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New campers flooded the RVing lifestyle in 2021, but many are already unhappy

By now, you’ve likely read a lot of stories regarding the sudden influx of “new campers” into the RVing lifestyle. You also know the usual list of reasons newbies give … pandemic-driven RV purchases, the need to reconnect with family and friends, more available savings … but just who is this “new camper?”

Last week, we reviewed the top-line results from Kampgrounds of America’s annual North American Camping Report. The annual research paper gives one of the best views of what’s going on in camping and RVing, and it’s worth a deeper dive.

Here’s what the report had to say specifically about the new influx of more than 9.1 million families into camping and RVing in 2021:

New campers are …

  • More likely to include a majority of non-whites (54%), including 22% Black campers.
  • Comprised of a majority of millennial campers (54%).
  • Nearly 4-in-10 have a household income of $100,000+.
  • Camped more often in 2021 than experienced campers (32% took 3+ trips compared to 23% of experienced campers), spending an average of almost nine nights camping (compared to seven nights among experienced campers).
  • More than half (56%) prefer to camp in tents.
  • More likely than experienced campers to have listed their RV on a peer-to-peer rental site.
  • Nearly half went glamping in 2021 (47%), and the remainder (51%) plan to glamp in 2022, though 57% also want to try RVing.
  • More than a third (36%) said that COVID was the impetus for starting to camp.

Keep in mind that not all these new campers referred to in the 2022 North American Camping Report are RVers—yet. But about 57% of new campers said they wanted to try RVing. With nearly 40% of new campers having an income of $100,000 plus, it’s likely they will soon be getting in line to buy that first RV, if they aren’t there already.

The good news (depending on your perspective) is that the number of new campers in 2021 was actually DOWN from the record amount of more than 10.1 million new families in 2020.

Still, you don’t have to search long to find a growing list of longtime RVers who are very frustrated with the competition for sites brought on by the influx of new campers. The 2022 North American Camping Report found that 4-in-10 campers reported having problems with overcrowding in 2021, forcing them to change the way they camped or significantly impacting the pleasure they got from RVing.

A full 48% of those surveyed said a large number of new campers has decreased the quality of their camping experiences, mostly taking away the very reason they RV to begin with. With a total of nearly 94 million households now identifying themselves as campers, and a record 57 million families camping at least once in 2021, I guess dissatisfaction is inevitable.



Well, experienced RVers aren’t alone in their frustration. Ironically, many of the newbies aren’t happy, either.

The report found that about one-fourth of the new camping households (24%) are at risk of not camping again this year. They found at first blush that camping and RVing didn’t live up to their expectations.

This “at-risk” group may not be too surprising when you look at their shared characteristics:

  • Half (49%) are under the age of 35.
  • First camping experience was not enjoyable and was probably at a campground or other location that did not have a lot of services and amenities and causing the camping experience to fall below their expectations.
  • 7-in-10 are single, and much more likely to camp with friends or siblings; they are also more likely to report having issues/problems with their camping group.
  • More than half (52%) include non-white campers; 28% among Black campers, 17% among Hispanic campers, 10% among Asian campers, and 11% among other ethnicities.
  • More likely to have camped in a small tent (22%) or RV (24%, including 7% who camped in a camping van).
  • 7-in-10 RVers who are “at risk” (69%) rented their RV in 2021.
  • Only 28% started camping due to a love of the outdoors.
  • Being uncomfortable was what they liked least about camping (including 1-in-5 who said they did not have the right gear).

Also interesting was the fact that a large percentage of these new camping families were in the “urban camper” category. That means they live in urban environments and originally sought out camping as a means to escape crowds.

I guess the cruel joke is on them.

You can take a closer look at KOA’s 2022 North American Camping Report by clicking here.


##RVT1051

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Wankers
9 days ago

Why are we even at this point in life to compare whites over blacks r u kidding me what the Heck does that make a difference in a report really racist targeted right there
Creates separation not cool anymore

Dgeyer
8 days ago
Reply to  Wankers

Appeared to me they were only listing demographics as a reference to actual increases in camping persons/families. I didn’t see it as racist. You need to get over the perception that just because this type of list included various races that it is racist. Woke has no place in the outdoors!

Randy
14 days ago

Camping and RV-ing is about common courtesy. That no longer exists. We are set up semi-permanently at an RV resort that caters to the over 55 crowd and seasonal campers, but they do allow families when sites are open. The owners regularly kick campers out, usually younger campers who think camping is all about getting drunk, loud, and violating quiet hours. Etiquette doesn’t exist outside of camping, so I guess I shouldn’t expect it in a campground. I am, however, more vocal about complaining to the owners if someone is out of control. Case in point: last weekend a couple left the campground in their tow vehicle with their outside speakers blaring rap music and their dogs barking constantly. It was cool, so there was no need for a/c so the campground owner unplugged their camper to stop the music. When they returned five hours later, the owner was sitting in a lawn chair in front of their site. “Pack up and leave now!” was the only conversation!

Chloe
14 days ago

I find I am more irritated at the newbies that insist on all the amenities to the point that it prices me out of a nice stay at a park I want to home base from to see the surrounding area. Normally we prefer to boondock but because we travel with our furry kids I like to stay in a park in between boondocking trips so that if we want to explore a national park etc they can be safe & comfortable. We purposely seek out smaller, clean parks without all the wifi, pools, spas etc. As these parks are bought up & “upgraded” to cater to those wanting everything hey can get at home I find the prices have jumped & the experience of camping declined. I hope there are others that speak up in regards to this also.

Todd Schock
15 days ago

I am going to be a third generation RV camper this summer. My family camping go away back in the mid 60’s. I have OTR truck diving experience to go with the RV program in mind. So the 48 states is my back yard to see America at it’s finest. And I have a budget in mind. So I won’t come up short.

Bpruitt
15 days ago

I ‘m sure that the so called “newbies” are people that been excluded from the enjoying the outdoors because of their ethnicity for at least hundred years. This is why their probably just getting use to the experience. It really burns me when there are some who forget the opportunity to enjoy the park system was something their families couldn’t do not because they didn’t want to. Another dark stain on our country.

thomas
15 days ago
Reply to  Bpruitt

Oh dear.

Danielle
14 days ago
Reply to  Bpruitt

Who excluded them??

EdgarAlanPoe
13 days ago
Reply to  Danielle

I think racism did.

JoeD
11 days ago
Reply to  EdgarAlanPoe

No it didn’t. But whatever makes your virtue signaling lifestyle seem more attractive, have at it.

Thom
10 days ago
Reply to  Danielle

Exactly, thx!

Landis Powers
14 days ago
Reply to  Bpruitt

Land of the free, and now that people are seeing new car ads of various ethnic backgrounds camping with a golden retriever, swimming in a mountain stream, with kayak in tow with their brand new Subaru is a new one even for the ethnic groups? I have camped my whole life, and every experience has its challenges?
I mean every experience, from weather conditions, over crowding, poor choices of camp, combined with who you are camping with can be down right disastrous!
Instagram shows you highlights of the best of the best no doubt.
I live in the south, I took a friend who was black many years ago fishing in tundras of Northern Canada. His family said that the white man was going to drowned him, and his family would never see him again.
He was 47 at the time, and was 5years younger, with Slavic background?
First I had to teach him how to swim, and not be afraid of the water in a local pool.
I held him like a toddler on his back convincing him to relax. That took months, then there was getting him on the plane?
Needles to say it was a challenge for him.
He still thanks me 20 years later for that adventure, and he and his wife fly the world together, as though it were nothing along with his now grown children, as they stay on beach destinations now. Camping like anything else in life is about the company you keep regardless…. I am considered white by society’s standards, though it never gave me a pass, nor did it keep me out of trouble! Skin color has never ment anything to me, though most of my closest friends were black. I am more concerned about the mind set of people than I am about their color or race. It has never prevented me from crossing cultural barriers either.
Go camping with a friend who knows the ropes of camping, and generally the experience is truly wonderful, and eye opening? Did I mention Bigfoot?
Now that can change even a well seasoned campers view on camping, and turn your world as you know it upside down, and what about the Native Little People that supposedly went extinct 200 years ago?
They are a subterranean people that stand no more than 2 feet tall, and they can give you a fright as well? So I don’t care what color you are, if you are not prepared, no amount of race is going to prepare you for a true wilderness experience? Plan well, ask yourself what, and why you want to camp to begin with? Best to you Landis

Randy
14 days ago
Reply to  Landis Powers

I have never heard of nor seen anyone turned away because of race. That’s ridiculous. Maybe somewhere in the deep south near a KKK convention in the 1950s, but not since then. Most segregation is because people of color prefer to be with other people of color. The rest of us “colorless” people don’t care about your race or religion as long as you’re respectful of others in campgrounds!

Bob p
11 days ago
Reply to  Randy

I lived in the Chicago area many years and moved to AL due to work requirements. I found MUCH MORE racial prejudice in the north than I ever saw in the south. I think the south gets unfairly accused of prejudice, of course that may help keep undesirable people from moving south which will keep the south better. I lived across the road from a black family for 23 years, he would’ve given me the shirt off his back if I needed it, and would him also. Due to work shift I was not around in the evenings, this man taught my 9 yr old son about fishing, hunting, and everything else about living in the country, he was like a grandpa to my son. There are bad people of every color, race, or creed, and there are good people of each. I believe if a person conducts themselves like a decent human being they will be treated as such.

Sandy Milenski
10 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

I agree full heartedly! I was in 4th grade when schools were integrated in the Deep South. Most white kids were pulled out of public schools and private schooling was the norm for families with middle income and up to 4 kids… we had 7 kids, so stayed in public school, LaFayette, AL . 30-45 white kids—600 black 7 mixed….. Who was the Minority???

People are not turned away from where they go, but may not return if they felt uncomfortable.
Neighborhoods are still primarily segregated by financial class/resources versus race.
You do see that a wealthy mixed man became our President. Nothing separates like GREEN!

JoeD
11 days ago
Reply to  Randy

These people have no life without thinking racism is around every corner.

Skillet Black
14 days ago
Reply to  Landis Powers

Thank You!

Thom
10 days ago
Reply to  Landis Powers

You sound like a wonderful, thoughtful and caring person. Very well composed note, kudos. I’d give you a 5 star review if this was Google!!

Noneya
14 days ago
Reply to  Bpruitt

Keep your stupid comnents in your pocket. No one keeps poc segregated more than poc themselves.

Sue
14 days ago
Reply to  Bpruitt

What exactly are you talking about???? No one that I know has excluded minorities from enjoying the outdoors. What information do you have that the rest of us don’t?

JoeD
11 days ago
Reply to  Sue

He/she is an avid CNN watcher. And CNN has told her everything is racist.

Skillet Black
14 days ago
Reply to  Bpruitt

That IS really just a silly thing to say. Hon, ive slept in old fashioned pup tents…in August. In heavy rain. In America…Mexico & Europe! Broke but had a lot of fun. Grew up military. Played & camped with every color under the sun. Difference was …folks didn’t allow bad behavior cuz we were poor. Take that argument somewhere else. Im thinking even Harriet Tubman would laugh herself silly at such a notion!

James lambert
13 days ago
Reply to  Bpruitt

That is pure 🦬💩.

Thom
10 days ago
Reply to  Bpruitt

That’s a real stretch! You probably should have thought this out a bit more. Saying “I’m sure” doesn’t qualify anyone as an authority on a subject, back it up before you poke a yellow jacket nest.

No one in the US is currently being, or have been singled out and excluded from enjoying National parks, state parks, wilderness areas, BLM land, National forest or state forest lands.

James
10 days ago
Reply to  Bpruitt

It’s apparent by the comments they don’t know the history of national and state parks along with enough private campgrounds.

Backcountry164
15 days ago

Parking your mini home in a fancy parking lot with a hundred other people shouldn’t even be called camping…

JoeD
11 days ago
Reply to  Backcountry164

Exactly. Blame government for their laws that prevent more people from opening campgrounds. Also blame the existing campgrounds for lobbying the govt for those same stupid laws.

J InSoCal
15 days ago

And the internet obsessed minions, sit and look at all the cool places and want to be the guy in the picture with arms extended.
Nationalparksnationalparksnationalparks.
Youre all sheep.

Jojo
14 days ago
Reply to  J InSoCal

If you pay taxes…

Zeke Mcfartly
16 days ago

As a TT owner for 22 years, ( three different Tts) the biggest problem are the RVs. An RV is the biggest fall apart garbage that you will spend large amounts of money on.

Bob Parish
15 days ago
Reply to  Zeke Mcfartly

Thanks to RVIA being self governed!!

Paulo99
15 days ago
Reply to  Zeke Mcfartly

The quality of RV manufacturing and service is worse than it has ever been. Having spent tens of thousands on a new vehicle, it is virtually impossible to get problems fixed and repairs made in a timely way. The dealership have too few technicians and arrange their shop schedules to maximize their profit. Unsuspecting buyers find they have to wait months for service and then find parts take weeks to get. You would be better off if you spent your money on a new Porsche.

BILLY Bob Thronton
16 days ago

Diesel just jumped a buck a gallon. Now thats a serious dent in the pocketbook my friends. Bukle up, the economic coaster has crested the top, and is headed into the abyss.

cee
12 days ago

Oh boo hoo, cry me a river

Joel
16 days ago

plain Proof the KOA data are suspect: KOA claim above “94 million households identify as campers.” That can’t possibly be true, as there are only 123MM households in all of America. It’s inconceivable that 76% of households camp.

Uncle Swags
16 days ago
Reply to  Joel

My thoughts also. Seems these stats were created by the social media folks based on watching TV commercials.

Chuck
16 days ago

As one who has RV’d for 40+ years, I decided to down size from the DP’s, Class A and C, 5th wheels, and one ton diesel trucks. Given the pandemic, the economy, and fuel prices, I bought a nice used ’21 Ram 1500 and now looking for a nice used TT. Well, used prices are starting to come down and new are starting to go way up. Given the quality lack in most anything made in Elkhart or elsewhere in 2020-22, difficulty in getting service or parts, it’s no wonder many of us are getting discouraged. When looking for a quality used TT, it is amazing how many newer TT with bunk rooms are available! Tell tale perhaps of the coming trend!

Lisa M Gurule
16 days ago
Reply to  Chuck

You are correct about quality of new rvs, my son has 2021 to that had SO many problems, it’s parked, due to plumbing issues, and inverter issues, can use the kitchen sink it leaks…I have 2001 to and NO ISSUES AT ALL , I bought new tires and got a new fridge that I liked but I’ve not had to repair a thing. I think the older ones were built to last…..only thing is….few parks hear the age and say nope can’t stay , won’t even look at pictures. Mine was well preserved kept in a covered garage

Barbara Wyatt
16 days ago
Reply to  Lisa M Gurule

We have a 2021 Alliance 365RD and love it…..except for all the problems. We are currently working with our dealer and Alliance to try to get them all fixed, but it is very disappointing when you spend $120K Canadian (before taxes, etc) and you have so many issues.

Bob Parish
15 days ago
Reply to  Lisa M Gurule

As a Mobile RV Tech I can attest to the quality of these new units. I don’t advise anyone to buy new, especially if they were built during the pandemic. the quality of these new units have been going downhill for years.

Vicky A
15 days ago
Reply to  Bob Parish

This is valuable information. Thank you. If it’s possible to generalize, what’s the latest model year for Class Bs you’d consider buying?

GeorgeC
16 days ago

While part of the issue revolves around the volume and satisfaction of “campers”, aka “demand”, what’s going on with the whole campground side, “supply”. If 94 million households are “campers” and there are 122.8 million households in the US (Census Bureau, 2019), why do we keep hearing about all the NIMBY noise whenever a new or expanded campground is proposed? If 76.5% of people “camp”, they should be able to overwhelm naysayers. Yet…

brendagail
16 days ago

Just an observation, certainly not official data, but as workcampers we do get a chance to interact with a lot of different campers.

It seems to us that millennials who have grown up exposed to camping are simply continuing a family tradition. They certainly bring their own millennial culture and viewpoints but still seem to have an understanding of camping etiquette. And camping to them is a family experience.

The issues we see are more with newbies who have no clue what camping is. It’s something new to try, new toys to add to their arsenal, and a new way to party. But without wifi, cell coverage or lots of amenities and activities, they soon grow bored. These are the campers who will soon sell. And that is just fine by the rest of us.

Steven Peterson
16 days ago
Reply to  brendagail

“they soon grow bored” – we can only hope!

Chaya Rachel
15 days ago

Amen to that.

David
15 days ago

Yes go back home newbies and quit wasting space for dedicated campers

cee
12 days ago
Reply to  David

That’s rediculous. I don’t have to be a ‘dedicated’ camper to get out with my RV. I would classify myself more of a dedicated traveler; my RV is just the tool that makes it possible whether I’m boondocking or in a campground. Your statement is a bit selfish & I’m sure you didn’t mean it like that.

Paulo99
15 days ago
Reply to  brendagail

Fuel prices seem to be reducing the campground crowding problem this spring.

Virginia
16 days ago

As I recall, our first year or two of camping were not our best ones! There is a learning curve. Many trips we grumbled and complained, but for some reason the “pull of the road” was still there. So we kept at it. As with anything else, we learned along the way and one thing we learned was how to enjoy camping “our way.”

It’s going on 30 years and we are still camping, albeit differently than when we were younger with children. Do we enjoy it more or less? Hard to say, but I do know that I enjoy being home more now than then. Now that I am retired, I have time for hobbies that I did not have time for previously. So travel is still in our game plan, but less of it and on our terms.

The crowding and change in camping culture will likely be what finally leads us to sell the RV and go back to VRBOs. But it will have been a great ride and one that holds many fond memories. I just hope the new campers will find their way and can end up with those memories, too!

Skillet Black
14 days ago
Reply to  Virginia

You are so correct. My husband and I love traveling. However we wanted a camper & bought a modest one 4 years ago. Hated it the 1st season but learned this & that. We love it now! We are joining camping full time once we sell our home & enjoy traveling once we do!

Doug
16 days ago

I and my wife, Gail have been surveying the used RV scene since pre-vid and have noticed that in 2020-21 there was a scarcity of used units during this period. But approaching mid-22 the listing of units (many barely used) are growing steadily, probably due to some of the reasons listed in this article. As do markets go, it may be a great time soon to buy ‘low’. We hope so!

BILLY Bob Thronton
16 days ago
Reply to  Doug

Doug, keep your powder dry, if you can miss this summer season. The emanate economic collapse is getting closer. But, if you have the means, snag a unit, for you only have so many summers left my friend!

Bob M
16 days ago

Survey companies may not list all the information provided by the people they surveyed. They may tailor their report to the company that hired them. I was on a board that an employee of ours filed a complaint against us with the state and said we never took action. When they provide the information in our organizations survey. Our lawyer subpœned the information from the survey company. Sure enough it was in the information, just not provided to us because the company felt it was not relevant.

Jeffery H.
16 days ago
Reply to  Bob M

That’s interesting to learn. Thank you.

Suru
16 days ago
Reply to  Bob M

Exactly! Companies can use information from polls and surveys to match their agenda. Information is omitted or one or two results are given precedent. I tend not to trust these studies.

Steven Peterson
16 days ago
Reply to  Suru

DITTO!!

BILLY Bob Thronton
16 days ago
Reply to  Suru

Next thing your going to say is there were 2,000 mules, dropping hundreds of thousands of ballots, in numerous drop boxes, that were collected from certain exempt organizations, and all this was geo-tracked, by analyzing ten trillion cell phone pings.

Steve
15 days ago

The truth is certainly inconvenient…

KDale
16 days ago

I never rely much on “survey” or “poll” statistics because not EVERYONE gives an input. For example if I worked for a company, lived in a city, etc. and know how many people are involved and everyone gave their opinion, then THAT would be an acceptable statistic. For example here, this apparently is KOA’s opinion from people they surveyed. What about all the people who don’t stay at a KOA or communicate with KOA?
But, what I absolutely don’t understand is…in surveys or polls like this, what difference does your race make? Why is it today that anything anyone talks about, they have to separate the number of white and non-white?

Rosalie Magistro
16 days ago
Reply to  KDale

Unfortunately they see “race”,not people
It’s the new normal and it 😡😡 me off !

Susan Bently
16 days ago
Reply to  KDale

Agree about the odd addition of the number of non-white. Why was it listed under the dissatisfied?

BILLY Bob Thronton
16 days ago
Reply to  Susan Bently

Because that’s the answer to everything nowadays.

KDale
16 days ago

I never rely much on “survey” or “poll” statistics because not EVERYONE gives an input. For example if I worked for a company, lived in a city, etc. and know how many people are involved and everyone gave their opinion, then THAT would be an acceptable statistic.
But, what I absolutely don’t understand is…in surveys or polls like this, what difference does your race make? Why is it today that anything anyone talks about, they have to separate the number of white and non-white?

Bob J
16 days ago

These are the reasons we have sold our RV and quit. Not fun anymore and the whole experience has become quite arduous. We have been RVing for 35 years. Never seen anything like this in all these years. See ya. Have fun with all the rude peeps.

Rosalie Magistro
16 days ago
Reply to  Bob J

Us camphosts have a name for these people..”covid campers” they have never camped before and have no clue of camping etiquette. We are talking about giving up camphosting because this last year was herendous in our St.park in Az.

John
16 days ago

I would like to see a poll question concerning whether or not first time RV buyers are happy with their new RV, and if they plan on selling it due to their dissatisfaction ?

vicky a
15 days ago
Reply to  John

Same!