Outdoor Recreation Industry Nearing Trillion Dollar Mark, Thanks to RV Travel and Modern Amenities

Blonde woman on the window of an RV with hands out smiling enjoying ride.Transport, roadtrip, nature concept.

With many Americans turning to the outdoors for a personal slice of Heaven, the outdoor recreation industry is pushing toward the trillion-dollar mark regarding the U.S. economy. People are seeking places to get outdoors, enjoy nature, relax, and reset. Along with modern amenities, RV Travel and #vanlife are helping drive America’s $862 billion outdoor recreation industry.

People Are Opting to Spend Leisure Time Outside

According to the American Express global travel trends report, 68% of people prefer traveling where they can be outdoors and get mental clarity. And with end-of-summer and fall weather on the horizon for much of the U.S., cooler temperatures are a time Americans look to for a weekend getaway, hiking, camping, and leaf-peeping to escape the hustle and bustle of the work week. 

RV Travel is Convenient and Flexible

According to a report from Camper FAQs, 61% of Americans are planning a road trip in an RV this year. Travelers love their RVs because they have access to a kitchen, and it’s a safe and familiar space, as opposed to staying at a hotel or living out of a backpack. 

RV travel allows flexible dates when it comes to planning. People can take their time exploring scenic byways and tourist attractions along the route to their destination, adding to the fun instead of losing a day or two of travel stuck in airports.

“RVing has remained a preferred way to travel for more than 44 million Americans planning RV trips this summer,” shares RV Industry Association President & CEO Craig Kirby. 

And if travelers don’t own their own RV, renting one from progressive brands like RVshare is easy. There’s a lot of freedom that comes with RVing.

RV Travel is Affordable During Economic Uncertainty

With inflation hitting everyone’s wallet, economic uncertainty continues looming over the heads of Americans. But jumping in the van, SUV, or truck and pulling a camper is an easy and affordable way to travel. 

“Despite, or even because of, current economic uncertainty, both current and new, younger campers are eager to take even more trips to experience the unique benefits that nature has to offer,” says Campspot CEO Michael Scheinman. “We are also seeing travelers turn to camping as a means of keeping costs down as other costs rise.”

Gen Z and Millennial “Vanlife” Influencer Culture

So far, in 2023, #vanlife has over 15.6 million tags on Instagram, thanks to Gen Z and millennial influencers. A look on Instagram shows travelers are eager to share their epic adventures across the U.S.

One millennial influencer, Lydia Weigel of the Lost with Lydia travel blog, said, “We rented a van for the freedom, the convenience and to test out if we might want to buy one for ourselves.” 

Weigel continues, “Having the ability to sleep and cook almost anywhere gave us more time to do what we loved — exploring the outdoors. We got to admire the expansive starry skies of Joshua Tree for one night and then sleep for free on the streets of LA the next. Van rental has opened a whole new way of travel for us, and it’s something I want to continue to do more of.”

Outdoor Adventure Destinations with Modern Amenities

As the RV and outdoor industries trend upward, visitors appreciate returning to modern amenities after being outside all day. Creature comforts like hot water, flushing toilets, electricity, heat, air-conditioning, and Wi-Fi are essential for new-age travelers.

“My wife and I are older millennials. In 2020, we bought our first RV. Every chance we get, we road trip with our camper,” said Pablo Fechino of the travel website The Happiness Function. “These days, my wife especially loves staying at resorts where we have Wi-Fi and modern amenities but access to beaches, state parks, and national parks. We have such a great time.” 

Whether someone is a weekend, seasonal, or full-time traveler, establishments such as Sun Outdoors and Kampgrounds of America (KOA) offer adventure lovers the best of both worlds – proximity to outdoor activities and modern amenities.  

Sun Outdoors has over 175 resorts and campgrounds around the U.S. and Canada. Along with camping, glamping, and unique vacation rental options, guests can experience activities like a wine tasting, flying in a hot air balloon, water parks, or cruising off-road (depending on the resort’s location). And some Sun Outdoors Resorts even have restaurants on-site, so travelers don’t have to worry about cooking if they’re tired from exploring all day.

Camping Culture on the Rise 

The number of households that camp three or more times a year has grown 174% since 2014. People electing to spend their free time camping, road-tripping, and enjoying the environment show no signs of slowing down. RV travel offers flexibility and affordability that travelers enjoy, mainly thanks to modern amenities.

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by The Happiness Function.

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer sharing the best-kept secrets that aren’t in your typical guidebook. Her goal is to inspire people to travel with a sense of adventure by sharing hidden gems across the U.S. and beyond. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo. They camp in their Aliner often and love wandering the world. Follow their latest adventures on Instagram @thehappinessfxn.