Record fuel prices that are approaching or exceeding $5 a gallon have arrived in certain cities and states, and those high costs will undoubtedly change summer camping plans for more than a few RVers.
“Camping closer to home” has been the mantra of many time-starved RVers since the 1980s. For decades, campground owners altered their marketing messages to reach out to nearby RVers, hoping to be the time-saving, convenient camping option just down the road.
Time is still in short supply for many busy families, but the rapidly rising cost of fuel to push that RV down the road will likely leave more campers looking for close-to-home options.
Rising fuel prices could be an opportunity for some RVers
This is where rising fuel prices could be an opportunity for some savvy RVers.
Think about it. For months, we’ve been hearing about the millions of new RV owners champing at the bit to hit the road in their new rolling vacation homes. Long, extended “dream trips” to iconic national parks, monuments, amusement parks, and seashores were on their immediate bucket lists for this summer.
Many of those new RVers were likely factoring in the $2.25-a-gallon price of early 2021. Even if they raised their tolerance to the $3.26-a-gallon price national average we saw by the end of 2021 it’s unlikely they foresaw the numbers we are facing now.
Will RVers change their camping plans?
We did a short survey on February 26, asking RVers if rising fuel prices would change their camping plans. More than 2,500 RVers responded, and at the time 46 percent said they had no intention of changing their plans. But that was when the average price of gasoline was around $3.62 a gallon, and just before Russia invaded Ukraine and unleashed runaway prices for both gas and diesel.
The average price for a gallon of regular gas according to AAA stood at just over $4.25 a gallon on Wednesday, March 9, the highest prices have been since September 21, 2012. The rise in price isn’t showing any signs of slowing.
A sudden rise in camping cancellations
It’s reasonable to assume that many RVers planning long, cross-country trips are now in the process of changing those plans, again turning to shorter trips closer to home. That could lead to a sudden rise in camping cancellations as spring unfolds, giving alert RVers a second chance at camping reservations in choice locations.
Campgrounds we’ve checked with said they aren’t seeing any unusual wave of cancellations yet, but some park owners are concerned that high fuel prices could change the trajectory of what was predicted to be another record summer camping season.
“There is so much demand for campsites that it might be a while before we see significant cancellations,” said one campground owner who asked not to be identified. “But if history is any indicator, campers do have a limit to just how much they are willing to pay for fuel to get where they really want to be. I guess we’ll find out where that limit is in the next few months.”
What do you think? Will campers now holding advanced reservations be canceling due to high fuel prices? Will you?
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