RV Life is Changing and many people are not going to like the change. And because of this change, they will give up RV Life altogether. Are you going to be one of them?
Many People Living RV Life Are Frustrated
I am going to write about something that is happening in many discussions in the RV Community. This discussion is one I have noticed in the comments of our videos, in Facebook groups, and in other (online) RV forums. The way many of us live RV Life is drastically changing and if you are not prepared to adjust the way you live RV Life, you will find yourself ready to quit.
It’s no secret that many RV’ers are frustrated with the ways things have changed over the past few years when it comes to the ease and the ability to be spontaneous with RV life. Those that prefer the “fly by the seat of your pants” type of travel are finding that doesn’t work so well any longer.
Campgrounds Are Filling Up Fast
If you’ve not noticed it’s gotten a little harder to find campgrounds near popular destinations or on those long Holiday weekends. Gone are the days of camping on a whim. This is even true in some less popular destinations. For example, I have a relative who camp hosts at a city-run campground in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. This is a first come, first serve campground and he’s reporting that ALL sites are taken most of ALL the time. But ESPECIALLY on those holiday weekends or on weekends in general. This is a very obscure campground in the middle of a farm town USA. Nowhere near a popular destination spot.
How RV Living Used To Be
When we first started RVing and camping, you could decide on a Wednesday that you wanted to take out the RV or camper that weekend, jump on a website or make a phone call and make a reservation for that coming weekend. Or in some camping areas, (the first come first serve type) you could show up early on a Friday and snag a spot for the weekend.
What Happened To RV Living?
RVing has increased in popularity. According to RVIA, over 11 million households in the USA own an RV. This is the highest level ever recorded – a 62% increase since 2001 and a 124% gain since 1980. Some of you reading this (that are older than we are) have been camping since the 80s. And maybe you personally can attest to seeing this growth firsthand. You’ll have to leave a comment below and let us know how long you’ve been RVing. And if you’ve noticed more and more RVs on the road in even the past few years.
Now, contrast this number of RV Owners with the fact there are approximately 13,000 privately owned RV parks, 1,600 state parks and then 103,000 sites on Recreation.gov. Let’s also remember that most of the bookable sites on Recreation.gov are tent sites and not RV sites, but we’re really trying to OVER estimate here for the benefit of the doubt.
Do Some RV Math
Now, hang tight here because we’re going to do a little bit of math. But don’t worry it’s pretty easy math and there will NOT be a test later.
For the sake of argument, let’s use some round figures and say the average private campground and state park have 200 campsites. Many campgrounds and state parks are barely at 50-100 sites so we are being VERY generous here with estimates.
The math here works out to about 3 million campsites – and remember this is a very GENEROUS number.
With 11 million households owning an RV and having only 3 million campsites out there – this is not enough! If even just HALF of the RV households decide to go camping 4th of July weekend, this leaves a shortfall of 2.5 MILLION campsites. This is accounting for all campsites across the entire USA. We’re not even looking at more highly concentrated population centers or popular destinations for RV travel like the National Parks.
RV Living Related Shortages Abound
Before we talk more about what this means for campgrounds, let’s look at something else that increases means.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 15,000 people who have RV Technicians listed as their occupation. This number does not include those who are self-employed. But even if the amount of RV techs (including those that are self-employed and running their own RV Repair business) is triple, this would give us 45,000 RV technicians. And there are over 11 million RVs out there. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist for this math. There are just not enough RV techs to fill the need.
What You Need To Do
So, what does it all mean and WHY should you care? I am glad you are asking! Because the answer to this question is going to be very indicative of the coming RV trends (in our opinion).
#1 – Starting Thinking in advance when it comes to planning RV trips, weekend getaways, etc. Like WAY in advance. Like 6 months to a year in advance. We know many Rvers don’t like to think about this. And many will whine and moan and complain about how there are too many people who are RVing.
I want to throw this concept out there for you for just a minute. NOTHING STAYS THE SAME except death! Things change, times change, technology has changed the landscape, seasons change, and EVERYTHING changes! If you are not willing to pivot and adapt to change, you will find yourself ready to quit RV Living altogether.
Adapt To The Change
One of the biggest skills we hope we are teaching our kids is the ability to ADAPT to change. When things change, how will we choose to adapt and move forward with our goals?
#2 – Embrace the change. Those that embrace the change will be the ones getting the campsites. Even dispersed camping and boondocking spots are getting fuller. The secret is out – RV Life is awesome and more and more people are taking the plunge into this lifestyle.
#3 Embrace available tools to plan trips and stays. A great planning tool (that you can begin using for FREE) is this template I use for our trip & budget planning.
Trip Planning Tools & Apps
There are many great apps and websites popping up with abilities to search for cancelations at sold-out campgrounds and more. Necessity is the mother of invention as the saying goes. Many entrepreneurs are seeing these gaps and need in the RV community and bringing tools to the market to bridge the gaps. Be willing to learn something new and utilize these tools.
Campground Views is a great way to see the whole campground before you book, by being able to take a virtual video tour of the campsite before booking.
We love using this tool to be able to find the best site in the campground. With having a larger RV, some sites in campgrounds and RV parks are better than others for our particular rig, and being able to see if there is a large rock, tree, or bushes in the campsite BEFORE we book it is so helpful.
You can check out the virtual campground tours on campgroundviews.com at the link below or visit https://gratefulglamper.com/campgroundviews
DIY RV Repairs
#4 Become handy and ready to learn about your RV. And how to make simple repairs on your own. A great resource is the National RV Training Academy where you can go to “RV school” and learn how to repair your own RV or even go a step further to become a certified inspector or RV technician.
There are many RV’ers who will not be willing to adapt to these changes. RV Living requires a ton of work. Things like maintenance, repairs, and planning all take work and effort.
There are many who will be ready to say all of this isn’t worth it and it’s time to hang up the keys to the RV and quit. And when this happens, you will start to see more used RVs hit the market. In fact, I received a text from a friend who’s been on the road for a little over a year and they are going to be listing their Class A for sale. And settling down, at least for now.
What Is Your Why For RV Life?
If you do not have a clearly defined “why” and driving motivation for this lifestyle, it can be hard. Most people are finding it hard to keep doing something if there isn’t a clearly defined goal and driving force.
For us, the RV life is an amazing lifestyle. We chose this lifestyle to be able to give our children an opportunity we never had to see new places and learn in a hands-on way. Choosing to live more minimalistic and expand our horizons. We wanted to be able to cultivate experiences over stuff.
I can’t think of a better way to teach our kids about ocean life than for them to jump off the side of a boat in Biscayne national park and see a coral reef for themselves.
Or how about a better way to teach history to our children? Things like actually SEEING the Declaration Of Independence vs. just reading about it. This creates more of a lasting impact than a classroom history lesson.
We have a very clear reason for living this lifestyle. And we are ready to pivot and adapt to whatever changes come. Are you ready to adapt? Or is it time to hang up the keys?
Let us know in the comments! And feel free to share this post with others!
Funny to read this now as we are driving to OR to sell our 45 ft Coach. Camping has changed to people living in parks and corporations owning them. The recreational feel is gone. We have had a Motorhome for 22 years and are done! Road conditions are terrible and fuel is through the roof and time to just give up.
We were planning to buy a Class C RV after my wife retires next month..
But the prices have jumped 30%, and apparently the quality of new RVs, especially those built in Elkhart, has gone down the toilet.
We can’t afford $150,000 or more for a low quality RV. When lots of people get sick of their RVs, I guess we can hope bargains start showing up in a couple of years.
Fall is a great time of year to pick up lightly used RV’s too. Keep your eyes on RV trader and Facebook Marketplace.
I’m glad that you mentioned that RV Life is Changing and many people are not going to like the change. Unfortunately, it has electrical problems. I’m glad you give me an idea of where to look for an RV repair mechanic.
I love this channel, it has become my favorite. Here’s my take on this topic, Every hobby has cycles. Here’s my Top 5 list of those I’m eager to see leave RV’ing:
1) Complainers – Stuff breaks. Learn how to crimp a water line and replace a fuse.
2) Partytime – Those who invite a large crowd of friends and relatives and figure they’re not at home so they can be as loud as they want.
3) We paid for this site! – I can’t live without 24/7 A/C or Heat or whatever, so they leave their generator running constantly, walk thru other sites, leave the park restrooms filthy, arrive at the community pool like Cousin Eddie, park vehicles in other peoples sites, just generally have no concern for anyone.
4) Borrowers – They never plan and expect the world to revolve around them, never have a single tool, air compressor, tires are bald, etc etc.
5) What RV? – These are the people that think they can drive a 45′ RV behind a F150 at 75mph in high winds and driving rain on 2 lane roads. They’re the most dangerous in lots of ways.
Honestly, we’ll never get back to what it was in the 70’s and 80’s, and I’m glad for that. It wasn’t perfect in the good old days. But it is time for things to normalize I think. Thanks for the video, this has been a great one!
Love it and very true!