As high fuel prices are causing many to stay home or travel closer to home, the camping industry is wondering if they can expect more spots to be opened up this summer due to camping cancellations.
That's what we talk about in this week's Episode 397 of the RV Podcast as we share lots of feedback from RVers who say inflation and record-high fuel prices are changing their summer travel plans.
You can watch the entire podcast by clicking the video player below.
To listen to an audio version, check out the RV Podcast on your favorite podcast app or click the player below to hear it right now on whatever device you are using to read this post.
Everyone agrees we need more open camping spots
Even before COVID, campgrounds were getting filled. But since COVID, RVing has exploded in popularity and with it has come unprecedented pressure on campgrounds. Many popular dates, weekends, and holidays have been sold out for months. It is not unusual that reservations have to be made six months in advance. Even longer for some spots.
Last week, the camping app called the Dyrt, issued a report that claimed dispersed camping doubled between 2020 and 2021 because of campground overcrowding. People who could not get a reservation in a campground turned to dispersed camping, the app announced in a press release,
That shows how crowded it was last year,
But this year, the travel industry and tourism officials across the country are worried that people are canceling their travel plans because of those spiraling field costs.
Last week, we talked on the podcast about how there may be diesel shortages and rationing this summer.
Fuel prices keep going up
A survey by a TV Station in Detroit last week found that 45.4% of their viewers said they are totally canceling their Memorial Day weekend trip altogether because of the gas prices. An additional 15.3% of respondents said they might cancel their plans, and that they’re considering changing them.
The price for regular gas is approaching $5 a gallon nationwide, with many areas at more than $6. Diesel is steadily climbing to near $6 and on its way to $7 by mid-summer, according to predictions made by many in the fuel industry.
Are camping cancellations the inevitable result?
It’s reasonable to assume that many RVers planning long, cross-country trips are now in the process of changing those plans, again turning to shorter trips closer to home.
Here's just a sampling of the email we have received from our community.
Vince: We are in Kentucky, on our way to Wisconsin for the Summer. I think storage in Wisconsin will save us hundreds of dollars.
Mindful Kayaker: I retired and bought a small RV to make my dream Road Trip around North America but I will have To postpone this dream up to 2024 to see if things change in this Country
Peter: We have canceled 3 of our 5 trips this year because of the fuel prices. First summer of retirement, not like we pictured it. We will adjust and move on.
Dave: We made reservations back in January for camping in June and July. It was going to be a two-month trip. I have canceled them all. My fuel prices are double what they were last year. If it was just that maybe we would have continued. But everything else is way up, groceries, restaurants, clothing, medicine, museum admissions… you name it.
Marco: We are definitely seeing fewer RVs on the road. That is the first indication I think of what WILL be a lot of campground cancellations.
Russell: I was paying $2.09 a gallon for Diesel now it is $5.29 at the cheapest place, that's almost 2 1/2 times the cost. So the trip that cost me $1200.00 is now going to cost me $3000.00. I’m done. Canceling all our planned travels in this summer.
Mike and Jennifer's Summer T-Shirts for your next adventure
No signs yet of camping cancellations
The camping industry is not reporting lots of newly opened spots.
Campgrounds we’ve checked with said they aren’t seeing any unusual wave of cancellations yet, but some park owners are concerned that those constantly increasing high fuel prices will sooner or later change the trajectory of what was predicted to be another record summer camping season.
As one campground owner told me as long as I promised not to identify him:
“There has to be a tipping point coming when those fuel prices will be so unreasonable that we'll start to get flooded with canceled reservations. But the thing is, our phones are still ringing off the hook with folks looking to find a campsite. So right now, whatever gets canceled gets gobbled right back up by people who are still traveling. Will that continue? I don't know. It's a very confusing and frustrating time but so far, we're hanging in and doing fine.”
What are your plans?
Let us know how all of this impacts you or not in the comments.
Looking for exciting RV trip ideas and travel suggestions?
We've written a library of RV Travel books that lay out guided RV explorations of scenic areas of the US that we'’ve explored and think would make an excellent RV trip for you.
In each location, we provide a suggested route and itinerary (7 stops in each guide, one for each day of a week trip!) as well as links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, local tips, and interesting things to do at each location.
You can hit everything in seven days, do a whirlwind weekend tour, or you can take your time and explore the area over a 2+ week period.
Planning an RV trip can be very time-consuming so that’s why we’ve done the research for you! Just take our guides and use them. We’re sure you’ll have an RV trip for the ages! Instant download. CLICK HERE for information on our RV Travel Guides