It's time for some unvarnished, blunt and no-BS talk about what to expect about RV camping in 2022, in contrast to the “everything is great” pablum being spewed out by RV industry marketers and PR spinmasters.
Everything is not great. And far from it.
So in episode 377 of the podcast, we're going to tell it like it is. The good (and there still is much about the RV lifestyle that IS good), and the bad (the challenges and problems that nobody tells you about when buying a new RV).
That is IF you can find a new RV to buy that you don't have to wait a year or two to get.
If you want to cut to the chase and watch the video version of this episode of the podcast that is available on our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, click the player below.
If you want just an audio version, you can listen on your favorite podcast app – Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, etc, we're on them all – or click the play arrow in the box below to listen to on the device you are reading this.
There has been so much upheaval in the RV industry over the past two years that we wish we could say that it will be better in 2022.
It may. In fact, we are hopeful that it will.
Admittedly while it is hard in the first few days of the new year of 2022 to look ahead and say with certainty just what will happen, we do think it's important to look at the trends and developments we have been seeing over the past few months and use them to help us shape our travel plans for RV camping in 2022.
We are every bit as excited about RV Travel as we have ever been. But with so many newcomers jumping into the RV Lifestyle and with all the new challenges the crazy growth in camping that we have seen over the past three days, things are certainly more challenging.
When you add in the uncertainties of the time – social and political – we think it prudent to devote our first podcast of the year to an honest assessment on where things are and what we can expect for the rest of the year.
So, from our 10+ years now of traveling and reporting on the RV Lifestyle, we have some things we want to be very straight about. Most of these topics have been raised numerous times through email, postings on our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group, and during our in-person meetups around the country.
So let's get started with the 1,000-pound gorilla around the campfire.
COVID and what it means for RV camping in 2022
As this was published, we are seeing unprecedented spikes in the number of infections. In fact, as I write this, Jennifer is recovering from COVID, despite the fact that she (as me) is vaccinated and boosted.
This week, one of the top infectious disease doctors and a key advisor on COVID policy to the U.S. government just said that over the next few weeks, “we’re going to have a hard time keeping everyday life operating” because of the sharp rise in coronavirus cases brought about by the Omicron variant.
I can personally attest that getting a quick test for the disease is almost impossible. The at-home so-called instant tests” are virtually sold out online and at stores.
COVID is still – more than two years after it hit – still very much here and – this is the point I want to make about it – it will continue to disrupt the industry for many months to come in lots of ways.
RV manufacturers, already hit hard by parts shortages, will have more employees out sick, further delaying production. RV dealers, facing inventory shortages, will make it harder to do service because their tech will be out sick – their lifeblood profit center.
In-person RV shows canceled during 2020 and most of last year, face an uncertain year because of COVID. Most of the shows around the country have announced plans to reopen in 2022. But will the new infection spikes give them a reason to change their minds?
I think most will watch what happens at the 2022 Florida RV Supershow (next week) and the massive Quartzsite RV Show (they are expecting over 100,000 to camp in the Arizona desert out there this month). If those shows result in more infections, 2022 will again be characterized by canceled events.
Meanwhile, RV camping in 2022 will become even more popular, causing the other big problem for the industry:
Campgrounds will get even harder to get into
It's pretty much true now that almost every campground or state park in popular destinations is booked up for RV camping in 2022 during seasonal weekends and holidays. It is and will continue to get harder to find open campsites.
This, from the email and conversations we have, is probably the biggest source of frustration among RVers.
To have a reasonable chance of snagging a reservation for the peak times during summer and fall, you need to have made a reservation at least six months in advance.
The airline industry is in freefall. Since Christmas, thousands upon thousands of flights have been canceled. The CDC just recommended that everyone – even the vaccinated – stay away from cruise ship vacations. International travel restrictions, lockdowns, mandates, and massive confusion are what await anyone planning an international vacation.
Those who hoped to rent a vacation getaway through VRBO, Airbnb, or the various vacation rental home agencies out there have found open dates are few and far between.
That means the only viable vacation outlet for many will be camping and RV vacations.
If they can find a campground that hasn't long been booked up. And if they can find an RV. Even rental RVs have been snatched up as never before.
The supply chain will remain broken
The changing of the calendar doesn't mean the long broken supply chain systems that have so adversely affected the industry will magically be better.
Alas, those massive container ships are still floating off the California coast waiting to be unloaded. The nationwide shortage of truck drivers shows no signs of ending.
The experts predict that it won't be until 2023 – or longer – before the supply chain gets fixed.
That means RV makers cant get the awnings, computer chips, accessories, and appliances they need to complete production in a speedy fashion. That also means your RV dealer can't get the replacement parts needed for your RV as fast as you would like.
RV camping in 2022 will cost more
Because it is a seller's market, everything connected to the RV industry will see increasing prices in 2022.
RV prices are rising for new and used models. Campground fees are on the rise. Fuel costs more. Propane (LP gas) costs more.
Costs will cause some to travel shorter distances.
Fulltimers, especially those who are living on a fixed income or Social Security and got into the RV lifestyle as a way to stretch their dollars, will be hit hard. With housing costs at record highs, those fulltimers who want to go off the road will find even that to be more challenging because rent and home prices just may be out of reach.
Boondocking will be the best way to do RV camping in 2022
We feel it has been for a long time. But as more people discover the joy and beauty of boondocking and the very low cost of staying in dispersed camping spots on public land, it's going to get more crowded.
Camping can be expensive.
Especially if you are spending more travel time in outdoor spaces. Or, perhaps you’re living and working from your RV.
Traditional campgrounds can also be crowded and noisy. It can sometimes feel like the opposite experience you are seeking by getting away from civilization and into nature.
That may be why you are looking for cheap or free RV camping sites and that’s why I’m here to help. I’m going to introduce you to boondocking in off-the-beaten-path campsites and then teach you how to find them.
This ebook (not a print book – but you could print this one out on your own if you wish) is available right now.
Here's your Ultimate Guide to Cheap or FREE RV Camping Sites
In 2021, we saw an alarming trend develop in which state and federal administrators closed or added restrictions to numerous areas for dispersed camping because the spots were being trashed with garbage and litter, even human waste.
Some blamed it on homeless encampments being set up on public lands. Others said the issues were largely caused by inexperienced new campers. No matter who is at fault, this can't be allowed to continue in 2022 without even more land being removed as boondocking spots.
Campground alternatives will become even more popular
Membership sites like Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome, which let members stay for free at farms, wineries, attractions, and the backyards or driveways of individual RVers, will rapidly grow. Already, some of those hosts are routinely filling up.
Two competing services that we have reported on, though, have had really shaky starts. One tried to capitalize on the moochdocking craze, where you stay on private property. Another tried to organize churches around the country to allow RVers to camp overnight in their parking lots. The websites for both no longer work.
But it's just a matter of time until enterprising people figure this out.
More and more RVers will moochdock in the driveways and on the private property of friends and relatives. We only half-tease our son, Jeff, that his big backyard on the edge of a big cornfield in Southwestern Michigan is emerging as one of our favorite moochdocking RV campsites. We think he should put in an electrical hookup for us. Hint hint.
More people will be buying their own land for RV camping in 2022
We think we are on the cusp of a huge boom in private land acquisition by RVers.
Jennifer and I did this, purchasing 5 acres in Tennessee late last that we are developing as our own private RV retreat. We're putting in utilities and a couple of extra spots so we can invite friends. Since we bought, we have met and heard from a lot of others interested in doing the same thing.
We're now looking to buy some other land in our home state of Michigan so we can do the same thing up there. But every parcel we have thought looked promising has been bought up before we could even go look.
But the idea of owning your own RV land where you can be sure to always have a place to camp and can stay as long as you want is very appealing.
We're talking with other RVers who bought private land about starting an association of some sort that will let us swap camping time with each other.
Many will be upgrading and improving their existing RVs
New RVs – especially motorhomes – are typically taking from 1 to 3 years to get. So many will be holding on to their existing RVs longer.
Because of the popularity and still reasonable availability of public land for off-the-grid boondocking, many will choose to upgrade the RV power system to add or increase solar and lithium batteries. A 3,000 watt inverter will become the new standard.
Our final point: Where there is a will, there is a way
We really believe this. Yes, these are challenging times. Yes, the RV industry and the camping industry is experiencing stress.
But we really believe that we're going to have to look for opportunities amidst the challenges.
If we have patience, are polite and understanding, are willing to try new things, develop new approaches and look past traditional campground stays, we will find 2022 to be a great year for the RV Lifestyle.
Happy New Year everyone. And Happy Trails, no matter where they take you in 2022!
Looking for exciting RV trip ideas and travel suggestions?
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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.
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Curious about the gear, gadgets, accessories, and RV products Mike & Jennifer use and recommend?
On this RV Lifestyle Travel blog, our RV Podcast and our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, we mention all sorts of RV-related products and gear that we use, So we created a special page that links to them. We update this all the time. CLICK HERE to go to it directly.