Nine years ago, Chris Dunphy traded his long Silicon Valley commute for a different life on the road. He bought a 16-foot teardrop trailer, hit the highway, and hasn’t looked back since. Today, he and his partner, Cheri Ve Ard, a software developer from Florida whom he met eight years ago, crisscross the country in a 35-foot motorhome that includes a dual desk area, where they run their software and tech company.
Outside Magazine reported that Dunphy, 42, and Ve Ard, 41, are among a growing number of Gen Xers, Gen Yers, and Millennials who are foregoing home ownership, realigning careers, and in some cases homeschooling kids while traveling in the slow lane. Most mobile home owners don’t live in their vehicles full-time, but they are contributing to a trend that’s seeing motorhome sales rebound nearly to where they were before the Great Recession put the brakes on the industry beginning in 2007.
According to Michigan-based Statistical Surveys Inc., motorhome retail registrations in 2014 increased 16.4% over the previous year, while registrations of towable trailers increased by 10.3%. Demand for the iconic Airstream trailer is so high, for instance, that last fall the company announced it was expanding its Ohio production facility by 70% just to keep up with demand.
“Coming out of the recession, there were some attitudinal changes,” says Kevin Broom, spokesperson for Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “People were more interested in simplifying their life, being more frugal, spending time with family, and reconnecting with nature.”
With gas hitting a four-year low in December, vacationing by RV — whether it’s a tricked-out camper van, a 32-foot luxury motorhome, or a small towable folding trailer — has become the affordable vacation of choice for a growing number of families.
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