For some, there’s just nothing better than setting out in search of adventure in the great outdoors. That’s why approximately 8.9 million households in the U.S. have some sort of recreational vehicle, a vehicle that combines transportation and temporary living quarters for travel, recreation and camping. Some of those vehicles are motorhomes and others are towable trailers, but they all evoke an image of family fun, affordable vacationing and connecting with nature. The RV bug has bitten these Waukee families, and they’re happy to take their adventure-mobiles wherever the wind blows.
Though she says she’s not outdoorsy at all, Terri Turner admits she’s really enjoyed her time spent camping and adventuring in the pull-behind trailer she purchased with her husband, Bob.
“We have had various campers off and on through the years, and I’m a little claustrophobic, and my husband wanted to look for something larger so I’d go camping a little more,” she laughs. “He found this one on craigslist, and we got it a few months ago.”
They haven’t had the trailer out too much yet, but they did take a big trip out west to Colorado recently with their grandsons. The Turners love spending time with the boys, and the boys love the adventure and time spent in the campground. They have plenty to do, and they’ve even met some new friends.
Turner says it can be a bit daunting to prepare for such a trip. You basically have to pack a huge suitcase nearly the size of a small house before you take off. Despite the prep work involved, she says she vastly prefers it to staying in motels or hotels each night — no worries about bed bugs or things like that. You can also take as much of your “stuff” with you as you want.
The appeal for the Turners is the ability to get away. Camping forces you to sit back and relax a bit, something that can be hard to do, even on other vacations.
“(Bob) loves to fish,” she says. “He really likes grilling out and being outside and having a few beers and just relaxing. It doesn’t take much upkeep once you get where you’re going. I’ll be honest with you; it’s so nice to be outside in the cool Colorado air. I’m not a huge heat person, and I love the West.”
Turner says they hope to go on more vacations as a couple in the next few years. Her husband is semi-retired, and when she retires, they hope to see more of the country.
“We both have that same dream where we want to have an RV or camper that we can detach and go look at what we want to look at,” she says. “We do want to travel some more, and it’s nice to know that you have your things around you. It’s a big perk traveling this way.”
For fire chief Clint Robinson and his family, camping is a great way to escape for a little while and enjoy some time spent outdoors and with family. He and his wife, Jenny, and their kids — Morgan, 12; Kaylen, 9; and Cannon, 5 — love heading out to a campground for the weekend.
“Usually we try to stay about two or three counties away at a state park or county park,” Robinson says. “It forces us to get away, but we can still get back if we need to. We like to stay at a place that has a lake so the kids can swim and fish.”
The Robinsons started out borrowing a couple of pop-up campers, but it became evident quickly that the amount of set-up and small space wasn’t ideal for their family. They ended up with a 28-foot Cougar camper with three bunks and slide-outs, and it’s perfect.
Though they typically have stayed close to home, the family is talking about taking a trip to South Dakota in the near future. It will be the farthest they’ve traveled, so they’re excited to think about new adventures.
“It’s nice that you can control when you leave and when you come back, and you’re not on anyone else’s schedule,” he says. “If you want to lounge on a Sunday, you can. The kids love it.”
Dick and Deb Christensen have turned their camping avocation into a vocation —– the couple purchased an RV park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and ran it for 20 years before coming to Iowa and doing the same with Timberline in Waukee.
“We love getting out and seeing the country and seeing how other campgrounds do things,” Dick says. “Now we’re having as much fun as ever.”
The Christensens have a 45-foot Prevost Bus with slide-outs and all the amenities you can imagine — and maybe some that you can’t. Once the campground closes up on Nov. 1, they begin their own camping adventure.
First up is time spent in Fort Lauderdale, and then they make their way out west. They’ve been to Napa Valley and done the wine tours and spent time in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. Dick says traveling in this way affords a few perks.
“First thing that comes to mind is you pack your coach or camper one time, and you’re not unloading and loading, and you always know where you’re sleeping at night,” Dick says. “If you travel with pets, that’s a real perk. You can bring them with, and everyone feels like they’re at home.”
Another perk to traveling on wheels is the ability to stay as long or as little as you want to in one place. If you decide you love being near the mountains, it’s no trouble to stay an extra day. Dick says there is a large travel guidebook that lists the amenities and ratings of most of the campgrounds in the country, so you can choose what sort of place might be the best for you and your family.
If you are thinking about purchasing a camper or trailer or motorhome, Dick says the best way is to try before you buy. Many dealerships offer rentals for those who want to test the waters. Camping with friends who have campers is also a great way to see what’s out there and what might work the best for you.
For those who have commitments that keep them close to home, camping is a great way to get away, even for an evening. You can take the kids to their baseball game or go home and get the lawn mowed, then head back to the campground for the evening to relax.
Ultimately though, camping is just good family fun.
“It’s a wonderful way to relax,” Dick says. “Now the room service might not be as good as you’d get elsewhere — or it might be better, depending on who you’re traveling with. But it’s so great to have their family time with swimming and camp fires, and it’s a great family event for everyone.
RV fun facts
There’s an RV for every taste and budget. Prices for new RVs are typically $5,000-$22,000 for folding camping trailers, $6,000-$55,000 for truck campers, $8,000-$95,000 for conventional travel trailers, $43,000-$200,000 for Type C motorhomes and $60,000-$500,000 for Type A motorhomes.
RVs are made by American companies employing American workers that are located in America. In fact, more than 60 percent of recreational vehicles are made in Elkhart Country, Indiana.
Today’s typical RV owner is 48 years old and married, with an annual household income of $62,000 — higher than the median for all households. RV owners are likely to own their homes and spend disposable income on traveling — an average of three weeks annually, RVIA research shows.
RV vacations are more affordable than travel by personal car, commercial airline or cruise ship, according to vacation cost-comparison studies by PKF Consulting. Even factoring in RV ownership costs and considering resulting tax benefits, a family of four can spend up to 59 percent less when traveling by RV.
With more than 16,000 public and privately owned campgrounds nationwide, RVers are free to roam America’s roads for a weekend — or months at a time.
RV demand remains robust and the potential for future sales is bright, according to a University of Michigan study. Among U.S. households that have never owned an RV, more than one in seven expressed interest in purchasing an RV in the future.
Both parents and empty-nesters are strong potential RV buyers, and promising future prospects are emerging among younger, ethnically diverse consumers, reveals a Harris Interactive study commissioned by the Go RVing Coalition. Generation Xers exhibit interests in outdoor activities that are highly compatible with RVing, the study found.
Information courtesy the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association