Standing outside the RV he rented Thursday (May 21) for a family Memorial Day weekend trip from his home in Shipshewana, Ind., to Ohio, Matt Oxender was all smiles, according to WSBT-TV, South Bend.

The RV fit the bill perfectly, he said.

“You have all the luxuries of home right there. It has a nice full size refrigerator, so you don’t need to run to town for dinner or anything. There’s plenty of space for the kids. And you’re right there with all the action. You don’t have to go to a hotel room and drive back and forth,” he said.

It all comes for about $800 for the long four-day weekend.

It’s not cheap, but it’s better than the alternative, Oxender said.

“By the time you figure out renting hotel rooms each night, this comes out to be about the same. And it’s a convenience. It’s all about the convenience,” he said.

And it’s a convenience that’s suddenly skyrocketing in popularity.

Just ask Rick Slusher.

As the head representative for Cruise America RV Rentals at Techworks in Elkhart, Slusher has seen the down economy’s effects on rentals recently. He’s also seen a sudden upswing.

“We have nothing available. Nothing on the lot,” Slusher said. “All of our RVs are rented for the holiday weekend.”

It’s a far cry from just two years ago, when rentals were sluggish.

“We were down to maybe one or two calls a day (for RV rentals). Now, we’re up to maybe a dozen every day,” he said.

Rentals are up, too.

“We’re up 13% from last year. And, last year, we were up 100% at this time. So, we are up 13% over that hundred as of last year,” Slusher said.

He thinks there’s a simple reason why.

“I think it’s a money thing right now. People want to save money. People don’t have a lot of money like they used to (for vacations). So, they’re going the cheapest and best way they can go,” Slusher said.

It’s quickly becoming a national trend.

Across the country, rentals and sales of RVs are on the rise over the last few weeks.

Experts say it’s another encouraging sign for the hard hit RV industry.

“The kids can play, rest, and relax in there if it gets too hot outside,” Oxender said.

After all, the most valuable part of the whole deal is time spent together as a family. It’s so valuable, that Oxender says he’s considering buying an RV of his own.