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What’s in store for RVers in 2022? We break down all the variables and decide what they mean

By Mike Gast
I know we’ve just arrived in December 2021, but with the weirdness of the past 12 months, it’s not too early to roll out the crystal ball and try to start making educated guesses as to what may be in store for RVers in 2022.

What got me thinking along those lines was the grand opening of a new RV park in Avila, California. It looks like a beautiful place, especially its spectacular ocean views. But we heard from at least one RVTravel.com reader who wasn’t too happy with the rates the new park was charging. There are, of course, a lot of factors in their rates, but they appear to be in the $98- to $135-a-night range. That doesn’t seem out of line with the rest of the parks in that region, but it sure seemed high to at least one reader.

The new 115-site Flying Flags Avila Beach RV Resort is just one of the first of what will likely soon be a flood of new and expanded RV parks in coming years. New campgrounds and new park owners will likely bring new rate structures along for the ride.

But rates are only part of the picture as we approach 2022. Here’s a look at a few things to consider for the future. It’s likely not a totally comprehensive list, and my predictions could be way off base. I’d like to hear what you have to say, so be sure to give us your thoughts in the comments section at the end of the story.

RV manufacturing

The RV Industry Association is doing cartwheels over its new RV shipment predictions for 2021 and 2022. RV manufacturers are now expecting to cross the 600,000-units-shipped mark before the end of this year and then create another 630,000 new rigs in 2022. The RV industry has seemingly overcome every obstacle put in its path the past two years, including supply chain woes, staffing issues, and even questionable quality. They just keep cranking out the RVs, and new buyers are waiting in a long line for the privilege of buying them.

My guess is that they will easily make at least 625,000 new rigs and demand won’t begin to dip until the last quarter of 2022. High demand, of course, brings higher prices. Don’t look for any deals on new or slightly used rigs until spring 2023.

RV dealer inventories

The dealer lot numbers have been a mixed bag all year. Most dealers are claiming that lot inventories are still 40 percent or so below normal. Keep in mind that the “Big Three” manufacturers all have billions of dollars in backorders waiting to be built.

My slightly educated guess here is that you may see more of the “common” brands and models hitting the lots, but your model and floorplan options may be limited through most of 2022 if you don’t have a unit already on order and are planning to buy from what you see on the lots.

Campground crowding

With more than a million new RV units produced in just the past two years and 600,000-plus more on the way in 2022, you can count on a continuation of crowding at your favorite campgrounds. My friend Nanci Dixon is the real expert in this area, and I highly recommend that you keep an eye on her column on Campground Crowding that appears in RVTravel.com every Sunday. (Here’s last week’s installment.)

We have already seen campground owners extend their booking calendars out a year or more. I’m hearing from several owners who say they are likely to extend their reservation calendars up to a year-and-a-half to two years out. Imagine planning your camping trips 24 months in advance. It’s a sad fact now that sites on most campgrounds – especially popular public parks – are booked online within seconds of becoming available. That problem can only get worse as more campers pulling more new RVs enter the lifestyle.

Campground site rates

The campground business – just like other hospitality-based industries – has always been a perfect example of free enterprise at work. Rates are set by supply and demand. If demand is low, rates typically go down. If demand is high, rates follow. Of course, there are many other factors at play including worker salaries, insurance and materials costs, land purchases, taxes, and fees. It’s a long list. But at their core, rates are driven by demand.

In my two decades in the franchised camping business, I was always amazed when owners told stories of campers willing to make a scene at a front desk when quoted a rate they didn’t like. I can’t imagine that same camper losing their cool when presented their tab at a Holiday Inn or trying to negotiate the price of their steak at Texas Roadhouse. In America’s economy, prices are set by what the market demands and consumers will tolerate. That’s just business. If you think a campground’s rates are out of line, you’re always free to seek out more affordable options.

In 2022, I’d expect to see demand drive camping prices even higher. If you take a pass on an open site, there are likely several dozen folks waiting online to snap it up. Dynamic online pricing will exacerbate things, giving owners the ability to use complex algorithms to set rates according to time of week, time of day, type of site, your personal buying history, and a host of other factors. Playing the best-rate game is going to get more difficult as owners try to maximize what they can get for the products and services they provide. Way down the road (certainly not in 2022) that demand dynamic may turn back in the RVer’s favor. But I don’t see that on the horizon yet.

New RV parks

As I mentioned at the top of this essay, the new park in Avila, California, is just one of many new RV parks and campgrounds on the way. Camping is hot, and investor funding always follows a hot trend.

There are dozens of new parks in the works, but the process is agonizingly slow and cumbersome, so don’t expect a plethora of new locations in 2022. Campground developers need to negotiate a maze of local and state permits, zoning boards and anxious neighbors before they can ever turn a shovelful of dirt.

The physics of the camping industry dictates that it takes a lot longer to build a new campsite than it does the RV that’s waiting to fill it, so don’t expect rapid growth in available campground inventory in 2022. Also keep in mind that, in general, a new RV site excluding land costs with limited amenities can cost anywhere from $48,000 to $58,000 per site to construct.

Many of these new parks won’t be of the “mom-and-pop” variety that has been the standard for decades. Big-money investors want big, fancy parks that can show a rapid rate of return on their money. You can also expect to see a lot fewer mom-and-pop, family-run parks as the years go on since it’s easier for big investors to purchase an existing park that has extra land available for additional development than it is to start from scratch. We’re going to see a lot of smaller park owners taking this opportunity to cash out and sell.

As an example of what’s happening on the construction side of the equation, Kampgrounds of America recently announced they’ve added nearly 4,000 campsites to KOA parks in 2021, and currently have 20 new parks under construction.



Fuel prices

This one is anybody’s guess. The pandemic seems to have negated all the regular seasonal ebbs and flows of the fuel price markets. If COVID-19 variants again cause stay-at-home orders next year and travel is curtailed, prices will likely drop. If all is well and travel demand climbs next spring and summer while OPEC restricts production, prices will follow suit.

The bottom line

I wish my admittedly flawed crystal ball had more good news for longtime RVers. If you’re someone who got into RVing because you could “go where you want, when you want,” you likely aren’t going to like many of the changes you see next year.

Yet, there’s always hope. Things should settle into a more familiar pattern on the RV manufacturing side and maybe potential buyers will get wise and demand builders pay more attention to cost and quality. And as more and more new RV parks come online and existing campgrounds expand, site demand and crowding will eventually ease.

Maybe 2023 will have to be our year. What do you think?

##RVT1029

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Montgomery D Bonner
1 month ago

Most, but not all RV’ers are senior folks or retired people, prices will be a hamper on them. I have a top in what I will pay for a gallon of diesel, when that top is reached, the rig is parked. I am not going to make some oil sheik rich. RV’ing is a luxury, and I can control my luxury experience. CG’s, again, that I might have to schedule my trips well in advance of 2-3 months is hard to get head around, life is not years out, “the plan is years out”, life can change in an instant, especially as we age or the dummy in the car who creams us can. In good weather months, I have work outside and that has a bearing on any and all trips I can take, plus who wants to be around all that noise and smoke from the masses. Paying 100+ a night for a campground spot is also going to hit lots of folks in the breadbasket, so not sure that trend is going to make it. For those kinds of rates, there has to be something I want very bad to pay that amount. That covid is still around?????

Tina W
1 month ago

Another way to fight back on campground pricing is becoming equipped for boondocking. The west is filled with free campgrounds if you can handle off grid. My prediction / hope for the future is that more and more RV manufacturers will recognize this need — and design and build rigs that can operate without plugins. That would help with crowding and CG prices.

John
1 month ago

I get all psyched up about buying a new RV, and then I go look at them, and all I see is junk! Such poor quality and lack of workmanship, it is unbelievable. Cabinets falling apart, wires hanging out everywhere, why would I spend $300,000 or more on such trash? These manufacturers should be ashamed. They have everything the next downturn brings coming to them. The most mind boggling thing is how people are lining up to throw their money away at them.

Drew
1 month ago
Reply to  John

John,

I understand but there are lots of used rv’s out there- some in great condition and pretty well built. My ’08 Winnie Sightseer is one example (although not for sale).

John Koenig
1 month ago
Reply to  John

AMEN!

Steve C
1 month ago

I’ve thrown my two cents in before and had mixed results. I’ll admit, I’m pretty much the black sheep of this crowd in that I’m a full-time “traveler”, but only half the time around North America in my truck camper. The other half of the year I’m off to some other place in the world with my ‘RV’ in storage. I travel to places where others don’t go to escape the crowds. Every time I’ve returned from other countries, I’ve always had more money in my account than when I left, living totally within my social security income. Yes, it’s easily done.
I’m helping out with the overcrowded campsites and RV parks simply by not using them for half the year. There’s more to see and experience in the whole world than just touring around the US.
I understand my lifestyle is not for everyone but you never know until you try.

John Koenig
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve C

I’m in a similar “boat”. I became a “Full Timer” in 2018. Since then, I’ve taken two cruises and had expected to do more cruising before Covid reared its’ head. My BIGGEST concern has always been WHERE I could secure my Super-C RV while away (Steve C, what’s your safe storage solution?). Should a VIABLE solution for Covid be found, I would consider taking another cruise. I am “Fully vaccinated & boosted” and DO wear a mask the few times I must go out to “resupply” but, SO many others don’t bother to exercise care & responsibility. 🙁

Thor
1 month ago

Marriott is looking better every day. Cost of ownership is stupid. Biden and gas and diesel. Lousy construction.
And then articles like this defending rv parks gouging prices? And yes, there are a ton of low cost hotel reservation systems that cut hotel costs in half. And credit cards that give hotel points.
What do rv parks do? NOTHING. They raise prices and this guy says”tough”, imagine making a stink at the front desk?
Yes. YES! We all should. Or maybe we just sell and go Marriott. We are really close to that decision.

Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Thor

Bye

Tina W
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

I actually agree that RVers need to start right now considering all options at every new location, including hotels and Air BnBs, many of which are available for exactly the same price, and more allow pets, which was the reason we started RVing in the first place. They also have safer structures if the weather is potentially dangerous, which is more often true.

As an aside, I’m not sure why these RV articles don’t have many more (or any?) discussions about how much the weather has changed RVing. I would counsel any new RVer to avoid the SE during the spring due to the very frequent very large and powerful tornadoes that have become the norm. Nevermind the road flooding and extremely high number of semi trucks on the road — and those make our roads much more dangerous before you even start considering bad weather. While traveling this year, several times we booked a hotel instead of an RV site due to flash flooding or tornado warnings. I really often question whether RVing is always safe with our very serious weather issues (like catching on fire out West).

And hotels often have nicer amenities and better locations. I was somewhat surprised but not shocked when booking a favorite campground on the ocean in Florida. The attached hotel rooms were *cheaper* than the RV lots and some freestanding “cottages” (like seperate houses) were the same price. And they allow pets. This was close to our home. So why would we use the extra gas and effort to hook up our trailer?

Since prices are almost identical in popular areas, more and more we are considering all options before booking. I hope other RVers will start doing the same.

Drew
1 month ago
Reply to  Thor

I like sleeping in my own bed, cooking in my kitchen, and using my own bathroom. -Big reasons the pandemic drove rv’ing to its current levels.

John Koenig
1 month ago
Reply to  Drew

AMEN!

Sandee L Hill
1 month ago
Reply to  Thor

What does Biden have to do with the problems currently plaguing rving? No, not gas prices.

John Koenig
1 month ago
Reply to  Thor

Although Marriott (or other chain) sounds like it might be a good idea, I loathe the thought of living out of a suitcase with the need to DRASTICALLY reduce what I can easily bring along. A well designed RV has most of the features a “stick & brick” offer with the added bonus of comfortable living. Currently, I can afford to be a Full Time RVer. Should the situation really go down the toilet, I may have to reconsider.

Drew
1 month ago

I don’t know if I agree with the dynamic pricing concept catching on in a big way next year. It could if we see the migration of family-owned campgrounds shift ownership to leveraging investment companies. As far as the labor/supply shortages I think they will continue way past ’22. There are just too many problems that need solving before we see things loosen there. Some of those problems have been there for decades that are now amplified by the health crisis. These two issues already reach deep into every household world wide resulting in huge price increases of everything. Those prices will never go down. We’ll continue rv’ing as long as we can afford it.

Richard S Monroe
1 month ago

These new rvs are total junk. Volume, Volume, volume. Then to top that off the time line for repairs and shop costs are ridiculous. And as you mention, finding a nice place to stay is darn near impossible. Even getting off the grid is tough. Think long and hard before jumping into this once great vacation. Imoho. Sam.

Thor
1 month ago

Marriott. Hilton. Even Ritz Carlton are getting cheap compared to fuel, insurance, storage, repairs, maintenance and finally, RV parks. Add up a year and staying at a 5 star hotel with fine dining costs the same! They make the bed. They clean the room. Great location. Pools, spas.
I drive me car.
Help me here????

Kenneth Fuller
1 month ago
Reply to  Thor

and don’t forget the free breakfast! Lol

Mike
1 month ago

Out here in Northern SF Bay Area of California we have had to book RV sites 6-9 months in advance for last three years. Another thing in short supply is RV storage; prices are going up as demand builds. Gas prices is not an issue as we stick close to home. It’s not the long drive but more time at the RV site. Since we use the MH more for dog shows than RV’ing – we have plenty of places to go. Our new to us 2013 MH has gone up in price in one year!

Brian Burry
1 month ago

We bought the RV after retirement, for the purposes of traveling, enjoying periodic stays at locales we want to visit. Since we’re not full timers, and probably only go out six times a year in our Class A Diesel, we don’t mind paying more for a Park to be right next to the ocean, or the lake, or the area we wish to enjoy. I’m sure it’s much more frustrating for people who go more frequently, or full-time RVing. There are those of us who never care to “camp”, we just want to “Glamp”, and enjoy ourselves, with amenities that are appreciated. That’s what’s nice about the RV community, wherever we go, people are respectful and friendly and appreciate each other.

wanderer
1 month ago

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to know prices have been rising for several years, and now will rise more if campground costs to operate actually rise from inflation. But for newbies, no, you’re not going to pay $100 a night whenever you camp. Step one for affordable camping: skip any place with ‘Resort’ in its name. And travel. Get off the beaten path and away from the sold-out destinations.

I’ve seen more than one campground back off from raising their prices when the people with apps find and choose something more affordable in the area. Don’t reward excessive rates by accepting them, unless you literally have no better choice.

Crowman
1 month ago

While OPEC restricts production. Better add someone here restricted production as we were energy independent 2 years ago.

Rick K
1 month ago
Reply to  Crowman

You said exactly what I was thinking. If we didn’t rely on OPEC, we wouldn’t have to care if they cut back.

TIM MCRAE
1 month ago
Reply to  Rick K

EXACTLY 💯

Leonard Rempel
1 month ago
Reply to  Crowman

Hey, my American Friends!
We in Canada have PLENTY OF OIL for you, but please tell me why your president cancelled Keystone pipeline on his first day in office? This would have sent you MILLIONS of barrels of oil from one of your most trusted and friendly allies. Instead Biden chooses to buy more oil from human rights abusing countries like Saudi Arabia? What is up with that?
Not trying to shout from a “Soap Box”, but facts are facts.
The relationship between our two great nations has been mostly rock solid for 150 years, but this move was done purely for optics, and not practicality.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

Spot on, Leonard.

TIM MCRAE
1 month ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

But the 8000 hard working Americans put out of work all got great paying jobs in solar & wind already, right?

l*************n, you have failed to create one new job!

Oh I forgot, 80,000 new auditors are coming. Maybe I would like a hard working welder being my auditor.

Oh I’m sorry to rant here. I just don’t have camp fire to talk over right now.

Please don’t yell at me, I will control myself better…

I am still so grateful for my life in the greatest country ever!

Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

If the Keystone was shush a great deal why did Canada build a pipeline and ship the oil to theGreat Lakes. Tar oil is the worst, how many accidents did they have before it was canceled. Go do some research on the problems withTar Oil. I would like to have cheap gas prices also but at what price.

Billh42
1 month ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

The Keystone pipeline was intended to deliver those millions of barrels to the Gulf coast for export. It was never meant to be used in the US.

John Koenig
1 month ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

AMEN!

David G
1 month ago
Reply to  Crowman

Responders to this post, keep in mind that oil is a global market. If US producers can get $90 a barrel on the open market, they are not going to sell it locally for $60. Some people think we can shut out OPEC and buy locally. That would only work if you think you can nationalize the oil industry.

Carson Axtell
1 month ago
Reply to  David G

Bingo! Supply and demand… If American RV manufacturers, dealers, and campground owners are happy to stick it American RV owners, you can bet overseas businesses will be, too.

Thor
1 month ago
Reply to  David G

BS. I work in the markets. Add 3 million bbls to our market and prices drop. On everything

G13
1 month ago

The reality with or without a crystal ball is always looking back in the rearview mirror. Today’s new CG built with amenities are certainly not going to have fees from the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s. All things costs have risen, what hasn’t. You can’t get to your usual CG and get mad, angry, want to hang it up. I say, change it up a little. Put a new flavor and try the Ma and Pa CG down the road or the next town. Might be in for a surprise and make new friends. Everyone hates change, we want to have it like yesteryear, that’s not happening.

Roger V
1 month ago

We’re being priced out of the RV lifestyle as it increasingly becomes tailored for the wealthy among us. Can’t do $100/night campsites. Getting into State and National parks in popular areas is like winning the lottery. Many parks are now limiting access (i.e to Class A only, 28′ or more, age limits for rigs). Yes, boondocking is an option, but here in the Eastern half of the country, that usually means Cracker Barrel, Walmart or a truck stop – not our idea of fun. COE parks are wonderful and inexpensive for Seniors, but they’re getting harder to get into as well. It’s been fun. Will sell soon though. At least that way we can be part of the solution by reducing demand for campsites.

Last edited 1 month ago by Roger V
Carson Axtell
1 month ago
Reply to  Roger V

Again, supply and demand: “Money talks, everything else walks.” That’s what made America the great place it is!

Roger V
1 month ago
Reply to  Carson Axtell

It is a great place. That’s why served 20 years in the military for it. Hope you’re among those who can easily afford the new high prices. Enjoy.

Tom Hodge
1 month ago

I don’t think 2023 will be our year but I do agree that at some point, maybe 2024 or 2025, the pendulum will swing back in our (full-time RVers) favor. I believe the next couple years are going to be stressful as we find places to stay, especially those of us who don’t current have any permanent place. I also believe the building of new RV Parks/Resorts with all the cool amenities is going to run a lot of mom & pop parks out of business (similar to how the big box stores run the local markets out). It’s a sad reality. I don’t like it. But it’s capitalism and free market at its best. America was built on it. We will survive but we won’t look the same.

Gene Bjerke
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Hodge

Big box stores run out the Mom and Pop stores by offering lower prices. In CGs, the lower prices are in the Mom and Pop CGs, maybe that will be their salvation.

Thor
1 month ago
Reply to  Gene Bjerke

YES. Developers not in the business can beat these hedge fund managers at their game. Cost of an rv park vs anything else is miniscule.

Micheal Whelan
1 month ago

Nice job on your prognostications. I am in hope what you are foreseeing is regional. We are in the process of leaving northern Michigan for the winter. Fuel price is the first place you seem to have clear vision. A rear ago we were $2.30 per gallon for diesel. Fueled up the coach yesterday price up a full third too $3.45 per gallon. Had one of our near term reservations cancelled yesterday due to damage from hurricanes. No problem finding a new reservation and the parks I checked had plenty of room. So I grabbed a choice spot on the water with a sunset view. As for prices I have found little change from our last trip (two years ago). An increase yes but not much of one and certainly not out of line. My major concern is propane and food. I hear there may be a shortage on propane. Yes it has increased. Also the little bottles for the grill have become insane. I am looking at picking up a pellet grill. As for food, we are loading up on extra before we head south. See ya’ll on the road.

Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Micheal Whelan

And what was fuel 2 years ago?

David Fisher
1 month ago

I believe ‘inflation’ is going to impact RVing more than we realize. With inflation running roughshod over the economy only the financial “elite” will be able to have a normal life style. Fuel prices may be the deciding thing to force people to stay home. ($62.00 yesterday to just fill up my 2020 Ram toad.)

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  David Fisher

$100 yesterday for just over 27 gallons of diesel.

John Marucci
1 month ago

Right now it seems that everything will keep growing and the economy will keep expanding. It’s been a very long time since a recession. Often when we think things will keep growing and expanding we are actually at a peak. Everything talked about will change with a recession. Not sure when it will happen, but recessions happen on occasion. For now, shortage is a real part of life, including shortages and backorders of RVs, campsites scarcity, labor shortages, and delays and price hikes in materials.

Leonard Rempel
1 month ago
Reply to  John Marucci

We had the shortest recession in recent memory March 2020.

Al Figone
1 month ago

Wish things were different but does seem like your crystal ball may be right. I’m glad we had the past 30+ years to enjoy the great outdoors before it started slipping away into the sunset. Good yet to a great way of life.

Jim Jaillet
1 month ago

RVing is no longer fun. After 57 years of RVing, 24 of them full-time, I have decided to hang up my keys. When something is no longer fun, I stop doing it !!

Tony
1 month ago

Thanks for the thoughtful synopsis of what many of us have been feeling and insights into what to expect. In the seven years since we retired, we’ve found it harder and harder to get the campgrounds we like, especially the popular ones on public lands. The stress of reserving state and federal campsites at exactly 8:00 am six or nine months ahead of time, is not very fun. We usually have at least two computers logged on and hope one of us nabs a suitable campsite for our dates.

With private campgrounds, we are finding it harder to get called back when we have questions about reservations and their websites oftentimes don’t reflect the reviews we read on Campendium or Google.

All that stated, we are in our early 60’s and still enjoy camping a great deal but as we age, I find my patience and technology savvy waning, which might curtail our RV adventures sooner than we would like.

Steve Grover
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony

Retired in 2006. 2 trips cross country. Alaska and Baja. New 26P Vista in 2010. About to show 100,000 miles. So glad it’s done because on my limited fixed income, we stay closer to home now.