The coronavirus has sparked a surge in RV or motorhome purchasing and rental, and enthusiastic camping and "glamping" bookings as Americans attempt to escape months of quarantine for a summer break while avoiding flights and keeping their distance.
The pandemic, which continues to rage across the US, has made many traditional holiday activities either impossible or unappealing, putting millions off flying abroad, going to crowded resort hotels, group holidays or cruises. But experts say the apparent lower risk of transmission in the open is making outdoor holidays in demand – and attracting new fans.
Camping and glamping booking services report huge spikes in business, with some 400% busier than the same time last year, following the reopening of states for business. RV companies said business is "booming" in rental and sales.
Meanwhile, outdoors retailer REI said it has seen record growth in its camping department in the last six weeks as people rush to buy equipment.
"This is the time of year when many of us would be thinking about maybe air travel and destinations," said Paul Calandrella, general merchandising manager for camping at REI.
"And that inability to access our normal modes of travel – in addition to just the pent-up energy of being stuck at home – has turned people's attention starkly towards camping. And whether that's in the back yard or a first ever trip in a rented RV, it is literally just going crazy on us right now."
Bestsellers include tents, sleeping bags, camping furniture and cooking equipment as well as "luxe" items such as big camp beds and power systems.