Whether it’s to kick start their long-desired retirement or enjoy some quiet time on the open road, recreational vehicles have always been a hot commodity among the baby boomer generation. In fact, for many years, baby boomers were the RV industry’s largest consumer market. But now millennials are in the rear view mirror, giving a robust boost to RV sales across the nation.
Millennials are quickly catching up to baby boomers in their influence on the RV industry, one road trip at a time. While RVs are loved for their ability to provide comfortable living spaces and amenities during long distance trips, millennials are reinventing the way RVs are utilized thanks in part to the “digital nomad” lifestyle that is becoming increasingly more popular with the young demographic. If you’re not familiar with the term, “digital nomads” are “location independent” people whose jobs allow them to work from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. And it just so happens that RVs make for perfect dwellings for these types of professionals.
The younger demographic has also prompted a great deal of innovation in the industry in recent years. RV Airbnbs now make it easier for those who can’t afford to buy an RV, to simply rent one out for a “glamping” staycation or a quick getaway to a picturesque destination.
So, why are millennial’s taking so quickly to RV travel? This trend can be explained in part by the rising employment rate, affordable gas prices, and low-interest financing options like asking your lender about debt to income ratio to approval, which makes owning an RV easier than ever before. Not to mention that RVs themselves have come a long way over the past decades. Featuring sleek interior designs, internet connectivity, kitchens, bathrooms and even hot tubs, RVs are drawing more and more people who have a knack for traveling in comfort and style.
As a result, the RV market has grown by more than 200 percent since 2009. And since 2014, more than a million American households have joined in on the camping bandwagon, according to the North American Camping Report. Of these Americans, 38% are millennials. Overall, North American sales of recreational vehicle are projected to exceed $26.19 billion by the end of 2024, according to Persistence Market Research.
RV manufacturers across the U.S. are taking notice of these demographic shifts and are customizing their models to reflect the standards of customers in their twenties and thirties.
As a result, more and more RVs are now equipped with eco-friendly features, as well as renewable and battery-operated technologies that offer consumers a sustainable form of tourism without the exorbitant price tag. And the younger generation is loving it.
As an RV dealer, I’ve been able to see this ongoing trend first-hand. Many of my younger buyers are now requesting high-tech features, including WI-FI, smartphone integration, premium video and audio systems, and additional charging station for their numerous devices. Extra storage room for bicycles, surf boards, and kayaks is also on the list of desired features.
Millennials have now overtaken baby boomers as the largest age group, and as their purchasing power increases, more and more of them are turning to RVing as a way to experience our beautiful country. And since many of them can work remotely from anywhere, they can RV year-round. After all, a gorgeous state park is a lot more inviting than some cubicle!
At the end of the day, whether it’s baby boomers, Gen X’ers or millennials, it’s great to see that the RV industry is doing better than ever, which means that more American families are spending quality time with their loved ones in the great outdoors.
About the Author
Gigi Stetler is Founder and CEO of The RV Advisor, an online resource that provides RV enthusiasts nationally with helpful information and services, including roadside assistance, extended RV warranty, insurance, and much more. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Stetler is widely recognized as one of a handful of the top RV experts in the country.