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Glamping is the ‘gateway’ to camping lifestyle for half of new camping families

Experienced RVers already know that there are a lot (and we mean A LOT) of new camping families jamming into every corner of most every campground in the U.S.

Many of those families have skipped the usual evolutionary track for campers (first tents, then a pop-up, followed by a pull trailer, and then a big, motorized unit). There’s obviously a new dynamic at play when it comes to trying out the lifestyle. Inexperienced RVers abound, and that is stressing reservation systems along with more experienced folks who can’t find the sites you want.

I recently took a deeper dive into Kampgrounds of America’s 2022 North American Camping Report to see just how all these millions of new campers are actually camping. There are more than a few interesting tidbits here. (Full disclosure: Before I retired from KOA in 2021, I was one of the editors of the report.)

(From the 2022 North American Camping Report)

First, the numbers

When KOA issued the first North American Camping Report in 2015, it reported a 5% increase in the number of new camping families (1.7 million total). In 2016, the number of new camping families rose another 5% to 1.9 million, and rose another 7% in 2017 to 2.9 million families.

The number of new camping families softened a bit in 2018 (up 6%, or 2.4 million), and dropped off even further in the last pre-pandemic year of 2019 (4%, or 1.8 million new families).

In 2020, everything went crazy. The number of new camping families rose 21% to 10.2 million. Driven by COVID-crazed campers, the number of new campers dropped only slightly in 2021, ending at 9.1 million new camping families (up 16%).

Glamping is a gateway

You may feel as if you’ve already seen every one of those new campers at your favorite parks, but be aware that nearly half of those new camping families said they tried glamping during their 2021 camping experiences. That means many of those millions of new campers were ensconced in yurts, treehouses, and fancy tents—not necessarily RVs.

The 2022 North American Camping Report found that between 2020 and 2021, more than 9 million of the total additional 19.3 million new camping families those two years experienced at least some level of glamping.

We don’t know yet exactly how many of those glamping families decided to bite the bullet and buy or rent their own RV, but it stands to reason that being a glamper doesn’t necessarily equate to eventually purchasing an RV. We don’t know quite yet just where glamping fits into the evolution of camping most RVers experience. Many in the glamping business say glampers are a new, never-before-tapped market for campgrounds. Kampgrounds of America agrees. KOA has its own glamping brand (its first Terramor Glamping Resort is located outside Bar Harbor, Maine).

(From the 2022 North American Camping Report)

Who are the new campers/glampers?

It’s also interesting to see what the North American Camping Report said about those who tried glamping for the first time in 2021:

  • More than half of new glampers (54%) had a household income of at least $100,000.
  • About half (49%) still have children at home.
  • Also, half (49%) live in urban environments (where owning an RV can be a bit more complicated).
  • 47% of brand-new glampers in 2021 were also new to camping in general.
  • 47% of new glampers are also in the millennial age group.
  • Finally, 45% of new glampers identified themselves as Black.

We’ll continue to glean what we can from all new research in the coming weeks. Stay tuned. You can take a look at the full 2022 North American Camping Report by clicking here.

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Thomas Payne
3 days ago

Stats and reports = faith based religion.

KellyR
4 days ago

This going to a “campground” to live in a tent, cabin, or yurt or whatever just makes me laugh. Some look fancier than my house. However, is there anyone out there, like me, that remembers pulling into a then known campground and it was not a motel but a bunch of little detached cabins? I guess at the time that may have been known as “glamping?” because it was a step up from a tent? We spent many a night in cabin campgrounds traveling the mid-west in the 50s and 60s before dad got our first trailer. Nothing new on this side of the earth. Those cabin campgrounds eventually turned into “trailer parks”. Now the “trailer parks” are turning back into cabin/tent parks. I guess I have lived long enough to see history repeat itself. lol

wanderer
5 days ago

Interesting report. It makes sense that more people want to get away into nature for a little while, yet don’t want to invest in a lot of gear. You shouldn’t have to become an RV owner, or be a backpacking woodsman, to spend time out in the woods or mountains.