Family enjoying their RV awning having a picnic.

The Evolution of the Camping Industry

Camping, once a necessity for nomads, has become a privilege of those with the time and desire to escape the daily bustle and get back to nature. The RV lifestyle is so alluring that many families have chosen to adopt it permanently. While camping has changed significantly over the decades, this activity maintains its familiar roots and cozy traditions. The modern face of camping has a welcome sense of familiarity and continues to provide an escape from the many stressors of modern life.

Family enjoying their RV awning having a picnic.

Historical Overview

The origins of camping go back thousands of years. Ancient peoples began camping when they created crude shelters to protect themselves from the elements on hunting expeditions or migration routes. Camping was a functional activity in those days, serving as a necessity rather than a pleasure.

Horse-drawn wagons with accommodations for sleeping were the early harbingers of the modern RV. The Roman “carruca dormitoria” was one of the earliest conveyances of this kind. Used around A.D. 200 for traveling families, the carruca dormitoria featured a compact sleeping space that could save travelers from the need for an inn while on the road. In the early 1800s, European circuses introduced the use of caravans that allowed people to live in their wagons for extended periods of time. Roma families soon took up this kind of transport as well, using wagons alongside tents for their accommodations.

Around the 1880s, camping emerged as a recreational activity. The Victorian craze for pleasure boating often incorporated overnight stays along the banks of the Thames. In 1884, the Bristol Wagon Works Company built the first leisure touring caravan, which took the use of a horse-drawn wagon into the realm of leisure activities. Known as the Horse Drawn Wanderer, the wagon featured a toilet, kitchenette, living area, sleeping space, and storage. 

In 1869, William Henry Harrison Murray published “Camp-Life in the Adirondacks” and the popularity of camping soared. The Association of Cycle Campers originated in 1901, and the Boy Scouts of America followed in 1910, cementing camping in American tradition.

Trends and Innovations

RV camping has seen an incredible surge in popularity in recent years. In 2023, nearly 22% of campers tried RV camping for the first time. This was a 10% increase in RV camping over just one year. The average camper spends 54 nights in their motorhome each year. Nearly a million Americans live in their RVs full-time, taking the RV back to its origins as a functional residence on wheels. 

RV campers represent a unique segment of travelers who want to combine a rustic outdoor experience with modern technology and comforts. Today’s RVers can already experience an extremely high-tech setup with apps such as OneControl to manage leveling systems, slide-outs, lights, and thermostats. You can use a Smart Jack to automatically raise and lower your jack, manage security with an RV camera system and infrared technology, and more. 

RV camping is becoming more eco-friendly as well. Vehicles are getting more fuel-efficient all the time for the miles they cover on the road. Once parked, many of them now use solar panels to charge their electrical devices. Features such as low-flow shower heads, upgraded insulation, and energy-efficient lighting help you live lightly on the earth.

Future Predictions

The future of RV technology promises an increasingly hands-off approach to travel. Hands-free cars are already on the road. This technology has the potential to make its way into the RV segment using equipment such as cameras and GPS systems to facilitate effective navigation. In 2019, Hymer introduced a self-driving concept RV known as Galileo, proving that this possibility isn’t as far off as you might think.

Many RVs already rely on renewable power for at least some of their electricity. This trend will likely continue. Future technology may allow RVs to exchange power with electric cars or generate their own power through regenerative braking. 

In line with the movement toward a more eco-friendly camping experience is a trend toward more sustainable materials. RVs will likely feature more bamboo, recycled plastic, and birchwood. They’re becoming more lightweight as well, with ample use of recyclable foam core insulation, aluminum, fiberglass, and a UV-resistant eco-friendly coating known as Kynar. These trends appeal to eco-minded campers and are likely to draw even more families to part- or full-time RV living.

Impact on Camping Culture

For many people, RVing has become a lifestyle as much as a recreational experience. In an age of plugged-in children glued to their devices, RVing offers the promise of getting back to nature, even if you still have those smart devices in tow. Camping culture is extremely diverse and inclusive. The RV community is growing rapidly, aided in many ways by the growth of opportunities for remote school and work. 

In many areas, campground culture facilitates a freedom that kids can’t find in their home neighborhoods. Playgrounds, pools, rec rooms, and organized activities abound. Some parents readily allow their children to roam freely in these settings, returning to a way of life reminiscent of decades gone by. RV campers often see themselves as part of a country-wide neighborhood. Online communities and apps facilitate convenient communication for those planning their trips, so many people and places feel familiar even before you arrive at the campsite.

As affordable, eco-friendly camping and full-time RV living continues to grow, so will this culture of families on the road who are experiencing the country in a vibrant and hands-on way from the comfort of their motorhomes.

Stay Engaged With the Camping Community

Camping is a time-honored activity that has maintained its appeal through the decades. An RV can bring your family closer to nature and closer together as you experience a new way of life at campgrounds and on the road. Cheyenne Camping Center in Walcott is committed to supporting the camping community with a wide selection of RVs that cater to all your camping needs and desires. Check out our inventory and start planning your next adventure.

Image by Carolina Rincon is licensed with Unsplash License