If the summer of 2020 is memorable to vacationers, it will likely be as the year of not straying too far from home. But that doesn’t mean you need to limit your horizons: The great road trip is enjoying a resurgence.
This year, 46 million Americans say they plan to hit the open road in a recreational vehicle (RV), up from 25 million in 2019, as coronavirus lockdowns force travel lovers to look closer to home for their holiday getaway.
“It is predicted that car travel will be the preferred transportation mode,” Dr. Lynn Minnaert, clinical associate professor at New York University’s Tisch Center of Hospitality, told CNBC of forthcoming travel trends.
And the open road is already beckoning.
From early April to May, bookings on rental website RVshare surged 1,000%, while reservations on Outdoorsy jumped 1,500% from their low in March. Shares of America’s two largest publicly-traded RV companies Winnebago and Thor have jumped 244% and 230%, respectively, from their March lows.
But if the idea of long hours stuck in stuffy traffic jams fill you with dread, think again. Just as the travel industry has evolved over recent years to offer more affordability and tailor-made experiences, it has also paved the way for a host of road trip options.
A route for all travelers
As some travelers shun hotels in the name of social distancing, vacation homes have become an attractive option for many looking for a home away from home.
Airbnb recorded more nights booked for U.S. listings between May 17 and June 3 than during the same period in 2019, with similar domestic demand occurring in Germany, South Korea and New Zealand. In the U.S., half of those trips were located within 200 miles of the traveler’s home location — a journey manageable on one tank of gas — with holiday favorites like Big Bear Lake in California and Port Aransas in Texas dominating the top spots.
Expedia Group’s rental site Vrbo and Booking Holdings has seen a similar uptick in domestic vacation rental reservations. “Every place where you see water in there or mountains or national parks, the homes around it are what’s starting to get booked up,” noted Vrbo’s president Jeff Hurst.
Rugged rock formations dominate the landscape at Arches National Park in Utah.
Camping and motor homes, meanwhile, remain a whimsical, short-notice getaway option, noted Minnaert. “Camping … is also expected to become more popular, as well as quieter, less-visited destinations.”
Camping reservation site Campspot saw bookings rise 10% since May, from the lows in March and April, with RVs accounting for the majority (70%) of bookings, followed by cabins (21%) and tents (6%). And, according to Lisa Simeone, principal at Simeone Deary Design Group, many sites are moving quickly to win holidaymakers’ confidence.
“Cleanliness is key, and making sure that guests feel that hygiene is a priority that proprietors are placing an emphasis on, along with outdoor programming, proper social distancing…
Read More: Plan a road trip, camping, or rental home vacation during coronavirus