The pandemic kicked RV travel into high gear with almost 80% 1 of renters in 2020 being new to RVshare’s platform. According to new research conducted by STR 2, RV rentals will continue to be the new-found travel option of 2021 for long distance travel, staying at state and national parks and for adventurous family trips. With ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19, travelers’ preferences have shifted and new travel trends have emerged.

Traveler Sentiment

  • 40% of respondents say they are unlikely to fly in 2021
  • More than half of respondents plan to travel domestically in 2021
  • 70% of respondents said minimal interactions with other travelers is important 3
  • More respondents plan to stay with family and friends this year than last

Travel Trends

Long live RV Travel

RV rentals will continue to be a preferred method of transportation for long distance travel, family adventure vacations and getaways to state and national parks in 2021. Since May 2020, RV travel and RV rentals have seen an increase in popularity, especially among first-time renters, with almost 80% of RVshare’s 2020 bookings made by new users.

  • 75% agree that RVs are a great choice for spontaneous travel and a quick getaway
  • 77% of survey respondents agree that RV travel lets you get outdoors, while offering the conveniences of a hotel, and is more comfortable than camping
  • 57% consider RV travel more appealing than before the pandemic

The New Age of Live-Work-Play

RVs aren’t just parked in your grandparents’ driveway any more. They are a popular means for young families who want to enjoy the outdoors, but also prefer tucking into a bed at the end of a long day of exploring, instead of a tent. With millennials (ages 25 to 39) leading the way, people are changing their lifestyles based on newfound freedom with working and schooling from home or… anywhere. RVs will become a mainstream travel option post-pandemic, especially for millennials.

  • Millennials are most likely to rent an RV in 2021. 73% of millennials said they are likely to rent an RV in the future
  • 68% of millennials said COVID-19 led them to find RVing more appealing than before the pandemic
  • 61% of all respondents agree that RVs would be a good workspace

Many will forgo the 2021 Travel Planning Season

57% of consumers surveyed are likely to travel either the same or more within the US, proving that the public’s desire and willingness to travel is still as strong as ever. However, there is a resistance to planning too far ahead with quarantine, cleanliness, and refunds all causing concern.

  • 75% of respondents agree they need to be flexible when booking travel since COVID guidelines are always changing
  • 63% of those surveyed won’t be planning vacations for next year as they don’t know what the travel guidelines will be
  • 72% of travelers don’t want to book too far ahead of their travel dates

‘Self-Catered’ Vacations are here to stay

Due to continued COVID-19 safety concerns and altered consumer preferences, two-thirds 4 of travelers said they are looking for lodging options that will provide them control of cleaning and sanitation. RV interest skyrocketed as travelers turned towards self-catered accommodations, with amenities like a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen on-board. RV vacations allow for highly flexible and customized travel plans, as well as access to the great outdoors.

  • 32% of respondents said an RV would be their preferred type of ‘self-catered’ accommodation compared to 30% who would prefer staying with friends or relatives, and 28% who’d prefer to stay in a vacation rental

Surprisingly, New York and Illinois are the newest “RV states”

2021 will see a continued spike in domestic RV travel, and 57% of people consider RV travel more appealing than before COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, states like New York and Illinois have become “RV States” 5. Travelers are ready to swap city life for beaches, mountains and fresh air.

  • Rentals in New York increased by +186% year over year
  • Rentals in Illinois increased by +174% year over year

Where are RVers headed?

Sandy beaches, access to coastal areas, beautiful scenery, and close to National and State Parks all remain the most important factors when choosing an RV vacation destination. The frequency of road trips is also up in 2020. With 40% of respondents saying that they are less likely to fly in 2021, road trips will continue to be the preferred mode of transportation for those looking to remain socially distanced. The top RV travel destination is Yellowstone National Park after reporting +21% visitors year over year in September 2020.

Top National Parks for RVers:

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Sequoia National Park

Top Campgrounds:

  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, FL
  • Campland on the Bay, SD
  • Ginnie Springs, FL
  • Lazy L&< Campgrounds, TX
  • Cherrystone Family Camping Resort, VA

Up-and-Coming RV Pick-Up Cities:

  • Houston, TX
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • San Bernardino, CA
  • Ft Worth, TX
  • Oklahoma City, OK

1 RVshare 2020 internal data
2 All data is credited to STR Travel Planning & Habits Consumer Survey October 2020 © CoStar Realty Information, Inc. (Base 1000 respondents) unless otherwise noted
3 Phocuswright Inc., COVID-19 The Path to Recovery survey
4 Phocuswright Inc., COVID-19 The Path to Recovery survey
5 RVshare 2020 Internal Data
6 NPS October 2020