According to the 2017 North American Camping Report, over six million new households have started camping regularly since 2014. This has been largely due to the enthusiasm of millennials, as more of them are embracing the wild outdoors than ever before. Today, there are over 75 million households that camp regularly in the US. Over a third of this number are millennials.
Millennials camp for many reasons. Some of them want to spend time with friends and family, others want to lead healthier lifestyles by becoming more physically active and focusing on their emotional and psychological health. As their numbers increase in the camping grounds, camping as a whole has metamorphosed to reflect this changing landscape. Today, camping is taking a more physical and social direction. This means more hiking and mountain biking and less fishing.
Since time immemorial, camping has offered the perfect sanctuary from our normal routines. Avid campers understand that it is the perfect way to relax and unwind, forgetting all your troubles and re-energizing, ready to take on life with a new vigor and sense of purpose. Camping also provides the perfect avenue to spend time with family and catch up with friends, enriching one's overall emotional well-being. The recent surge in camping numbers shows how willing and enthusiastic Americans are when it comes to taking up healthier and more fun activities that enrich their lives.
Furthermore, with the massive popularity of social media among millennials and their peers, camping is getting lots of free marketing. When millennials go camping, they do not 'unplug' from their normal lives as previous generations did. Instead, they bring their normal lives with them in the form of social media. They take lots of pictures and share them with their friends on popular social media sites. This, in turn, creates a surge of interest among other millennials, and the cycle repeats itself.
Technology has also had another positive effect on camping. Since most millennials are now able to check and send work emails on the go, they can spend more time camping. For this reason, more people are now able to take additional vacation days without adversely affecting their jobs.
Campers who believe technology is important in camping report feeling safer with Wi-Fi access. They believe being able to access information while traveling, being in touch with friends, being able to share their experiences on social media and the general feeling of safety that comes with technology enhances their camping experience. Compared to other generations, this aspect is more important to millennials.
What is even better news is that future generations seem to have an even more eager outlook towards camping. Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2009) believes that spending time outside is very important for people their age. They agree that camping is an important activity with tremendous benefits. This enthusiasm only means that camping as an activity is only going to be taken up more in the future. The North American Camping report study suggested that the more families keep experiencing the outdoors, the more those activities will continue and therefore the more camping incidences will rise nationally. The younger generations get easily hooked, and camping quickly becomes a tradition.
Camping in the US has become such a popular activity that it has started attracting international campers. People from all over the world are heading to popular camping destinations in the US to collect memories and gain new experiences. However, it is important to note that you will need a visa if you are coming from another country to camp in the US.
The study also had several other interesting findings regarding the current state of camping in America. Firstly, younger campers are heading out in larger groups, with an average of 10 people per group among millennials, as compared to 8 people per group among Gen Xers. Camping is also rapidly becoming a more family oriented activity, with over half of all camping incidents in 2017 being family affairs.
Secondly, with the influx of younger people, more rigorous and physical activities are becoming more popular. This means more and more people are taking up mountain biking, hiking and adventure sports. Campgrounds with onsite activities are experiencing a surge in business for this reason. An interesting finding, however, was that single millennials tag along with their parents on camping trips, while millennials with children try to bring their parents along on their camping trips. Which means that these activities transcend the generation barriers.
Thirdly, more diverse groups of young campers are taking to the outdoors. According to the study, in 2016, 13% of new campers were Hispanic, 12% were African American, and 14% were Asian. Over 30% of non-white millennial campers report recently taking up camping, all within the last four years.
Finally, when it comes to camping styles, 61% of all campers use tents, while one in four campers use RVs. Among those who use RVs, over 40% do not own the vehicles. Instead, they borrow or rent the RVs they need. Older generations are the ones who purchase or lease their own vehicles.
If you are one to follow trends and have not taken up camping yet, consider joining the bandwagon with your family this year and you may just start a new family tradition. If you want to give it a shot, go in and talk to your local stockiest and start making a list of camping gear you need and get yourself kitted out. Remember to ask friends and family if they have gear you can borrow for your first trip. It does take quite a bit of planning for a successful camping experience. However, the result is always gratifying and totally worth it, especially if you get to spend all that quality time with the people you care about.