As the RV industry celebrates its centennial this year, a new survey shows that interest in RV travel remains strong, with nearly half of RV owners planning to spend more time on the road this spring and summer than a year ago, according to the current issue of RVIA Today Express.
According to the latest Campfire Canvass, a biannual survey of RV owners by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), 45.4% of RV owners expect to travel more this summer than they did last year; 41.9% say they’ll travel the same amount. More than 8.2 million U.S. households own an RV.
RV travel is as popular today as it was in 1910 when the first mass-produced RVs were built. “For a century, Americans have enjoyed exploring what’s over the next hill and around the bend,” says Richard Coon, RVIA president. “That pioneering spirit is still alive and well today.”
Survey respondent Bob Jaffe, 65, of Palm Beach, Fla., exemplifies that pioneering spirit. He and his wife, Sheila, bought their RV in August 2009 and spent five months traveling throughout the U.S.
“Our No. 1 goal was to visit our daughter in wine country in Northern California,” says Jaffe, who retired from his printing business in 2008. “During our trip, we visited 13 national parks, five national monuments and many historic sites, and we didn’t even get wet.”
The Jaffes, who used to get soaked putting up and taking down their tent in the rain before they bought their first RV, are planning another five-month summer trip that will take them from Florida to the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada.
Among the survey respondents, 75% cited the flexibility of RVing as a major benefit of owning an RV.
Dennis Kiegel, 59, of Tampa, Fla., enjoys the freedom and control that RVing offers. “Whenever my wife and I feel like it, we can just get up and go,” says Kiegel, a former Anheuser Busch employee. “What we like best is the freedom to come and go as we please. With our RV, we can travel at our own leisure. We don’t have any set plans for the summer. For us, it’s more interesting to wake up in the morning and make a spur-of-the-moment decision.”
According to the survey, a primary reason so many RVers will be traveling this spring/summer is that they appreciate the value they get compared to flying, driving and staying in hotels. Almost 82 percent percent of owners say they save anywhere from 15% to 75% by traveling in their RVs. This is consistent with a study by international travel and tourism experts PKF Consulting, which found that family RV trips are, on average, 27% to 61% less expensive than other types of vacations.
“RV travel continues to appeal to people looking to save money and cut costs,” says Coon. “RVers get a bigger bang for their buck than they get from other types of vacations.”
State and national parks are among the most popular destinations for RV trips this spring/summer. Seventy-seven percent of the survey respondents said they’ll visit state parks, while 71% will visit national parks.
Rob Long, a 33-year-old architectural designer from Newark, Ohio, frequently visits state parks with his wife and 3-year-old daughter in their RV. “Staying at state parks is my way of giving something back and helping to sustain them,” says Long.
Long, whose parents and two brothers also own RVs, appreciates the family togetherness that RVing creates. “RVing is a great way to work and play together as a family,” he says.
According to the survey, RVers plan to be on the move during major holidays, with 60% planning to travel over Memorial Day weekend and 64% over the July 4th holiday.
RV owners appreciate the recreational and health benefits associated with RV travel:
- 78% say RV travel provides them the opportunity to spend more time enjoying outdoor activities.
- 73% of RV owners say they are more physically active on RV trips compared to other types of vacations.
- 72% say RVs allow them to escape everyday stress and pressure.
- 80% say their children are more physically active on RV vacations than other types.