Make it a staycation: RV popularity skyrocketing during ongoing pandemic

Drew Butler
RV spaces at By the Lake RV Park and Resort are almost filled. The popularity of RVs has recently skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some forms of travel such as flights and hotel stays have decreased in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, the RV industry is starting to boom. According to Forbes, this June was the best month for RV shipments in almost two years and sales of Type B motorhomes, which are built on van platforms, were up 90% in June of 2020 compared to June of 2019.

J.D. Dunn, owner of By The Lake RV Park Resort, said the first few months of the pandemic were dramatically slower than years past, but business has picked back up and these new travelers are increasingly younger and more local.

“We had all kinds of reservations on the books, but they all cancelled,” Dunn said. “Things really slowed down from March until almost June.”

The resort, which was recently named the best RV resort in Oklahoma by The Active Times, has almost 100 spaces for both short-term travelers and extended stay guests. Many of these spaces sat empty for months as the public at large stayed in place, and extended stay guests went home because their jobs in the area were cancelled or postponed.

Meredith Dunn, J.D. Dunn’s daughter-in-law and resort manager, said their saving grace during this time period came from travelers, often from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, who visited Lake Murray while Texas Parks were closed.

“Most of our business came from Texas because Texas parks were closed at the time, and a lot of people from Texas came here because Lake Murray never shut down,” she said. “We also had a lot of people from here that normally go down to Texas stay with us after they found us through the internet.”

She estimated that prior to 2020 almost 90% of their guests were retirees traveling the country, but more and more younger families are now starting to come in.

“A lot of the older crowd are traveling less because they’re the most at risk for coronavirus,” she said. “Where as the younger crowd with kids are now buying RVs and traveling. Se we lost a lot of one age group but gained a lot of younger ones.”

She pointed out that many schools offering online learning and many adults working remotely has made RV traveling even more popular with families. She said they are particularly drawn to their resort because of amenities such as a playground, pool and fishing pond.

“Yesterday we had a family come in to get ice cream, and I asked them when they went back to school,” she said. “The mom said they went to Oklahoma City Public Schools, and they’re all doing virtual learning. Her husband was also working from home, so they bought an RV and decided to travel around the country. They’re getting to have this whole new experience that they would have never had the opportunity to do before.”