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Rise of the RVs

MARK NANCE/West Branch Life Brad and Carrie Posey of Warrensville, middle, with their children from left Bennett, Ian, Kade, Carmen,with her mother, and Raquel enjoy an evening around the campfire while camping at Ricketts Glenn State Park. The family purchased their first R.V. just before COVID started.

Inspired by the ease of bringing their homes with them, Pennsylvanians are hitting the road in recreational vehicles (RVs) like never before. According to RVING.com, sales of RVs exploded nationwide from 2020 to 2021, jumping a whopping 33%.

That national trend coupled with the fact that we are in the Pennsylvania Wilds means we are smack dab in the middle of prime RVing territory.

Wildlife enthusiast Brad Posey purchased an RV in 2020 after tent camping became a big production with his family of nine.

“Now with the RV, it does not take as long as it used to with pitching a tent and preparing. The RV makes it easier to get there, get set up and start to enjoy our time with each other right away,” Posey says.

Taking an RV on the road, or ‘RVing’ as it’s known, is the perfect combination of the excitement of vacation mixed with the comforts of home. And with many different types of RVs available for rental or purchase, there’s likely one suited for your next adventure anywhere the open road takes you.

Even before RV sales soared during the pandemic, over 11.2 million American households bought an RV between 2010-2021 and ownership continues to grow across generations.

Tyler Rhone, owner of Rhone’s RV in Cogan Station, is exceptionally pleased with the change in demographics.

“In the past, our industry was mostly retirees or the 55-plus demographic. While I believe the largest portion of our customer base would still fall within that demographic, our fastest-growing age group is 25-45 year-olds, especially families with children,” Rhone says. “This is exciting to see. Camping is usually passed on from generation to generation. We often see where we are working with three different generations of the same family.”

Thinking about joining the RV lifestyle? There are some basics to know, according to thorindustries.com. RVs fall into two broad categories: Motorized and towable. A motorized RV is a single vehicle that combines living and driving operations. There are three classes of motorized RV: Class A, Class B and Class C.

Class A motorhomes are one of the most common types and the largest in the family. The facilities rival those found in traditional homes, and are often kitted out with luxury amenities and spacious sleeping quarters. Class As have the capacity to house from one to 10 people.

Class B motorhomes are also called campervans due to their size and shape. These are the smallest of the group and some of the easiest RVs for beginners to drive. While the living space is a bit snug, Class Bs are more affordable in the cost of gas and maintenance.

A semi-hybrid of both Class A and B, Class C motorhomes offer versatility. They are smaller than Class As, but contain many of the same amenities, including larger sleeping areas and extra storage.

The options are even more varied under the second category, towable trailers. The variety within the towable options make these a more common choice.

There are five distinct categories of towable trailers: Fifth-wheel, where living space is maximized with an over-cab extension; travel trailers, a popular choice because they can be towed by a variety of vehicles and used for anything from short hauls to full-time living; toy haulers, giving you a place to sleep and a place for a car, motorcycle or ATV; lightweight trailers, for those looking for a fuel-efficient trailer that doesn’t skimp on amenities, and pop-up campers, which fold down for easy towing with slide-outs to increase living space and bring the feel of the outdoors inside.

Buying an RV can be a big financial commitment, and for first-timers, the options may be overwhelming. Visiting an RV dealership can help demystify the process, and some dealers offer RV rentals.

Renting makes choosing the best model a breeze, especially when using online sites like Outdoorsy or Cruise America. The same factors employed to rent or purchase a home can also be applied to renting or purchasing an RV. Consider your goals. If you are new to the RV lifestyle or planning a shorter vacation, renting may be better. If you hope to be on the road long-term or multiple times per year, buying is best. Renters will have extra daily rates and administrative fees, in addition to the usual costs of gas and campground fees.

There are a few other factors to help make your decision. Does financial commitment give you anxiety? Renting allows you to test drive distinct models as often as you’d like and vacation in different ways.

You also don’t have to worry about storage or maintenance. Conversely, it’s more difficult to pack up and go on a whim if you have to wait to sort out a rental agreement.

Buying an RV has more upfront costs and can mean taking out a loan (they can be financed for 10 to 20 years). If you’re looking for something that makes you feel at home on the road, buying allows for RV customization in myriad ways. In addition, it’s easier to learn how to maintain your specific model than having to re-learn one each time you rent.

Once you settle on which RV to choose, it’s time to plan your trip. How you plan a getaway makes it easier to take advantage of deals at RV parks. And deals abound at the parks, due the rising trend in extended road-tripping, made popular by social media within the last decade.

Typically, the Posey family hits the road every other weekend, and they take advantage of long summer breaks with their children. They’ve traveled all over but have a particular affinity for the Pennsylvania Wilds.

“Pennsylvania is one of the most beautiful states we have, and there are so many options, just in Pennsylvania, as far as camping and RVing. So many different campgrounds have unique things about them, whether it’s a petting zoo, a pool… anything. Our state parks have wonderful hiking and natural beauty,” says Posey.

While the choice to buy an RV was the natural next step for his family, Posey encourages anyone on the fence to seriously consider it, declaring, “A lot of the old stereotypes about quality and shoddy construction from back in the day have been eradicated by our advancements in technology. You get so much more out of them than you used to. And there’s a price point for everyone. It’s easier than ever to own and maintain an RV.”

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