KOA Reports: Camping and Outdoor Recreation Are More Popular Than Ever
Last year, 58 million households camped at least once in 2022, pumping 52 billion dollars into local communities and economies. People seek solace in nature for affordable vacations and mental health, and the great outdoors offers just that.
Attention all campers, RVers, and people who love the outdoors. Are you itching to hit the open road on that next road trip to see a meteor shower or solar eclipse, or visit a trendy town’s food scene? You’re not alone.
Since 2014, the number of households who camp three or more times annually has grown by 174%.
Camping Adventures Continue To Surge in Popularity
According to a recent report on camping and outdoor hospitality by Kampgrounds of America (KOA), people choose outdoor-fueled camping adventures and road trips because they are affordable, easy to access, and allow for flexible planning. In addition, outdoor travel has mental benefits that are important to people.
“A decade of independent research confirms that camping is a preferred way for many to travel, try new things, and connect with what they care about most, says Toby O’Rourke, CEO and President of Kampgrounds of America, Inc. “The segment of outdoor hospitality, growing in importance, offers additional ways for people to connect to the outdoors.”
New Audiences and Urban Communities Take Interest
Last year, 6.4 million households camped for the first time. KOA reports that 92 million US households identify as campers. Those households are also younger, more diverse, and more urban-centric.
The data shows urban dwellers are eager to escape city life, unplug, make memories with friends and family, and reconnect with nature. As a result, new demographics of campers are emerging, with the most significant increase seen in Gen-Z guests.
Freedom on Four (Or More) Wheels Despite the Economy
There is a sense of liberation that comes with road trips and camping. Road trips and overnight adventure travel provide more flexibility for planning a weekend getaway or extended vacation. Travelers don’t have to plan far in advance or worry about flight connections.
With many campsites across America ranging from private facilities such as KOAs, Harvest Hosts, and Hipcamp to public campgrounds such as state and national parks, it’s relatively easy to plan a last-minute road trip based on personal needs and time off. It is also easy to pack up the family and dogs and go.
In 2022, 15 million households went RVing, with almost 12 million families owning their RVs in America. If you don’t own an RV, you can rent one from companies like RVshare. According to KOA’s report, 11% of RV owners are willing to rent their RVs out to others.
“Camping continues to prove that it is resilient to economic headwinds,” explains O’Rourke. “In fact, 38% of campers will continue to camp and take fewer trips of other types during times of economic uncertainty. Camping offers physical and emotional benefits that are important in a reliable, cost-effective way that outdoor travelers seek out.”
The research shows RVers are planning to use their rigs during the economic downturn, and RV travel is anticipated to remain strong. Outdoor accommodations are simply more affordable. People plan to camp even as the economy worsens – they will just camp closer to home.
Eager for New Experiences
People are craving new experiences to satisfy their wanderlust. Some 80% of campers want to try a new form of camping they are unfamiliar with, such as glamping – renting a canvas tent at a resort.
Never been glamping? Now is the time to put it on your bucket list. Last year alone, over 10 million households went glamping.
Camping enthusiasts and road trippers also want to travel for natural events, such as the 2024 solar eclipse, and unique culinary experiences.
Those seeking new camping experiences are either trying glamping, backcountry hiking trips, overlanding, and RVing. According to the latest estimates, the outdoor hospitality industry continues to expand, responsible for one-third of the leisure travel market.
Happiness and Emotional Well Being Are Important
Outdoor travel has mental benefits that travelers identify as important to them. Not only is it a way to connect family and friends, but camping is recognized as a way to blow off steam and destress.
Walking, fishing, and hanging out around the campfire with an adult beverage continue to be highlights of camping trips to rejuvenate the soul. Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and hiking are the leading recreational activities on trips.
Answering The Call of The Wild
Even with the economic downturns, camping remains an affordable and, most importantly, flexible vacation option whether folks are planning a cross-country road trip or staying close to home.
With the boom of remote work, many private campgrounds are also upgrading their amenities so digital nomads can travel anywhere and answer the call of the wild and the Zoom from their boss.