RVing is more popular than ever. But as the media hypes up the growing interest in the lifestyle, I’ve been wondering: what is the future of full-time RVing?
The RV Genie is Out of the Bottle
You’ve probably heard that the pandemic has attracted more people than ever to RVing. Honestly Jim and I haven’t seen a lot of that, since we’ve been hiding out to avoid crowds. But from what the media reports about RVing enthusiasm, the RV genie is out of the bottle. The masses finally understand what nomads like us have known for years. It’s not terribly difficult to hit the road while working remotely from beautiful destinations.
Since the beginning of summer, Americans (and maybe Canadians too) have been scrambling for new and used RVs. They’re paying inflated prices for new rigs and old used hunks of junk, simply because they’re desperate for a getaway. Many of them are dipping a toe into the lifestyle because they’re under the impression that RVing is a “safe” activity.
Ironically, campgrounds are more packed than ever. People are clamoring for precious few RV sites, camped on top of one another and stripping away the precious little solitude in the wilderness that remains. Beautiful places are under siege from newbies who lack a respect for nature and trash beautiful places like the Eastern Sierras. Suddenly, RVing is more popular than any of us could have imagined and people are getting squeezed out of favorite camping spots.
Will the New RVers Last?
As summer wraps up, many full-time RVers are leaving this lifestyle.. They’re grumbling that too many new RVers on the road are ruining the nomadic experience. To that I say, maybe. Or maybe not. Because ultimately, how many of these Covid RV renters or new RV owners will actually stick with the lifestyle when the pandemic is behind us? Is the novelty of being an RV owner going to wear off? Will any of them adopt the nomadic lifestyle? What is the future of full-time RVing in the age of Coronavirus?
I don’t have answers to those questions. But in our 14 years of full-time RVing, I can tell you this much: Jim and I have seen a lot of people come and go from this lifestyle. Based on what we’ve seen, the majority of people who start out with a splashy Instagram feed promoting their awesome new full-timing adventures will abandon it within a couple years, at most. Why?
The Future of Full-time RVing: Same as Ever
Because full-time RVing is fun, but it’s also work. First, there’s the maintenance. Even the most expensive RVs always need something repaired or maintained. Ignore those maintenance needs at your peril, and watch how quickly your full-timing lifestyle ends.
Because full-time RVing is not for people who want predictability. And most people can’t live without it. This lifestyle requires the ability to roll with the punches and accept whatever happens around the bend. In this lifestyle, you adapt or your perish. The vast majority of humans are uncomfortable with unpredictability, and cannot live with the kind of uncertainty that full-time RVing requires.
I would love to think that everyone who buys an RV today will continue enjoying the lifestyle long after the pandemic has passed. After all, I earn an income as a freelance writer in this field. The more RVers, the more opportunities I have to make money. Bring it!
Be Patient, and Roll with the Changes
But ultimately I know that despite the increasing numbers of RVers on the road in 2020 and probably into 2021, I’m pretty confident that the RVing buzz will eventually return to normal levels the industry is used to seeing.
So if you’re in the market for a used RV and can’t find one today, be patient. When the pandemic is over and people can go back to their predictably safe European vacations and Disneyworld season passes, we are going to see a glut of used RVs on the market at great prices. Your favorite campground will have room for you once again, and nature will enthusiastically embrace your return.
An Interesting Update
This editorial in RV Business just sparked a great conversation in the Escapees Discussion Forums, “This is not good news for fulltimers.” See my two cents.
9 thoughts on “The Future of Full-time RVing”
Ryan and I were just talking about this today. In our 9 years of RVing, the only thing I regret is us buying the last RV (the one we have now). At the time it seemed like a necessity, but looking back, it would have been better if we’d gone straight to buying a house in 2018 and kept our little class C. It would be nice to have for getaway trips instead of being forced to get out of the life completely due to the cost of both a house and the 5th wheel/truck. And as Janna said, we have the 5th wheel in storage while we’re trying to sell it. Every time we go there to show it to someone, it’s the same ones there, untouched; some even have moss growing on them because they’ve been sitting for so long!
We may be leaving RV life now, but isn’t because we didn’t love it or because we’re sick of all the newbies–they come and go. We WILL come back to it in some form or another in the future…and I can’t wait.
By the way, yes, being an RVer takes work, but owning a house is SO much more work!
Hey Maya, don’t call it a regret, it’s a learning experience. You used the entire RVing life to your advantage which helped you and Ryan get closer to getting what you want out of life. You’ve now arrived, enjoy it! I hope you sell the RV soon and get big bucks for it!
There have been a couple of threads on the major RV forums about this so called campground over crowding. Personally we just completed a 7000 mile campground to campground loop thru 18 states that ran from FL to ID and back, 18 states and 37 camping spots including a few boondock sites.
Our practice is this when we want to stay at a private campground we call when we are an hour or two away. For COE or State Parks I usually make a reservation tho that has occurred sitting at the entrance station for COE parks. Doing that we were turned down with a ‘no room’ denial ONCE and that was outside Yellowstone. We promptly called our second choice and got that one no problem. And it had a golf course. COE parks are usually open except for Friday and especially Saturday. Those parks are very popular with local boaters and fishermen who turn out on weekends. Sunday thru Thursday you can drive up and get a spot.
Other people discussing this issue seem to agree with my suspicion, the filled campground problem is confined to the NE and Atlantic states and to the left coast. There are other exceptions Great Lake states and NM are the obvious ones. The center and south of the country seems to be normal. I have to wonder if those governments are enforcing some sort of rule like only allowing 50% occupancy. Or maybe residents are reluctant to leave their local areas. Whatever it is is does not seem to have affected the majority of the country.
The effect on us is that we are not going to those states right now. We planned to visit the PNW and return to FL via MN and MI but cancelled those plans. Too risky with unknowable rule changes that could make trouble for us with our FL tags.
@agesilaus, great insight! Thank you for sharing. I’m jealous of that awesome road trip you took. And I do think you’re right: the populated coasts are bearing the brunt of the campground overcrowding issues. There’s so much to see in the middle, I can’t wait to get out and enjoy them. Happy travels!
We have been RVing full time for 7 years and it is important to make reservations more in advance then we have in the past. Weekends are the most problems we have found in the last 4 months after resuming travel in the USA…..
James, I’d totally agree with that advice. Congrats on hitting 7 years, you’re one of the outliers! See you on the road.
And we think you are so right! We look at RVs, expensive van RVs and think–“I wonder how long it will be before the wife says get me out of this thing.” Or how long before that same RV is in a storage lot and someone is not only making the payment on it but also paying to store the thing because they can’t park it at their house. Great article Rene!
High-five Janna, great minds think alike! Glad you like the post. I’m enjoying your blog as well but just don’t comment because I’m too lazy to find my log-in credentials 😉