Posts Tagged ‘RV owners’

Seeley familyThree years ago, Todd Seeley was literally working a stressful job as a coal miner in Colorado. Before that, he was in a demanding job as a heavy equipment mechanic working for Caterpillar. Both of which meant he didn’t see his family much.

They wanted better control of their lives and a life change, which revolved around travel, so they could show their son America on a very personal journey.

“Our pastor knew we were exploring the idea of jumping into the RV lifestyle and he suggested we talk to another couple at church whom he knew ran a business from their RV every winter,” he explained. “By the end of the conversation, they sold us their business — and their motorhome.”

“The family we bought it from had spent several winters traveling around and building window shades for RV owners,” Renee explained. “They were not full-time RVers, but they had been for quite a while. The couple built shades to supplement their retirement income.”

God’s hand was clearly at work, they explained. “We thought it would take six months or even a year for everything to go through and make the deal, but everything happened within a few months,” she added.

Their home in Colorado had been on the market for months, but they still didn’t have any offers. Yet, over a four-hour period one afternoon, they got the house leased and bought the business and the coach. And the guy who wanted their home, also wanted just about every piece of furniture in it as well.

“All we had to do was clean out the closets,” Renee said.

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Our Fifth Wheel on old truss bridge in Arizona

Our Fifth Wheel on old truss bridge in Arizona

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA’s) biannual Campfire Canvass reports 36% of RV owners plan to travel more this fall and winter than last year, 38% plan to travel the same amount and just 9% plan to travel less often, according to a news release.

Top reasons for taking more RV trips include enjoying outdoor activity (76%), escaping stress and pressure (67%), and spending more time with family (51%). Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said they plan to take more mini-vacations (2-4 days).

“RVing is the best way to see our great country, spend time outdoors, and reconnect with family and friends,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “No other travel option offers consumers the freedom, flexibility and value that RVs do.”

Along with getting outdoors, escaping stress and spending time with family, another primary reason why millions of owners will be traveling and enjoying the RV lifestyle this fall/winter is because they appreciate the value that RV travel delivers. Nearly 90% said that RVing is an affordable way to travel. Three-quarters said they save at least 25% when traveling in their RV compared to other types of travel, while 34% save 35-50%. This echoes a 2011 study by PKF, an international travel and tourism consulting company, which found that RVing is 23% to 59% less expensive than other types of vacations for a family of four.

In addition to saving on rising hotel costs and airfares, RV owners also avoid the expense of eating most meals in restaurants as other forms of travel require. According to the RVIA survey, 92% of RV owners said they eat at least two meals a day onboard their RVs.

Despite these uncertain economic times, 47% said that they’re considering another RV purchase, with 79% of those respondents citing the availability of “great deals” in today’s RV market. More than 57% will attend RV retail shows this fall and winter.

Of those not considering another RV purchase within the next two years, 85% said it’s because they’re happy with their current RV.

Owners surveyed will use their RVs in a variety of ways during the fall/winter travel season:

  • 73% of the respondents said that they plan to sightsee.
  • 64% visit state parks and 57% national parks.
  • 53% plan to visit friends/family.
  • 50% will attend festivals or fairs.

The survey also reveals that owners are physically active on their RV trips. For example, 54% said they enjoy hiking, 48% fishing/hunting, 31% biking and 14% canoeing and kayaking. Approximately 14% of RVers plan to tailgate at football games this fall — 53% will tailgate college games and 39% NFL.

Results also show that holiday travel remains popular with RV owners. Among the respondents, 48% said they plan to travel in their RVs over the Thanksgiving weekend and 25% over the Christmas/Hanukkah season.

Empty nester couples are planning to hit the road in a big way, as well. Nearly 80% said they’re planning to travel with schools back in session. With children in the classroom, empty nesters enjoy smaller crowds (64%), more peace and quiet (59%) and lower cost because of off-season discounts (52%).

Forest River Surveyor Travel Trailer

Forest River Surveyor Travel Trailer

After slumping during the recession, sales of recreational vehicles are on the rise as U.S. consumers give in to the lure of the open road — with amenities — and are once again able to get credit to buy what many consider an affordable second home.

Sales of RVs, which include travel trailers and motor homes, have been rising since 2010, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. Today, RV owners number nearly 9 million in the United States — a record.

The increase comes thanks to more available credit, growing interest in RV travel, and a push by RV makers to load up the vacation homes on wheels with high-tech extras, the Reston, Va.-based association said.

And many people are just fed up with traditional travel hassles.

“We’re seeing a lot of first-time buyers who have traveled other ways and are tired of the air travel or questionable accommodations when they get where they’re going,” said Greg Merkel, owner and president of Leo’s Vacation Center in Gambrills.

Wholesale sales of RVs, which reached a 30-year high in 2006, began falling off the following year, hurt by plummeting consumer confidence and the tightening of credit markets, said Kevin Broom, a spokesman for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.

Sales from manufacturers to dealers dropped sharply in 2008 and 2009, the group says.

“RVs are discretionary purchases that are primarily financed,” Broom said, adding that would-be RV owners could not buy even if they wanted to during the credit crunch.

That has changed. National sales rose 4 percent last year, to more than 252,000 RVs, and are projected to grow as much as 6 percent this year.

About 90 percent of RVs sold are travel trailers, which cost about $35,000 on average and require towing. The rest are pricier motor homes.

“That’s incremental, steady growth, and what we anticipate happening is this steady growth,” Broom said. “There’s a substantial savings in RV travel, even including the purchase and ownership,” because RV travelers — who pay about $35 per night at campgrounds — can forgo hotel, restaurant and airfare costs.

“People want to get out and spend time with family and want the outdoor experience,” Broom said. “But they want comfort.”

Sales at Chesaco RV in Joppa are up more than 20 percent this year over last, general manager Rob Lentz said.

“Truly it’s a lifestyle choice to some degree,” Lentz said of the demand for RVs. “This is something people enjoy doing.”

RV owners, he said, share “a really strong feeling of community and loyalty.”

This year, the dealer, which also has locations in Gambrills and Frederick, has seen a bump in sales of travel trailers in the $20,000 to $30,000 range, Lentz said.

Financing with lower interest rates has helped sales, he said, adding that the interest on vehicles counted as second homes is tax-deductible.

Manufacturers, too, are trying to win over buyers by including more amenities, such as high-end audio and video systems, a homier feel in decor, upgrades in kitchens and bath designs, new floor plans — and power-everything, including the awnings, he said.

“A lot of the allure with the RV lifestyle is the ability to travel with a lot of the amenities from home, to have your own bed and your own bathroom,” Lentz said.

Some owners store their trailers at their homes and tow them on trips, while others keep a trailer at a permanent site. Some campgrounds will store trailers in the off-season and then tow them to a campsite for the owners.

Linda Abel and her husband, Frank, just bought a 33-foot motor home with full kitchen, bathroom with a standup shower, living room with leather sofa and big-screen TV, and bedroom with two wardrobes and another TV. They traded up after owning travel trailers.

Before their first trailer purchase three years ago, the Perry Hall couple considered buying a permanent vacation home.

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