More and more people are choosing to rent RVs through peer-to-peer platforms such as RVshare and Outdoorsy. According to Kampgrounds of America’s (KOA) 2022 North American Report, RVs rented from a private owner using a peer-to-peer listing service increased from 8% in 2020 to 10% in 2021.
Amidst high gas prices, RV rentals’ popularity remains unswayed.
Americans’ thirst for summer travel is not slowing down anytime soon, Outdoorsy Co-Founder and CEO Jeff Cavins told Modern Campground in an email exhange. He said that bookings for 4th of July trips alone saw a year-over-year increase. In fact, numbers for Independence Day bookings last year were up 77% from 2020, and numbers are already up 4% than last year for 2022.
“[M]eaning, we’re seeing an increase over last year’s record demand,” the CEO emphasized.
This trend is being driven by a number of factors, from the increasing popularity of road trips, to the emergence of “nearcations,” and to RVing’s affordability despite the skyrocketing cost of goods.
Jon Gray, CEO of RV rental marketplace RVshare, agrees.
“[D]emand is up really dramatically,” Gray expressed during an interview with Modern Campground. He said that credit goes to the growing trend of people wanting to get outside, wanting to spend time with their families, and the flexibility that comes with working remotely.
“You know, obviously the COVID pandemic was terrible for many reasons, but one of the kind of beneficiaries of the pandemic was the outdoor travel industry, because so many more people who were kind of looking to maintain their social distance in 2020, you know, did that,” the CEO said.
RVshare is still growing nearly 40% this year, he added, sharing that even with inflation and surging gasoline prices, the company is still growing off of last year, which grew nicely off of a year where it experienced tremendous growth during the 2020 pandemic.
“So, you know, this has been a growing business and a growing category for quite a while . . . I think that will continue to be the case.”
Last year, almost 15 million households went RVing, including 11 million RV owners, according to KOA’s 2022 North American Camping Report. Along this thriving was the RV rental market which manifested healthy growth as it added more than two million new renters in 2021.
For many Americans, the thought of taking a vacation conjures images of spending days at the airport, battling jet lag, and racking up exorbitant hotel bills. However, RVing has been increasingly popular as it is cheaper unlike traditional vacations.
Sharing its computations with Modern Campground, Outdoorsy’s Cavins said that a seven-day-and-six-night Outdoorsy trip for a family of four only amounts to about $2,400, compared to a theme park vacation that would cost around $9,000 or a cruise vacation that would rack up to $8,000.
Traditional vacations can often be quite expensive when one factors in the cost of airfare, lodging, and transportation. An RV rental includes all of these costs in one low price. And because RVs are self-contained units, they offer a degree of flexibility and freedom that other vacation options simply can’t match.
Moreover, thanks to the proliferation of peer-to-peer RV rental companies, it is now easier than ever to hit the open road as RVs are cheap to rent and the cost of gas is often lower than the cost of flying. Yes, even amidst inflation and high gas prices.
On high gas prices
“A lot of travelers still have a misconception that RV vacations are dependent on gas and they really don’t have to be, unless you plan to drive every single day of your trip,” Outdoorsy’s Cavins expressed.
He shared that the average cost of an Outdoorsy trip is only up $5 from this time last year, adding that “the cost of a hotel room, an airline ticket, and eating out for every meal is sky-rocketing, but the cost of a rental on Outdoorsy is staying consistent.”
For RVshare’s Gray, when asked if RV owners will increase the price of their listings this year, he said that prices on the platform have also not gone up much year on year.
“I would have expected those numbers to more closely mirror inflation, just, you know, anytime you have over a hundred thousand RVs on a platform, you would expect that they would do things similar to what kind of general macro economy does,” Gray said.
“That’s not what we’ve seen. We’ve seen, you know, the kind of nightly rate prices grow significantly slower than inflation has grown,” he added.
Admittedly, however, RVshare’s CEO said that inflation and raging fuel prices are poised to take a toll on the overall cost of RV travel, noting an average increase of $35.
Still, he said that RVing provides a wonderful travel experience while being significantly less expensive than many of the other ways that people would choose to travel.
Moreover, RVshare is offering ways for customers to save. If an RVer completes a stay and submits their stay information, the company will send them a gift card to help offset some of the cost of fuel.
Nearcations are the new normal
While people are still going on vacations, the higher price tag of goods is bringing a change in RV travel behavior. Accordingly, Outdoorsy is seeing more “nearcations” this year, where two-thirds (23%) of renters are staying within 100 to 200 miles of home, and only driving (and using gas) on the first and last days of the trip.
“So they might drive the RV for Day 1 and Day 6, but stay parked at camp for the duration of their trip,” Cavins said.
Why go RVing?
Unlike traditional vacations, RVing is cheap, affordable, and allows campcationers to bring their whole family—including your pets—along for the ride. Pets are always welcome in an RV, so gone are the days when one has to worry about finding a pet-friendly hotel or making other arrangements for them.
RV travel also allows anyone to see more of the country than they would if they were flying or taking a train. They can stop at different campgrounds and national parks along the way without putting a hole in their pockets.
Whether looking to explore the great outdoors or simply wanting to visit different parts of the country, RVing is the perfect way to do it, and with peer-to-peer RV rental platforms, RVing is more accessible than ever, quenching the thirst of those curious to try the vacation style.
And as the KOA noted in its study, “this level of curiosity should help continue this boom in RVing, whether it is continued sales, RV rentals, or simply seeking to take a trip while staying in an RV.”