It’s Getting Crowded Out There

Open spaces during the season in Florida are in short supply this year.

Camping and RV living has changed quite a bit since my wife and I were living the mobile lifestyle. RV manufacturers have been blowing out sales numbers for the last three years. As a result, there are more RVs than ever on the road. With more RVs on the road it shouldn’t come as a surprise that campgrounds are more crowded.

Here in South Florida I’m getting regular updates that campgrounds are full, weeks in advance in some cases. My camping buddies are spending more time at home simply because there’s nowhere to go. April looks like a better bet. Once spring break is over and many of the snowbirds head home Florida will start emptying out.

New Reality

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You can still full time in your RV, it just takes more planning these days. Unless you’re van camping, you’ll be a little more constrained on travel. You’ll need to know where you’re going and where to stay in between. You’ll need to give yourself more lead time, expect more crowded campgrounds and, in some cases, you may be limited to shorter stays. All those issues are manageable, you’ll just need to plan for the new reality. What I see and from what I hear, it’s really crowded out there.

Higher Prices

According to Wand’rly last year campground rates averaged around $30 a night on a long average. That’s around $10,600 a year. Divide that by 12 and you get around $900 a month. Catastrophic rent increases actually make even that price seem like a good deal, especially considering a daily rate usually includes trash, water, and electric. You’ll be able to beat that, a lot, if you pick and choose where you stay and book your site for a month or more at a time.

Alternate Strategies

You may also want to consider alternate RV strategies, like buying your RV space. With ownership parks, you’ll always have a space. When you’re not using it, almost all of them have some kind of rental pool. Even if they don’t run their own rentals, you can almost always rent it yourself. Ownership parks are a fast-growing segment of the RV industry and the big corporate players are getting in the game, snapping up campgrounds and converting them to ownership parks.

Buying a space handicaps your mobility, one of the biggest advantages of RV living. Consequently, you may not want to go that path until you’re absolutely certain you’ve found your personal Shangrila. Surprisingly, many people do. They find one place to stay year round, with a few side trips here and there. Or they buy more than one and spend part of the year in different places.

Things Will Get Better

Anyway you look at the numbers, the RV living game is changing. The main thing is, don’t panic. Demand will encourage the development of more campgrounds. More capacity will lead to less crowding and more availability. We’re already nearly five years into the latest RV boom and the projects started early in the trend will be coming online soon. The economic cycles we live by will certainly bring fresh gloom somewhere in the years ahead. When that happens, travel will get trimmed back and RV sales will drop. Full time RVers will once again have plenty of space to themselves, especially during the off season. Anyone who has been following the RV industry for any length of time has seen the good times wither and then return.

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