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PAINTER: TV shows make owning an RV an attractive deal

• May 29, 2018 at 3:00 PM

More people are now taking to the roads in recreational vehicles (RVs). While people of all ages are buying motor homes, fifth-wheel vehicles or campers, it is the baby boomers who are fueling the surge.

As more and more baby boomers reach retirement age, some are looking at different ways to spend their retirement years.

Some retirees will stay in their homes to enjoy those golden years. Some will spend the winter months in such warm climes as Arizona, Florida or Texas. But for others, the urge to travel the countryside means they are looking at buying RVs.

According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, 504,599 RVs were shipped to dealers in 2017, up 17.2 percent from 2016. Baby boomers are credited with the increase in RV sales. It is estimated that 3.6 million people own RVs.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that sales are up for baby boomers because they have the time to either visit their kids, grandkids or to visit sites throughout the United States. The Times said retirees owning RVs travel an average of 4,500 miles a year visiting family or sites throughout the United States.

That popularity also has been fueled by several TV programs, such as “Going RV” and “Extreme RVs.” Some that cost as much as $350,000.

The shows focus on people wanting to buy RVs. They are usually shown three RVs and choose one from the three.

My wife, Marilyn, and I enjoy watching some of the shows, trying to figure out which RV the buyers will choose. It is also fascinating to see how much an RV can cost. While we can only dream about owning a $350,000 RV, it is fun to watch buyers list all the features they want on such an expensive RV.

It is amazing what you can get in a motor home. Some come with fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, multiple TVs, full-size bathrooms, king-size beds — and even garages and decks.

The TV shows seem to make owning an RV as the way to go if you want to travel throughout the United States.

I don’t know why you would need multiple TVs if you are staying at a campground and visiting a national park. I would think you would want to enjoy being outdoors. Besides, you probably would need a satellite dish to get reception.

I suppose, though, if you have $350,000 to spend on an RV, you would want all the amenities that are available.

But not all the buyers are after luxury RVs. Some come with a budget of $20,000 to $40,000. If Marilyn and I ever decided to buy an RV, it would fit in that price range.

I did once want to buy a Volkswagen camper. Years ago, Marilyn and I camped in a small tent at Big Bend National Park in Texas. It was in October, and while the days were warm, the nights were cold. I remember looking envious at a couple nearby who stayed in a Volkswagen van. I thought it would be cool to own a VW camper.

Buying any type of RV wouldn’t work for us now. We have two dogs that like to bark. We would be kicked of any campground. But it is fun to think about what life would be like traveling in an RV.

If gas prices continue to climb and credit is tightened, then buying an RV will become more difficult for us, as well as for many other Americans. Let’s hope gas prices go back to the $2.50 per gallon range.

Owning an RV is just a pipe dream for now, but it is fun to think about it. If we did decide to buy an RV, there wouldn’t be a TV in every room. Our plan would be just to enjoy what Mother Nature provided us.

Happy camping everyone.

— By Len Painter, Tribune community columnist

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