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Brooke and Buddy Baum

Brooke and Buddy Baum had good jobs, a house near Denver and enough money to pay the bills. It sounds like the American dream. Except they were miserable.

As reported by Ad Age, he was working up to 80 hours a week as an information technology analyst, with barely time to take a vacation. She was an editorial assistant at a business journal but wanted more time to write. “We felt really stuck where we were,” Brooke Baum says. “We just wanted the freedom to figure out what we wanted our life to look like.”

They found their answer in a Winnebago. The young couple bought the $109,000, 25-foot RV about a year ago after selling most of their possessions to embrace a permanent life on the road. Their nomadic, minimalist, you-only-live-once attitude — expressed in popular Instagram hashtags like #rvlife and #homeiswhereyoupark — exemplifies a new youthful vibe energizing the RV market, which is enjoying record sales.

Retiring Baby Boomers remain a sweet spot for RV brands, and couples like the Baums are a niche market. But marketers are reporting new interest from younger buyers, including Millennials and Gen Xers who are opting for RV vacations over hotel and airline travel. In 2016, the average age of an RV owner was 45, compared with 48 the year before, according to industry-sponsored Nielsen research recently cited by Thor Industries Inc. With brands such as Airstream, Four Winds and Dutchmen, Indiana-based Thor controls 45% of the RV market, according to IBISWorld.

“It used to be people really didn’t think about this kind of travel until they retired,” says Mollie Hansen, chief marketing officer at Airstream, known for its timeless shiny silver travel trailers. But the new attitude is, “‘Why wait?’ And that’s fueling some of our growth.”

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