Chuck Woodbury’s weekly online newsletter RV Travel celebrated its 10th anniversary on Saturday with its 500th issue. Before that, Woodbury spent 10 years exploring the American West in a small motorhome publishing his acclaimed quarterly newspaper Out West.
“Some people think I’m 100 years old. My name has been around a long time in the RV publishing world — about 25 years now,” he wrote in Saturday’s newsletter. “I started traveling by motorhome in my mid-30s, when most RVers were retirement age. Most of my readers thought I was older.”
In the Out West years of the ’90s, Woodbury, now 64, was profiled on all the TV networks and in hundreds of periodicals. “The idea of a guy roaming at his own pace in a motorhome, producing a newspaper along the way was an appealing story to the media,” he said. “It was fun while it lasted — a Walter Mitty fantasy come true — a ‘nobody’ one day, then in People Magazine and on the Today Show the next.”
In 1994, his wife, daughter and he spent three months on the road in their 24-foot Tioga motorhome, traveling in 28 states promoting “Camping with Kids” as spokespersons for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
He started the RVtravel.com newsletter 10 years ago, two weeks after the 9-11 terror attacks. “Actually, it was set to go about the same time the events unfolded,” he said. “I didn’t post it: Who wanted to read about RVing?” At first he published every-other week, then switched to weekly. Issues include an essay by Woodbury, news, and columns about RV lifestyle and technical matters.
He began the online newsletter as a way to sell books at his website RVbookstore.com. But Woodbury said it soon established its own identity and a loyal readership of about 60,000 RVers a week. It’s supported today by sales at the bookstore, advertising, and voluntary subscriptions from readers. He sees a bright future as more advertisers switch from print to the Web. “My biggest challenge is building readership and page views,” he said. “As is, our ad space is close to sold out.”
Nowadays, Woodbury spends most his time RVing in the West in a 24-foot Winnebago View motorhome, but he occasionally ventures east of the Mississippi, and even abroad in rental vehicles. He returned earlier this month from a campervan trip around Iceland’s Ring Road, which he is chronicling in RvIceland.com, one of several dozen blogs in the RVtravel.com network of websites. Even after 500 issues, Woodbury has no plans to stop. “My only plan now is to travel more and write more,” he said.