Outdoorsy, an RV and camper rental site, saw a 4,500% increase in bookings throughout the pandemic in 2020.
Jen Young, CMO and co-founder of Outdoorsy, said she thinks people will be using camper vans to work on the road in 2021.
Young predicts more glamping campgrounds and luxury RV resorts will open next year just as national parks become massive tourist destinations.
After the coronavirus pandemic canceled most vacations, 2020 became the year of the RV.
Outdoorsy, an RV and camper van rental site, found a 4,500% increase in bookings throughout the pandemic. Insider spoke with Jen Young, Outdoorsy's chief marketing officer and co-founder, to learn how this booming interest in RVs and camper vans could shape and change travel in 2021.
Here are the five ways travel may be different over the next year.
Camper vans will become one of the most popular forms of travel in 2021 as millennials increasingly seek contact with nature, according to Jen Young.
Outdoorsy found that camper vans were more popular when compared to RVs and are seen as a universal option for all ages. (RVs are typically larger vehicles intentionally designed for living on the road, while camper vans are storage vehicles converted into livable spaces.)
In 2020, Outdoorsy noted a 100% growth in bookings across all generations for camper vans, but Young said one group mostly contributed to this significant growth.
"Camper van rental life is only going to continue to be a major trend because it's being driven by millennials — a massive group of people," she said. "What they're seeking in life — or more specifically their time off and vacations — is not to spend it in cities or at tourist destinations. They want to spend it in a natural environment."
Owning an RV or camper van won't just be for enjoyment in 2021 - it could also become a lucrative side hustle for Americans.
In 2020, people rented out their RVs and camper vans on Outdoorsy to make extra money.
"As a result of COVID, families that are under economic pressure are looking for second sources of income," Young said. "There are 20 million RVs across America, and the 20 million RVs are generally not used 365 days of the year."
People made an average of $36,000 from renting out their RVs on the service, while the highest-grossing owner with one vehicle made $42,000. Young sees this trend growing in 2021.
Young predicts even more people will use RVs and camper vans for working on the road next year.
As a portion of the workforce switched to remote work in 2020, Young said she saw an increase in people taking their work on the road.
"Work now for everybody is where you have a laptop and where you have a WiFi connection," she said. "This is happening, but we can't all work from home with our husbands or wives in the same room. That general frustration level of not being able to work and live in your house all the time is going to drive demand. Camper vans are the answer to that."
As "companies embrace a work-wherever-you-are mentality," Young said Outdoorsy may create a filter so that users can easily find vans or RVs that are best for working while on the road.
New campgrounds will open around the US and many will resemble luxury resorts, Young predicts.
Young said she expects there will be more private RV parks in the new year. She also predicts large brands will open new campgrounds to meet consumer demand. Some of these could be closer to glamping.
Typically, campgrounds around the US have very barebone accommodations. Young predicted campgrounds will become more like five-star hotels with luxurious amenities like spa-like bathrooms, higher-quality food options, and stronger WiFi.
These locations will be a good fit for travelers who are "first-timers or people not familiar with outdoor recreation," Young said. It "is just an easy way for newbies to jump right in and explore all the wonders of outdoor travel," she added.
Young also expects state and national parks will see more guests than ever before, forcing major changes to the parks system.
Young said she wouldn't be surprised if smaller parks will become popular next year, too.
"We are looking at increased usage of these parks," Young said. "I know one of the things they are doing is heavy education, particularly for people who aren't familiar with the parks. They are also trying to educate people around the lesser-known parks or areas within national and state parks that you can try out. Instead of going to Grand Canyon, Acadia, or Yellowstone, they're trying to suggest smaller parks that are just as beautiful but less frequented and less traveled, so that they can accommodate consumers but in a more spread-out way."
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