2008-06-25 / Seniors

RV Travel: Tips To Help You Get Started

Dear Savvy Senior,

I've always thought it would be fun to spend some of my retirement years vacationing around the country in an RV. At age 58, my wife and I will soon be retiring and would like to investigate this option. What can you tell us?

Ready to Roll

Dear Ready:

The affordability, combined with the comfort, convenience and personal freedom it offers makes RV (recreational vehicle) travel irresistible to retirees, including a growing number of baby boomers. Here's what you should know.

Booming Popularity

According to recent numbers provided by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, more than 8 million Americans own an RV today and the numbers are growing by leaps and bounds. Why has RVing become so popular? Here are some of the most common reasons listed by RVers.

Freedom. RV travelers enjoy freedom, flexibility and the personal control over where and when they go, how long they stay and how they spend their time.

Affordability. Even considering ownership or rental costs, RV travel is more affordable than traveling by car, plane or train, especially when you factor in lodging and restaurant costs. (Note: If you finance an RV, you may be eligible for tax benefits.)

Comfort. Many of today's RVs offer a literal home away from home, with well-equipped kitchens and bathrooms, comfy living rooms and sleeping quarters, central heat and air, satellite TVs, surround sound stereos and more.

Versatility. In addition to travel, camping and outdoor recreation, RVs are being used year-round for a wide variety of other purposes, like shopping, tailgate parties at sporting events, pursuing special interests like horse, dog and antique shows and other hobbies.

Togetherness. Families that vacation by RV say it fosters an increased sense of togetherness, helps improve family communication and strengthens relationships.

RV Options

Most people, when they think of RVs, think of huge motor homes, but RVs run the gamut from folding camping trailers and truck campers to travel trailers and luxurious motor homes. Costs, too, will range from as little as $4,000 for pop-up campers all the way up to $1.5 million for fancy motor homes. To learn more about RV options, check out www.gorving.com, a resource created by the RV travel industry, which offers a free DVD or CD-ROM to help you get started. Call 888-467- 8464 to order a copy.

The best way to ease into RV travel and find out if you like it is to rent. Renting can also help you determine which type of RV best suits your needs. Rental costs will vary greatly, depending on what you choose, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $300 per day. To locate one of the 460 RV rental outlets around the country, check your Yellow Pages under "Recreation Vehicle" or see www.rvda.org.

Camping Options With more than 16,000 public and privately owned RV campgrounds and resorts across the country (see www.rvia.org- click on "Directories"), RVers can roam coast to coast with no shortage of places to stop or options to choose among. Depending on your tastes, many of the privately owned campgrounds, for example, offer amenities such as swimming pools, playgrounds, recreation centers and snack bars (great for the grandkids), and are typically located near popular tourist destinations and even in metropolitan areas. Facilities at public campgrounds tend to be simpler, offering easy access to outdoor activities like hiking, fishing and white water rafting. If you're interested in a little more extravagance, there are also a growing number of luxury RV resorts that offer tennis courts, golf courses and even health spas. On the other hand, if you're looking to save money, check out the Bureau of Land Management, where you can camp for little cost or free. See www.recreation.gov- click on "Recreational Vehicles" to find campsite locations.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to "The NBC Today Show" and author of The Savvy Senior books.

The Gazette does not endorse the contents of The Savvy Senior. Check with professionals about the contents of this column.

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