RVers attending the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., this week seemed more interested in new available features than the rising cost of gasoline, according to a report in the Patriot-News, Harrisburg.
Although Winnebago’s View – a Class C motorhome with a Mercedes-Benz diesel engine getting 17-19 mpg – drew plenty of attention, most RVers at the show appeared willing to bite the bullet when it comes to pump prices.
John and Paula Eisenhour, owners of a 21-foot Chinook that gets about 10 mpg, said high gas prices won’t stop them from taking about six trips a year.
“I believe that gas is a minor part of it,” said John Eisenhour. “While we’re on a trip I’d go out to eat one time less” to compensate for higher fuel prices.
He added that the purchase price of an RV and the cost of maintaining it will “cost you 10 times more than if you stay in a hotel. … It’s something you’ve got to love to do.”
It’s a misconception that gas prices affect the $12 billion RV industry, noted Brad Lamb, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA), which is sponsoring the event running Sept. 14-18 for consumers. That’s because traveling by RV becomes a lifestyle that people won’t easily abandon over of a few hundred dollars more in gas costs, he said.
This marked the first year for the PRVCA show was held in Hershey, having been long-established at the state-owned Farm Show Complex 16 miles to the east.
Siblings Dani Brady and Dan Gordon said record-high gas prices won’t force them to park the 20-foot American Cruiser they use for vacations.
“My family doesn’t like hotels at all,” Gordon said. Traveling by RV “fits our family” because of the “convenience and having your own stuff.”
Brady borrowed the RV, which Gordon owns, for two trips this year. “Actually, it was cheaper than what I was estimating. It got better gas mileage than what I was expecting,” she said.
Wayne Burroughs, who sells Fleetwood RVs for Media Camping Center in Hatfield, agreed. “This is your vacation time. For someone to spend, maybe, an extra $400 for a trip across the country and back, it’s nothing,” he said.
But Burroughs allowed that RV shoppers do talk about the shock of rising fuel costs.
Lamb said some RV travelers are making small changes to handle higher prices at the pumps.
“A lot of consumers are taking more mini-vacations. They’re not going as far,” he said. “They’re staying in the same campgrounds longer.”
So far this year, RV sales nationwide are down only 1.2 percent from 2004, which was a record year, according to Lamb.
“We really don’t know how many people aren’t coming to look and possibly buy” because of gas prices, observed Hadden Smith, owner of Media Camping Center. Still, he added, his sales this year are only “a hair less” than last year.
Many RV buyers are near retirement and planning to travel, Smith noted.
“They have a built-in attitude [that] it’s going to take a pretty good catastrophe or set of circumstances to dissuade them. That’s in our favor,” he said.