continues to grow, with 27 percent of Millennials and 25 percent Gen X campers saying that sharing camping experiences through social media is important (compared to 24 percent of all campers).

Millennial families are more likely than other millennials to post a status update via social media (40 percent), check-in (40 percent) and share photos or videos (68 percent) while camping.

Differences in how campers camp

Tent usage remains consistent and the highest camping accommodation with 61 percent of campers identifying tents as their primary way of camping; about one-fourth (24 percent) of all campers use an RV as their primary way of camping.

Camping at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Among campers who claim an RV as their primary way of camping, 44 percent do not own the RV they use most.

A full one-fourth of this subset of campers say they borrow the RV, and 1-in-5 say they rent from a company or peer-to-peer rental service.

Borrowing an RV is most common among Gen Xers.

Among millennials, those with families are most likely to consider renting an RV from a peer-to-peer service (followed by millennial couples).

The largest growth in RV usage is among African American campers, with 27 percent stating that an RV is their primary way of camping, which is up from 19 percent last year. Forty-one percent of African American campers stating that they tried an RV for the first time in 2017.

Camping at Oh! Kentucky Campground & RV Park, Berea, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Oh! Kentucky Campground & RV Park, Berea, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Among new campers in 2017, one-fourth camped in cabins—a rate much higher than last year (moving ahead of RVs as the primary way of camping).

Worth Pondering…

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.

—Maya Angelou

Leave a Reply