As a way to support my full-time RV habit, I spent a year as a workamper at an RV park. It was located in a rural coastal area of the Pacific Northwest. When I wasn’t questioning my sanity while hunkering down during the numerous legendary Pacific storms that hit the coast that winter, I got a chance to do a lot of what I do best: people-watch.
An RV park is a great place to hang out if people-watching is your idea of a good afternoon. All kinds of folks come and go on a regular basis, so things are rarely the same from one day to the next. People are endlessly fascinating, and I think I probably missed my calling as a sociologist. Seeing as how I’m not much into watching TV, this is essentially the equivalent of channel surfing, but I digress.
If there is one thing that I could say about all RVers, it would be that they are a diverse mishmash of folks. When the non-RVing public thinks about who RVers are, the idea of someone’s parents or grandparents driving around a fancy Class A rig usually comes to mind.
In reality, RVers come from all socio-economic classes, own everything from tiny teardrop trailers to half a million dollar (or more) Class A RVs, and everything in-between. There really is no such thing as a “typical RVer.” That being said, the people who RV generally tend to fall into five distinctive groups.
1. The Post-Retirement Crowd
As previously mentioned, the post-retirement crowd defines the traditional stereotype of what an RVer looks like, and for good reason. Historically, this particular group has served as a reliable population that supported RV sales. Almost everyone has or had a grandparent, great aunt or uncle, or the like who owned an RV—even if it wasn’t a Class A.
The post-retirement crowd is usually made up of couples, although it isn’t uncommon to find singles/solos, or widows/widowers who continue to RV solo. Whether full-time or part-time, the post-retirement crowd tends to make many friends along the way, and they like to stay in touch, often through RV get-togethers. Whether they travel long or short distances to reach their gatherings, they know that they will be surrounded by good friends when they get there.
2. The Weekend Warriors
According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, the Weekend Warrior RVers now have surpassed the post-retirement crowd in terms of RV ownership. Although the popular stereotype hasn’t shifted to this group (yet), if you show up on a weekend at any RV park around the country when there is nice weather you will be fighting with these folks to get a spot.
The Weekend Warrior types may be families or couples without kids. For the most part, they are fair-weather RVers who often decide at the last minute to make a weekend trip. On Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings, calls will start coming into the RV park office in hopes that a space is free for the weekend. Weekend Warriors can often be found traveling in small packs.
3. RV Club Members
It is not uncommon for RVers of any flavor to belong to RV clubs. Some of these clubs were formed many years ago and are still going strong, while other clubs may have been formed only recently.
The clubs are founded on commonalities ranging from the type of RV owned (Airstreams, Winnebagos, etc.), to groups who all do arts and crafts together, play music as a group, or come from the same geographic area.
For these RV club members, RVing is about friendship and community. Depending on the activity level of the club, they may have annual, quarterly, or even monthly meet-ups. For the members of these clubs, it is often a particular event hosted by the club that will motivate them to hit the road.
4. The Solo And Singles RV Crowd
This bunch of folks is to be found in all age groups, and there’s a difference between ‘solos’ and ‘singles.’ The solo group (generally) likes traveling solo, whereas the RVing singles seem to be actively trying to change their status to “coupled.”
Both types of RVing individuals tend to find one another on social media, have impromptu gatherings when near one another, and they may even congregate for longer stretches in places like Quartzsite, AZ over the winter.
5. The Adventurers
Probably the rarest RVers are the “Adventurers.” These are folks who frequently are on a mission of some sort. The fact that they are in an RV is often secondary to their primary goals – like spending a year traveling at random as a type of personal journey or following a band on tour.
Their adventures aren’t about the RV, but the RVs are an integral part of their adventures. Anyone who has spent any time in an RV knows that simply being in an RV can prove to be an adventure in and of itself. If you’ve never RVed and you have no idea what I’m talking about here, you need to watch RV with Robin Williams. Frankly, this should be a prerequisite for anyone about to undertake their first RV journey. Who’s with me on this?
Folks who have been RVing for some time have undoubtedly run into these distinctive crowds. People who are just getting into RVing or thinking about hitting the road will discover a parallel world of sorts that is made up of many different subcultures. Once you see it, you will wonder how you have never noticed it.
If you are new to the game, here is a great place to start finding other RVers like you. In addition to the aforementioned subcultures, there are tons of general RV associations, discount membership clubs, and online forums and groups in which you can find your “tribe.”