As people get acquainted with the “new normal,” vacations and getaways are becoming a blend of relaxation and reinforced safety.
While the transition hasn’t been smooth, there’s plenty to observe and learn from the emerging operational patterns. And one such key consideration is the popularity of RV Parks or Campgrounds.
However, it’s not a new phenomenon. According to the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, these establishments account for a whopping $25.6 billion of the US economy. Similarly, campers spend an average of $31 billion a year on related accessories and vehicles.
But what does the future hold? What are the changes that people may be looking at in the long run? In today’s article, I’ll attempt to answer some of these frequently occurring questions.
It’s no secret that the ongoing pandemic has brought numerous changes to various aspects of our life. Be it work or recreation, there’s nothing that has been left untouched by COVID-19. To cope with current times, both people and institutions have been forced to embrace numerous changes. To be honest, there are more negatives than positives.
With people losing their livelihoods and most businesses taking a hit, a few industries have found revived importance. The tourism sector, which initially faced declining revenues with strict lockdown norms is slowly countering the setback with RV camps or campground provisions.
In spite of significant relaxations in lockdown measures and restrictions imposed on travel, leisure trips or vacations have not become any easier. The fear of contracting the virus while flying or staying in hotels continues to dominate thoughts across the globe.
That said, it’s during these times that the need for an outdoor getaway is probably more important than ever. With work-from-home and social isolation regimes in place, it’s imperative that people need to break free from the monotony of life. Hence, the search for safer travel alternatives, where adequate social-distancing can be practiced has become the need of the hour.
Unsurprisingly, a majority of the campgrounds were shut down at the onset of the pandemic due to travel restrictions and quarantine. However, as the United States started opening up, there has been an increased demand for camping among travelers. According to one study, 46% of leisure travelers across the country considered camping the safest means of vacationing in present times.
Keeping up with that trend, most camping reservation services have reported an exponential rise in consumer engagement by up to 400% than the previous year. Moreover, “RVing” always had a reputation for being the most flexible form of vacation as it offers travelers the luxury of tailoring the entire trip according to their convenience. After all, what can be safer than traveling and potentially staying in one’s vehicle?
Accordingly, sales of travel accessories too, have seen sales skyrocketing. In fact, outdoors equipment retailer REI has reported record growths in its camping department in the past few years. And among the most sought-after accessories are sleeping bags, cooking equipment, large camp beds, power systems, etc.
Be it for rejuvenating physical or mental health, or for social gathering purposes- there’s hardly a space that matches the convenience of an RV park, especially in accordance with the present scenario.
Naturally, it’s anticipated that the market will only grow speedily even in the post-COVID world.
First-time travelers, in particular, are opting for this form of travel to curtail their safety fears, mainly because they are in total control of their immediate environment. Here, they can decide the extent of interaction with fellow travelers, which is difficult on crowded transport or in hotels.
Sure, the boom of the RV rental and campground industries have offered some much-needed relief from the prevalent distress, both for the workers and the people. However, they aren’t full of positives only. What seems like a small, harmless means of enjoyment can have detrimental effects in the long run.
For instance, many travelers have a habit of picking up a “natural souvenir” like a rock or flower from the site. Well, it may surprise you that even the slightest displacement of elements in a natural setting can upset the ecological balance. The rock may have sheltered various organisms, or the flower may have been a vital pollination hub.
Similarly, there’s the risk of unintentionally introducing foreign life to a particular habitat while driving through a location. Hence, it’s recommended to clean any visible seeds, spores, or insects from the car or clothes before and after a trip.
Then, there’s a high possibility of creating chemical and mechanical waste through basic items like toothpaste, soap, shampoo and fuel exhausts.
While it’s impossible to mitigate the effects overnight, thorough strategies to make RV/campgrounds more sustainable and eco-friendly should find their way in travel guidelines. Simply replacing disposable plastic plates with something reusable can prevent the accumulation of non-biodegradable waste and enhance waste management.
As another example, if you plan to set a tent outside the RV, try to keep it at least 200-meters away from any nearby natural water source, to prevent chemical runoff. And try to use generators and heaters only during emergencies.
While boondocking, I prefer to stick to campsites that have already been used. This way, I don’t damage new or more delicate natural locations. Even if you choose a man-made campground, try to go for the ones that have adopted green measures like solar powering and LED lightings.
With the COVID-19 virus here to stay, there is but little choice left with regards to modifying the travel and tourism sector. And by the looks of it, RVing is all set to become the go-to means of leisure travel for people worldwide.
However, in doing so, it’s essential to focus on the principles of sustainability and environmental justice. Naturally, it’s impossible to achieve those without coordination between travelers, ecologists and all industry authorities.
While campers should be careful about their approach, RV and campground owners should actively engage in such initiatives. Carbon reduction strategies, shared outdoor amenities, land conservation, diversity and inclusion initiatives and adequate awareness should be on top of the checklist.