Outdoorsy, an RV rental and outdoor travel marketplace, released its 2020 Travel Trend report, recapping stats from its record year.

Despite experiencing a 90% cancellation rate early in the year due to the pandemic, Outdoorsy’s RV bookings surged in 2020, leading to the company’s best year on record, with a more than 4,500% increase in bookings throughout the course of the pandemic. To date, more than 3.1 million rental days have been booked on the platform, from a community of nearly 900,000 owners and renters, according to a press release.

With 200,000-plus unique vehicles available to rent in 4,800-plus cities across 14 countries, Outdoorsy was well poised as the preferred form of travel for consumers, offering a self-contained mode of transport that allowed travelers to safely hit the road amidst growing concerns around medical safety, while at the same time empowering RV owners to experience life-changing incomes, noted the release.

“Roads really do have a way of connecting us all — and we’ve seen those connections, be that with family members or the natural world around us, become one of the top priorities for folks this year,” said Outdoorsy’s Co-Founder and CMO Jen Young. “Those connections that happen when you break away from the traditional modes of travel — the four walls of a hotel, the cramped armrests of a plane — are why we started Outdoorsy six years ago. This year has been a wild, rewarding ride of resilience, and our team eagerly anticipates the unprecedented growth our community and these connections are bound to see in the year ahead.”

2020, a year deemed by many as the year of the RV, marked Outdoorsy’s best year on record for bookings, revenue and new owner and renter sign-ups. Beyond it being a strong performance year for the company, 2020 was also filled with milestones and key initiatives for the company including the addition of an Android renter app to its suite of iOS and Android apps for owners and renters, explained the release. Outdoorsy also kicked off a Healthcare Heroes give back program, through which the company received 1,500-plus nominations and awarded 140-plus free RV vacations to healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

Outdoorsy also was the star attraction for celebrities looking to travel this year, with big names safely hitting the road in RVs in 2020, including: Zoey Deutch, who traveled up the Pacific Coast in a stylish campervan; Famed chef Curtis Stone and his family who celebrated Thanksgiving with a socially distanced RV trip; Lily Collins who got engaged while on her Outdoorsy campervan trip to the desert; Molly Sims who used Outdoorsy to set up a Halloween celebration at her home; Rosario Dawson and her quaranteam who traveled to Big Bear for a weekend away; and Rachel Brosnahan, Bella Thorne, Madelaine Pretsch, Camila Mendes, Sophia Boutella, LaLa Anthony, Ashley Greene, Colleen Ballinger, Lance Bass, Brandi Cyrus and Kelly Osbourne, among others.

With the release of its second annual travel trends report, Outdoorsy is showcasing major owner, renter and general travel industry takeaways from the company’s landmark year and predictions for the 2021 rental season.

2020 Outdoorsy Travel Trends

  • A new audience is getting outdoors. Nearly 90% of Outdoorsy renters in 2020 were first-timers.
  • Spending more time on the road. The average trip length on Outdoorsy was 6.4 days, up from 6.0 days in 2019.
  • Summer reigns supreme. July remained the most popular month for trips this year, followed by August and September.
  • Western and southern states win out. California, Colorado and Texas were the most popular states for rentals, with Utah and Arizona following close behind.
  • Towable trailers remain popular. Towable trailers, one of the most cost-effective vehicle types on the platform, were the most popular vehicle rented from Outdoorsy in 2020, accounting for 46% of bookings. Class C RVs, which are a smaller driveable vehicle that is great for families, were the next popular, accounting for 24% of bookings.
  • More people hit the road for Memorial Day. Memorial Day was the most popular holiday for RV rentals this year, beating out the 4th of July, which was the most popular holiday for RV travel in 2019.
  • RV rentals increased in value to match their growing popularity, but remain an affordable vacation option. The overall average nightly rate of an Outdoorsy rental in 2020 was $161, up from the $153 average in 2019, which directly correlates with the growing popularity of RV rental vacations.
  • RV rentals are the ultimate side hustle. The highest-grossing owner with a single-vehicle made nearly $42K this year – more than three times the average $13,000 a year that Americans made on their side hustles in 2019 (Bankrate).
  • Power users can bring in the big bucks. The highest-grossing owner listing on the platform made nearly $142M this year.

Most popular US metro areas for rentals in 2020

  • San Diego, Calif. (Nearly double the bookings in 2020 versus 2019)
  • Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Denver, Colo.
  • Austin, Texas
  • Portland, Ore.
  • Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Mesa, Ariz.
  • Seattle, Wash.

2021 RV rental predictions

  • RV and campervan rentals poised to become America’s next side hustle sweetheart. Due to an increase in RV sales and ownership, coupled with financial constraints and economic conditions, Americans will look to renting their vehicles as a steady source of secondary income. Outdoorsy owners can make up to $36,000 on average per year for each RV listed on the platform.
  • Vanlife is the ultimate uniter — and it sees no age. Life on the road is just as popular with the millennial generation as it is with the baby boomer generation. In 2020, Outdoorsy saw over 100% YoY bookings growth across all generations. Everyone is attracted to the approachability and low learning curve of the vanlife lifestyle.
  • More people are stepping outside of their comfort zone. Which means they’re getting out of the house and stepping outside. This year 90% of Outdoorsy renters were first-timers and the company expects this trend to continue. This new wave of travelers taking an interest in the outdoors will shape the future of Outdoorsy — and prioritize the protection of and access to the outdoors — for years to come. This new consumer mindset prioritizes trust, safety, cleanliness, and affordability.
  • Working-from-the-road RV use will surge. There will be more working on the road and RV use than ever before. This is certainly believable, considering that work can be found wherever you open your laptop. Access to WiFi will be crucial for travelers as they take their jobs anywhere there’s an internet connection. In Outdoorsy’s recent Renter Sentiment Survey, 75% of travelers said they feel the freedom of virtual work and learning make them more likely to take a road trip at “off peak” times.
  • Campgrounds will be booked earlier. Due to the overall new demand for outdoor recreational travel and activities, Outdoorsy predicts national park campgrounds will be booked earlier in 2021. These prime spots typically book out up to 6 months in advance for national park campsites (around March and April), but the company is predicting the booking curve to move up to February this year.
  • Visitors to our state and national parks will skyrocket. With international travel still mostly off-limits, state and national parks will see more visitors and campers than ever before. It will be the outdoor travel industry’s shared responsibility to help protect these national treasures for years to come and help educate and promote sustainable travel and leave no trace practices.