On the open road… tools of the trade

A few generations ago, most Canadians took only one vacation a year. All that has changed. People now get away on shorter trips more often and at all times of the year — colour tours in the fall, to mountains and beaches during the summer, springtime in wildflower country and skiing or snowmobiling in the winter.

And for close to 1 million or 12 percent of all families, a motor home or trailer has become the way to get there and back. Here are some options a buyer can consider. (Price estimates provided by Rushton RV Centre, Burlington, Ont.):

Towable RVs:
— A folding camping trailer ($4,000 to $12.000). Lightweight, with collapsible sides that fold for aerodynamic towing by a motorized vehicle. Kitchen, dining and sleeping facilities for up to nine.

— Truck camper ($8,000 to $30,000). A unit loaded onto or fixed to the bed or chassis of a pickup truck. Many have kitchen and bathroom facilities. Can sleep two to six.

— Fifth wheel ($15,000 to $100,000). A towable unit with a raised forward section over the hitch area. From 18 to 40 feet, they’re the largest of all towable trailers. Many feature electronically-controlled ducted air coitioning, laminated construction, built-in vacuum systems and full kitchen and bath. Sleep two to eight.

— Park model ($20,000 to $75,000). One of two types is dedigned to be set up in a trailer park for an extended period. A slide-out section can create up to 400 sq. ft. of floor space. The second type is built for seasonal living and often used as a cottage or summer residence. These have up to 540 sq. ft. of floor space. They range up to 12 feet wide.

Motorized RVs:
— Class `A’ motorhome ($50,000 to $200,000). The largest of all RVs, they’re built on a special motorized chassis and range from 26 feet to 42 feet. Their features are limited only by budget.

— Class `C’ motorhome ($560,000 to $75,000). Also called mini-motorhomes. They have a built-over area directly over the cab. Though smaller than a Class `A’ home, they offer most of the same amenities.

— Class `B’ motorhome ($45,000 to $70,000). Also known as “camper vans”, they’re built on a van chassis with a raised roof for headroom. Other changes may include side windows, carpeting, panelling, custom seats, sofas and other accessories. Popular with people who like to use their vehicle as a second family car. Can be equipped with bathrooms, showers, kitchens and dinettes.