What would you say if I told you I knew the best kept secret for traveling in America? A safe, cost effective, hassle-free way to see more of this beautiful country we live in. A way to travel at your own pace, on your own schedule, while building lasting memories with your family and friends. It sound too good to be true doesn’t it? Wait, it gets even better. What if I told you it’s not by plane, train, bus or your family automobile? Are you curious? Would you like to be let in on the secret that over 7 million households in America already discovered? If so, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Recreation Vehicles (RVs) and camping.
I’m not talking about roughing it in the backwoods with tents and sleeping bags, not that there’s anything wrong with camping like that. What I’m talking about is your home away from home. An RV is your living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom on wheels. Not to mention air conditioning, satellite TV, and being able to take a hot shower. An RV offers you the freedom to roam Americas back roads and the flexibility to go whenever and wherever you want. Imagine this, you wake up one weekend on a beautiful crisp fall morning and just outside your front door is a 20-acre lake full of hungry rainbow trout. How about a two-week summer vacation 50 yards away from the tranquil sound of waves breaking on the beach, or just a Saturday afternoon tailgate party at your favorite college football game. Your RV is a private guesthouse for relatives when they come to visit and a weekend getaway to your favorite campground.
It’s a 30-day cross-country history lesson. It’s whatever you want it to be and best of all it’s fun and it’s safe. Perhaps this slogan used in a Go RVing advertisement sums it up the best. Waiting for the fish to bite you wonder how smart your daughter has gotten and how much your son is starting to look like you and you wonder why you never noticed until now. But you might as well head back to camp; the fish seem to be as relaxed as you are. Rediscover your family while you discover America. Wherever you go you’re always at home. Go RVing was formed in 1994 by representatives of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and leading state RV and campground associations. Go RVing works to distribute information about the benefits of RV travel and ensure the quality of RV products and services. You can call 1-888-Go-RVing or visit the Go RVing website at http://www.gorving.com to get a free CD-ROM or video that will introduce you to the world of RV travel and camping.
Traveling in the United States and life in general changed dramatically after the cowardly terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. A nation of people who always felt safe and secure against any type of outside threat, and a nation of travelers who never gave a second thought to their mode of transportation are now weary about what to expect next. RV travel, already at an all time high, is more appealing since the tragic events of 9/11. Recognized travel authority and former President of RVIA, Mr. David J. Humphreys had this to say, “Families want to escape to America’s outdoors in these uncertain times, spend quality time together, and avoid hassles associated with flying-all long-term trends likely to sustain continued RV market growth.”
U.S. ownership of RVs has reached record levels, reveals a 2005 University of Michigan study commissioned by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Nearly one in 12 U.S. vehicle-owning households now owns an RV. That’s nearly 8 million households-a 15 percent increase during 2001-2005 and a 58 percent gain during 1980-2005. The study also stated demographic trends favor substantial RV market growth. As baby boomers enter their prime RV buying years over the next decade, the number of RV-owning households is projected to rise to nearly 8 million in 2010, a gain of 15 percent, outpacing overall U.S. household growth of 10 percent. Other contributing factors to RV market growth are low interest rates, long term financing and the lure of the great outdoors. RVs can be financed for periods of 10, 15 and in some cases even 20 years, resulting in low monthly payments and tax deductible interest. RV vacations are more affordable than travel by personal car, commercial airline or cruise ship, according to vacation cost-comparison studies by PKF Consulting. Even factoring in RV ownership costs, and considering resulting tax benefits, a family of four can spend up to 70 percent less when traveling by RV.
What exactly is an RV? RVIA describes an RV as a vehicle that combines transportation and temporary living quarters for travel, recreation and camping. RVs come in many different types, sizes and price ranges. Some are very basic starting around $ 4,500 providing sleeping arrangements and cooking facilities. On the other end of the spectrum there are $1,000,000 plus luxury land yachts on wheels.
RVs are categorized as either motorized or towable. Motorized RVs are built on a vehicle chassis and powered by either a gasoline or diesel engine. There are three classifications for motorized RVs, type A, B, and C. Type A motor homes are the largest of the three ranging from 25 to 45 feet. They are the ones you see that look similar to a bus, and depending on the price they can be equipped with features like washers and dryers, multiple slide out rooms, satellite dishes, home entertainment systems and much more. Type B motor homes are the smallest of the three ranging from 16 to 20 feet. They are conversion vans that have been modified and equipped with all of the comforts and amenities found in other RVs in a compact size. Type C motor homes also referred to as mini-motor homes are built on a cutaway van chassis and range in size from 20 to 31 feet.
Towable RVs are towed behind a vehicle then disconnected and set up when you arrive at your destination. This allows you the benefit of using the tow vehicle to make a trip to the store, or go sight seeing while you are camping. Towable RVs include folding camping trailers, truck campers, travel trailers and 5th wheel travel trailers. Folding camping trailers, often referred to as pop-ups, are the least expensive RV and the lightest in weight. Some pop-ups offer the basic essentials while others come equipped with features like a water heater, bathroom, furnace and refrigerator. When set up they can range in size from 15 to 24 feet. Truck campers are campers loaded onto the bed of a pickup truck. This makes for a very versatile RV that can access back roads and remote areas other RVs can’t get to. Travel Trailers are a popular choice among RVers because of the wide array of floor plans available. Whether it’s for two people or eight you can find a model that will suit your needs. They range in size from 15 to 35 feet and offer all the comforts of home. Fifth wheel travel trailers are the ones you see that extend over the bed of the pickup or custom tow vehicle. Because of their bi-level design 5th wheels offer the most living space of any towable RV and are often times the choice for full-timing RVers. They range in size from 21 to 40 feet.
Traveling by RV makes even more sense when you take into account there are over 16,000 campgrounds, both public and private, for RVers to use in the United States. We also have 367 national parks that offer over 400 campgrounds with 29,000 campsites and our 156 national forests offer more than 4,000 campgrounds. While you visit these campgrounds across the U.S. you don’t need to be concerned about staying in touch with your family and business contacts. On a Travel Channel Program titled “Secrets of RVs” hosts and publishers of former RV Companion magazine, Mike and Beverly Wieber, discussed the latest technology for RVs involving in motion satellite systems and high speed Internet access. With this technology you can access online maps, travel information, and weather reports. More and more campgrounds are offering telephone connections as part of their full hook-up and the latest trend is to provide RVers with wireless high speed Internet access at the campground.
If you’re concerned about purchasing an RV only to find out the RV lifestyle is not meant for you try renting one before you buy. There are over 400 national rental chain outlets and RV dealerships that rent all types of RVs. Another way to learn more about RVs is to attend a local RV retail show or visit an RV dealer near you. For more information about rentals, RV shows, and RVs in general visit http://www.RVIA.org. To locate an RV dealer check your yellow pages or visit http://www.rvda.org. So what are you waiting for? Come join the other 30 million RV enthusiasts in America and remember wherever you go you’re always at home.
Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk owner of RV Education 101