Motorhome Renaissance Is Here

by Wendy on May 22, 2015

by: Deb Hopewell (reprinted from

Campers, teardrop trailers, and even motorhomes are having a bit of a moment right now as wannabe wanderers across the country pack up and hit the road.

Nine years ago, Chris Dunphy traded his long Silicon Valley commute for a different life on the road: He bought a 16-foot teardrop trailer, hit the highway, and hasn’t looked back since. Today, he and his partner, Cheri Ve Ard, a software developer from Florida whom he met eight years ago, crisscross the country in a 35-foot motorhome that includes a dual desk area, where they run their software and tech company.

Dunphy, 42, and Ve Ard, 41, are among a growing number of Gen Xers, Gen Yers, and Millennials who are foregoing home ownership, realigning careers, and in some cases homeschooling kids while traveling in the slow lane. Most mobile home owners don’t live in their vehicles full-time, but they are contributing to a trend that’s seeing motorhome sales rebound nearly to where they were before the Great Recession put the brakes on the industry beginning in 2007.

According to Michigan-based Statistical Surveys, motorhome retail registrations in 2014 increased 16.4 percent over the previous year, while registrations of towable trailers increased by 10.3 percent. Demand for the iconic Airstream trailer is so high, for instance, that last fall the company announced it was expanding its Ohio production facility by 70 percent just to keep up with demand.

“Coming out of the recession, there were some attitudinal changes,” says Kevin Broom, spokesperson for Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. “People were more interested in simplifying their life, being more frugal, spending time with family, and reconnecting with nature.”

With gas hitting a four-year low in December, vacationing by RV—whether it’s a tricked-out camper van, a 32-foot luxury motorhome, or a small towable folding trailer—has become the affordable vacation of choice for a growing number of families.

Broom points out that during the recession, when consumer confidence dipped and loans dried up, manufacturers began looking to the future. “Many of the companies took the time to design new products that they thought consumers would be interested in after the recession. For instance, trailers got smaller, lighter, and more aerodynamic, so they could be towed more easily and efficiently with lighter vehicles,” says Broom.

Other trends Broom cites: Slideouts, which fold out to extend an RV’s interior space when parked, have become hugely popular. And because the cost of electronics has dropped considerably in recent years, flat-screen TVs, once considered luxury items, are now standard amenities. Sound systems and electronic fireplaces are finding their way into budget-tier mobile units. Outdoor kitchens, which include a sink, refrigerator, food-prep area, and grill, are increasingly common, expanding usable space even more. (On the luxury end, amenities include just about anything you can find in the typical McMansion: central vacuum systems, crystal chandeliers, bidets. There’s really no limit.)

Airstream has taken note of the increasing number of adults, like Dunphy and Ve Ard, who are taking advantage of their work-from-anywhere careers. The company designed a prototype model that incorporates a “home office,” with a rear hatch that opens into a desk, so you can code software or write blog posts en plein air.

With the small-homes movement gaining traction across the country, this might seem like the next logical extension, as many motorhomes have comparable square footage. A nicely appointed RV is usually much cheaper than a vacation cottage or even most homes, which is another reason young professionals are increasingly choosing to pay for gas instead of a mortgage.

“We set out with the intention to do it for as long as it feels right,” says Ve Ard. “It’s very hard to see giving this up.”

To read the original article, go to The Motorhome Renaissance Is Here

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