The Kampgrounds of America, Inc. Monthly Research Report, May 2023 Edition, 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, noted they experienced air travel problems that resulted in their replacing trips with other options. To date, 43 percent of campers have canceled one or more flights in favor of camping.

When asked about the pain points of air travel, high costs (46 percent) were the primary response among campers. Campers also noted the high cost of hotel accommodations (42 percent) and food (38 percent) when flying. Still reflective of the pandemic, 34 percent complained about how air travel exposed them to sick travelers.

“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 Kampgrounds of America, Inc. “People are eager to travel and explore in ways that are not only cost-effective but also incite less stress. We’re seeing camping emerge 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 percent) agreed that RVing offered more travel flexibility and had fewer hassles (71 percent). A similar number (70 percent) noted 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, with 7-in-10 RVers planning to continue RVing in 2023, with almost half (47 percent) indicating they would take more RV trips in 2023 versus other types of travel, a two-point increase since January 2023.

“RVers are 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 KOA’s latest findings, including not having enough campground options (42 percent), having to drive too far to camp (38 percent) and that campgrounds are too crowded (26 percent).

“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 percent) will likely take at least one camping trip in the next 30 days. 

Looking to Memorial Day specifically, 44 percent of campers plan to take advantage of the holiday. In comparison, only 19 percent of non-campers plan to travel during the Memorial Day time period.

To read the full report, prior editions, and to review the research methodology, go here.

Photo and Infograhic courtesy KOA