I have been on the road off and on full-time for nearly five years now, and things have really changed since I first started traveling in my motorhome in 2016. Last year, RV travel looked particularly different than any of my previous years traveling, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restriction of international travel. This year, as more people become vaccinated and are beginning to travel further from home, the world of RV travel looks even more different. The following is my perspective and take on the current RV travel trends of 2021 and what is different this year.
Please keep in mind that these are mostly my experiences and opinions. Each RV traveler will likely have a different idea of the current camping trends and differences. I have also included some tips and suggestions based on my observations and predictions. I hope that this helps you to plan out the best camping season this summer 2021.
Popularity is overall increasing!
We have touched on this before, but more people than ever are traveling domestically to avoid flying and traveling internationally. This will likely change next year and in the coming years, but last year, many people purchased and/or rented RVs for the first time ever, and this trend will likely continue. In addition, the rise in RV sales last year and through the beginning of this year will see more RVs in general on the road this summer 2021. To prepare for the increase in overall popularity, I have included some thoughts and suggestions for camping reservations and choices below.
Campgrounds are filling up much earlier than before
I don’t tend to stay in too many campgrounds, but when I do, I don’t typically book very far in advance to account for flexibility of travel and potential changes. However, this year, that will need to change. Campgrounds are booking entirely at a much faster rate than ever before, with many in popular areas having few, if any, summer reservations available. However, most campgrounds that were limiting campsites at the height of the pandemic have begun to allow for greater capacity in their campgrounds. Still, many campgrounds I had planned to visit are already booked out until July or August.
I will be checking periodically for cancellations and recommend that you do the same anywhere you wish to camp. With some campgrounds, it’s also possible to be placed on a waiting list in case cancellations occur. To combat this conundrum altogether, I highly recommend booking campsites for any upcoming vacations as far in advance as possible. Try three or more months in advance, just to be safe.
Harvest Hosts locations are booked and/or fuller than ever before
When campgrounds are full, or when you need a comfortable place to stay the night when going to or coming from a destination, Harvest Hosts locations are an excellent choice. And yet, even Harvest Hosts locations have become more booked and full than ever before. This is also likely to do with the increase and growth of the company, but this current season, I have stayed at five different Harvest Hosts locations so far, in less-popular areas I might add, and I have had several neighbors each night. I have been a Harvest Hosts member for five years now, and this is the first time I have ever seen these locations so booked. Keep in mind that this is still the off-season, so I expect the summer season to be even more popular.
While the growth of the program and its popularity is awesome, I highly recommend booking your Harvest Hosts locations in advance as well. Booking months in advance may be unnecessary, but booking when you know of your upcoming travel plans, even if just a week or two ahead of time, is best here. Did you know that you can now book online with some Harvest Hosts locations? Check out our blog post to read more about it.
Boondocking areas are more populated
When campgrounds and Harvest Hosts locations are fully booked, boondocking locations make a great option. Because I am well set up for it, I actually prefer boondocking for the most part, but I know that this is not many people’s first choice. However, even the boondocking locations in some areas are more popular than ever before. Public lands camping allows for greater distance between campers and, oftentimes, more peace and quiet overall. Since these spaces are not reservable, I recommend showing up on a weekday mid-morning for the best chances at securing a campsite. You may have more neighbors than you would have in previous years, but meeting people is often part of the fun when traveling somewhere new.
National and state parks are even more popular than before
While camping popularity has increased, so has the number of those recreating outdoors. Since indoor entertainment options are often still unavailable or just limiting overall capacities, many have taken up hiking and outdoor recreation to escape the crowds and enjoy the scenery. This means that overall, national parks and state parks are going to be more crowded this season. To avoid crowds, I highly recommend waking up early for sunrise hiking. This will help to ensure parking availability and less people on the trail.
Rentals are increasing
RV rentals have always been popular but many are predicting that there will continue to be more rentals on the road this year. While this doesn’t really affect RV owners, keep this in mind if you plan to rent an RV this year. As with everything else, booking a rental early is key.
Gas prices have increased
Last year saw some of the lowest gas prices in the past decade. Since then, gas prices have increased by nearly fifty percent in most areas, with prices steadily increasing and becoming closer and closer to three dollars per gallon. This means that RV travel will likely be more expensive than last year, so you will want to factor this into your equation when budgeting for vacations this summer.
Business hours are often still affected
Lastly, despite the pandemic beginning to come to an end (hopefully!), many business hours are still feeling the negative effects. This means you can expect many businesses to open later and close earlier than before, even in 2021. This is just another thing to keep in mind when making travel plans. Always call ahead or check online for the business hours to avoid wasted trips, and adjust your plans accordingly.
Despite all the changes in the current camping climate, I expect 2021 to be a great RVing year. I have several trips planned, and I hope you do too! Who knows, maybe we’ll even pass each other on the road.
Are you planning to travel in your RV in 2021? Have you noticed any changes when compared to previous years? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences below!
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