As Americans make summer travel and recreation plans, they are increasingly looking to the outdoors and road trips to improve mental well-being and to combat the rising costs of flights, lodging and car rentals according to a new consumer survey from Winnebago Industries, Inc. The company recently released insights from its third annual spotlight survey that looks at outdoor industry trends and consumer behavior.

Outdoor Participation Continues To Increase in 2023
In 2022, 82 percent of Americans indicated that they participated in outdoor activities such as camping and hiking at a location away from their home, boating or visiting a state or national park. This is an increase from 60 percent in 2020 and 79 percent in 2021.

This trend will continue into 2023, as 97 percent of Americans said they plan to enjoy outdoor activities this upcoming year, an increase from 95 percent last year. According to the survey, younger Americans are leading this growth as Gen Z were more likely to increase their activity in 2023 compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers.

Participation drivers for Americans getting outdoors is linked to their mental and physical well-being:

  • 52 percent of respondents said they will increase their outdoor activity to reduce stress, up 3 percent from 49 percent in 2022.
  • 47 percent of respondents said they will increase their outdoor activity to improve health and well-being, a 7 percent increase from 42 percent in 2022.

Additionally, 26 percent of respondents believe they will increase their outdoor activity to reduce expenses and save money, a 9 percent increase from 17 percent in 2022.

“It’s clear that interest in activities like camping, boating and hiking continue to rise as more people become exposed to them and experience the benefits of spending more time outside,” said Michael Happe, president and CEO of Winnebago Industries. “The outdoors is a place to find health and happiness and to create cherished memories with family and friends. We see a certain ‘stickiness’ to those experiences from people of all ages and demographics which is encouraging to the future of the outdoor recreation industry.”

The Summer Of RV Travel
According to the survey, the great American road trip has never been more appealing as inflation drives up the costs of airline tickets, rental cars and hotels.

  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents have considered using an RV for a vacation rather than traveling by plane.
  • Over two-thirds (70 percent) of respondents have considered using an RV for travel instead of a flight, hotel and rental car.
  • In 2023, 19 percent of respondents indicated they will use an RV for their summer vacation transportation. This increased 6 points from 2022 (13 percent).

The rising cost and hassles of airline travel have increased RV interest as consumers consider other ways to enjoy a vacation in the outdoors. Over half (55 percent) of respondents indicated the cost of airline tickets has decreased their desire to travel by plane this summer. Other reasons for decreased plane travel include flight cancellations, busy airports, hidden fees, and long security lines.

Shorter driving distances remained the popular vacation choice with 49 percent of respondents saying they will drive less than 200 miles.

“Hitting the road in an RV for a summer vacation is a timeless American tradition,” said Amber Holm, chief marketing officer for Winnebago Industries. “We are seeing that vacationers are opting to travel shorter distances via roads rather than by plane as they look to find the freedom, connection and personal growth opportunities the outdoors can provide.”

Surveys were taken in May 2023 with 1,009 general population adults (18+ years old).