Power windows, AC , two-door refrigerator
More than ever, RVs are homes-to-go
June 2, 1997
Web posted at: 5:49 p.m. EDT (2149 GMT)
(CNN) -- If you're searching for a symbol of mainstream travel in the United States, you're likely to stop at the good ol' RV. This home-on-wheels has gained fame as the transport of choice for many families and retirees since it was introduced decades ago.
Since the 1900s, RVs (shorthand for "recreational vehicles") have provided adventure-seekers a comfortable and easy way to travel. In the beginning, only the wealthy could afford these accessorized automobiles. Over time, the economy-conscious climbed onboard, as the RV helped them around expensive plane tickets, hotels, and restaurant meals.
Today, there are more than nine million RVs in the United States. They range in size from small vans to the huge "highway hogs" that have become second homes. One way to get a handle on RV variabilities: motor over to an RV show. These massive temporary malls have RVs in every price range, from $3,000 camping trailers to $300,000 motor homes.
When assessing features, the "slideouts" are key, said Bill Hardman of the Southeast Tourism Society. This is where you can slide out a portion of the unit to make a larger area.
One model, the "Navigator," offers not only the slide-out features, but also a stationary sofa and sofa bed in the living room, a full kitchen with a stove, microwave and two-door refrigerator, a washer and dryer, a full bath, and a queen-sized bed in the bedroom.
In addition to giving you an eyeful, RV shows often provide educational seminars. Joe and Vicki Kieva of RV Travel Adventures give tips on choosing an RV.
"We suggest to people that might want to buy, try to rent an RV before you buy one like it," said Joe. "If you're looking at a 30-foot motor home and you're not sure that this is going to work well for you, then go rent one that's very similar to it."
True to the stereotype, seniors and families make up the bulk of RV enthusiasts. "It's very easy to travel in the RV," explained one parent at an RV show. "[The kids] can be in the back of the car and they can sit with the table. They can play while we're driving."
One couple, the Harrisons, have been RVing for 25 years. "We started out when our two boys were early teenagers and we wanted to show them the country," said John Harrison. "I guess we've been in every state of the Union except Hawaii and Alaska."
Now that their sons are grown, said Mr. Harrison, they travel with their labrador retriever and their Brazilian parrot. "It's our home, very much our home. We have our pictures hung on the walls, a lot of family pictures in there.... It's a fun way of life."
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