Let’s face it: These are challenging times. And after a week at the recent Hershey RV Show in Pennsylvania, where we talked with hundreds of real RVers, there are some real RV worries for 2023 clouding the future for many.
Not that any are willing to toss in the towel. To a person, everyone we talked to planned to do their best and Keep Calm and Camp ON – as the silly T-shirt says.
But unlike many so-called RV industry leaders, who always spin a rosy future, real RVers are realistic and candid about all the challenges they see ahead over the next 12 years in this post-COVID world, where a variety of issues are complicating their RV travel and camping plans.
If you prefer an audio-only version, the RV Podcast is available on your favorite podcast app or can be through the player below.
Keep reading for a list of the to five major RV worries for 2023 that we heard about the most:
RV Worries #1: Inflation is impacting the RV Lifestyle
Everyone cited inflation as the most worrisome challenge on the horizon. Those who have retired and are on fixed incomes were affected the most but price hikes over the past year in food, health care, taxes, RV and other insurances, maintenance, utilities, campground fees and even entertainment have many saying “ENOUGH.”
Jim, with his wife Pam are both teachers. “We travel all summer long in our RV,” said Jim. “This summer cost us about 40% more. We were not living more extravagantly. We boondocked as must as we could and, if anything, we cut back a bit compared to last year. But 40% is way out of control. We’re worried about what 2023 will bring.”
Sue, who just retired from her job as a nurse to begin a year of solo travel, traveling in her new 21-foot travel trailer, decided to hold off selling her house and going fulltime. “I’m worried now whether I can afford to travel as much as I hoped and I’m going to hold o to my house just in case it doesn’t work out.”
Leonard, a longtime RVer, said it best. “Ever since the COVID lockdowns, everything seems to have doubled in price.”
RV Worries #2: High Fuel Prices are a Major Challenge for RVers
While everything is expensive, the inflation that is most impacting RV travel these days is seen at the pump.
Though prices seem to have slowed or actually have come down a bit, RVers told us their fuel prices will keep them staying longer in campgrounds and not traveling as far as they had hoped in 2023.
“We have to get a handle on fuel costs,” said Terry, who has a Class A Allegro Red diesel pusher. “My last fillup was over $6 a gallon. I have a 90 gallon tank. Do the math. But darn right we’re going to cut back on the miles we drive.”
(We did: That’s $540!!!!)
RV Worries #3: Long RV service waits and parts shortages
The industry still can’t seem to get a handle on long service waits for RVs. And although I hear the industry executives claiming the parts shortages are much better right now, that message doesn’t seem to have tricked down to real RVers.
Over and over we heard complaints about this issue.
RVers said parts shortages were being blamed by the dealers for delays in service.
One RVer, Ron, said he watched one of our recent podcasts about the need for RVers to be able to do their own maintenance and repairs. He said he just enrolled in an RV Maintenance and Repair Home Course.
“I’m not about to give up camping,” he said. “So I am going to be proactive in dealing with the issues that come up and handle them as best I can.”
RV Worries #4: The dwindling number of privately-owned campgrounds
The Mom and Pop campgrounds of the past are being gobbled up by big corporations. Several RVers complained about this and noted how this trend is causing them to search for new places to stay.
One couple talked about a Pennsylvania RV park they have enjoyed over the past few years. “It cost us about $100 a night,” said Christine. “That’s expensive, but it was right on the water, and we didn’t mind.”
But then over the past year, the small private campground was acquired by a major corporation.
“They added the word ‘resort’ to the name and raised the rate to $300 a night,” said her husband, Todd. “Same amenities, they just basically tripled the price. It’s a shame. We’ll never go back.”
RV Worries #5: National Park entry hassles and boondocking pressures
We heard a lot about this. Ever since COVID and the explosion of new RVers, crowds at National Parks have grown to the point that the National Parks Service has instigated timed entry permits at the most popular spots.
“Forget about getting a camping reservation at a major National Park,” said Jimmy, who, with his wife, Carrie, and their two kids, had a bucket list of national parks where they hoped to camp in their Cogar fifth wheel. “You can’t get a reservation unless you book the year before. Maybe. And now it’s almost impossible to even enter the park because all the permits were issued long before.”
Other RVers, who hoped to do more boondocking next year to cut costs, noted that they are often having to search much harder for an unoccupied spot in state and national forests that allow dispersed camping. “Even places like Harvest Hosts fill up these days,” said Cora, an RVer from New Jersey.
The Good News? RVing is still the best way to get away
As we noted, none of those we talked to said they were planning to quit.
Adapt is the word they use over and over.
Several cited the cliche “Where there is a will, there’s a way.”
And there may be some wisdom to be learned from the past.
Mark Koep, who runs the campsite booking site CampgroundView.com, shared that when he and his family decided to go fulltime as RVers, it was during the last recession.
“It leveled off,” said Mark. “We learned to adjust. And I think it will happen for most Rvers the same way now. RVing is still the best lifestyle to decompress and build great family memories. My advice to everyone worried about the next year is just to make the best of it. RVing already is the best. Be smart and enjoy it.”
So, where to next?
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