Outdoor travel and accommodation marketplace Outdoorsy released “Generations in the Wild: The 2024 U.S. Family RV Travel Report.” The company’s inaugural independent research explores the “motivations behind travel, benefits of time on the road and cultural values restoring human relationships across four generations of RVing American families.”

“This independent research was deliberately designed to span not just generations, but to represent Americans from all walks of life who seek the benefits only the outdoors can provide,” said Outdoorsy Co-Founder Jennifer Young. “Resoundingly, every group acknowledged that RV travel provides a powerful way to strengthen family bonds, reconnect with themselves, and draw closer to their faith.”

Outdoorsy reported that, notably, the survey found that today’s “always-on” work culture negatively impacts young families on the road, cutting into “quality time and reducing enjoyment for GenZ parents in particular.”

“GenZ is most likely to take work on the road, with 74 percent saying they work at least sometimes during a trip, and 96 percent of those who do report that their work hours negatively impact their time with family. By comparison, GenX has a healthier work-life balance, with only 53 percent reporting that they work during family trips,” the company reported from the survey results.

“Creating time for a digital detox is closely correlated to better-reported trip outcomes, but we found that only one in five families will always take the time to do so,” said Young. “However, we discovered that disconnecting from tech isn’t the only way to reliably improve your summer vacation. Our research showed that parents who involve their children in every aspect of trip planning, from meal planning to destination selection to activity mapping, report improved journeys across almost every metric.”

Families with children who are “highly engaged” in trip planning reported lower stress (+21 percent), an increase in positive attitudes (+12 percent) and increased excitement (+16 percent). Families who engage their children in every aspect of trip planning are also more likely to report strengthened faith after a trip (65 percent vs. 39 percent) and a higher likelihood of tech-free time (66 percent vs. 52 percent).

Additional Report Findings 

  1. GenZ: The changing face of RV travel. The youngest generation of RVers are notably different from their peers. and are the most likely to travel, with the majority (65 percent) saying that they plan to take at least five RV trips this year. However, this cost-conscious generation is also the most likely (47 percent) to seek out free RV accommodations this year, signaling that this cohort especially is feeling the strain of inflation. This group also tends to stay closest to home, with an average trip length that is 100 miles less than that of older generations.
  2. Developed campgrounds are the most in-demand in 2024. This year, developed campgrounds are in high demand, with 83 percent of families preferring their RV campground to be packed with amenities like showers, pools, biking paths, pickleball courts, and more.
  3. RV trips reduce tech time and increase spiritual connectedness for teens. Nearly half of all teens (48 percent) report reduced screen time during family RV trips, and the vast majority (88 percent) report at least some level of spiritual connectedness, with more than half (59 percent) engaging in prayer, reflection (34 percent), and reading sacred texts (21 percent) during family RV trips.
  4. Baby Boomers increase multigenerational camping plans this summer. In their youth, Baby Boomers popularized backcountry camping. However, over time they fell into travel patterns that were less likely to include outdoor experiences. Now that they’re entering their retirement years, they are much more likely to turn to RV trips as an affordable means of travel that can include their children, grandchildren, and extended family. Three fourths (74 percent) of Baby Boomers will include their adult children in their next RV trip, and 31 percent will include their grandchildren.
  5. Millennials: The experience-first generation. This travel group started the trend of investing in experiences instead of things, and their desire to fully lean into family travel shows up in a variety of ways. Seven out of 10 Millennials say RV trips are an important time to disconnect from technology, and this generation is less than half as likely to always work while traveling as their GenZ counterparts (11 percent vs. 26 percent), signaling they have a better handle on work/life balance.
  6. Nearer, my God, to Thee. RVing families tend to be highly religious or spiritual, with 96 percent of parents and 88 percent of teens reporting at least some connection to faith or spirituality. Of religious families, 82 percent report being Christian. And although teens are less likely to say they’re very connected to religion or spirituality, they’re just as involved (and in some cases more involved) as their parents in spiritual pursuits while in nature.

The results found in Outdoorsy’s “Generations in the Wild: The 2024 U.S. Family RV Travel Report are from 3,200 surveys completed from a random sampling of U.S. families and a corresponding sample of n=400 teens. Within the sample of families, Outdoorsy established quotas for each of the four primary census regions: Northeast (n=800), Midwest (n=800), South (n=800), and West (n=800). Overall, a sample of n=3,200 U.S. families is associated with a margin of error of +/- 1.63 percentage points and a sample of n=400 teens is associated with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points. The surveys were completed via an outbound solicitation sent to a randomly selected cross-section of families. The sample of respondents was “statistically balanced to ensure that the results align with overall population figures for age, gender and ethnicity. Some results may not add to 100 percent due to rounding,” reported Outdoorsy.

To access the full report, go here.