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Recreational Vehicle Travelers

The RV defined

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), an RV is a vehicle that combines transportation and living quarters for travel and recreation purposes.

Three primary RVs are identified:

  1. Towable RV: travel trailers, folding camping trailers, and truck campers.
  2. Motorhome, a motorized vehicle with three ‘class’ distinctions: Class A motorhomes, the largest, are assembled from the chassis up by a single manufacturer; Class B motorhomes are smallest, and begin using a standard van chassis and body, then modifying it; Class C motorhomes are medium to large, using a standard van or truck cab and chassis, then building the living quarters onto these that include sleeping quarters over the cab.
  3. Conversions are vehicles much like the Class B motorhomes in that they begin with a stock van, pickup, or SUV, then convert interior and exterior aspects to provide additional amenities, roominess, or towing specialization.

Market size

One in every 12 vehicle-owning households in the US owns an RV, representing approximately 7 million RV households, a growth of 38% since1980 (2001 University of Michigan).  In 2001, there were 7.2 million RVs on the road. Sales of RVs since this time have steadily increased: 2002, +21.1%; 2003, +3.2%; 2004, +15.4%. RV rental has become a $350 million/year business, experiencing a 63% growth rate between 1997 and 2002, according to the US Census Bureau and the RV Rental Association.


  • The typical RV owner is 49 years of age, married, with household income of $56,000.
  • Typically RVers travel 4,500 miles annually on excursions that total 28 to 35 days annually.
  • Baby Boomers account for the largest segment of RV ownership, as well as the fastest growing segment of the market.
  • Reasons given for choosing an RV: flexibility and convenience, comfort, family appeal, affordability, lure of the outdoors, versatility, and availability of rental RVs.



Journals and selected publications

State/regional studies