TAMPA, Fla. -- It used to be that the Recreational Vehicle lifestyle was mostly for retirees like Earl Young, a RV owner who spends time at Lazydays RV Resort.
“We worked our life and now we don't have to punch in your time cards," he said. "We can go and there's no certain time to come back."
But during the summer, the hashtag ‘camping’ was in14 million posts on Instagram as millennials are hitting the road in huge numbers, which has contributed to a 20 percent increase in RV sales.
"There’s 75 million campers out there and 38 percent of us are millennials,” said Allison Lago Leonard, a general manager at a New York Campground. “So we’re catching up, we’re catching on, and I think it’s something that’s becoming more popular with us.”
It turns out millennials like the idea of a mobile home. Some popular, well-equipped models go for under $300 a month.
“Oven, stove, microwave, TV. Two TVs actually,” said Lindsey Duque, a young Zephyrhills mom, while describing her family’s RV. “Not really roughing it."
Tampa Bay millennials say RVs give them more flexibility to move around easily for job opportunities. They can also save money for education over traditional living arrangements.
“When I went to college I lived in an RV for about a year and a half," said Duque’s husband, Calvin. "So I can relate to that, living in it. It's very affordable."
Manufacturers have started including amenities that specifically target younger customers, including entry level RVs with designer countertops, flat screen monitors, stainless steel fixtures, wood grain floors and built in WI-FI.
“It enhances their lifestyle and how they want to live,” said Scott Caylor, General Sales Manager at Lazydays.
The millennial RV movement is a big reason why industry sales are up for a sixth year in a row, Caylor said. A record 400,000 units are expected to hit the road this year.
“All those little things that make a home home, are making their way into these coaches,” Caylor said. “And it's a big pull.”
The most popular models with millennials are also the most affordable - towable and fifth wheel RVs. But retailers say there’s also growing demand for more luxurious rides, costing well over $300,000.
"It's important for some people to find a way to minimize and make things simpler for them. So, they still want technology," Caylor said, "They still want the latest and greatest features in their coaches, but they have a much smaller home to take care of."
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