Outdoorsy Releases Generations in the Wild: The 2024 U.S. Family RV Travel Report

Teens drop tech and look to faith for meaning during family road trips. Baby Boomers beef up multigenerational camping plans this summer. Economic constraints and appetite for travel push GenZ to search for free campsites. Demand for developed campgrounds booms.

Outdoorsy, a leading outdoor travel and accommodation marketplace recently released Generations in the Wild: The 2024 U.S. Family RV Travel Report. The company’s inaugural independent research explores motivations behind travel, benefits of time on the road, and cultural values restoring human relationships across four generations of RVing American families.

“This independent research was deliberately designed to span not just generations, but to represent Americans from all walks of life who seek the benefits only the outdoors can provide,” said Outdoorsy Co-Founder Jennifer Young. “Resoundingly, every group acknowledged that RV travel provides a powerful way to strengthen family bonds, reconnect with themselves, and draw closer to their faith.”

Spending time in nature at Snow Canyon State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Notably, Outdoorsy’s survey found that today’s always-on work culture is negatively impacting young families on the road—cutting into quality time and reducing enjoyment for GenZ parents in particular. GenZ is most likely to take work on the road with 74 percent saying they work at least sometimes during a trip and 96 percent of those who do reporting that their work hours negatively impact their time with family. By comparison, GenX has a healthier work life balance with only 53 percent reporting that they work during family trips.

“Creating time for a digital detox is closely correlated to better reported trip outcomes, but we found that only one in five families will always take the time to do so,” said Young. “However, we discovered that disconnecting from tech isn’t the only way to reliably improve your summer vacation. Our research showed that parents who involve their children in every aspect of trip planning—from meal planning to destination selection to activity mapping—report improved journeys across almost every metric.”

Families with children who are highly engaged in trip planning report lower stress (+21 percent), an increase in positive attitudes (+12 percent), and increased excitement (+16 percent). Families who engage their children in every aspect of trip planning are also more likely to report strengthened faith after a trip (65 percent vs. 39 percent) and a higher likelihood of tech-free time (66 percent vs. 52 percent).

Spending time in nature hiking Old Baldy Trail, Madera Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Additional key findings from this year’s report include:

  • GenZ: The changing face of RV travel: The youngest generation of RVers are notably different from their peers. They’re the most likely to travel with the majority (65 percent) saying they plan to take at least five RV trips this year. However, this cost-conscious generation is also the most likely (47 percent) to seek out free RV accommodations this year signaling that this cohort especially is feeling the strain of inflation. This group also tends to stay closest to home with an average trip length that is 100 miles less than that of older generations.
  • Developed campgrounds are the most in-demand in 2024: This year, developed campgrounds are in high demand with 83 percent of families preferring their RV campground to be packed with amenities like showers, pools, biking paths, pickleball courts, and more.
  • RV trips reduce tech time and increase spiritual connectedness for teens: Nearly half of all teens (48 percent) report reduced screen time during family RV trips and the vast majority (88 percent) report at least some level of spiritual connectedness with more than half (59 percent) engaging in prayer, reflection (34 percent), and reading sacred texts (21 percent) during family RV trips.
  • Baby Boomers beef up multigenerational camping plans this summer: In their youth, Baby Boomers popularized backcountry camping. However, over time they fell into travel patterns that were less likely to include outdoor experiences. Now that they’re entering their retirement years, they are much more likely to turn to RV trips as an affordable means of travel that can include their children, grandchildren, and extended family. Three fourths (74 percent) of Baby Boomers will include their adult children in their next RV trip and 31 percent will include their grandchildren.
  • Millennials: The experience-first generation: This formidable travel group started the trend of investing in experiences instead of things and their desire to fully lean into family travel shows up in a variety of ways. Seven out of 10 Millennials say RV trips are an important time to disconnect from technology and this generation is less than half as likely to always work while traveling as their GenZ counterparts (11 percent vs. 26 percent) signaling they have a better handle on work/life balance.
  • Nearer, my God, to thee: RVing families tend to be highly religious or spiritual with 96 percent of parents and 88 percent of teens reporting at least some connection to faith or spirituality. 82 percent of religious families report being Christian. And although teens are less likely to say they’re very connected to religion or spirituality, they’re just as involved (and in some cases more involved) as their parents in spiritual pursuits while in nature. 

Since I’m talking the outdoors, here are a few related articles:

Spending time in nature at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Methodology

The results of the first Outdoorsy U.S. RV Family Travel Report are based on a total of 3,200 surveys completed among a random sample of U.S. families and a corresponding sample of n=400 teens. Within the sample of families, quotas were established for each of the four primary census regions: Northeast (n=800), Midwest (n=800), South (n=800), and West (n=800). Overall, a sample of n=3,200 U.S. families is associated with a margin of error of +/- 1.63 percentage points and a sample of n=400 teens is associated with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points. All surveys were completed only via an outbound solicitation sent to a randomly selected cross-section of families. The sample of respondents was statistically balanced to ensure that the results are in line with overall population figures for age, gender, and ethnicity. Some results may not add to 100 percent due to rounding.

Spending time in nature at Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

About Outdoorsy

Outdoorsy transformed access to the outdoors with the launch of its RV and campervan rental marketplace in 2015 and expanded to offer marketplace insurance in 2018. Today, Outdoorsy’s partnership with its hosts has resulted in over 7 million travel days through RV rentals that are available in 4,800 cities across North America. Outdoorsy’s marketplace, insurance, and retreats provide life-changing financial benefits for RV hosts and retreat communities and offer guests the trust and guidance they need to enjoy memorable rustic travel experiences. Outdoorsy’s team is inspired by a mission to restore our relationship with the outdoors and each other by inviting guests to Live Outdoorsy.

Worth Pondering…

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is a society, where none intrudes,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

I love not Man the less, but Nature more

—Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

20 Tips for Making Friends While Camping

Don’t make the mistake of getting out there in the camping world only to hide away in your RV. Here’s how to make friends while camping with some practical icebreakers.

Going to a new campground can feel like going to summer camp as a kid. You’re excited about all of the things to do but might be really nervous about the social aspect. 

Are the other kids going to like you? Are you going to make friends? Or are you going to write home to mama to pick you up asap?!

Hopefully, your summer camp experience is a happy memory, but no matter what, your next camping experience can be!

Here are some great tips on how to make friends while camping.

Camping at Cave Creek Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why you need to put yourself out there

One of the main reasons people join the RV lifestyle is to see the world. They want to visit all kinds of places and see new things. But don’t forget that people can truly take your experience to the next level.

What’s so great about RVing is you get to visit one place but can learn about so many places through the people you meet. Best of all, you can see how people from all over the country and even the world share a lot in common with you. 

Getting to know some locals will give you more insight than any travel guide could give you, too. A quick chat with your campground host or grocery bagger can teach you things about the area you’d never know otherwise. Gaining a glimpse into local life is interesting in its own right.  

And that’s the mindset you need to adopt. A friendship when camping is probably fleeting. In most cases, you’ll never see or hear from them again. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. You may, in fact, meet lifelong friends but even small friendly interactions can make a huge difference! Getting to share stories, relate to strangers, and lowering your guard can teach you a lot about the world and even yourself.

Not to mention, many studies have shown that social interaction improves your mental and physical health.

Camping at the Lakes Golf & RV Resort, Chowchilla, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s easier to make friends while camping

Making new friends can be nerve-wracking but you actually have two big advantages when camping. Embracing these two advantages can make the whole idea of meeting new people easier for you.

Advantage #1

The first advantage is you never have to see these people again. I bet you didn’t expect that! But that thought is actually very freeing. You don’t have to worry much about whether they like you or you like them because, if not, well, you move on. 

Some people can be nervous about meeting the neighbors at their brick-and-mortar house because they’d be stuck with them if they didn’t like them. But, don’t have that fear with their campground neighbors. The worst that could happen is an awkward conversation. 

The opposite is true, too. You may be more nervous that they won’t like you. Guess what?! Even if they don’t, they’re not stuck with you either! So, embrace the short-term stakes.

Camping at Harvest Moon RV Park. Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Advantage #2

The second advantage is you’re among your people! There’s a very good chance they like doing the same thing as you because they are doing the same thing as you. 

Plus, campers tend to be friendly people. They know how to sit back and relax and enjoy the moment. They’re curious about new places and things, and that usually includes you!

Many will even take the first step and strike up a conversation with you. So, you just need to be prepared to not shy away from it. Return their greeting or question and see where it goes from there.

Camping at Terre Haute Campground, Terre Haute, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to make friends while camping: 14 tips and icebreakers

Saying you want to make friends and knowing how to make friends are two very different things. So, here are some tips and icebreakers to help you along your way.

1. Look for long-term campers that have been there or are staying more than a few days. Weekenders and larger groups tend to just want to focus on their fun and their families since they’re limited on time.

2. Smile and wave at everyone. Some will take it from there for you! They’ll strike up a conversation and you just have to participate.

3. Let your dog be your wingman. Take your dog for a walk around the campground or park him beside you in your outdoor area. People will come to your dog and then to you. 

4. Let your kids be your wingman. Kids usually don’t have the same reserves we do about meeting new people so let them loose (within reason)! Let them play with other kids and then you can meet their parents.

5. Let your travel companion be your wingman. Chances are, one of you is more sociable than the other. Don’t hold them back! Don’t say, “You shouldn’t bother them or maybe they don’t want you to…” Let them do their thing and if it works out, great! If it doesn’t, that’s on them!

Camping at Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Limit your first conversation to 5-10 minutes. Campers are very friendly people and often over-polite. They may be in the middle of something or on the way somewhere but they don’t want to interrupt you. So, try to keep the first conversation short and then swing back by or invite them over another time.

7. Set up extra chairs around your fire pit. You can invite people over, offer s’mores to passers-by, or even put a sign up that says “free campfire stories” or “campfire songs“.

8. Get involved in activities. A lot of campgrounds host group activities like card games, sports matches, or meet-and-greets. Join in!

9. Place your chairs at the front of your campsite facing passers-by. Smile and say hi to everyone and see where that goes.

10. Set up a snack station. Have a portable table for coffee or snacks and invite people to stop by. 

Camping at Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Ask them about their RV. RVers love to talk about their rigs! 

12. Offer help. If you see them lugging gear or setting up, offer to help. Some may decline but others will appreciate it.

13. Ask for help. Whether you need to borrow a tool or need help backing up, asking for help is a great way to break the ice.

14. Host a game night. Walk around the campground and let people know you’re having a game night and anyone’s welcome to join. Camping games and board games are a great way to interact without having to rely on conversation.

15. Listen more than you talk. When you’re talking to someone new, it’s important to listen more than you talk. Not only will this make the other person feel valued but it also means you’ll learn more about them and what they’re interested in.

Camping at Sea Wind RV Resort, Riviera Beach, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Make an effort. To make friends while camping you must put in the effort. This means being the one to initiate conversations, inviting people to do things together, etc. It can be scary at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s well worth it!

17. Ask questions. When you’re talking to someone new, ask them lots of questions. This will show that you’re interested in them and make it more likely that they’ll want to be friends with you.

18. Walk around. Taking a stroll through the campground will provide you with a great opportunity to meet new people. Start by introducing yourself and your family members. Compliment something you like about their campsite.

19. Be yourself. It’s important to be genuine and authentic when making new camping friends. Jjust be yourself and the right people will take notice.

20. Take an interest in your fellow campers by asking them questions about themselves. People love talking about themselves so this is a surefire way to make a friend.

Camping at Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Share your tips

We’d love to hear your tips and advice on how to make friends while camping. Please share your advice and experiences on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.

Worth Pondering…

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

―Marie Curie (1867-1934), physicist and chemist