As the coronavirus outbreak winds down, everyone is thinking about their next adventure. However, many are wary of crowded spaces. A lot of travelers will be replacing journeys to big cities with trips to smaller towns closer to home. But what if there was a way to see the USA without ever stepping foot inside an airport or hotel? Welcome to the world of camping and RVing!
Campers and RVs have been around for a long time. Covered wagons pulled by horses were technically the first campers ever. While the history of the RV is somewhat up for debate, the Smithsonian states that the first RV was unveiled in 1910 at Madison Square Garden in New York. It was called the Touring Landau. It was quite luxurious for the time and even included a sink with running water. It was for sale at $8,250 dollars.
From there, the industry was off and running. As America developed its roadways and as National Parks were instated, the drive for adventure had people hitting the road in record numbers. From Dutchmen to Airstream and Winnebago, RVs and campers were suddenly everywhere, and in recent years, they’ve started to make a massive comeback.
Camp company KOA states that millennials are bringing back the RV life. Whether it’s buying their own or renting RVs and campers through sites like Cruise America or RVshare, the old notion that RVing is only for snowbird retirees has gone out the window.
And why shouldn’t campers and RVs be popular with people of all ages? If you include the price of your plane ticket, plus nightly hotel charges, renting a camper or RV is cheaper, plus, you get to sleep in the great outdoors (without the mosquitos). A trip to a National Park could be fun if you’re staying in a hotel just outside park limits, but to actually be able to sleep inside the park, have a campfire, and hear the sounds of nature is not only cheaper, but it’s a great way to add a whole new dimension of adventure to your trip. Another benefit that many travelers love is that RVs and campers are pet-friendly, so nobody in the family gets left behind.
There’s even a large LGBTQ camping and RVing scene. Sites like Rainbow RV and Facebook groups like LGBT RV Camping (which has over 5,000 members) help travelers get to know other LGBTQ camping enthusiasts. You can find out about gay camping weekends, meet potential travel buddies, ask questions, or discover where the next RV meetup will be held. For those looking to visit exclusively-LGBTQ campgrounds, there are also websites like Gay Camping USA. There, you can find everything, from campgrounds that are men-only, women-only, clothing-optional, family-friendly, and even campgrounds that are LGBTQ and ally friendly throughout America and Canada.
I joined the LGBT RV Camping group on Facebook to get an idea of where the community stood in the outdoors world, and what I learned was pleasantly surprising. One of my first questions was how comfortable these people felt in the RV and camping scene, considering that there is very little LGBTQ representation in the world of outdoorsmanship. Many of the group’s members told me that they simply love being outside.
A few did express some discomfort with certain campgrounds in certain states (Texas being one called out by name), but then immediately let me know that that is a very small percentage, and that, for anyone who prefers an LGBTQ campsite, there are many amazing ones around the country. But one group member simply told me, “My favorite thing about camping is that I don’t have to be included in anything to enjoy myself!”
There was some debate amongst group members about where the LGBTQ community fits in the RV and camping scene. Some prefer gay-only campsites, some feel that it’s best to fly your rainbow flag high and proud, and others simply go where they want to go, and don’t think about their sexuality when making the decision. But they all have one thing in common, they love the thrill and joy of camping and RVing. One member of the group, Jennifer Mamula, explained her favorite part of RVing and camping, saying, “Camping is much better than hotels because you take your own bedroom, clothes, bathroom, food, etc. You just move your home from one place to another!”