Air Travel Issues Lead Consumers to RVing

A picture of a man in an airline seat row holding his temples

According to the Kampgrounds of America, Inc. (KOA) Monthly Research Report – May 2023 Edition, air travel is causing campers to seek alternative travel modes in 2023.

Almost two-thirds of leisure travelers, and 7-in-10 consumers who camp, have experienced air travel issues requiring trips to be replaced with other options, the report said. To date, 43% of consumers who camp already canceled one or more flights and gone camping.

The report said consumers who camp view RVing favorably compared with air travel. Most (78%) agree RVing offers more travel flexibility and has fewer hassles (71%). RVing is more affordable than traveling via plane, a majority (70%) said.

When asked about the pain points around air travel, prohibitive costs (46%) were the primary complaint among consumers who camp. They also noted the high hotel accommodation costs (42%) and food (38%) associated with flying. The report said 34% complained about how air travel can expose them to sick travelers.

“Air travel is becoming increasingly prohibitive for a large leisure traveler segment; camping is emerging as an important solution,” Whitney Scott, KOA senior vice president of strategy. “People are eager to travel and explore in ways that are not only cost-effective but also incite less stress. We are seeing camping solidify itself as more than a recreational activity—it is a primary travel mode for an ever-larger population segment.”

Looking further into views toward RVing, KOA’s May report indicated 7-in-10 RVers plan to continue RVing in 2023, with almost half (47%) indicating they will take more RV trips this year versus other travel types – a 20-point increase since January.

“RVers are particularly fervent travelers,” Scott said. “Experienced RVers spend 33 years enjoying the benefits of RVing. Across generations, the average expected RV tenure is 22 years, making this group very committed to this travel lifestyle. They are buying rigs, making updates and establishing themselves as a core camping subset. However, we need to be cognizant of how we can support newer and younger RVers who are less certain about future plans.”

According to the report, new RVers did find downsides to camping. Forty-two percent said they did not have enough campground options. A little over a third (38%) said they had to drive too far to camp and a little over a quarter (26%) said campgrounds are too crowded.

“It is important that we understand why people may camp and RV less even while outdoor hospitality is thriving,” Scott said. “These are not challenges; they are opportunities for us to make impactful changes to make our industry even more successful.”

A picture of an RV with bicycles on the back traveling down the open road towards a desert scene under a blue sky


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