As states began locking down to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, RV tourism companies took the same punishment as the rest of the travel industry, only rescuing a bit of business by renting to governments, utilities and healthcare workers. Travel industry veterans have felt since early March that RV’ing could be among the big tickets for summer vacation this year, though. Mark Wong, an exec at Small Luxury Hotels of the World, told CNBC, “Road trips — the drive market — will be this summer’s trend. Travelers will be more comfortable hopping into their own cars or rental vehicles than commuting in mass transportation.” The same month, Nicholas Devane, owner of RV rental company Texino, told the LA Times he was doing good business until having to shut down, because “I think corona is making people rethink what vacation looks like. What is their ability to travel without going through airports? Camper vans and RVs are a great way to do that.”
It appears no place of natural beauty will be spared. Among commercial rental businesses, large outfits like Cruise American and El Monte RV have the name recognition and national footprint to serve vacationers across the country who want to get out of their state. A small outfit like Miami’s Ondevan said it’s seen success by focusing on South Florida locals who want to take road trips while they work remotely, and San Diego company AdventureKT said natives have taken up the slack left by out-of-towners and foreigner who have canceled.Now four-year-old company RVshare, a Turo for the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” set, reports that bookings for summer have set new records by shooting up 650% since last month. While 84% of renters say they plan to travel with a partner or close family, 93% of renters say their first priority is avoiding crowds and crowded vacation spots. Getting away from people will be difficult to do with a surge of RV renters on top of the usual summer market all trying to get away from people, and 65% of renters intending to “be in and around nature.” Folks plan to be out on the road for a longer time, too, with almost half of the coach-seekers planning trips of a week or more.
Families and kids having been cooped up for two months already are among the “steady trend” of renters RVshare says are locking up rigs less than a week before taking off. For anyone who plans on joining the caravans, RV’ing old-timers have been focused on coronavirus issues since at least late February, as the generally older age group tried to navigate higher risk, spotty guidance, and travel restrictions. Check out their forums to get a feel for how the pros are managing. You might want to book that wet camping spot at Yosemite real early, and prepare to socially distance — though you’ll have a lot of company.