Are RV Caravans Coming Back?
Once upon a time, RV caravans used to roam American highways. Long stretches of roads were covered with strings of RVs, both coaches and towables. Folks would band together and visit place after place together.
They became less popular as families chose to take vacations on their own, choosing solitude and family time for shorter bursts, rather than traveling with large groups.
But we all know RVing is gaining in popularity every day. More and more people are trying out the lifestyle. Not only are RVs flying off lots, RV rental companies are booking out solid. Campgrounds, state and national parks, and all points in between are filling up to the brim as soon as they open for reservations.
So are RV caravans poised to make a comeback?
What Are RV Caravans?
For those of us who weren’t around for the first band of RV caravanning you might be wondering– ‘What even is an RV caravan?’
A caravan simply means a group of travelers traveling together. Toss “RV” in front of it, and you can guess: it’s a group of RVers who are moving together, vacationing together, and camping together. They may be friends, they may be strangers, they may all have one unique thing in common–but they all share a desire to RV and travel in a group.
These days, most RV caravans are organized as part of a tour group. A tour leader will determine an agenda and guide everyone from spot to spot. These groups may focus on specific areas (say, Yellowstone National Park), or they might cover a much larger area (like the Blue Ridge Mountains). Otherwise, they might be focused around a certain activity, like hiking, fly fishing, or birdwatching.
Why Are RV Caravans Becoming Popular?
What is it about RV caravans that are making people notice them again? First–it’s the resurgence of interest in RVing. The mere fact that more people are interested in the RV lifestyle means there are more people who can bond over camping in general.
Second, let’s not pretend that RVing is an entirely easy pastime to get into. RVs have a lot of moving parts and frankly, the lifestyle isn’t for everyone. If you’re not familiar with coaches or towable travel trailers, it can be intimidating to get behind the wheel of one (or hook one up to your trailer hitch) and simply hit the road. Then there’s backing an RV into a spot, leveling, making all the proper connections, and setting up camp. Doing all of this with a seasoned guide—someone who can both help out when you need it, and double-check your work—makes RVing far more accessible to someone who’s totally new to the hobby.
Speaking of first-time RVers, those entering the hobby for the first time will find parks and campgrounds are filling up across the country, it’s a lot easier to hire someone else to do all of your planning for you. You can think of a caravan tour guide like a travel agent who books all of your spots for you. This makes it a lot easier to see the things you want to see, spend dedicated time with the RV to determine if it’s really for you, and still enjoy a nice trip away from home.
The Pros and Cons of RV Caravans
There’s upsides and downsides to RV caravanning.
Advantages to Traveling in an RV Caravan
Special interest clubs and designated group camping
Not everyone takes to the woods immediately, so it helps to have others with similar interests nearby. For those who aren’t used to traveling alone (whether as a solo traveler or as a small group) it can feel safer in small groups of familiar people.
Since so many RV rental agencies are booking up, an RV caravan can be the opportunity you’re looking for to get your hands on a rental. Many agencies will have partnerships with rental companies and they’ll set aside a certain number for the caravan.
A Proper Tour
When you’re working on the itinerary from a tour, you’re with people who know the area. They know the campgrounds, know the attractions, and can make sure that you’re in a safe place and can see all of the sights—including some you might have missed if you were taking the trip on your own.
Disadvantages to Traveling in an RV Caravan
Many tours concentrate on the same areas. This can mean that you may not get a wide variety of tour options. And because tour groups may be small, they book up fast. You will likely have to book a caravan tour several months in advance.
It’s highly dependent on the tour, but caravan trips are often more expensive than simply following your own itinerary. Of course, that’s part of what you’re paying for–someone else has done all the planning and organization, and you’re there to have fun. Most caravans charge per person (with kids usually costing a little less). Keep an eye out for a la carte tours, as these will be particularly expensive. Try to opt for an all-inclusive tour, which includes camping for the night, your guide’s time, and sometimes food as well.
Plenty of People
Part of caravanning is being surrounded by other people. You can meet others, enjoy company, and spend time together. Of course, if that’s not how you like to travel, you probably won’t enjoy the lifestyle of caravanning. If you’re more of a lone wolf traveler, plan on RVing solo.
Explore these popular RV caravan groups and book your next trip!