Since he was a little boy, Kevin Johnson has fond memories of camping in an RV. According to a report in the Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal, he has camped in everything from a small pop-up to his current 34-foot Coachman Mirada that he inherited from his parents and now camps in with his wife and children.
“It’s our home on wheels,” the 55-year-old Rhinebeck resident said. “I find it relaxing to set it up, because I know I’m going to be away soon.”
When it comes to RV purchases, there’s been growth across every age group, especially the Baby Boomers.
“The Baby Boomers are entering prime RV age, which is now 48 years old,” said Kevin Broom, director of media relations at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “People want an inexpensive and fun way to retire, and RVs are the answer. You’re on your own schedule. No flights, no reservations. You do things at your own pace and your own pleasure.”
The Johnson family uses the RV about four times a year, visiting Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and other areas.
“It’s my house,” said Liz Johnson, Kevin Johnson’s wife. “I love it because it gives us a chance to find the quiet side of life. We shut off all the electric stuff except television, and we play games and cards, build a campfire and go touring. We reconnect with the kids without all the electrical stuff.”
Broom says the RV market is filled with options, from folding camping trailers that can be purchased new for about $6,000 to luxury motorhomes that could cost a half million and more.
“(Baby Boomers are) a little more affluent, so they lean leaning toward the average purchase price being higher,” he said.
According to Kevin Nelson, general Maanager of Campers Barn in Kingston, N.Y., most consumers start out with a pop-up camper, then move up to a travel trailer and finally to the larger motorhomes that he says offers a bit more versatility.
“For a family, an RV is limitless,” Nelson said. “You can get a travel trailer or any other size and take this wherever you want to go. It holds your food and sleeps up to about eight people for a small monthly payment and there are all kinds of places to go.”
The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that campers can choose to dry camp, which means parking in a campground with little or no amenities, or can pull into a full-comfort RV park that has all amenities, but includes a deposit up to a few hundred dollars a week.
“You’ve got to get out and try each one,” Nelson said. “What you like will depend on your lifestyle.”
“We’ve done both, but the full-comfort resorts have movie houses, game rooms, athletic rooms and more,” Liz Johnson said.
When it comes to RVing, ignore the misinformation.
“You’ll hear people saying it’s too expensive because of the fuel prices, but the travel savings offset the fuel prices,” Broom said.
A study commissioned by RVIA shows that even during a time of economic turmoil and fluctuating fuel prices, RV trips remain the least costly, 28% to 59% less expensive than other types of vacations for a family of four. For an “empty-nester” couple traveling by RV, savings were 15% to 45%.
Even after accounting for factors such as RV ownership costs and fuel prices, the study confirms that RV vacations offer greater savings than those taken using a personal car or airline and staying in a hotel or rental house or condominium.
“When you’re talking about financing a $30,000 RV over 10 years and writing the interest off as a separate mortgage, the cost of ownership comes down quite a bit and the travel savings is big,” Broom said.
Richard Ferolito, 67, and his wife, Carol Ferolito, 66, have been RVing since the 1960s. Today he belongs to a New York Good Sam chapter, which is part of The Good Sam Club, an international organization of recreational vehicle owners that makes RVing safer and more enjoyable. There are 1,700 RV parks and campgrounds affiliated with the Good Sam organization that offer club members discounts for staying in their parks, which have to meet a minimum standard of services and appearance to be considered for association.
“We travel everywhere and see the natural beauty of the towns and the scenery,” said Richard Ferolito, a Pleasant Valley resident who owns a 35-foot motorhome. “We take the children and the grandchildren, and we have parties to meet the other members,” he says.