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RV Podcast 189: The 2018 North American Camping Report

| Updated Apr 25, 2018

This week we dig into the 2018 North American Camping Report, an exhaustive study done each year by researchers into every aspect of camping and RV use. Our guest is Toby O’Rourke, president of Kampgrounds of America, which underwrites the study, and she will help unpack this report which is followed by the RV industry as the Bible of where camping is headed and what needs to be done.

Plus we have lots more for you this week, including a bunch of RV news, listener questions and comments, traveling technology tips and a wonderful off-the-beaten-path report.

Click the player below to Listen Now or scroll down through the show note details. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.


WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”2:00″]

RV Podcast 189: The 2018 North American Camping Report 1

We’ve been on the road to western Michigan these past several days, taking advantage of the first really nice spring weather and the reopening of state and RV parks. This early in the season, we’ve had our pick of really great sites along the awe-inspiring shoreline of Lake Michigan. Some of these parks we stayed at are so in demand that to get in during peak season, you need to make reservations months and months in advance.

We started out at a Yogi Bear Camp Jellystone RV resort on Grand Rapids, MI. Yup. You heard that right. Now usually, it’s just me and Mike and Bo so those family parks with all those kid activities are something usually bypass. But this time, we were there because our son, Jeff, and his wife, Aimee, just bought a new travel trailer and this was their very first outing in it. So we invited ourselves to come along and had an absolute ball watching our grandchildren, Jovie, 3, and Jax, 8 months. We had a ball

We’ll have a video in a few days about the experience and Jeff will give us a tour of their new bunk house trailer. After Jeff, Aimee and the kids headed back for to their home Sunday and a new work week, we decided that RVing was our work so we started exploring the coastline towns of South Haven, Holland, Saugatuck, Grand Haven, Muskegon and Silver lake. You can follow our adventures on our blog at, where we shared lots of photos.

Lake Michigan is part of what is called the Third Coast. Now sometimes, those along the Gulf Coast argue for that title but considering its Great Lakes coasts, Michigan has more miles of shoreline than does any other of the lower 48 states and more fresh water shoreline than any other state. In fact, a couple years ago, we decided to drive and camo our way across the US shoreline of all five Great Lakes. The mileage totaled 3,000-plus miles! In case you are interested, just click the link to the Great Lakes shoreline videos we did on that trip.

Meanwhile, here’s what’s making RV news this week:

Too many tourists using drones to illegally take video at Oregon's Crater Lake National Park
As prices drop, and technology continually improves, drone use is becoming an increasing problem at some national parks, such as Oregon's Crater Lake National Park.
While drone use at all national parks has been outlawed since 2014, some may find getting an aerial view at some of America's most breath-taking scenarios too hard to resist. According to a story published last week, flying the unmanned aircraft has been an increasing problem at Crater Lake National Park, with some of the illegal camera activity showing up in places like You Tube. Drones can bother wildlife and visitors seeking a pristine natural environment. To read more, click here.

New York wants more residents to go camping, so is providing it for free 
New York's first time camper program was so popular last year, the state has decided to do it again. New York's Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Parks and Recreation is taking applications for 65 families to try out camping at various state campgrounds. Winners will have all their camping gear provided, such as a tent, sleeping bags, firewood and more for free, and receive instruction on how to camp. This has been so successful for New York that other states are eyeing similar programs for their parks.

Are You Bear Aware? 
As bears are waking up from hibernation and people are increasing heading outdoors in the warming weather, Be Bear Aware. Officials in states throughout much of the country are urging people to keep an eye out for bears, and be prepared ahead of time by knowing what to do if they should encounter one.

For example, if a black bear makes contact with you, roll on to your stomach, cover your neck, and play dead. If it rolls you over, continue to roll until you are back on your stomach. If a bear is in the distance and stands up, it is trying to smell and figure out what you are. There are other suggestions for dealing with Grizzlies. For tips on what to do in various scenarios, we’ll put a link to the visit the Be Bear Aware webpage in the shownotes for this episode at Roadtreking-dot-com-slash-189.

This portion of the Podcast is brought to you by Campers Inn, the RVer’s trusted resource for over 50 years, the nation’s largest family-operated RV dealership with 19 locations and growing

JENNIFER'S TIP OF THE WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”11:35″]

Ever wonder about the best way to hide extra cash, a special pair of earrings, or even a credit card when you are away from your RV for a bit?  Well a reader named Rachel wrote to tell us about something she recently bought.

The item looks like a canister of Morton salt, complete with the exact same labeling as one you would buy at the grocery store. But instead of salt, the container actually has a bottom that easily unscrews, opening up to a hollowed out tube perfect for storing small valuables.

No one would suspect, at first glance, that the salt container doesn't actually hold salt, Rachel writes. When you pick it up it feels like there is salt inside, and it even makes a salt shaking sound. When it is placed in with her other spices in the cupboard, Rachel said it blends right in.

I went on Amazon and found the Morton salt container selling for around $14. I also discovered all types of everyday items, also sold to be secret containers for valuables.  I found one disguised as a bottle of regular drinking water, another as a Sharpie pen, another as a can of Pringles.

There were all sorts of everyday items under the diversion safe stash category complete with pictures and dimensions about the size of the items that can be secretly stashed inside.

Thank you, Rachel, for this great tip.

And be sure to send me your tips and suggestions for the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.

I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes ,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping  To see our Rad Power Bikes in action, just click here.

LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”16:02″]

Gary took better notes than I did and has the name of the service that will help you find campsites that open up do to cancellations. It’s

Dan has another site

After you specify a part and sold out date, they will check the website, which is the largest onling booking aggregator used by most campgrounds. YesYouCamp checks once a day. The WanderingLabs site checks several times a day, even more if you sign up for a subscription.

Both text you when they find an opening.

Listener Andy calls in with a complaint about money grubbing campgrounds that pressure politicians in various towns to enact local ordinances that prohibit overnight camping in places like Walmart. He talks about how unfair this is and what a hardship it causes those just passing through an area.

Sponsoring this part of the podcast is Van City RV  Bringing You the largest Inventory of class B’ RVs with locations St. Louis, Missouri; Las Vegas, Nevada; Kalispell, Montana and now… Colorado Springs, Colorado..

INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”28:00″]

RV Podcast 189: The 2018 North American Camping Report 2More than 6 million new North American households have adopted the camping lifestyle since 2014, with the number of campers who camp three times or more each year – the most avid group of campers – having increased by 64 percent. This growth, according to the results of the 2018 North American Camping Report, an annual independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America, Inc. (KOA), is an indicator that camping is fast becoming a lifestyle attribute among U.S. and Canadian households – and there is no indication this trend is slowing down.

Millennials, Gen Xers,  African American and Hispanics are the demographic groups showing the biggest increase in camping.

Our guest this week is Toby O’Rourke, recently promoted to President of KOA.

Among other findings:

  • Among campers who claim an RV as their primary way of camping, 44 percent do not own the RV they use most.
  • A full one-fourth of this subset of campers say they borrow the RV, and 1-in-5 say they rent from a company or peer-to-peer rental service. Borrowing an RV is most common among Gen Xers.
  • Among millennials, those with families are most likely to consider renting an RV from a peer-to-peer service (followed by millennial couples).
  • The largest growth in RV usage is among African American campers, with 27 percent stating that an RV is their primary way of camping, which is up from 19 percent last year. Forty-one percent of African American campers state they tried an RV for the first time in 2017.
  • Among new campers in 2017, one-fourth camped in cabins – a rate much higher than last year (moving ahead of RVs as the primary way of camping). This could be due at least in part to the large influx of non-white campers in 2017, many of whom not only start camping in cabins, but are also likely to express a preference for cabins.

The interview of the week is brought to you by, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

TRAVELING TECH TIP [spp-timestamp time=”44:28″]

RV Podcast 189: The 2018 North American Camping Report 3
Steve Van Dinter

By Steve Van Dinter
Verizon Wireless

The northern US states may not be feeling it, but we’re almost halfway through spring already. And if you’re like me, that means it’s time for a little tech refresh!

First up… spring means more time outdoors, and more opportunities to entertain with music. And for a speaker than can handle and do it all, I can’t think of a better option than the JBL Link 10 speaker. Not only is this a bluetooth speaker that’s weatherproof and drop proof, but it also features wifi, meaning you can play music even when no phone is around. It also has the Google Assistant built in, meaning you can get a weather forecast, sports score, or summon music all without lifting a finger!

I know you and your listeners spend a lot of time in their RVS, so the following would make a great addition – the PopSockets Vent Mount. You just attach this mount to your vehicle’s vent and it’ll hold your phone in place so that you can navigate or use it for playing music. And the best part it’s compatible with all phones, all you need is a PopSocket!

If you’re spending time in the vehicle this spring, you want to be safe if you’ll be taking any phone calls. The brand new Jabra Elite 65t Wireless earbuds are a stylish and functional way to do that! Four on-board microphones mean crystal clear audio. And you have the choice of tuning out ambient noise or allowing it in. The earbuds are also compatible with Google Assistant, Siri and Amazon’s Alexa – letting you get information and stay connected all via voice.

And lastly two great apps to share with you for spring. First up, the QSun app. This free app for iOS and Android will let you know the UV levels in your location and what protection you should be wearing to stay safe.

The second app to check out is also free for Android and iOS. It’s called PackPoint. Just let it know where you’re traveling to, how long you’ll be there and the activities you plan to participate in. It’ll then create a list of things to pack! You can, of course, customize to your own liking. But by all means, let the app do the heavy lifting

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT  [spp-timestamp time=”47:34″]

RV Podcast 189: The 2018 North American Camping Report 4
Patti and Tom Burkett

By Tom and Patti Burkett

We'd spent a few days wandering around bluebonnet country, looking for the best pictures. We'd taken a few good shots, found some nice campsites and even had a fun evening with you two on the shore of Buchanan Lake. Now we were driving through the plains of North Central Texas and beginning to see signs for pecan ranches. This early in the season, the trees were still bare of leaves, but they were lined up in pristine rows with the ground beneath cleared of everything but a carpet of spring grass. We wanted to visit a pecan shop, and we needed some place to spread out the maps and think about our route.

So we did what we often do, pulled off in the next small town and went into the library. We found a quiet and comfortable place to sit, a nice big table to work on, power for the laptop, clean bathrooms, and free Wi-Fi. This was the Jennie Trent Dew Library in Goldthwaite, Texas, on route 16 between Llano and Comanche. Chatting up the librarian, we discovered that the three don't miss sights in town were the botanical garden, the Mercantile, and, the local pecan processing plant. She began to tell us about the botanical garden, then said, “Wait, wait, I’ll let Susan tell you about it when she comes in. She’ll be here in a few minutes.”

Soon Susan arrived and pulled up a chair at our table. Having seen several botanical gardens, and an awful lot of desert plants on the trip already, including the absolutely amazing Sonoran desert museum in Tucson, we politely told her that we didn’t think we would visit the gardens. At that, she waxed so enthusiastic that we just couldn’t say no. After completing our research, we walked the block down the street to the visitor center, where Savannah gave us an illustrated guide to the plants and a key to the garden enclosure.

Boy, were we ever surprised. Taking up less than half a square city block, the garden was exquisite. Rocks had been laid to simulate small cliffs and grottoes. Water flowed through it, both in streams and down short waterfalls. It is landscaped with local native plants, and the signs describe how those plants had been used by native peoples for thousands of years. There were benches to sit in the shade, and along one side a large pavilion with a concrete floor. The walkways and many of the trees were lined with tiny Christmas lights.

Back at the visitor center where we returned the key, Savannah told us that the pavilion and lights were set up for high school prom, which would be happening tomorrow. On the day, each couple walks down the steps of the courthouse while everyone in town watches from their chairs on the lawn. Then every fancy car for miles around is pressed into service to drive the couples the three blocks to the pavilion. Having shepherded my own three girls through the prom experience, I noted with approval that not only was the venue lovely, but it was surrounded by a large fence which would contain the kids. No sneaking in or out.

We debated staying to watch the show, but settled on the chance of a weekend rodeo in Oklahoma. Before leaving town, we stopped at and sampled more varieties of pecan goodies than you could list on a page. Next time you’re traveling, look up the local library as a place to get some elbow room, rest and research, and find out exactly what’s going on in town. It's never let us down, so we'll keep an eye open for you among the stacks in some dusty little town, out there off the beaten path.


 This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.

RV SHOWS THIS WEEKEND [spp-timestamp time=”54:07″]

Spring Hall of Fame RV Show
RV/Motorhome Hall of Fame
Elkhart, IN
Puyallup RV Show
Washington State Fair Events Center
Puyallup, WA
Let's Camp America – State Park events
Participating State Parks
Across America
Roadtreking Sonoma Wine Tour Gathering
Indian Leap Winery
Sonoma, CA
Roadtreking Photo Safari at Glacier NP
Chewing Blackbones RV Park
Babb, MT
Roadtreking Natahalla River Wildwater Adventure
Smoky Mountains Meadows Campground
Bryson City, NC


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Mike Wendland

Published on 2018-04-25

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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