You can take a look around BLM land any given winter the last few years and see that the RVing lifestyle is changing more rapidly than in previous decades. Snowbirds are now accompanied by young families exploring the landscape. Class A motorhomes now camp alongside hand-built trailers, converted sprinter vans and a wide variety of other RVs. The desert glitters with the reflection of roof-mounted solar panels while the sounds of rumbling ATV engines and kids’ laughter are heard throughout. This is a very different scene than even 10 years ago when solar power was less accessible and boondockers instead relied on generators and resource conservation. There were fewer families traveling with their young children.
What do these changes mean? They mean the RV lifestyle is healthy and growing. They mean there are more RVs on the road now than ever before, a claim backed up by data from RV Industry Association (RVIA). They also indicate that a wider variety of people now enjoy RVing.
To get an idea of who contemporary RVers are, we, Escapees RV Club, circulated a census among the RVing community, garnering the feedback of nearly 7800 RVers. The census was open for five months, from November 30, 2018 to April 12, 2019 and included input from a wide variety of RV-owners, though the results show that a majority of respondents are Escapees RV Club members. The following results are based on the information shared by those who completed the survey.
Census Overview- The Majority
As anticipated, most census respondents (57%) identified as being of or more than 65 years of age. When asked how many years they have been RVing, 36% of respondents selected 15+, and 48% of them currently travel full-time. Given these figures, it’s reasonable to conclude that many of today’s RVers have been RVing at least part-time since their 40s and 50s. We’ll expand on this more in a bit.
The majority of our respondents also share that they travel often. Sixty-one percent state they stay in one spot for less than 2 weeks at a time. On top of this, 40% travel 5,000-10,000 miles per year by RV, with 15% topping 100,000 miles per year. These RVers run a lot of road under their tires, indicated by 60% stating they spend at least half of the year traveling outside of their home state or state of domicile. To put these figures in perspective, it is roughly 3,000 miles from Seattle, Washington to Orlando, Florida. This means some of these RVers are driving enough miles to cross North America coast-to-coast several times in a given year! Their camping choices tend to focus on a mixture of private campgrounds, state and national parks, and public lands.
Considering how many RVers began traveling in their 40s-50s, it’s no surprise that this same age group is on the rise among today’s RVing community. Of 7800 survey respondents, 43% are under 65, the usual age of retirement. Though larger industry research indicates this age group represents a smaller percentage of all RVers, data also shows that their numbers are climbing. It is refreshing to see growth in this demographic as it is younger RVers who will continue to sustain this lifestyle as the older generations hang up their keys.
One reason why more and more working-aged RVers are hitting the road is it has gotten much easier to stay connected. When many of today’s long-term RVers first hit the road 15 years ago, landline phones and USPS were still the dominant means of communication while internet and email access improved. With advances in technology and internet access, our cell phones now manage phone calls, text messages, email accounts, social media access, video conferences, and even some word processing and graphic design! These handheld devices make it much easier to conduct work remotely, often serving as an internet source and therefore making it easier to transition many traditional careers into ones that can be fulfilled while putting miles under your wheels. Supporting this, 25% of survey respondents indicated they work while on the road, with 58% of them working remotely at least part-time.
If you’ve spent much time in an RV, you understand that space is a commodity in most rigs. How do those who require a home office in their RV manage, given the already limited space? While there are blog posts (like this one) and videos out there that showcase the creative ways RVers maximize space, it’s encouraging to hear that manufacturers are paying attention, too! “With mobile working growing in popularity, Winnebago continually seeks effective designs to enable both full-time and casual workers,” said Winnebago Product Planner Nick Davis. “Whether it be better space utilization or easier access to power, many benefits extend beyond the mobile worker to any level of RV enthusiast.”
So, Who All Is in These RVs?
Considering the input of all survey respondents, 76% state their RVing household consists of only two opposite sex travelers. Sixteen percent travel solo, 3% travel with their children, and 2% travel with a same-sex companion. Fifty-six percent also travel with a pet, including dogs, cats, reptiles, hamsters, birds, and even sugar gliders!
While the majority of responses identify as Caucasian, it is encouraging to see that Hispanic, African-American, and Native American RVers are represented in these results, too. Data shared by Kampgrounds of America also indicated growth among these groups, particularly when surveying those who are new to camping. We hope to see these numbers continue to grow as the RVing community becomes more inclusive and supportive of all who want to enjoy the lifestyle.
Since 1978, Escapees has been the leader in educating people about the RVing lifestyle and fostering a community among RVers. We have also maintained a reputation for being one of the only community-focused clubs who actively fight for the rights of all RVers. This census is one way that we ensure we are considering the needs and goals of all RVers as we undertake those challenges. We appreciate everyone who took the time to provide us with information that equips us to better advocate on their behalf.
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