Don’t expect rising gas prices to run RV lovers off the road this summer, states Saturday’s (4/22) edition of The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va.
People who buy recreational vehicles are pursuing a dream, said Doug Green, manager of Safford RV in Thornburg, a small town south of Fredericksburg.
So, paying more for fuel, he reasons, won’t deter them from taking the trip of a lifetime.
“They’re not going to change their mind,” Green said.
Chris Miller, sales associate at King RV on Chatham Heights Road in Stafford County, agreed after having sold a number of high-end diesel motorhomes. “I would say that customers are certainly wary of the gas prices,” Miller said, “although, as far as it hurting business, I’d say last month was pretty much a record month for us.”
The cost of a vacation is going up for everyone this summer, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic, which has tracked vacation expenses since 1950, and people should expect to spend 5.4 percent more than last year on leisure trips, AAA said. Rising gas prices, lodging and food costs are behind the increase.
Filling up the tank of an RV will be a pricier activity.
Depending on their size, RVs get anywhere from 5 to 17 miles per gallon, said Green, adding that he has seen no dip in sales.
There are 8.2 million RVs roaming America’s highways, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. Eight percent of U.S. households headed by someone over age 35 own one.
Green, whose average customer is 55 years old and flush with free time as a result of retirement or an empty nest. , has also seen a new niche emerge among younger customers. More often than not, they’re likely to be pet owners and people who follow any kind of racing–NASCAR, motorcycle or stock cars.
For these consumers, having the luxuries of home with them as they travel is priceless. For pet owners, he added, it’s the freedom to bring their animals along for the ride.
Plus, unlike staying in a resort, the scenery always changes. “They get up in the morning and they’re going to drive to New Mexico,” Greened noted. “Then, a couple days later, they’re going to be somewhere else.”
At Safford, the most basic towable RVs start at $4,000, but shoppers can spend up to $360,000 on a luxury motor home. Most motorhomes at the Safford lot this week were priced between $40,000 and $130,000, many of them equipped with flat-screen TVs, queen-size beds, plush seating, recessed lighting and elaborate cabinetry.
RVs have “changed immensely over time,” Green said. “They’ve become a lot more sophisticated than they were before. You name it, it’s inside all of these things. All the modern technology is utilized.”
Any money lost on gas put into an RV can be saved in other ways, Miller maintained, because when you travel in an RV, you save on hotel costs. You can prepare dinner in your RV kitchen or campsite, sparing the mileage traveling to and from restaurants. “There are other ways that an RV actually ends up saving you money,” Miller said.
It could help a family vacation in other ways, according to Green.
His two sons, now grown, repeatedly bring up their childhood camping trips. RVing fosters a togetherness that’s hard to replicate in other situations, he said.
“You live together, make the best of a situation,” Green said. “You have to love each other. Even if you don’t, you will at the end.”