RVing offers a World of Options for GenX and beyond

Have you ever thought; I’d love to have a vacation home and the benefits that come with it; a place to escape or spend time with the family as well as getting a tax write-off? Then reality sets in. You contemplate being locked into vacationing in the same place each year, the logistics of getting the family together, and probably only using the place certain months of the year. And let’s not forget that when you are there, you will surely need to do some upkeep.

Well, what if you could have the tax advantages, the ability to vacation in a variety of destinations, use it all year without all the maintenance and see the family? Recreational vehicles (RVs) give you the perks without the drawbacks.

I can hear you saying, “I am not going camping. That is not a vacation to me.” George and Betty Dear of Tioga, Pennsylvania, and RVers since 1999 would agree with you. With the growing number of luxury RV resorts with facilities such as tennis courts, golf courses, and health spas, RVing is becoming more like an all-inclusive vacation.

And a closer look at today’s RV might have you thinking about motorhomes a bit differently. They have come a long way. The larger ones are as big as most staterooms on cruise ships and as well-appointed. But unlike the cruise ship cabin or most hotel rooms, you have all the conveniences of home; full cooking facilities, nearly a full-size refrigerator (with icemaker), a washer/dryer, satellite television, and internet capabilities. Some even utilize solar power. The full bath is roughly the same size, if not larger than what you have on a cruise ship. Betty says, “ The only thing I don’t have is a dishwasher.” Maybe she could persuade George to do those.

RVing is on the rise and baby boomers contribute vastly to the number of motorhomes on the road. According to an article on the RV Business website (www.rvbusiness.com), RV ownership has steadily risen since 1993. And RV-owning household is estimated at 8.9 million. This same report claims that among people aged 55 and older, RV ownership grew from 8.6% to 9.4% since 2005. With 11,000 Americans turning 50 each day, according to US Census Bureau reports, the future of RVing looks bright. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA.org) points to a more balanced lifestyle, value, diversity, convenience of use for short trips, as well as tax advantages (for tax purposes a mobile home can be considered a second home) as some of the reasons people choose the RV lifestyle. But in many cases what originally motivated someone to begin RVing changes.

Nevertheless, people seem to continue to do it with new intentions. As circumstances change RVers will often trade up or scale down on the mobile home they own. The Dears are on their third one, each one larger than the last. It is like anything else, certain things serve us differently at various stages of our life.

When the Dears first started RVing, they used their motor home to take long trips including one across the country. They left Pennsylvania and took the northern route out and returned home via the southern states. They stopped along the way to visit the national monuments and parks. Today they use their RV for shorter trips, usually a week to 10 days at a time to some favorite locales including Chincoteague Island.

When I caught up with them they were spending some time in Cape May New Jersey. They had quite the setup. They were sitting outdoors in a screened tent. They were enjoying the outdoors and doing some reading. They had their car, which they had towed and bicycles to get around. They had not set up camp; they were on vacation at their second “home.”

Unlike the Dears, some RVers truly make mobile home travel a lifestyle. They sell the house and their belonging and hit the road. They travel the country and make themselves at home where and when the spirit moves them.

The Dears have not chosen to pursue that life. Betty explains, “We like having roots.” For this reason, as well as being business owners they have not committed to the full-time RV lifestyle. But I didn’t get the sense that they intend to give up RV travel anytime soon.

Some RVers, including the Dears, use their mobile home when visiting their grown children who now live in different states. This can offer family time together but provides privacy without staying in a nearby hotel. This allows people to spend more time with their families than perhaps they normally would because they don’t feel as if they are imposing.

In the case of Barbara Elaine Singer, author of Living Without Reservations, an RV trip as an adult with her father changed her life. Singer says, “When I was 44 years old, I drove from Pennsylvania to Alaska and back with my 70-year-old Dad. Just the two of us. I had not spent much time with my Dad since college when I moved out of state. I was going through some major life changes and needed a break. It was a great bonding experience and a [sic] learned how my Dad’s life decisions played out for him and that I was going to choose a different path much younger in life. Waiting for retirement to travel/live was not for me.”

I do not know how frequently scenarios like Singer’s play out but hers is a fine example of how RVing can breed opportunities for quality family time at any age.

So, perhaps you are nearly convinced that this mobile home thing is the way to get out there and see the country. Yet, there is still a little voice nagging, “What about Europe, Africa, and Asia?” Well, there is no rule that reads, “Once an RVer, always an RVer.” But with over 16,000 public and privately owned campsites nationwide it could be a while before you run out of places to visit right here in the US.

This is what Paul Seiferth, owner of Terra Travel in Phoenix, AZ has to say about RVing and other travel; “I also own a 36 1/2 foot Pace Arrow Class A RV which we use on weekends to go up to the mountains and to go to San Diego to get out of the heat. We are not full-time yet but plan to be in the future… We do take cruise vacations… and land vacations apart from RVing. Even if when [sic] we go full time, I intend to continue traveling abroad.”

By now you should be just about out of excuses. Why not try it? You do not have to make a commitment. Rent one and hit the road for that great American road trip. Who knows where the path may lead?

Resource Guide to RVing

Go Camping America – GoCampingAmerica.com – Similar to TripAdvsor.com for the Camping / RVing community.
RV.net – RV.net – Offers buyers guides, directories, forums, and blogs for RVers.
Trailer Life Directory – Trailerlifedirectory.com – Claims to be “The Ultimate RV Travel Resource.”
Reserve America — reserveamerica.com – Part of Active.com. Offers information on camp locations, maps, and gear.
KOA — koa.com – KOA campground’s official website.
Family Motor Coach Association — fmca.com – Provides RVers with recipes, conventions, and buying information. This site has a community forum and links to other resources.
Camper Trails — campertrails.com – Offers guides, tips, planning information, maps, and rental information.
Tripping — Tripping.com – A social networking site that connects travelers with locals. Not RV specific.

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Susan Decoteau-Ferrier

Travel writer/blogger, photographer. Avid potter and wanna-be artist. Wife, Mom to 6 fur kids, gardener, coffee snob.

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