The COVID-19 global pandemic has brought many changes to our daily life. Between jobs, grocery shopping, holiday gatherings, and our general ways of life, so much has been severely impacted or altered. Traveling has also changed – potentially forever, especially when you factor in that over half of Americans have been afraid to fly since COVID-19 hit the United States. With all the frustration of lockdowns, concerns about personal safety, and jobs moving remotely, one industry has thrived: RVing.
RVing in 2020 hit an all-time high. RV companies reported record sales over the summer and fall months, and a record number of RV travelers hit the road (46 million estimated by RVIA), creating what many refer to as “The Year of the RV.” Even RV rental numbers increased as more couples and families embraced the outdoors as their safe haven. As we predicted last spring, studies and interviews showed that more people felt comfortable traveling in RVs to isolate and distance themselves from others, while still gaining the ability to travel to new places. After all, traveling with access to your own kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping quarters eliminates the need for using public restrooms, eating out, and staying in hotels.
Harvest Hosts is a membership program that provides members with access to a network of wineries, farms, breweries, museums, and other unique attractions that invite self-contained RVs to visit and stay overnight. In exchange for the overnight stay, members are encouraged to make a purchase to support the business, which is known as a “Host.” The program currently has 1900+ number of host locations available. For this reason, Harvest Hosts and 2020 went hand-in-hand, largely due to the ability to provide safe overnight accommodations for RV travelers, while allowing small businesses to profit.
To view our 2021 RV Travel Trends Infographic Click Here
Harvest Hosts gained a very large number of new memberships in 2020, along with many new host locations that were looking to supplement their business income. We currently have over 400,000 email subscribers. In early January 2021, we sent out a survey to find out a little more about them, including their 2021 travel plans. We received over 10,000 responses from both members and non-members, most of which pointed to RVing being the safest means of travel continuing into 2021. Below, we have compiled these results into categories that best explain and organize the data. 2020 might have been a banner year for the RV industry, but based on our survey results, 2021 is actually the year of the RVer.
Expect More Travel in 2021
There is an unprecedented demand for travel as people have weathered the pandemic. When asked about their travel plans for this year as compared to 2020, we saw an overwhelming majority of respondents say that they are planning to travel more. Notice the increase in those wanting to continue to travel in RVs, as well as those who knew folks who tried RV travel for the first time in 2020. We predict strong demand for travel starting earlier than most years and continuing far after the normal season ends.
- 76% of respondents said they plan to travel more than they did in 2020
- 16.7% said they planned to travel the same amount in 2021 as they did in 2020
- 5.4% said they plan to travel some, but less than they did in 2020
- Only 1.8% said they plan to not travel in 2021
- 38% of respondents said that they have friends who have explored RVing for the first time during the pandemic
Respondents were planning to travel even more than in a normal year (2019), further confirming that 2021 will be a banner year for the travel industry. With the vaccine rollouts continuing through the spring, more people will have the urge to travel, feeling safer after inoculation.
- 60.4% of respondents said they plan to travel more than they did in 2019
- 24.4% of respondents said they plan to travel a normal amount with no changes from 2019
- 13.3% said they plan to travel some, but less than they did in 2019
Not All Forms of Travel Are Equal
While traveling became a bit of a taboo topic in 2020, it seems that many people were able to travel safely and in accordance with CDC guidelines. In regards to COVID safety, RVing seems to continue to be the favored option for 2021 travel. While life as we once knew it may return to normal this year, many folks continue to feel safest traveling in RVs, as the data below clearly shows.
- 98.9% of total respondents said that they felt safe traveling in an RV
- 53% of total respondents said they planned to only travel using RVs in 2021
- 83.3% of total respondents said they have not traveled with anyone outside their core bubble throughout the pandemic
- 81.1% of total respondents said they plan to not travel internationally in 2021
- 68.5% of respondents stated they do not feel safe traveling on an airplane
- 84.5% of respondents said they would plan an RV trip with friends during the pandemic if traveling in separate vehicles
Longer Road Trips Are Preferred
Since driving and road trips will likely dominate the 2021 year, we asked about how far respondents are planning to drive. Because 2020 impacted travel so greatly, it seems many wanted to travel further this current year, mostly with the help of their trusty RVs. We predict longer trips to explore farther from home base, creating more demand for campgrounds, services, and boondocking locations like Harvest Hosts.
- 60.5% plan to travel far (over 500 miles)
- 5.2% plan to travel to local areas (within 100 miles)
- 33.5% plan to travel moderately far (within 100-500 miles)
Taking Advantage of Remote Work
In regards to jobs and working, many of our respondents’ job positions changed this past year, as well. Where possible, more people than ever are working remotely, which goes hand-in-hand with RV travel. Once the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, it’s going to be hard to put back in; remote work is here to stay and so is the popularity of RV travel.
- Those who used to work in-person, 38.9% now work fully remotely, while 22.6% work partially remotely.
- Of all respondents, 23.4% said that they work fully remotely; of that percentage of fully remote employees, 62.4% reported that they are considering RVing more
- 57% of respondents indicated they would travel or have been traveling with their children
- 71% of respondents indicated they would travel or have been traveling with their pets
Most RVers Spend Over A Month RVing Per Year
According to the following data, the majority of respondents spend more than a month per year traveling in their RVs (65.3% total were in this category). In contrast, however, some spend just seven days per year traveling, while about 10% live in their RVs full-time. We predict the average number of nights increasing as the travel season starts in earnest.
- 7.3% of respondents stated they spend 7-14 days in their RV
- 27.4% of respondents stated they spend 15-30 days in their RV
- 27.1% of respondents stated they spend 30-60 days in their RV
- 12.7% of respondents stated they spend 60-90 days in their RV
- 9.4% of respondents stated they spend 90-180 days in their RV
- 3.6% of respondents stated they spend 180-270 days in their RV
- 9.5% of respondents stated they are full time in their RV
RVers Like To Change Scenery
When not staying at Harvest Hosts locations or in free campsites, most RVers spend their time in campgrounds. With access to hookups (water, sewer, electric, and cable TV), WiFi, laundry, showers, and other more deluxe amenities, many RVers love an occasional night (or week!) in a campground. For this reason, RV parks and resorts were not as hard-hit as other businesses in 2020. Campgrounds encompass a wide spectrum of nightly rates, and the data below shows the amount of time most travelers spend at each campground and the price they typically pay per night.
- 47% of respondents said they spend, on average, 2-3 nights at each campground
- 88.2% of respondents said that if they had the opportunity for one more stop on an RV trip, they’d pick a winery/brewery/farm over a traditional campground or parking lot.
- On average, respondents spent the below percentages each night at campgrounds:
- 64% spend $0-$50 per night
- 29.2% spend $51-$75 per night
- 5.1% spend $76-$100 per night
- .06% spend $101-$200 per night
- .001% spend $201+
More About Harvest Hosts Members
This information pertains to general information known about our members. For reference, most own their own RVs and are married, while over half are retired. Respondents seemed pretty divided when it came to the types of RVs they own. This collection of both retirees and high-earning full-time workers make up the perfect group to support small local businesses. After all, finding the off-the-beaten path locations is all part of the fun of RVing, and purchasing goods and products is a great way to gather souvenirs to take home and enjoy even after all the fun of traveling is over.
- 98.7% of members own their RV
- 88% of our members are married
- 58.3% are retired and of the remaining members 75% work full-time
- 51.1% of our member earn more than $100,000 (16% earn more than $200k)
- 30.6% of our members own travel trailers
- 23.1% of our members own large Class A RVs
At Harvest Hosts, we would definitely agree that 2020 was “The Year of the RV,” and 2021 will likely be an even bigger year for RV travel. After all, 99% of our respondents said they feel safe road-tripping in an RV. Traveling in a contained home-on-wheels sounds like the ultimate solution to scratching the persistent itch to explore new places in a safe manner. Couple an RV with a Harvest Hosts membership, and RVers can access 1500+ unique locations all across North America. Where will your RV take you in 2021?
Harvest Hosts conducted a travel and RV trends survey to see how self-identified travel enthusiasts felt about the new year in terms of the frequency and modes of travel. It was conducted the week of January 10th, 2021 and had 10,173 respondents (6,826 were Harvest Hosts members and 3,347 were non-members).
You can Download our 2021 RV Travel Trends Infographic Here!
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Do you own an RV? Did you travel in it in 2020? Do you plan to travel more in 2021 than you did in 2020? Feel free to tell us all about it in the comments below!
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