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Nebraska State Parks OK Extended RV Stays

August 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Recreational vehicle owners and other campers who want to stay longer than two weeks at some Nebraska state parks and recreation areas will be able to do so beginning in January.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission on Friday (July 29) extended campsite stays for up to 90 days — but only at 25 state parks and recreation areas across Nebraska. Currently, campers can stay no longer than 14 days, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

The commission made the change after getting feedback from campers who said the high cost of fuel made it expensive to haul their RVs, said Roger Kuhn, administrator of the parks division.

About 5% of the campsites in a designated state park or recreation area will be set aside for longer stays, Kuhn said, adding that they will be in low-use areas.

Regulations that allowed the change were approved by the commission in May and a fee schedule was approved Friday at the commission’s meeting in Lincoln.

Campers who stay longer will receive the following discounts on their nightly overnight camping fee: 20% for 15-to-30 days; 30% for 31-to-60 days, and 40% for 61-to-90 days.

Fees at each state park and recreation area will vary, depending on what facilities are available, Kuhn said.

Commissioner Lynn Berggren asked if the extended-stay campsites will be scattered or concentrated in one area.

Kuhn said he believes they would be in one area of a campground.

“We don’t want them scattered all over because it causes confusion,” he said.

Kuhn said the agency does not know what the demand will be for the extended-stay campsites, so it started with a small number at selected state parks and recreation areas.

Campers who leave their RVs and camper trailers for long periods, do so at their own risk, Kuhn said, because they will not be covered by insurance (other than the owner’s) and there won’t be any security.

The the state park system consists of eight parks, 11 historic parks such as Arbor Lodge in Nebraska City, 64 recreation areas and two recreational trails.

 

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Oregon Retailer Focuses on Teardrop Trailers

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people are not ashamed to admit that they like teardrops, especially when they come in the form of small lightweight camping trailers.

Bill Coberly, the owner of Tear Drops Northwest in Salem, Ore., has one of the few businesses in the immediate area that sell the trailers, according to a report in the Statesman Journal.

Teardrop camping, Coberly said, is a hybrid between using a tent and an RV and is especially convenient for people who are looking to either simplify or reduce costs of using the larger trailers.

Retired veteran Dan Archer, 51, owned an 18-foot-long fully loaded camping trailer for several years. But recently, he said, he realized he had not been making the most of that trailer. “I noticed I never really needed that much space,” he said.

He began doing research online to see what options were available, and one day while driving in Salem, he saw one of the teardrop trailers and followed the signs to Coberly’s business. “It caught my eye,” he said.

Coberly said one of things he enjoys about owning and selling the trailers is how much attention they draw from people who are curious about the pint-size campers.

“People are always looking at them,” he said. “There’s a fascination with that cubby-hole space and what could be going on in there.”

Archer, although still a relatively new owner, said he was impressed with the way the trailer pulled behind his Jeep and that it was easy to move around. He was able to physically move it around himself, unlike having to maneuver the 18-foot-long trailer.

Some minor kinks he said he was getting accustomed to were not having a bathroom and some initial struggling with his air mattress as well as getting adjusted to how to make the best use of his storage space. But for all intents and purposes, Archer said the teardrop worked out well.

Another advantage Archer has discovered is the lower cost of fuel from pulling the lighter trailer. “It hardly took any fuel,” he said.

Pulling the 4,000-pound trailer was much less efficient than the 800-pound teardrop, he said.

Archer said he is planning several more camping excursions, including trips to Deschutes County and Eastern Oregon.

 

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Herzogs Promote RVing on Northwest Tour

July 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) spokesman Brad Herzog and family are on the road promoting the RV lifestyle in local media markets for a 12th straight year. This year’s two-month itinerary routes the family through media markets in the Northwest.

Halfway through the tour, the Herzogs have appeared on the news in more than 10 markets, including Sacramento, Colorado Springs, Denver and Spokane.

Brad continues to promote the RV lifestyle as affordable despite high prices at the pump, telling viewers in Colorado Springs, “My favorite thing about the RV experience is the freedom and flexibility you have, you are traveling on your own terms, if you want to save money and not go the extra 200 miles.”

The Herzogs — Brad, wife Amy, and sons Luke (10) and Jesse (9) provide an accessible example of an RVing family. At each stop, they deliver messages of family togetherness, health and wellness benefits of RV travel, and educational opportunities kids get when they travel by RV — all significant purchase motivators, according to RVIA’s latest communications planning study.

“My kids are pretty sedentary at home,” Brad told viewers in Sacramento.  “But on the road we’re doing a lot of hikes.”

The 45-day tour concludes July 12 in Minneapolis.

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RV Entrepreneurs Enjoying Life on the Road

June 29, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

The following is a blog written by Mark Hendricks appearing on CBS Interactive Network offering a Q&A with Steve Anderson, editor of Workamper News, about running a business from an RV.

Even if you don’t know a truck camper from a motorhome, you know that they’re called “recreational vehicles,” not “entrepreneurial vehicles.” But according to Steve Anderson, that doesn’t mean you can’t run a business out of one.

Anderson, editor of the 14,000-subscriber Workamper News, a publication for people who work while living as full-time on-the-road RVers, says that while many have jobs as park rangers, campground employees and other similar gigs, a sizable number are self-employed entrepreneurs who operate businesses from their mobile lodgings. According to Anderson, who is based in Heber Springs, Arkansas, there is more opportunity on the road than you might think.

BNET: Seriously, you can’t run a business out of an RV — can you?

Anderson: That’s dead wrong. You absolutely can run a business out of an RV. We have literally hundreds of members running businesses out of their RVs and living in multiple places every year. With the advent of the Internet and especially now with the tools for bandwidth to connect to the Internet, the door is open to do multiple things from an RV.

We had a webinar last night and people were participating while they were sitting in a forest in northern Montana. It doesn’t make any different any more as long as you have a satellite to get to the web or are in a campground with Wi-Fi.  Now that’s become commonplace. And you also have 3G and 4G cards that have created much more connectivity for people.

BNET: But you can’t make a living doing this; this is only for people who are retired, right?

Anderson: Yes, you can make a living. We have people in their 30s and 40s who are successfully living the RV lifestyle and running businesses.

BNET: What kinds of businesses are they running?

Anderson: There are a lot of people selling products that are closely related to RVing. There are also folks that are doing everything from consulting to running dating services. There are attorneys and private nurse practitioners who are living the RV lifestyle. Some do business consulting. Another couple is doing ancestry, helping people explore their ancestors.

A real good example is the RV professor. Last May he left a college teaching job in Texas and now he and his wife are running the RV Mobile Academy. He teaches people how to repair and take care of their own RVs. He used to teach technicians on a college level how to repair RVs for dealers. Now he teaches that to people all across the country.

BNET: Is this becoming more common?

Anderson: It’s definitely picking up pace. That’s why we started a Workamper small business program. We’re connecting them with consultants to help them understand everything from the legal aspects to marketing aspects, all the things a small business needs. We’re also providing them a platform through which we’re going to be introducing their small businesses to our membership base, as well as our dreamer base. We have about 20,000 folks in dreamer mode, who are just learning about the lifestyle and contemplating it for their future.

BNET: What are some things you can’t do? Things that require large bulky heavy inventory?

Anderson: You’re right, although even that has changed because of drop shipping. You’re not going to have an auto parts store in an RV — even though there are some folks that have very large trailers they’re hauling behind RVs. They’re doing the circuit of shows where they literally roll in with a small shop and open it up for display.

Really, the sky’s the limit. From the standpoint of people wanting to experience America from an RV, they have the option to do what they want, as long as they understand the limitations and restrictions. But it’s much more open now than it was five years ago. And I predict that’s just going to get better.

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RVs, Parks Redefining Camping Experience

June 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Camping has always been a part of Jane Fowler’s life. As far back as she can remember, the mother and grandmother has spent holidays and summers communing with nature, according to a report in the Greenville (S.C.) News.

Now Fowler, her husband, her kids and their families still go camping at least four times a year. But it’s not tents they pitch these days; they’re rolling in RVs.

“We’ve just been camping forever, but it’s so nice now to have the running water, the warm water, the refrigerator, the bathroom,” she said.

Camping is not what it used to be. Thanks in part to the growing popularity of recreational vehicles, which now come with washer and dryers, flat-screen TVs, and central heating and air – and in part to a more connected culture – people are redefining what it means to go camping.

Starting last year, Kampgrounds of America (KOA) began adding “luxury park model kabins” to their sites nationwide. The KOA campground in Spartanburg. S.C.. added two of the new housing options this past winter. Each costs $119 per night for two adults and two kids, versus the $29 a night it costs to camp, but they’ve been booked consistently since, says Vicki Canto, a work camper with KOA who is currently stationed in Spartanburg.

The cabins offer television, multiple beds and rooms, bathroom, and a full kitchen and den area complete with all utensils and linens.

“If you are coming from the idea of camping in a tent, it’s definitely changing because a lot of people have these travel trailers, fifth-wheels, motorhomes, and they are really nice inside,” Canto says.

“You have all the amenities and comforts of home, and the lodges are like that … except they don’t have a dishwasher or washing machine. But still you’re not giving up a whole lot to go ‘camping.’”

Having more non-tent options has also opened up camping to more people. Fowler admits that if it weren’t for the travel trailer, she doubts she’d go camping very often. Being over 50 and sleeping in a tent is just not as appealing.

Plus, the RV is helpful with the young kids, who don’t last too long in the summer heat. The family does an annual Fourth of July trip to Crooked Creek RV Park on Lake Keowee each year, a tradition that would surely get nixed if it weren’t for the air conditioning.

“I don’t know that I would,” Fowler says. “If I did camp it would have to be when it was not too hot or too cold. There is no way I would go up there the Fourth of July in a tent.”

What is being referred to as a “glamping,” or glamour camping, trend has even spilled into more primitive state parks in South Carolina. Devils Fork State Park in Salem offers two- and three-bedroom villas in addition to campsites, and Lake Hartwell State Park in Fair Play added camper cabins in 2007. The one-room buildings are not fancy, says Kevin Evans, park manager at Devils Fork State Park, who was the Lake Hartwell park manager at the time, but they do offer an alternative to tents.

But the biggest trend Evans has seen is Wi-Fi. Even traditional campgrounds are getting on board: Table Rock State Park offers service in the park’s store and the visitor’s center. Click here to read the entire story.

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Former Maine Gov. Chronicles RV Journeys

June 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The day after leaving office following an eight-year stint as Maine’s governor, Angus King hit the road.
For the next 5½ months, King, his wife and their two children lived together in a 40-foot RV, driving 15,000 miles and traveling through 33 states.

The journey was King’s way of making the shift from being “The Man” with a staff, constant press attention and 24-hour-a-day police protection to being “simply a man,” he writes in his new book, “Governor’s Travels, How I Left Politics, Learned to Back Up a Bus, and Found America.” The book will be on bookstore shelves in mid-July.

“The trip turned out to be the perfect transition from a job like governor because it was utterly different from what I had been doing, but it was still engaging,” King told the Associated Press. “I didn’t go from the intensity of being governor to sitting in a rocking chair and reading a newspaper. I went to something that was very engaging. But instead of worrying about the Legislature, I was worrying about whether the next RV park had a dump station.”

King was elected governor as an independent in 1994, his first run for public office, and was re-elected in a landslide in 1998. Prohibited by law from running for a third term, he left office in January 2003.
He and his wife decided to buy a motorhome equipped with all the comforts of home, take 12-year-old Ben and 9-year-old Molly out of school and embark on an extended, leisurely trip with no specific itinerary. King kept a log during their travels, which he then took to Down East Books.

The result is a 160-page book that chronicles the voyage, which took them from Maine to Florida, then west through the southern states to California, north to the Pacific Northwest and back east through the northern states and Canada.

The book drives home the themes of transition, family and travel, King said, while encouraging people to live their dream.

“It’s amazing the number of people I talk to who get kind of misty about the idea of traveling across the county with their family,” King said. “Either they did it as a kid, they knew someone who had done it or they always want to do it. It seems to be a fantasy many Americans have, and part of the purpose of the books is to encourage people to do it. If I can learn to back up a bus, believe me, anybody can.”

King, 67, said he’s also going to the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) annual convention in August in Madison, Wis., where he’ll present a slideshow and try to sell a few books.

“It’s a fun book,” he said. “This isn’t going to replace `Look Homeward, Angel’ in high school literature classes, but I hope people will enjoy it from the perspective of travel and RVing.”

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RVers Find Comfort Traveling Oregon Coast

May 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The following is a column written by Cindy Quick Wilson of the Mail Tribune, Medford, Ore., offering a snapshot of her travels along the Oregon coastline.

Whether it’s dry camping in the wilderness or enjoying the comforts of a full-hookup RV park on the shores of Oregon’s spectacular coast, all RV enthusiasts agree — it’s all about the joys of camping.

For some hardy souls, camping means pitching a tent, snuggling in sleeping bags and cooking on a Coleman stove or a grill balanced on a fire ring. For the rest of us — some of whom may have left those days behind — we freely admit to enjoying a soft bed, a plug-in coffeemaker and a hot shower in the morning.

The best part is traveling with all the comforts of home: your own bed, your own shower, and being able to cook whatever you want to eat,” says Sheila Frampton of Junction City, Ore., who comes from a family of RV enthusiasts, including four siblings who all have motorhomes and fifth-wheels. She and husband Clayton just returned from a two-month trip to Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. Click here to read more

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LA Times Shares $$$ Tips for RV Vacations

July 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Rent an RV, hit the road and save gobs of money on your next vacation.

Really? Maybe not, even some advocates concede, according to Jane Engle, travel writer for Los Angeles Times.

“You could probably pack four people in a car, eat at restaurants, stay in hotels, and I imagine it’s about the same cost,” said Chuck Woodbury, editor of RVTravel.com, a consumer website offering tips and tricks for RVers.

But consider the intangibles.

“The real advantage of the RV is that the family’s together, and you can cook and eat healthy meals,” Woodbury said. “There’s something about being in a little house that’s very appealing. Sitting around a campfire at night is a lot more fun than sitting around a hotel room and watching TV.”

Pauline Frommer, creator of the Pauline Frommer’s Travel Guides series for budget travelers, said she was won over by her first-ever family RV trip last year. (And, yes, “we probably spent exactly what we would have spent if we went on a car road trip,” she added.)

I priced a hypothetical one-week vacation trip for a family of four from Los Angeles to South Lake Tahoe and back in July by rented RV versus going in the family car and staying at a hotel. Excluding food, the cost was about the same. But because it’s typically cheaper to make your own meals than to eat out, the RV won by a nose. (I priced a 25-foot Class C RV rental with a KOA campground stay and used a standard AAA calculator for driving costs of a medium sedan, with some tweaks.)

But why spend more than you need to? With that in mind, I gleaned tips from Woodbury and Frommer on how to save.

Rent the right size. Many people overestimate what they need.

Frommer’s family of four rented a 30-foot RV to tour the West. But in Sedona, Ariz., she said, “we realized we couldn’t drive it to a trail head. It was too big to park anywhere. So we turned out having to rent another car.”

Next time, she said, they’ll rent a smaller unit or even a pop-up camping trailer, which Woodbury said often rents for a fourth of what a regular RV costs.

Scout out free or low-cost parking: On my hypothetical trip, it cost $69 a night to park my RV with full hookups.

“You picked the high season and a very popular spot,” which boosted the price, Woodbury said.

Many private and national forest campgrounds charge less than $25 a night, he said. Cheaper spots don’t come with hookups or may just have water and electric. So consider doing without for a night or two, Woodbury said; rely more on battery power and siphon waste into a dump station.

You can park free on some public lands, he added, and many Wal-Marts will let you pull into their lots and spend the night — not exactly a nature experience, but OK in a pinch. For tips on cheap parking places, check out websites such as FreeCampgrounds.com.

Don’t write off private campgrounds, such as KOA, which may cost more but provide a resort-like experience.

“KOA is great for kids,” Woodbury said. “They’re in heaven. Many KOAs have swimming pools, game rooms, pancake breakfasts, movies at night and ice cream socials. It’s safe. There’s a store for supplies.”

Vacation off-season. By avoiding summer, the peak time for RV rentals in most places, you’ll pay less. Cruise America, which claims to be North America’s largest RV rental company, was recently giving 25% off rentals between Sept. 10 and Dec. 15.

Grab a one-way special. Rental companies sometimes need to move their inventory around, and if you help them, you can get “incredible deals,” Woodbury said.

Cruise America, for instance, was recently offering one-way autumn rentals from Carson, Calif., to Phoenix for $24 a night, with 1,000 free miles and no dropoff fee. By comparison, when I priced the 25-foot RV for my hypothetical trip in July, the company quoted $169 a night, plus 32 cents a mile.

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USA Today: RVs Making Inroads with Families

June 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Gilbert Brown grew up in inner-city Detroit and went on to a successful football career — 10 years as a defensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers and one season as a Super Bowl champion.

Wealth, fame and “The Gravedigger” nickname he earned opened many doors, but Brown could never have predicted they would open one to … the joys of RVing, according to USA Today.

Brown, his wife and four kids, ages 1 to 16, love to load up their recreational vehicle, hit the road and camp. “I’m 39 years old, and I never knew what a S’mores was,” Brown says. “Growing up in Detroit, there is nothing really in that area as far as camping.”

He was introduced to recreational vehicles when his Gilbert Brown Foundation, which contributes to 144 children’s charities, partnered with the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO) to raise money. Every time a campground hosted a fundraiser, he would go.

Brown now owns an RV and has inspired friends to do the same. He encourages people — especially those in urban areas — to at least try it once. “Get the kids outdoors instead of sitting in the house playing PlayStation,” he says. “Nobody’s got money to get four or five kids on a plane and go to California.”

Newcomers to fun

A new generation of Americans searching for ways to have fun in a wobbly economy is giving a boost to the 100-year-old RV industry.

Wholesale deliveries of RVs to retailers totaled 84,500 in the first four months of 2010, nearly double the total from the same period last year, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports.

Some RV camps and resorts are seeing double-digit percentage jumps in occupancy and in new faces, according to Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVCs. “It had been mainly the 55-plus,” she says. “The fastest-growing segment is the younger market — 35 to 47 … younger people entering the market with families.”

Reasons: affordability, a return to simple pleasures and a desire to get kids outdoors and away from electronic screens.

Don’t own an RV? They can be rented and delivered to a campsite at any of the 14,000 RV camps and resorts in the U.S. and Canada. About 8,000 camps are privately run. The rest are in public parks.

Campgrounds and resorts are adding amenities to offer more than simply a site to pitch a tent or park a pop-up camper. Their goal is to keep city slickers entertained and comfortable.

“We have a class of individuals looking to enjoy all the comforts of home without necessarily having to pay the price of a resort,” says Rob Schutter, chief operating officer of Leisure Systems Inc., franchiser of 75 Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resorts.

The industry targets niche segments — from hardcore outdoor enthusiasts and snowbirds to urban families who may no longer be able to afford plane tickets and hotels but still expect amenities.

“I call it ‘glamping,’ ” says Kenny Johnson, recreation director at Campland on the Bay, a San Diego RV resort that has a sandy beach, skateboard park, cafe and game room. “It’s like a city inside a city.”

“It’s unbelievable,” says Aaron Justice, 35, who joined RVing friends at the camp. “It has an arcade, market, laundromat. You really never have to leave here.”

Justice, who works in construction and lives in Temecula, Calif., usually flies to visit family in Tennessee. “Times are tough, so it makes sense to come here,” he says.

A range of activities

What camps offer:

  • Fun. Giant water slides, skateboard parks, wine tastings, zip lines, restaurants, carousels, swimming pools and playgrounds are among an expanding list of amenities. Geocaching, a high-tech treasure hunting game that uses GPS devices to locate hidden treasures, is popular. Some want to get away from it all and seek camps out of range of cellphone towers. Others want wireless access.  ”We’re in the entertainment business, the experience business,” Schutter says. “We can still cater to people who desire a rugged experience or a true family experience, sitting around the campfire and cooking S’mores.”
  • Comfort. “Park models” that look like cabins but can be moved like an RV have become popular rentals. Higher-end models offer bathrooms, kitchenettes, separate bedrooms and real beds. Cheaper units are more primitive.
  • Proximity and cost-savings. Parks within 150 miles of a metro area are in demand because they can be reached in a couple of hours, says industry consultant David Gorin, who owns the Holiday Cove RV Resort in Cortez, Fla.

Robert Franz likes to vacation near his home in Berryville, Va., in case he is needed at work. His family goes to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Luray, about an hour away.

His five children love the swimming pool and slide, he says. “If my kids went to Disney World, they’d be bored,” he says. “Here, the boys will go from the paddleboat to the basketball court. … I can turn them loose.”

Brown, the former football star, recalls his introduction to RVs. “It was eye-opening,” he says. “Once you experience something like that, it’s contagious.”

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TV Show Touts RVing as Affordable, Family-Friendly

July 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

carousel_gma_logoThe  Wednesday (July 8) edition of ABC’s Good Morning America featured a very positive segment following New Hampshire family of four, the LoPilatos, as they saved thousands of dollars on their family vacation by taking their fifth-wheel travel trailer to Disneyland this summer, according to a release from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

The family’s decision to take their RV to Disneyland was “a decision that cut their costs by more than half,” GMA‘s Elizabeth Leamy reported. “Instead of $4,500 for one week, which did not include airfare for the family of four, the price became $2,000 for 12 days. Lynne LoPilatos added that taking the RV made the family vacation possible: “It’s huge, it’s huge savings.”

“RVIA’s public relations team has been actively pitching the ‘affordability’ message to media outlets across the country since the economic crisis began,” said Gary Labella, RVIA vice president and chief marketing officer. “We know that American families are looking for affordable vacation options this summer, and it’s great that national media has caught on to the idea that RVing is not only family-friendly, but also very affordable.”

The segment is available for online viewing at: http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=8030316.

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