There is something about the mountain air, crackling of campfires, and starlit skies that draw people of all ages to the great outdoors. Whether you're a seasoned Boomer or a tech-savvy Gen Z, the camping experience varies as much as the landscape. Each generation approaches camping with a unique blend of enthusiasm, preferences, and priorities. Let’s stroll through memories and modern twists of camping for Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z to look at generational camping preferences.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campground’s 2022 Generational Camping Report shows that roughly half of the respondents (56%) report having been regular campers all their lives. Each generation brings its unique style, resources, and expectations to the campsite, influencing camping styles and destination choices.
Picking the Perfect Destination
Every generation has its own way of picking the perfect camping location. For the Boomers, it’s all about retracing the steps of their past. Think Banff National Park, Lake Louise, and Jasper’s tranquil lakes. These seasoned explorers thrive on revisiting the places they once pitched tents to share stories, relive memories, and show the grandkids where it all began. Perhaps they have ditched the tent and have set themselves up in a spacious Recreational Vehicle (RV), with all the modern comforts of home.
According to the data, Gen Xers may prefer the road less travelled, uncovering lesser-known gems. They tend to mix old-school adventures with modern discoveries. Their destinations are marked by the thrill of the unknown.
Gen Z and Millennials, the youngest generations of campers, and the digital natives get their cues from social media. They seamlessly blend technology with nature. This generation values connectivity and seeks camping destinations that offer both outdoor experiences and opportunities to stay connected. They’re exploring popular journeys and hidden gems alike, guided by hashtags, scrolling Instagram, and turning every trip into a shareable adventure. In fact, according to the study, “four in five respondents (82%) report using an online search to help find the right campground. Gen X (46%) and Gen Z/Millennial (45%) respondents are more likely to use social media to help find the right campground than those in the Boomer/Silent Generations (22%).” The rise of online tools and apps has revolutionized camping destinations and planning.
Camping, RV’ing & “Glamping” Preferences
Boomers rely on word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends, and past-time experiences to guide their choices. Their approach is rooted in tradition, and they view camping as a chance to reconnect with nature and escape the complexities of modern life.
As Gen Xers came of age, camping options expanded to include a broader spectrum of choices. Alongside traditional tent camping, the rise of RVs offered a more comfortable and convenient camping experience. Gen Xers are known for their willingness to explore diverse camping styles, from rustic tenting, popular “glamping” trends, and to the practicality of RV living. Allowing them the freedom to explore while bringing along the comforts of home.
Gen Z and Millennials view glamping as an avenue for unique experiences, embracing the fusion of luxury and nature. They're open to new ways of immersing in the outdoors while indulging in comfort. Millennials will opt to combine beauty with a dash of convenience. Their priorities lie in balancing nature’s allure with practicality, ensuring both Instagram-worthy moments and a comfortable stay.
Disposable Income and Travel Costs
With more disposable income on their side, both Boomers and Gen X campers appreciate the ability to hit the road with their home on wheels, enjoying the outdoors without sacrificing familiar amenities. “Choosing An RV/motorhome was the most common camping accommodation used in the past 12 months for respondents (63%), followed by a tent (21%),” the study noted.
Boomer/Silent Generation respondents are the most likely to have used an RV/motorhome in the past 12 months (69%). Whereas Gen Z/Millennials are the most likely to have used a tent (58%).
Gen Z and Millennials, though younger and potentially on tighter budgets, still value experience and are willing to spend on unique and shareable camping experiences.
The cost of travel and gasoline has remained a consideration through the generations, stating, “Two in five respondents report that the price of gas has caused them to travel less frequently (40%) and/or travel shorter distances (39%) in the past 12 months.” The cost of transportation also factors into destination decisions. While Boomers and Gen X may be more willing to embark on longer road trips with RVs or larger vehicles, Gen Z might opt for shorter drives to nearby camping spots to minimize travel expenses.
Safety concerns at campgrounds are universal, regardless of generation. Boomers, who have experienced more primitive camping environments might prioritize a well-maintained camping destination with access to necessities like full hook-ups, enhanced security measures, laundry facilities, and well-established campgrounds in National or Provincial Parks. Gen X and Gen Z on the other hand, may place a higher emphasis on the security of their belongings, and according to the survey, “Four in five respondents (79%) would be willing to pay extra for a campground that meets the highest standards in safety and security.”
Across generations, the essence of camping remains the same. It’s a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, immerse family and friends in nature, and create unforgettable memories. Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers each bring their own perspectives for explorations, connection, and expression. With the help of online resources, social media inspiration, and a world of camping at your fingertips, finding the perfect spot has never been easier. Whether pitching a tent, cruising in an RV, or glamming it up in style, the natural beauty of the wilderness unites generations in the pursuit of adventure and the perfect blend of tranquillity. So, pack your gear, hit the road and embark on your next adventure!
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