By Dominique Diane
You might not expect it, but millennials are taking over the camping industry. In the United States alone, over 1.2 million people went camping last year – and over half of them were young millennials. In fact, millennials are more likely than any other age group to travel with friends. So what exactly is drawing the internet generation to the great outdoors in such great numbers? Is it the sense of adventure and connection with nature and a desire to disconnect from the fast-paced world around them? Maybe, but not exactly.
When a millennial asks Google, “What are some great campgrounds near me?” they are looking for some very specific things, including stoves, wi-fi, facilities, and more. This generation is accustomed to being surrounded by creature comforts and the finer things in life – they were the generation born to glamp. As outdoor companies begin to market increasingly to millennials in this industry, the nature of camping is changing, and the way we experience the great outdoors may never be the same again.
In the past, camping has been considered a way to escape from the fast-paced world of technology that we live in. However, millennials would prefer to stay connected. One of the most important reasons for this, of course, is photos. Seventy-five percent of young travelers use social networks, like Snapchat, every day while they are traveling.
From tents integrated with LED lights to pop-up tents that require little to no setup, today’s tents are more than just a couple of poles in the ground. Some millennials prefer to forgo tents altogether in favor of campgrounds that have fully functional cabins or (for the hipster millennial) vintage airstream campers.
Brands like North Face have turned outdoor clothing into a fashion statement in and of itself. Not all camping has to be extreme, and for those who aren’t planning on rock climbing or mountain biking, outdoor brands now feature a softer line of clothing that is perfect for sitting around a campfire or watching a great sunset.
If you think you’ve been seeing a lot more retro camper vans on the road here lately, you aren’t wrong. According to a study by the KOA, about 14% of millennials campers have a desire to buy a van and live the “van-life” where most of their lifestyle is made up of traveling, camping, and being on the road.
While this generation does love glamping, according to Forbes, cost has been a big influence on millennials turning to camping. As one camper puts it, “It’s the one trip we can definitely afford.” And this is true. Camping can be a relatively low-cost vacation with the average KOA campsite costing less than $10 a night, but there are still those who will pay over $1500 for a fully decked out glamping site with wi-fi, television, plumbing, electricity, and more.
Since 2014, the number of millennials who camp has more than doubled. If you haven’t planned an annual camping trip yet, maybe you should reconsider the way you’ve been thinking about camping.