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What is an RV and who are the owners?
- An RV is a vehicle that combines transportation and temporary living quarters for travel, recreation and camping. The two main categories of RVs are motorhomes (motorized) and towables (towed behind the family car, van or pickup).
- More than 11 million U.S. households now own an RV. The upswing in RV ownership over the last 10 years is driven by strong interest from younger individuals and families who live an active outdoor lifestyle and Baby Boomers who are entering retirement.
- The typical RV owner is 48 years old, married, and has an above-average annual household income of $62,000. RV owners are likely to own their homes and spend an average of 3-4 weeks annually, industry research shows.
- More than 11% of U.S. households headed by 35-54-year-olds own an RV, exceeding the 9.3% ownership rates of those 55 and over.
Factors behind RV ownership trends
- Flexibility, comfort and convenience — RVs offer a convenient, hassle-free way to see America. With fully-equipped kitchens and baths, rooms that slide out at the touch of a button, central air and heat, flat-screen TVs, surround-sound stereos and more, today’s RVs provide travelers with all the amenities of home while on the road or at the campground. Innovative new products offer an optimal mix of size and amenities, including lightweight trailers, fuel-efficient motorhomes and the use of green technologies such as solar panels and energy-efficient components.
- Affordability — RV vacations are more affordable than travel by personal car, commercial airline or cruise ship. A 2014 Vacation Cost Comparison prepared by PKF Consulting USA showed that a family of four can save 27-62% on vacation costs by traveling in an RV, even when factoring in ownership costs and fuel. For a two-person traveling party, savings are 11-48%. Additionally, for most RV buyers, interest on their loan is deductible as second home mortgage interest. Even when fuel prices rise, more than 80% of RV owners say their RV vacations cost less than other forms of travel.
- RVs have uses as diverse as the people who own them - In addition to vacation travel, owners use RVs for tailgating, travel with pets, business, outdoor sports and other leisure activities, and families that frequently vacation by RV say it creates an increased sense of togetherness and helps strengthen family relationships.
- Lifestyle trends — RV owners overwhelmingly said in recent surveys that their RVs make it easier to take more frequent weekend getaways or mini-vacations that accommodate busy family schedules. Nearly 90% of RV owners take three or more mini-vacations (four nights or fewer) trips in their RVs each year. RVers can enjoy the mountains, beaches, parks, popular tourist attractions and small towns whenever they want, without giving up the comforts of home. With sport utility RVs, RV travelers can easily bring their ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles or other outdoor vehicles. In addition to travel, camping and outdoor recreation, RVs are used year-round for a variety of other purposes, like music festivals, events and tailgating at sporting events.
- RVs support a balanced and active lifestyle - In a Harris Interactive survey, owners reported that RV travel enables them to experience nature and outdoor activities and enjoy quality family time. RVers reported stronger bonds with loved ones and benefits to children. RVers also cited healthier eating on the road, sleeping in their own beds, and having their own bathroom facilities as advantages of RV travel.
- Campground Growth — With more than 18,000 public and privately owned campgrounds nationwide, RVers are free to roam America’s roads for a weekend — or months at a time. Privately owned RV parks and campgrounds are found near popular destinations, along major tourist routes and even in metropolitan areas. The RV Industry Association is currently working with government agencies to modernize publicly-owned campgrounds to accommodate today’s RVs.
RV shipments and sales data
- RV Wholesale Shipments — RV shipments finished 2020 with 430,412 units, up 6.0% against 2019, on par with the third best annual shipment total on record.
- Economic Impact — The RV industry has a $114 billion economic impact according to the results of the 2019 RVs Move America Study, research commissioned by the RV Industry Association. The industry provides 596,355 jobs and $32.2 billion in wages. For additional information and the direct economic impact in each state or congressional district, check out RVs Move America.
Indicators for Future Growth
- RV ownership has reached record levels - More than eleven million households now own an RV – the highest level ever recorded – a 62% increase since 2001 and a 124% gain since 1980.
- Population and demographic trends favor long-term RV market growth - RV owning households are split almost equally between 18 and 54 and 55 and up, with significant growth among 18-to-34-year-olds, who now make up 22 percent of the market.
- Baby boomers entering retirement - RV sales are expected to benefit as aging baby boomers continue to enter the age range in which RV ownership has been historically highest.
How can I learn more about RVs?
- RV Types One Sheet — Check out this one pager on RV types, terms and average prices.
- Online — Check out RVIA.org and GoRVing.com for information on RV travel trends, vehicles types, events and lists of RV dealers and campgrounds across the country.
- Visit an RV dealer — Check GoRVing.com to find a local dealer.
- Attend an RV show — A variety of RVs of all shapes, sizes and costs are displayed at hundreds of RV shows around the nation. Show dates and locations are searchable at GoRVing.com.
- Rent an RV — There’s an abundance of RV rental and sharing options nationwide. Renting and sharing allows potential buyers to try RV travel and determine which vehicle types best suits their needs. Check GoRVing.com for the nearest rental outlet.