Posted by: nickgerlich | September 26, 2007

Road Scholar

It’s funny the perceptions that people sometimes have. Mention Amarillo, and they think we all ride around on horses. Say Chicago, and people automatically assume that gangsters are sitting on window ledges with sub-machine guns.

Mention RVs, and folks instantly think of retirees. Gray-haired people chugging along at 55mph in a 40-foot rig towing a sedan. Headed to Arizona or Florida for the winter. Here in Amarillo we sit on the migratory path of many snowbirds headed to warm nesting grounds in the desert southwest.

RV You know what? The stereotype is all wrong. People are no longer waiting to get old to buy into the idea. According to the RVIA, last year there were over 390,000 RV units shipped, the fifth straight year of sales increases. The outlook for 2007 is a continued upward trend, albeit at a slightly slower pace of growth.

How can this be, you ask? What about high gas prices? Those big rigs sometimes struggle to get 6mpg. And what about the cost? Doesn’t a person have to work 30-40 years to be able to afford a big RV?

Increasing incomes have made RV ownership affordable for many more people than once was the case. And as for high gas prices, there are many tradeoffs people are willing to make to compensate for the price at the pump. In my earlier blog I wrote about how we took a very different type of vacation in our motorhome, and spent very little money.

There are numerous advantages to RV ownership (which the RVIA says has now reached 8 million households), including being able to write off interest payments because the RV is considered a second home. Furthermore, traveling in an RV puts the owners fully in control of where they sleep and what they eat. It can actually be cheaper to go RVing than to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants (never mind the costs of flying, and then renting a vehicle). And with many of the better RV parks now providing wifi, it is fairly easy to work and play at the same time.

The RVIA reports the biggest group of RV owners are those in the 35-54 age bracket, while the fastest-growing segment is those aged 18-34. No kidding. What was once the domain of wrinkled grandparents is the playground of the young and middle-aged.

There are scads of RV types to consider, ranging from Class A rigs (either gas or diesel pushers that are usually 30-45 feet in length), buses (usually a Prevost, screaming that a rock star or CEO is onboard), Class B and B-plus (all-in-one smaller units usually built on a van platform), Class C (with the bunk over the cab, often built on a Ford E450 truck platform), 5th wheel trailers (pulled by a pickup), and travel trailers. And prices range from $1 million-plus for buses, down to $12-15,000 for entry-level travel trailers.

Egg CamperThe industry has also responded to high gas prices by introducing more small and lightweight units for those trying to vacation on a budget, including the Egg Camper. These units can be towed by virtually any vehicle with a V6 engine, and for $17,000 or less offer a nice option for those just getting into RVing.

As for us, we started out with a travel trailer, and are now on our second Class A. I tell people we’re simply in training for retirement. Whenever that is. Until then, though, we’ve got the mobility we crave, as well as the ability to work and play from wherever. Just as long as you don’t think we’re over the hill.

Dr “Traveling Jones” Gerlich



  1. I totally agree what you are saying. The same thing is happening here in Europe. Younger people are buying RVs and trailers. Still the perception is that only retired people do that.

    About two years ago I noticed that there was very little information about RVs and travelling available on the net in my native language. That’s why I decided to build up my own blog. I hope it helps to get rid of the old perception of gray haired people etc.

    My family started out two and a half years ago with a small trailer. Now we have changed the trailer to a small RV. Actually the RV should be delivered to us tomorrow. I can’t wait to get to the first weekend trip with it 🙂

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