Will 2020 Be The Year Of RV Travel?
Will this be a banner year for RV travel? Consider that millions of cooped-up Americans are eager to get out and travel. Driving will be the preferred method of transportation and self-cocooning in some sort of RV would seem to be one of the most desirable ways to travel with family or close friends. It’s not just millennials who will be going after the van life. So I asked Craig Kirby, President of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) for his thoughts on this coming boom.
Everett Potter: Domestic travel is likely to recover first as the coronavirus restrictions are lifted. Where do you see the role of RVs in this recovery?
Craig Kirby: Americans love the space and freedom of the outdoors and the enrichment that comes with living an active outdoor life. RVs not only enable this lifestyle; they also provide a self-contained existence that other forms of travel don’t allow. After an indeterminate period of isolation, we believe families will be more enthusiastic than ever to get outside and see new places, even within their own states. RV travel allows people to sleep in their own bed, cook gourmet meals, and control where they go. Once federal and state restrictions are lifted, they’ll be able to experience the endless range of outdoor wonders throughout the country and the freedom of independent travel that RVs offer. This includes the option to forego a campground since RVs have everything a family needs to camp remotely.
EP: Let’s talk a little about the self-isolating aspect of RVs. How self-contained are they and can you stay off the grid?
CK: RVs are the ultimate self-contained units—it’s the reason why so many RVs are currently being used by medical professionals and others to self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic. RVs range from small towables to large motorhomes and many of them are designed to be completely self-contained with generators, solar panels, and laundry facilities, allowing RVers to live off-the-grid for weeks at a time. Not only are manufacturers onboarding new and improved technologies that promote efficiency and convenience, individual RVs owners are becoming increasingly creative at adapting their RVs for true off-the-grid living.
EP: For those who’ve never taken an RV vacation, what is the appeal?
CK: RVs provide travelers control: they allow people to travel where they want, when they want, and offer a unique travel experience that allows people to pursue their favorite activities and experience places in the country they may have only seen pictures of in a coffee table book or on Instagram. They can do this all with the ability to stay connected to family and friends. These are all positive features, but particularly attractive during this most unprecedented time. RVs provide a wonderful opportunity for people to continue to enjoy vacations with their families, while still adhering to social distancing, which will likely stay in place in some form for the foreseeable future.
EP: How about campgrounds and RV parks? What’s the best way to find one that offers some privacy and space, which I’m guessing many people will be craving?
CK: Most campgrounds have site maps on their websites, which give you the ability to see how close together their campsites are as well as the general layout of the campground along with lakes and any other features of interest. Privately owned and operated campgrounds often have more amenities, such as full hookups, Wi-Fi, and laundry facilities, than government run campgrounds. However, if you cannot find a privately owned campground close to where you want to go, visit recreation.gov to find listings of campgrounds on US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other public lands.
EP: While there may be an increase in sales, most people will want to rent one first and try out the lifestyle. What’s the easiest way to do that?
CK: There is such a variety of products available for those interested in RVing—there truly is an RV for every price point. For those looking to experience RVing for the first time, renting an RV is a great option before committing to a purchase. The industry website GoRVing.com provides lots of information about the different types of RVs available to fit every budget as well as information where to buy or rent an RV.
A former travel columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, Smart Money, Ski, USA Today, and USA Weekend, I’m the editor of Everett Potter’s Travel Report and lecture as an expert for National Geographic Expeditions. I was a longtime contributor to Outside, Money, National Geographic Traveler, Travel Leisure and Forbes Life and my work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Town & Country and The Robb Report. I’ve won four Lowell Thomas Awards and I’m inspired by exotic places, mountains, trout streams and memorable encounters with people wherever I go