By Russ and Tiña De Maris
The boys back in Indiana are practically dancing a jig: The RVIA (RV Industry Association) projects manufacturers could roll as many as 515,000 rigs to dealers in 2021. If the dealers sell them, where will your RV stay? We don’t mean, where will you park your rig when it’s not on the road – we mean, where will you stay when you’re on the road?

Conveniences become necessities

In these days of “conveniences” looking more like necessities, having a place to plug the shore-power cord in on a regular basis is becoming a big thing for many RVers. An RVtravel.com poll asked readers how long they could go without having to have shore power service. Only 28% of all respondents said they could do without an electrical hookup indefinitely. That left 72% who said they’d need a hookup sooner or later, many every night, a few saying in a week or two.

Where will your RV stay when you’re out and about? The RVIA says approximately 9 million U.S. households own an RV. Not all of those are on the road, but the average American uses their RV at least two weeks a year. Nine million RVs. Now add on the estimated half-million or more (potentially 515,400) new RVs that could hit the road next year. Comparing the huge 2020 movement of new RVs (423,628) to the projection is more than a 21% “bump” in the potential number of RVers looking for a place to overnight.

We asked readers if they found it more difficult now to get an RV park space without a reservation than it was five years ago. Answer? More than 91% of you said, “YES!” So if it was more difficult then, what about next year, with 20% more rigs competing for spaces? Surely, with such demand for RV park sites, one would expect that developers are jumping at the chance to fill the need. Right?

Will RV parks fill the need?

David Basler, a spokesman for the ARVC, “the” association of RV parks and campgrounds in the U.S., shared a few insights. First off, the question of where will your RV stay in light of the surge of new RVs is a question that concerns his organization. He pointed out that while public lands agencies are struggling to provide new spots, members of his organization – private industry – are indeed expanding. “The private industry is growing,” Basler told us, “not at a comparable rate [to that of new RVs built], but at a rate that we’ll keep up.”

ARVC provided some numbers showing how it figures RV park owners will keep up with the demand. Looking at the numbers gave some initial assurance: In 2019, ARVC members had 1,190,000 RV sites with hookups available. By this year, that number pushed up to 1,225,000 sites – nearly a 3% increase. But what about 2021? Not all the numbers are yet available, but Basler says ARVC anticipates an increase of some 52,300 sites, taking the total to a potential of 1,277,300 hookups.

Let’s see here. 52,300 new hookups – that’s a 0.187 percent increase in sites, compared to a 20% increase in RV production. We’re not sure how ARVC figures those two numbers are congruent with the thought that private RV parks “will keep up” with the potential demand. Basler tells us that RVers will just have to do better about “planning ahead” when it comes to routing and reservations.

Changes hard to choke down

For those of us who “cut our teeth” in the RV lifestyle, these changes aren’t going down easy. The days of figuring out where will your RV stay overnight an hour before “quitting time” are pleasant memories. “Spur of the moment” joins the ranks of mercury-free tuna fish and pay telephones on every corner. These writers predict that if the RV manufacturing industry doesn’t do a much better job of working with groups like the ARVC, they may well find a sudden drop in demand, if RVers find themselves getting frustrated with no place to go.

Here’s a wild thought: Let the RV manufacturing/retailing industry set aside a percentage of their sales and use it to incentivize development of more RV park sites.

[Ed note: Paragraphs regarding number of new sites has been corrected. Apologies to ARVC, they provided the correct information, but numbers were bungled by us. –rd 12/7/20, 11:56mst]

Related

A firsthand look at what it’s like to travel by RV with no reservations
Campground crowding. How long do you spend looking for reservations?

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Aaron
5 months ago

Another service like Airbnb designed specifically for RV is CurbNTurf.

Michael Lockwood
5 months ago

I am a retired Army Colonel, these issues are the reason I created UpClose-RV. After running into problems finding a place to stay in my last two years of service, we created our little company to help RVers and property owners alike.

Paul
5 months ago

This too shall pass.

Timothy
5 months ago

I took my wife to see beautiful Utah in October and it was a nightmare. We travel in fall and winter to avoid crowds. Yea, right! Zero camping available at any national parks, rookie rv’ers uncountable, kids running wild because they’re not in school, etc. We drove around for fifteen minutes without finding a spot in the gigantic parking lot outside Zion visitor center.
Every area we visited was the same. Private campgrounds were almost as bad. I know that covid has limited people’s options, but I’d have never believed it would get to this level. I can only hope that it’s temporary.

Steve
5 months ago
Reply to  Timothy

I can see this occurring this year, but as we get the pandemic under control I think next year with schools back in session (in school teaching), the fall and winter seasons should be better. I also believe in the next year (or 2), the new camping craze will drop-off, as many families (read Mom) get tired of camping and want “resort” style vaca’s. Time will tell.

Tom Dougherty
5 months ago

Math error by a factor of 100 changes the whole context of article’s point. Looks to me like like new site projections are pretty favorable.

SistaSoulJa
5 months ago
Reply to  Tom Dougherty

😏 yep I caught it also, lol lol. Im between RVs, down sizing to RUV Van life! I’m so excited to get back out there.

Rick H
5 months ago

While many reasons for record RV sales these days, do not understand from these articles why they imply that the only places RVers can stay are at RV parks – with full hookups only. Really?
The point of RV ownership is having the flexibility to park & stay in a variety of situations. If the only place we wanted to stay were RV parks then we might as well just buy a doublewide and plant ourselves into the ol’ mobile home park down the road.
Traveling throughout the West since June reservations could be hard to make in most N.P.s. But most are always booked up every summer. But there are so many other options – many far superior! BLM land, CGs at National Forests, State Parks, Country & City parks, Boondockers Welcome, Harvest Hosts, driveway surfing, moochdocking, Walmarts, Cabelas, etc, etc,. There are also last minute cancelations that spring up in most parks.
Your RV was built to offer self-contained flexibility – use it!

SistaSoulJa
5 months ago
Reply to  Rick H

😂 😂 😂 🤣 So on point!!

Steve
5 months ago
Reply to  Rick H

While I don’t disagree, this of how the RV industry is selling the life style. Fancy RV’s with all the perks of home or a resort. The sell is not your parents camping trip. It is a resort “vaca” except you are pulling your hotel room. They want all the stuff for the kids, full hookups and all regular stuff like internet and cable. Heck, I think a new job could be a traveling tank dump service. Hmmm. Maybe my new retirement career. Will be interesting.

PennyPA
5 months ago

Many of them will be spending the night (or nights) in the dealer’s parking lot…waiting to get serviced.

Gordon
5 months ago
Reply to  PennyPA

You are so right….

Matt C.
5 months ago

When they things go back to normal in the next year or two there will such a glut of used and new rvs they will be giving them away after the surge of bankruptcies. Plus people will quickly go back to flying and cheap hotel rates. Before the pandemic it was cheaper for the average family to go on trips by flying and staying in hotels vs putting up with storing, the upkeep, Gas, Insurance, having a big pick up and paying for campground space of a RV. This will come back on the entire industry in a negative way from lenders to campgrounds.

JIm Russell
5 months ago

Your math is moire than a little bit off. It’s an 18.6% increase in sites over the previous year,

Gordon
5 months ago
Reply to  JIm Russell

I’m glad you caught that (percentage) issue.

James
5 months ago

We are full timers and what I don’t like and think is wrong is the RV parks that let people store their RV in the parks year round, the worst state that does this is Nebraska especially the ones that say no holding spots and first come first serve. And also the cost of them 500.00$ a month and up which is outrageous

Les Smith
5 months ago

In my travel experience, it would be nice if state and federal campgrounds would open a little earlier and stay open a little later in the season. Open up in April and stay open through October. They don’t have to the water on. Sometimes we just need a place to stay. We don’t always need a host either.

Last edited 5 months ago by Les Smith
Don
5 months ago

Another thing that is not clear with the quoted sales of RV’s, is this for the calendar year or model year? With many RV manufacturers they have been selling model year 2021 RV’s since April of 2020.

Dminutilli
5 months ago
Reply to  Don

Right, that and just because there are many more being produced, doesn’t mean they will all be purchased and used. When the vaccine is widespread people will go back to flying and hotels, I hope!

Kris Severinsen
5 months ago

Something else to consider: Price of gas and Diesel has plummeted making long road trips more attractive to RV’rs, probably our biggest travel cost are Storage, Fuel, insurance, then Cost of campgrounds near the bottom. A new Glamping spot has just opened in Spring Bay IL(Sankoty Lakes specializing in Trout fishing).

Azalea M.
5 months ago

We’ve been campers for close to 40 years. First in tents, later in travel trailers. We just sold our last camper and truck. We are now officially retired from camping. Too many Rvs, people, kids and dogs. We always stayed in state parks, primarily in Florida, now almost impossible to get our favorite sites. It was fun, but we feel we’ve gotten out while the getting is good.

Livan_Life
5 months ago
Reply to  Azalea M.

Azalea M., we too have been camping together for close to 40 years in the same progression tents, popup, travel trailer, and now third 5th wheel. Living in Florida it use to be so easy to find a site in one of our State parks, now you have to snag one nearly a year in advance. Right now we’re talking about selling our RV and just buying a get-a-way in the mountains of TN. Miss the good old days here in Florida.

dave
5 months ago

Glad I camp in Kansas… I did buy my first new rv this yr. Not an impulse for me. Been using popup campers for years. It is actually getting busier in Kansas too. I do think it will get worse. I haven’t traveled out of state for awhile. Went to Colorado in 2016. Was ok then. How does that compare to this year?

Edward Wullschleger
5 months ago
Reply to  dave

The Colorado State parks have been pretty full this year once they re-opened, but we still got a spot at Trinidad Lake State Park in early October by reserving about six weeks in advance. The National Forest Service campgrounds are generally easier to get into (but don’t normally have any hookups.) We also stayed at the Gunnison, Colorado KOA in early July and I think we only reserved that one about two weeks in advance. Overall, we didn’t perceive any major problems with camping in Colorado this year except for the April-May time period when so much was shut down.

C H
5 months ago

Trinidad State Park. Good to know. I’m going to create a video on this for my YouTube channel and post on Instagram and Tiktok. Should be good for a few grand. Thanks.

My point is this: the problem is not the industry, but the number of people exploiting the lifestyle for their own financial gain. You won’t see that impact posted on anyone’s blog.

So what are we supposed to do? For starters, if there’s a spot you like or that you could get reservations, shut the #*$@ up about it!!!

“Posting it ruins it.”

Leave nothing but physical footprints; leave no digital footprints!!

Bill semion
5 months ago

Have a feeling that many of these RVs, as has been postulated before, will be for sale in 2021-22 when many of these purchasers will find that RV life is not for them. They will of course lose thousands of dollars.

James Shoe
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill semion

You beat me too it.

Mike R
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill semion

Count me as one we have a RV my wife loves it I am not into the rude people we have had to endure. I wish we were on the way out of RVing

Gary G
5 months ago

Naw, no problems. The RV’s built in 2021 most likely won’t be able to get more than 5 to 10 miles from the dealer for warranty work, and that will take 60-90 days for each problem.
It will be be couple of years before those half million units are being enjoyed. 😂
Sad, but unfortunately might be true!

Mike R
5 months ago
Reply to  Gary G

How true but in 2022 they should have the problems fixed and have them for sale

Cotter S
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike R

You and Gary G hit the nail on the head!!

Joe DeWeese
5 months ago

To more realistically compare supply of RV sites to demand you have to compare the number of nights of sites available to the number of nights of sites needed. If there are 1.2M sites in existence and, you assume (roughly, back of the envelope guestimate) half are available year round and half available half of the year, that results in 324M site-nights available. If the 9.5M RVers use their rig on average 30 nights a year (again, back of the envelope generous usage) that results in ~285M site-nights of demand.
So, the overall numbers aren’t that far out of whack. Where the pressure is, is RV park sites in highly desirable locations. The percentage of capacity usage for an RV park near, say DisneyWorld is likely much higher than one in rural Kansas.

Bill T
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe DeWeese

Agreed

Steve
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe DeWeese

Great comparison

Montgomery Bonner
5 months ago

Got news for some, here where I live, 4 new RV Storage places have been erected this year, and the one I am in has expanded 3 times this year as well. He is building a new enclosed facility with power but is charging 350 month, too steep for my blood. It not just camping spots, it’s where are you going to keep it too,, and those months not in use, the insurance still needs to be paid, you need to exercise the components, etc. All things to think about.

Bob P
5 months ago

Everything you say is true however only old goats like me and possibly you think about things like that. The majority of today’s people look no further than the end of their nose and only think half that far. That’s why the RV industry’s over building, parks are not expanding (if they have thee room), and young buyers are rushing into buying before researching what they are getting into. There is a lot of work being an RVer, it’s a life style not a 2 week vacation that they turn their back to at the end of the vacation. I think as others have said over the next 18 months there will be thousands of late model lightly used RVs for sale cheap just to get out of that 20 ar loan they signed this year.

Michael
5 months ago

Using the formula Percentage Difference =|V1 – V2|(V1 + V2)/2× 100, the increase in new hookups is 18.55%. I think you missed the last step of multiplying by 100.

The other issue I have is with your lack of continuity:
Only 28% of all respondents said they could do without an electrical hookup indefinitely. That left 72% who said they’d need a hookup sooner or later, many every night, a few saying in a week or two.

You have 28% & 72%, then “many” and “a few”??
When you are going to be demonstrating your point using math and statistics, everything has a value (0.5%….2%….2.7%) and must be shown in your calculations on how you arrived at your conclusions.

wanderer
5 months ago
Reply to  Michael

I’ll second that. Editors, check your math! 18.5% is a pretty healthy jump in one year, and good news, if it actually happens, and if half of them are affordable.

Edward Wullschleger
5 months ago
Reply to  Michael

I was thinking exactly like you, Michael, as I read this article! Once you multiply by 100, the 18.55% new hookups would almost keep up percentage wise with new RV sales. I was just surprised by the claim that there could actually be 227,300 new hookups next year.

I also thought that the numbers related to needing an electrical hookup were incomplete. I’m one who would say that I need a hookup sooner or later, but actually all I need to do is recharge my extra batteries every 2-3 days, which I can do with a few hours of generator power. (Or solar panel power for those who have them.) I’m not really too worried about finding places to stay and/or camp in the coming years.