COVID-19 creates 18 million first-time RV travelers in the USA

Travel has been one of the most affected sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. With cruise ships docked, planes on the ground, and international travel restrictions in place, the majority of travel over the past several months in America has been local road trips.

This article highlights the key findings from a recent travel survey that looks at how COVID-19 affects Americans and their summer travel plans.

Key findings include:

  • Travel restrictions. Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe most COVID-related travel restrictions won’t be lifted until October 1, 2021.
  • Travel safety. RVing and camping ranked as the safest travel options for 2021 (twice as safe as other types of accommodations such as staying in a hotel).
  • Types of travel. Likelihood that people will take a road trip is up 6%, while intent to fly, stay at a hotel, go on a cruise, or even stay with friends or family is down.
  • Travel destinations. A local travel surge is expected for summer 2021, as the majority of Americans are expected to stay close to home.
  • RV industry growth. COVID-19 pandemic has created 18 million first-time RV travelers.

Note: Data found in this article comes from a new nationwide survey conducted by Abacus Data, with a +/- 2.51% margin of error.

Travel restrictions

Despite the unprecedented vaccine rollout in the U.S., there are still several COVID-related travel restrictions in place, making it very difficult for Americans to travel the way they used to. When it comes to international travel, planning a vacation is almost impossible. In fact, according to our survey, 58% of Americans believe that most of the COVID-related travel restrictions will be in place until after October 1, 2021.

For most Americans, this means that vacations in summer 2021 will most likely be restricted to local travel within the continental United States.

Travel safety

Safety is still top of mind for the large majority of Americans. Polling shows that over 90% of Americans consider it important to do something safe, avoid quarantining, and stay away from crowds during their summer vacation.

When it comes to the types of travel that are considered safe, RVing and camping come out on top as the safest forms of travel for 2021, with two-thirds of Americans considering it little to no risk.

“Our survey results show that Americans consider RVing and camping almost twice as safe as other types of accommodations such as staying in a hotel. We are also seeing that 66% of Americans consider camping in an RV of little to no risk compared with 38% who feel the same way about flying on a plane to a destination,” said David Coletto, CEO of the polling firm, Abacus Data.”

Some of the main reasons why Americans consider RVing a safe method of travel include:

  • Being outdoors with self-contained accommodations.
  • The ability to avoid crowds and maintain social distancing.
  • No need to quarantine during or after your trip.

Interested in going RVing this summer? Check out top-rated RV rentals near you.

Types of travel

As mentioned above, the COVID pandemic has hurt several travel sectors. However, the likelihood to go on a road trip is up significantly, with an additional 6% of Americans looking to hit the road during their summer vacation.

Travel destinations

With 63% of Americans likely to go on summer vacation this year, international travel restrictions still in place, and intent to go on a road trip up, there is no doubt that we will see a local travel surge during summer 2021.

According to the survey, a whopping 70% of Americans mentioned looking to travel within the country for their summer vacation.

RV industry growth

Last year, when the pandemic started, millions of people turned to local travel, camping, and RVing as an alternative to the traditional flights and hotels. This year, RV demand is up again. According to the survey, roughly 18 million American adults (9%) are looking to go RVing or camping for the first time as a result of the pandemic. And as a whole, 27 million American adults (13%) have gained interest in RVing or camping.

“For the second year in a row, demand is at an all-time high, meaning another great year for the RV industry and local economy. Campgrounds are filling up, RV dealerships are sold out, and our owners are projecting record income. As a long-time RVer myself, my best advice is to book your travel plans now, before it’s too late.” — RV Travel Central co-founder Michael McNaught.

Final thoughts

While the pandemic has been a tremendous burden on most of the travel industry, it has shined a light on traveling locally, RVing, camping, road trips, and exploring America’s great outdoors.

With RV rental demand at an all-time high, there has never been a better time for RV owners to rent out their RVs to earn additional income while their RVs are not in use.

Also, for Americans looking to go RVing this summer, it’s important to understand that bookings are happening sooner than years past, so it’s important to book your RV, campgrounds, and activities as soon as possible.

If you’re a first-time RVer looking for more information, here are some helpful resources to get you started:

Contact info

For more information about the Abacus travel survey or to schedule an interview with RV Travel Central, please contact:

Matt Thompson, Director of Partnerships
1-855-697-8399 | matt@rvezy.com

Survey methodology

The survey was conducted with 1,500 Canadians between March 4-7, 2021. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.51%, 19 times out of 20 for the country.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

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