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RV Travel Lets You Set the Course
If you're thinking of traveling when you retire, one option is to become an "RVer."
Despite high fuel prices, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, Reston, Va., (RVIA) contends RV vacations still are less costly than staying in motels, hotels, and resorts. And RVs also present an option for "snowbirds" to winter in warmer climates.
The range of travel trailers and motor homes looks something like the human evolution chart. At the low end is a lightweight pop-up camper for a mere $4,000 new, and the chart rises to a luxury motor coach starting around $250,000. Larger RVs bring more amenities and more room: multiple TVs and air-conditioners, and more slideouts.
RVers who tow trailers favor fifth-wheel hitches—rather than bumper hitches—because there's less trailer sway on the road, and they're easier to hitch up and park.
Large Class A and B motor homes require big diesel or V-10 gasoline engines that get four to 10 miles per gallon (mpg). But the RV industry touts a new economy engine. At the spring 2008 RV rally in Perry, Ga., several manufacturers said they're installing turbo diesel engines that get 17 to 19 mpg.
For scenery and low prices, try national and state parks. You'll have more amenities at private campgrounds or RV villages than at state or national parks, but the rates go up as well. While some private campgrounds rent for $12 to $17 a day, four- and five-star villages run $35 to $50 a day or more. Some parks limit residence to people age 55 and older. And some exclusive parks don't rent space; you have to buy a lot, which in Florida can range from $49,900 to $250,000.
Before you buy
Take a trial run. Rent an RV and see how you like towing and parking it. Or, rent and stay in a stationary park-model trailer for $1,200 to $1,500 a month—about what you'd pay to rent a small condo.