The numbers of Millennials heading to the great outdoors to camp has drastically increased over the past decade. Camping is no longer solely associated with the stereotypical RV-driving affluent white retiree but with a more demographically diverse mix of Millennials who are transforming what camping is all about.
According to Kampground of America (KOA), new camper households have grown by 6 million since 2014. This year alone, almost half of all camper households plan to make more camping trips a priority. Of the Millennial generation, Millennial families are the most active group of campers, more so than singles.
Camping used to be defined by a white and older demographic, but Millennials are redefining that. There is an increase of Hispanic (71%) and Black (78%) Millennial campers who are eager to try both new camping locations and different types of camping.
For example, Millennials are more likely to venture further out into the unknown with more rustic accommodations vs. going to the other extreme of camping known as “glamping” (glamorous camping).
How Millennials Choose to Experience Camping
KOA found that single Millennials are camping more with their parents, either tagging along with mom and dad or inviting the parents to join in on the camping adventure. It demonstrates that camping is popular across multiple generations, giving campgrounds a consistent revenue boost over the past seven years.
Modes of camping may differ among the generations, but an RV remains the most popular mode of transport for all. That is, one in four is hitting the campgrounds in an RV. Among campers that use an RV as their primary mode of accommodation, almost half do not own but rather rent or borrow the vehicle.
Millennials are most likely to rent an RV through peer-to-peer connections, whereas Gen-Xers are more likely to borrow from a friend, and older generations tend to lease or own their RV’s. Tents are still the popular go-to mode of camping with 61% of campers using tents.
In the past, Gen-Xers were more likely to camp with kids than Millennials, but that is quickly changing as Millennials grow their own families. Finding campgrounds that are kid friendly benefits the whole family, which is a timeless concept important to all families, regardless of generation.
Millennials Modernize Their Camping Style
The biggest difference in today’s camping is the introduction of digital. Millennial families more so than single Millennials are likely to share photos and videos on social media of their camping experience.
Of all campers who feel Wi-Fi is important when hitting the outdoors, almost half feel it enhances their camping experience. While the biggest driver for this may be the desire to stay connected via social media at all times, many Millennials also feel a sense of security with a Wi-Fi connection, and they appreciate the quick and easy access to information, such as navigating a hike for example.
For some Millennial campers, having access to Wi-Fi enables them to extend their trips because they can stay connected with family or work. There is some debate on whether all Millennials feel the same. Some feel it creates a better camping experience where others don’t feel it necessary.
It is common for older generations to disconnect from technology altogether when it comes to camping, planning their trips with travel guides & road maps. But for the Millennial generation, combining camping and camp-planning with digital is a given. A startup called Hipcamp proves that today’s camping experience begins with a digital one through their camping version of Airbnb.
The Hipcamp website enables campers to research and book unique lodging and camping experiences such as staying in a yurt, a treehouse, a rustic cabin, or “glamping”. The range of camping styles available on Hipcamp extends from the bare minimum campsite at about $6/night to luxurious options at upwards of $1,600/night.
Millennials’ propensity for disrupting every industry on earth applies to camping too, opening up a new age of camping styles, and pushing the rising incorporation of digital into the outdoors.