What’s new in RVs

Travelling out on the open road is a retirement dream many of us share – to be able to explore local sights and delights at our leisure. But who wants to be at the mercy of seedy motels or boggy campsites? The solution is recreational vehicles, of course, and RVing is both a means of transport and a way of life.

In fact, as of a 2005 study by the University of Michigan’s Survey Research centre found that nearly 8 million U.S. households own at least one RV — a 15 per cent increase over the past four years and a stunning 58 per cent rise since 1980. One in 12 U.S. vehicle-owning households now own at least one RV.

And a large reason for RV ownership’s upswing is of course the enormous baby boomer generation. What do boomers and others have to look forward to? Here are five trends in RVs now and to come.

Connections make for moveable nests
One of the biggest changes for RVers is how easy it’s become to stay connected while on the road. Laptop computers, cell phones, GPS systems, satellite television, and even Internet access on the road have all contributed to the sense of really bringing home along.

This means that people can stay on the road longer and still maintain connections at home, do banking easily, and keep in touch with family and friends. But it also means that there may not be as much of a need to retain a home base. RVs are not only a means to travel but are now truly “moveable nests”; not just a home away from home, but a home unto themselves.

RVs have often come in bigger and better models – but as technology continues to develop, better has truly become luxury. From convection ovens/microwaves to plasma televisions, accessories offer the amenities of a fine home.

But that’s not all that’s luxurious. There are RVs available for a mere one to two million dollars that outshine many homes – 45-foot recreational vehicles with details such as marble steps, five closets, a queen-size bed, a full-size refrigerator, and sections that expand when parked to add additional space. Although these look more like buses than the campers many of us grew up with, they certainly complete the argument that moveable nests are possible – even gilded ones.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from the conspicuous consumption of the ultra-luxurious RV lies the hybrid camper/van. This RV is designed to offer all the basics of a RV – shower, toilet, kitchen, bed – within the footprint of what is more or less a van-sized vehicle. Roadtrek is one of the better known names. The advantages? Easy driving and parking are definite draws, but most especially fuel efficiency.

In addition, there are more green gadgets and accessories available to make any RV more eco-friendly.

Another trend is for RVers to be able to bring their “toys” along with them. Storage options and capacity is a growing concern, and manufacturers are responding with creative solutions. New classes of trailers also offer the possibility of towing along ATVs, snowmobiles, and jet skis more efficiently.

And finally, RV manufacturers are realizing the potential for disabled travel as well as a more “age-in-place” approach to RV design. Although most RVers still must be custom modified, accommodations such as lifts on rear doors and wheelchair chargers are becoming increasingly available, making RVs a viable way to travel and live for those who face physical challenges beyond the norm.

Real freedom: RV retirement
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