American Dream Trip: RVing

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Escaping in a Recreation Vehicle for a few days to the magnificent outdoors remains an American dream.
In a recent survey by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (rvia.org), RV users said enjoying outdoor activities, spending quality time with family, and taking more mini-vacations, top the list for using their RVs.
Many families are opting for frequent getaways closer to home for two primary reasons: higher fuel costs and busy schedules.
While the shorter trips are popular, especially with families who have children at home, for many empty nesters, the longer fantasy destinations sit near the top of their bucket list.
“Alaska is still the most popular dream trip for most RVers,” said travel photographer John Holod of RV Adventure Videos (rvadventurevideos.com). “People still have a big romance with seeing the vast landscapes of America’s last great frontier.”
When reached by telephone on his way to present travel seminars at an RV show, Holod said that his “Alaska: RV Adventure of a Lifetime” DVD remains his number one seller. Other popular extended RV journeys for baby boomers include touring the Canadian Maritimes and driving the historic Route 66.

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To get to those dream destinations, people are seeking smaller, lightweight recreation vehicles that get more miles to the gallon. The RV industry has responded to consumer demands with new designs and is currently into its sixth year of recovery from its low point during 2008 recession. Leading the pack are travel trailers that can be towed by light-duty trucks and SUVs and more fuel-efficient motorhome.
As for prices, new conventional travel trailers typically run $8,000 to $95,000. Class C motorhomes, the smaller ones with over-cab sleeping, usually run $43,000 to $200,000 new. Larger, bus-like Class A motorhomes start at around $60,000 and go up from there.
“As technology has improved and become more available,” said Kevin Broom, RVIA director of media relations, “RV makers have been offering innovative new products that are lighter weight, more aerodynamic, and more fuel efficient — while still offering a mix of amenities that appeal to the many different types of RV buyers.”

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According to industry statistics, shipments from RV manufacturers to dealers, a key indicator of demand, are expected to reach 335,500 units in 2014, a 6.1 percent increase from the projected total for 2013, which was more than a 10 percent gain over the 2012 total. Shipments bottomed out in 2009 at 165,700 units.
“Consumer confidence is growing, credit is available, and RVs are visible, popular and even cool,” said RVIA President Richard Coon.
Two 2014 models that have been getting media attention since their debut are Winnebago Industries (gowinnebago.com) Trend and Viva! Class C motorhomes. Both compact, 23-foot motorhomes are built on Ram ProMaster chassis and offer a powered StudioLoft bed that lifts snug to the ceiling to conserve space when not in use.
The Trend and Viva “should serve the industry well in attracting the next generation of motorhome buyers,” said RV Business Publisher Sherman Goldenberg in announcing the Trend as one of the “Top 2014 RV Debuts.” The Trend runs about $92,000.

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Considered the “mega-malls” of the RV world, RV shows are where you can find bumper-to-bumper displays of 2014 gas and diesel motorhomes, travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth wheel trailers, folding campers and truck campers.
“Multiple dealers gather to bring hundreds of the latest models and offer deals,” according to Go RVing (gorving.com). “This provides a great opportunity for prospective buyers to wander between different models, check out various floor plans, ask questions, meet other RVers, and find the RV that best suits their needs.”
To maximize your time, do a little homework before walking through the front doors of an RV show. Think about how you plan to use your RV. Do you want to drive or tow a rig? Where will it be stored? What is your budget? How do you plan to finance it? And, if you are a serious potential buyer, consider arranging financing ahead of time.
Rounding out every RV show are rows and rows of vendors selling everything in the latest in accessories including water filters, satellite dishes and solar panels. Also look for representatives from RV clubs, membership parks and insurance companies.

— Julianne G. Crane, Motor Matters

Photo 1: Conventional travel trailers, including Jayco’s Jay Flight Swift, continue to be popular with growing families who value nature and camping. (Courtesy of Jayco)
Photo 2: The majority of recreation vehicle owners say that RVing allows their families to spend quality time together outdoors enjoying nature. (Courtesy of Recreation Vehicle Industry Association).
Photo 3: The interior of Winnebago Industries’ 2014 Itasca Viva! Class C motorhome includes “energy-saving LED lighting and soft, easy-to-clean Ultraleather furniture.” (Courtesy of Winnebago Industries)
Photo 4: Type A motorhome sales were up more than 30 percent in 2013 from 2012. (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association)

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2014

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