Majority of Campers No-Show For Their Reservations

Posted by
Heather Balogh Rochfort
May 06, 2024

Soaking in the views from the tent
Soaking in the views from the tent (p/Heather Balogh Rochfort)

It’s no secret that camping has boomed since the pandemic in 2020, making reservations tough to secure and nearly impossible to score unless you’re booking months in advance.

But here’s the real kicker: according to a recent study hosted by The Dyrt, less than half of those reservations actually get used. 

Also filed under: this is why we can’t have nice things.

According to The Dyrt’s 2024 Camping Report, a mere 42.7% of campers actually use the reservations they gobble up in advance. This comes as a result of surveying three groups: 7,000 Dyrt members, 1,000 sample U.S. residents and camping property managers from all 50 states. 

The New Golden Age of Camping?

Interest in camping has surged since the 2020 pandemic and continues to climb each year. According to the report, an estimated 84.8 million Americans went camping in 2023 — a 20 million increase since 2021. And of those 84.8 million, a whopping 5.5 million were first-time campers. 

At Territory Supply, we’re big believers in getting everyone outside so we love seeing the growth and are stoked so many new people are sleeping in the dirt (pun intended) for the first time. However, the continued surge in popularity isn’t without drawbacks.

sunset at camp
The sunsets from camp are tough to beat. (p/Heather Balogh Rochfort)

Almost half of campers in 2023 (45.5%) reported difficulty booking a campsite since they were all sold out so far in advance. This is a huge contrast to 2019, when the same study reported that a mere 10.6% of campers struggled with the same issue. That’s more than a 400% increase. But, there are silver linings: in 2022, 54.8% of campers said they were hosed by a lack of availability, so at least the number is dropping.

“We are in the new golden age of camping,” says The Dyrt CEO Kevin Long. “The demand for camping has never been greater, but technology is making it easier to find camping and property owners are rapidly expanding. As a result, campers have more options than ever before.”

Camping Reservations as Backup

According to The Dyrt, more and more campers are snagging reservations as backup in case something better never transpires.

“I canceled a reservation last season because I was on a multiday trip and used the reservation as a placeholder to make sure we had a site in the relative area where we were looking,” says The Dyrt camper Ryan B. of Montana. “I ended up finding a prime site and canceled our reservation.”

To be fair, most of the cancellations come well in advance. The Dyrt reports that 87.3% of the cancellations give more than 48 hours of notice. But not everyone is considerate with 32.2% cancelling with less than 48 hours of notice — and 14.9% of campers actually no-showed in 2023. 

camping in the desert
Nearly 2/3 of campers camped for free in 2023, up from 1/3 in 2019. (p/Heather Balogh Rochfort)

Who is Bailing?

Let’s do some basic math. If there were 84.8 million Americans camping in 2023 and 32.2% of them canceled at the last minute (less than 40 hours), that would mean 27.1 million people are bailing on their reservations at the last minute. And using that same logic, a whopping 12.5 million are never showing up for those campsite reservations.

Sure, these numbers aren’t representative of the actual campsites since we could have four or six people on one reservation. But still: that’s a staggering amount of cancelations, especially when folks are desperately scrambling to score just one over the course of the summer. 

According to the data, the younger populations interested in sustainable and affordable travel are the same ones ruining it for everyone. Millennials and Gen Z campers are 52.6% more likely to no-show when compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. And, campers with incomes higher than $250K are more than twice as likely to no-show that those with incomes of $50K or less.

Final thoughts: are we ruining camping for the future?

Seen in: Camping, News

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