Every year, millions of Americans load up recreational vehicles and hit the road, joining seasonal, nomadic communities that spring up in RV parks and campgrounds in some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes.
The stereotype is that RVs typically carry retirees, but the reality is that travel trailers have been attracting more people, and younger people, than ever, some drawn by an interest in tiny-home living, others pushed by the crisis of the pandemic.
According to the 2021 North American Camping Report from Kampgrounds of America, a network of privately owned campgrounds, RV use has grown steadily since 2014 and reached a record high of about 13 million households in 2020. RV ownership among 18- to 34-year-olds has also grown significantly, as reported by the 2021 Go RVing RV Owner Demographic Profile, and that age group now makes up about 22 percent of the market.
This market share might be even larger if RVs appealed more to design enthusiasts who grew up in the age of boutique hotels. Few RVs and RV parks offer the sort of luxuriously pared-down, Scandinavian-influenced style that has given birth to websites like Cabin Porn and transformed so many rundown motels in the Catskills.
Some campers have taken matters into their own hands by gut-renovating RVs to give them the charm of a contemporary cabin while sharing design hacks online. Manufacturers have also responded with design-focused offerings, like Airstream’s recent collaboration with Pottery Barn on a special-edition trailer, and the stylishly retro creations of newer companies like Happier Camper.
But that still left room for the reinvention of the RV park experience — and architects, designers and entrepreneurs have been rushing to fill the void.
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