Several articles are lauding the camping travel experience as the ideal way to practice social distancing while enjoying a wonderful vacation in the great outdoors. Recreational Vehicle rentals have increased 1,000% and sales are expected to rise. Ahead of the Memorial Day holiday and National RV Day held on June 7th, the RV rental site RVShare reported a 1,000 percent increase in bookings since April 1st of this year. New opportunities to rent directly from RV owners are becoming more available online in the style of Air B&B reservations.
For those of us who own an RV, the idea of traveling in an RV has always been good for our camping getaways have surpassed expectations. My husband and I bought our camper two years ago and since then we have traveled as far away as Taos, New Mexico. We have explored picturesque towns like Cloudcroft, which sits amidst the Lincoln National Forest, and marbled at the scenery of places like Carlsbad Caverns, Taos Pueblo, the Big Bend, and Bandelier National Monument among several others. We followed the Rio Grande River to Abiquiu, the place where Georgia O’Keeffe found her inspiration, we have discovered secluded wineries, and we have rediscovered each other.
“Be ready, because buying an RV can strengthen or break a marriage,” a friend alerted us prior to purchasing Dorsey. Dorsey is the name we have baptized our camper with because of its “outdoorsy” spirit. We spell it Dorsey in honor of jazz musicians Dorsey Brothers, Thomas Andrew Dorsey the father of Gospel music and for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. We do not like everything about Twitter, but the platform has revolutionized the way our society communicates. To our granddaughter, this adventurous small home on wheels she calls “Dorshy” represents the best of times with “gramma” and “grandpa.” Yes, RV trips are a lot of fun if you are willing to put in the work. I am not only talking about the physical work but the emotional effort that comes with traveling in an RV for it will certainly impact relationships.
For us, the top reason for buying Dorsey was our lack of motivation to exercise. Since I began working from home in 2013, my level of activity declined significantly, and my husband’s retirement strengthened his relationship with television. We bought a couple of gym memberships, but the motivation was not there. The excitement and planning an RV vacation will surely increase your exercise levels, motivate you to hike, kayak, birdwatch, enjoy bicycle rides and stay active outdoors.
The second reason was that we got tired of malls, restaurants, and hotels. We owned a tour company for 12 years and continued to be restless travelers, but we had never explored the great outdoors. The reality is that RV camping trips are enjoyable and far from ordinary.
If sales of new RVs are increasing, I have a feeling next year we will see tremendous deals on “almost new” vehicles of this type. Why? Because as good as it may sound, camping may not for everybody. It is an activity that must be enjoyed by all parties involved in order to work. Here is a list of reasons from my personal experience.
1- The physical effort involved in setting up and hooking up in addition to climbing two or three steps every time you must go into the camper can be challenging. I did not sleep on my first night camping just thinking I had to flush the black water tank! It turns out it is much easier than what I thought. If cooking is not something you enjoy, then a camping trip is going to post a challenge because these trips are all about the cooking especially if you are in a remote place. If you are camping close to a city, then you can visit a local restaurant. Just like at home, the RV needs cleaning and organizing before, during and after a trip. It is no wonder why the average RV owner in the U.S. is 48 years old. To accomplish all the shores mentioned above, everybody must share tasks.
2- The expense of owning and traveling in an RV. According to the RV Industry Association, the typical household income for RV owning households is about $62,000 traveling for an average of four weeks per year.
A family can purchase a new travel trailer for less than $10,000. New Class C, and Class B motor homes average $100,000 to $150,000 and new Class A motor homes can cost anywhere from $200,000 over half a million dollars. As with cars, preowned deals abound. There is also the cost of storing the unit and insurance. We have been often asked if traveling in an RV is cheaper than traveling by car and booking hotels and the answer is no, unless you are boondocking / dry camping / free camping / wild camping (without electricity, water and sewer services.) Overnight rates at highly rated RV parks range from $45 to $75 per night. Some luxury resorts charge over $90 per night. State parks are amazing and their rates average $25 per night for a parking site with full hook ups. Do not forget the price of gas. Our travel trailer travels at a rate of 8 miles to the gallon. Do the math and you will soon realize that this is more about experiencing new adventures in the outdoors than about saving money. Many retirees travel and live full time in an RV.
3- The local flora and fauna. If spiders or funny looking green creatures scare you, chances are you will not enjoy an RV camping trip unless you stay indoors and that defeats the purpose entirely. Poison Ivy, red ants, mosquitoes, insects that look like something out of a science fiction movie, coyotes, snakes, etc. It is important to remember that you are a guest in their home.
The RVIA reports that in the U.S., the 35-54 age demographic are the most likely to own an RV right now, and more than nine million families currently own an RV. Roughly, 40 million Americans go camping and 60% more households own an RV compared to 1980.
Working in the tourism industry most of my professional life, I always look for the economic impact this industry has on local communities. According to RVIA, the industry contributes 6 billion in taxes to the U.S. economy and generates 18 billion in retail sales.
It is hard to know if you will enjoy something if you do not give it a try. If you are seriously thinking about buying an RV go for it! Renting one might be a great idea too. A few years ago while attending a travel show in Gothenburg, Sweden I discovered the strong desire Europeans have for camping vacations in the U.S. They love the open roads and magnificent landscapes. Cruise America was present at this show and the long lines of travelers never stopped.
Check out YouTube videos of RV travelers such as Traveling Robert, Long Long Honeymoon, and RV Texas Ya’ll, for more information on how to enjoy traveling in an RV.
I leave you with one of my favorite videos and music from the Dorsey Brothers. They take you on a different journey: a journey to the past.