How Do You RV?

How Do You RV?

The appeal of a recreational vehicle is a nod towards American heritage – the wanderlust spirit and quest for adventure. Just like those early pioneers who traversed the Great Plains heading westward, the RVs of today are a modern interpretation of the Conestoga wagon, a virtual home on wheels. Those settlers were headed towards a new life and their wagons were the way to realize those dreams. While RVers are likely not using their vehicles to settle the frontier, they are using their RV to explore and experience new adventures – a watered down version of the Western Migrations of the 1800s.

The Expected

Most of the people who are purchasing RVs today will put their towables and motor homes to use for family vacations. These vacations may take them far away, perhaps across the continent to the California Coast, to the Smoky Mountains, the Florida Keys and all points in between.Or these vacations may be only a few hours’ drive away to a state park or campground. Whatever the vacation destination, it is safe to say that for the majority of people venturing into the RV lifestyle, the lure of camping, the Great Outdoors and making family memories along the way are among the reasons that encourage the purchase of that first RV.

The older generation who are buying their first RV in their senior years are also seeking adventure – and a new way of life. Now unencumbered by careers and the responsibility of raising a family, folks aged 55 and older are embracing a lifestyle change and the chance to see the sights close up and personal – from their RV – to enjoy their “golden years” and embrace the reward of new adventures and memories after decades of hard work. A reward, for sure, but an RV is also symbolic of wanting to live life to the fullest and squeeze out as much adventure as possible.

Camping trips and family vacations are the type of uses that one would expect a recreational vehicle to be used for. But it doesn’t have to be just vacations here or there or moving from one campground to another. RV owners are finding other ways to enjoy the comfort and ease of taking their RV with them wherever they go.

The Unexpected

A family member is the parent of a daughter who competed on the BMX circuit for years. Another friend’s son spends the summer on the road, competing in various sports leagues. Others compete in rodeos and horse shows. Financing extended stays in hotels on the competition circuits or supporting your child’s passions can be costly. That cost is sharply reduced when your RV becomes more than just something to take camping, and instead provides a comfortable, less-expensive way to cheer on your family and friends in their endeavors. The money you save from hotel accommodations can then be used to fund the other necessities of competition – like repairs to broken BMX bikes or even broken bones.

Another way to get more from your RV is to plan its use for the day, instead of the week. Load up the RV and head to the football stadium for tailgating fun. Head down to the beach for a day and use the RV as a place to get out of the sun and cool off in air-conditioned comfort. Whatever you have planned for the day, think about ways to take the comforts of home with you.

An RV can also be used as temporary housing. Perhaps your home renovations make living in a construction zone unbearable. Why infringe on the kindness of friends and family when you can be self-sufficient? Do you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes? Having an RV stocked and fueled can make required evacuations more endurable. Plus, if your home is unfortunately damaged by the storm, you have your RV in which to return and supervise the reconstruction.Think of it also as a guest house for the occasional visitor. While an RV parked in the driveway of a subdivision that is used for extended stays is likely a violation of local ordinances, lodging a visitor for a couple of nights may not be a problem.

Make your RV into a vacation home. Have a hankering for a place in the woods, a fishing cabin on the lake, or a place to escape the Frozen North in winter or the sweltering heat in summer? An RV can be turned into a semi-permanent vacation home fairly easily.One option is to rent a permanent space at a private campground in the destination of your choice. Drive your RV there and leave it there as long as you want. You will have to pay rental fees for the space, but the expenses are far less than a mortgage on a vacation home would most likely be. Buying undeveloped acreage in your preferred hunting or fishing areas and parking your RV on site is a smart way to be able to enjoy what you like without having to adhere to other people’s rules. There may also be tax breaks on this second home.

Making money

At the corner of a parking lot in Plymouth, Indiana, an older model RV has found new life as an ice cream shop. With a few picnic tables and a deck umbrella or two, this business owner has found a way to start a small business with less overhead than someone who chooses a brick and mortar style of business. RVs are being used in all types of business ventures – from food trucks to boutiques.

This unconventional use of an RV is often a way for RV owners to sustain and extended time on the road. Randy and Cindy Harris use their RV not only as a second home, but the means to opportunities to take advantage of seasonal work. Based in Arizona, the Harris’s spend their summers hired on as managers at National Parks, such as Yellowstone or Arcadia, or most recently at Wall Drugs roadside attraction in South Dakota. With these opportunities, campers with their own RV work as camp hosts or with maintenance in exchange for free camping plus wages. There are even job fairs offered at locations nationwide to match potential workers with opportunities.

Another trend in making money with an RV takes its cue from people renting out their homes for vacationers such as those booked with Airbnb. One website that offers this opportunity claims RV owners can make as much as $30,000 per year simply by offering their RV to rent.

Even if your first foray into the RV lifestyle will follow the more traditional route, one piece of advice is to keep an open mind. The family camping adventures may morph into a business one day, or you may find a new use for the RV on that dream piece of property on a beach. After all, the worst day on the beach (on the lake, in the mountains, etc.) is always better than the best day anywhere else, according to the popular statement found on many a homemade sign in tourist shops everywhere.

Writer Lois Tomaszewski is an award-winning journalist and editor.

Aug 22nd 2018 Lois Tomaszewski

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