With an average length of around 36 feet, a class A motorhome cruising the country’s highways and byways is hard to miss.
While this largest class of motorhome has grown in popularity as a full-time living option, other types have seen an upsurge in ownership as well. From upgraded conversion vans and class C “mini” motorhomes, to travel trailers and truck campers, odds are increasing there might be a recreational vehicle in your future. There are many ways you can be a part of this growing trend.
First the numbers: The number of households that own recreational vehicles has grown by more than one million over a 10-year period, from 7.9 million in 2005 to a current peak of over nine million, according to industry research. Meanwhile, a total of 8.5 percent of U.S. households now own RVs, with 21 percent stating their intention to purchase an RV at some point in the future. And sales continue to surge. The makers of RVs shipped 38,343 vehicles in the U.S. in April 2015, a 13.5 percent increase from a year earlier.
The reasons are varied, including a sunnier economy and savvier manufacturers addressing the needs of their buyers. “Part of the growth in RV ownership is the economy improving,” says Kevin Broom, director of media relations for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “And part of it is that RV makers are building products that are designed to meet the amenities that consumers are liking.”
No longer an activity dominated by retirees and senior citizens who have more leisure time to travel the country, RV ownership now includes families and younger people.
While Baby Boomers have traditionally been a leading force in the RV industry, RVers aged 35 to 54 are now the largest segment of RV owners. Broom says it’s a trend that has been going on for a while. “RVs have been viewed as a retirement activity,” he says, “but currently about 40 percent of RV owners have children under 18 living at home.”
Why this shift in ownership? Part of the reason is due to RVs becoming more affordable to purchase and operate. Manufacturers are building lighter and lighter trailers, which lowers fuel costs. New light models are designed to be towed by crossover SUVs and minivans, and even compact cars like a Mini Cooper. For families who already own a truck or SUV, it’s an easier entry to RV ownership.
Manufacturers are also offering a variety of amenities that appeal to a wider range of potential owners. “An empty-nester couple who’s looking to do a lot of driving might opt for a smaller motorhome,” says Broom. “Couples looking to take longer tours and stay in one spot might opt for a class A motorhome.” Amenities that might appeal to families include TVs, exterior entry bathrooms, large kitchens and bunk rooms for kids to bring along a friend. Some RVs have windows for pets with pullout drawers, while high-end motorhomes might even include a hot tub. “Really, it’s like there’s a product somewhere in the RV lineup that’s right for anyone,” adds Broom.
RVs are also being designed for a variety of activities. Whether attending a sports tournament or other event, camping, visiting beaches or traveling to state and national parks, “anything you can think of people are doing it in RVs,” says Broom. Some RVs are designed to go off-roading, with space to carry motorcycles or ATVs. Other owners not tied to an office live, work and travel in their RVs full time.
Trends involving RVs continue to evolve, drawing in new owners each year. The growing popularity of mini vacations near home is popular for RVers as well, especially long weekend trips. Destination or extended-stay trailers are also trending up. Owners find a permanent location for their trailer at a campground and visit on weekends or vacations; when they go home, the campground stores it for them.
“There are lots of ways to get out there and do things,” Bloom says.
If you’re interested in buying an RV for your next weekend getaway or vacation, make sure you look into getting a reliable RV insurance policy to provide your recreational vehicle with the coverage it needs.