As long as there have been recreational vehicles, there have been people new to its owners’ club.
Traditionally, first-time RVers have tended to be represented by younger families.
While that hasn’t changed in recent years, what has is this consumer segment is now driving a lot of the innovation that’s happening in today’s RV industry, says Dan Merkowsky, executive vice president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Alberta.
A recent industry trend toward lighter trailer models, which can, in turn, be towed by smaller sport utility vehicles, can be traced back to the demands of first-time RV buyers, many of whom are on tight family budgets and want to tow a trailer using their existing vehicle, according to the Calgary Herald.
In fact, virtually every recreational vehicle manufacturer takes into consideration the tow capabilities of today’s SUVs when designing future models, says Merkowsky.
Tight family budgets are also playing a role in the number of affordable models now on the market, he says. Many of these lighter RVs now ” fall into first-timers’ budget of $15,000 to $20,000.
Along with lighter models, hybrid trailers are also becoming increasingly popular.
Merkowsky describes hybrids as regular-looking trailers with sleeping areas that fold out — like a tent trailer — when they are parked.
This not only provides additional living space in trailers that might be only 16 to 20 feet long, but it also makes them easier to tow when they are compact.
Of course, tent trailers continue to be many first-timers buyers’ favorite choice due to their affordability and the fact they don’t require large tow vehicles.
For people who still associate tent trailers with the ones they camped in with their parents many years ago, things have certainly changed, says Merkowsky.
Today’s tent trailers are vastly improved, many coming equipped with furnaces, fridges and other features you’d expect to find on larger, and more expensive, RVs.
First-time buyers’ impact has even had an effect at the dealership level, says Merkowsky.
Many young families are so eager to get up in the morning and head out camping that some dealerships have started opening earlier in the day to meet customer demand, he says.
While many first-time RVers may be new to RV ownership, they are not new to camping and the lifestyle it provides.
Merkowsky says RVing remains a great way to spend time with family and friends, and “just get away from the rat race in the city.”
He adds many people realize the importance of spending some quality time with their family — and not just immediate family, but extended family as well.
RVers — first-timers among others– will often head out to the campsite, and have grandparents or other relatives come out for a few days — or even just stop by for a visit.
The bonus is that many of these visitors will also have their own units, thus giving everyone a bit of privacy, says Merkowsky.