Tent Camping

More travelers are canceling plans to fly and are instead enjoying camping, according to KOA. Credit: Shutterstock

The Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) Monthly Research Report – May 2023 Edition (see below) points to continued issues with air travel causing leisure travelers, and especially campers, to seek alternative modes of travel in 2023. Almost two-thirds of leisure travelers, and 7-in-10 campers, have experienced air travel issues that have resulted in them replacing trips with other options. To date, 43% of campers have already canceled one or more flights in favor of camping.

When asked about the pain points around air travel, high costs (46%) were the primary complaint among campers. Campers also noted the high cost of hotel accommodations (42%) and food (38%) associated with flying. Still reflective of the COVID-19 pandemic, 34% complained about how air travel can expose them to sick travelers.

Whitney Scott

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

Not surprisingly, campers are likely to have a favorable view of RVing compared to air travel. Most (78%) agree that RVing offers more travel flexibility and has fewer hassles (71%). A similar number (70%) note that RVing is more affordable than traveling via plane.

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

“RVers are a particularly fervent travelers,” said Scott. “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.”

Several pain points for new RVers were noted in the latest findings. These include not having enough campground options (42%), having to drive too far to camp (38%) and that campgrounds are too crowded (26%).

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

Additional findings of KOA’s May Report include positive incidence numbers. Camping continues to pace upward in 2023, with almost 1.5 million additional households camping in April compared to the previous year. As peak season approaches, over half of campers (56%) are likely to take at least one camping trip in the next 30 days. Looking to Memorial Day specifically, 44% of campers plan to take advantage of the holiday. In comparison, only 19% of non-campers plan to travel during the Memorial Day time period.

To view the full findings of the KOA Monthly Research Report – May 2023 Edition, past and future editions, and review the research methodology, visit the KOA Press Room.