PHOTO: More Americans than ever are going camping according to Kampgrounds of America.. (Photo via Flickr/Tony Webster)
For some travelers, a relaxing getaway means nothing more than an all-inclusive experience with 24 hours’ worth of free booze and alcohol. For others, the only way to vacation is by overnighting in someone else’s home or villa. Still others long for an urban boutique experience near nightlife and a buzzing culinary scene.
And while industry experts predict that hotel rates and occupancies will almost certainly increase this year, the growth in traditional and non-traditional accommodations will almost certainly not be at the expense of exploring the great outdoors.
In fact, more Americans than ever before are going camping concludes a report released by Kampgrounds of America (KOA). Some 61 percent of all American households said they went camping, at least occasionally, in 2014. (Compared to 58 percent the previous year.)
In 2016, KOA estimated that some 37 million American households went camping at least one time. Nearly one-third of campers reported going on three or more camping trips in one year. And those repeat customers, says KOA, is what is helping drive a growth in interest in camping.
Fully half of all campers said they intend to spend more nights camping in 2017. And data collected by KOA backs that up. Since 2014, the number of campers who have reported taking three or more camping trips per year has skyrocketed by more than 36 percent, while infrequent campers (once a year) have dipped by 10 percent.
While campers tend to be traditionalists, identifying tents as the most popular type of camping, the number of people who choose to camp in RVs or cabins is slowly growing in popularity.
Somewhat surprisingly, millennials tend to be avid campers. More than half of millennials (51 percent) said that they intend to increase their camping in 2017. Millennials also tend to be the people who most enjoy camping in large groups of 10 or more people and they say they are most likely to look for campgrounds that can accommodate their group size.
The future of camping could be bright based upon the responses of Gen Z campers, or teenagers between the ages of 13-17. Some 90 percent said they intend to camp as adults.
Adults who camp with teens say they enjoy the experience because it helps reduce stress and leads to a healthier lifestyle. Teenagers agree that camping offers strong stress-reducing benefits and that it is a great way for their parents to relax. But they also like the opportunity to participate in something they have in common with adults.
The survey also revealed that camping teens are not necessarily more glued to their technology than any other age group. Teens reported going online during 83 percent of their camping trips, a number that roughly mirrors the tech consumption of adults, who go online 84 percent of the time.
The larger differences can be found in online habits. Teens tend to check social media (46 percent vs. 29 percent of adults), while adults check emails more frequently (39 percent vs. 21 percent of teens).
Interestingly, 86 percent of teens responded that they like to play board games or card games at least occasionally while camping. And half of the teens surveyed said camping gives them a chance to unplug from technology. Some 71 percent even indicated they would still be willing to go camping even if there was no Wi-Fi connection.
Not surprisingly, 95 percent of campers bring some form of technology with them on a camping trip and at least half say free Wi-Fi is an important feature when choosing a campground.
But 37 percent of campers also say that technology allows them to free up their time so they can spend more of it outdoors. This group also reports taking an average of two more camping days per year than the rest of respondents.
READ MORE: National Parks you can't miss this summer.
The KOA report also found that camping among non-white campers is increasing. In the most recent study, non-white campers made up a quarter of all campers, a rate that has doubled since the number was first measured in 2012.
Asian Americans, in particular, are rapidly becoming camping fanatics. Some 40 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander campers said they only started camping in the past few years, as opposed to new campers of African-American origin (31 percent), Hispanic origin (22 percent) and new white campers (12 percent).
For more information or to view the entire report, visit www.koapressroom.com.