“Not all those who wander are lost” goes the famous expression. For some, the promise of adventure, spontaneity, and discovery is impossible to ignore. RVing is a way for a growing number of people around the world to find new places to visit and new people to meet.
The RV lifestyle used to be associated with retirees and hardcore outdoor types. Today, a mix of the COVID-19 pandemic and modern digital work arrangements has meant that the lifestyle now appeals to a wider variety of people. Young creatives and “digital nomads” who are able to work from anywhere with a computer and WiFI signal, discovered the personal freedom of RVing and “#vanlife” during the pandemic when their offices were shut down. In fact, over 1 million RVers in the US left the stationary life and now live in their RV full time.
Millennials and Generation Xers are also joining the legions of dedicated RVers, determined to seek new vacation options for their families during COVID. And, of course, the Baby Boomers continue to retire in large numbers, making up the backbone of the RV consumer boom.
Of course, “RVing” is a deceptively simple term for what is a rather broad industry. There are actually a wide range of recreational vehicles – as well as associated experiences. From camping alone under the stars in your own one-person teardrop trailer, to taking your whole family across the country in a 45-foot luxury Motorhome, almost anyone can find “their” RV lifestyle.
But first, it helps to know what kind of RVs are out there. You can separate RV types into two general categories: “towables” and “motorized”. From there, you can further parse them into six sub-categories, including travel trailers, truck campers, and fifth wheels, for towables and Class A, B, and C Motorhomes for motorized.
Travel trailers are the most common type of RV on the road. Typically ranging between 10 and 25 feet, travel trailers can usually be towed behind moderately-sized SUVs and trucks with little issue. Travel trailers can cost anywhere from $10,000 for smaller, “teardrop” sized units (big enough for one to two people), to over $35,000 for larger, family-sized rigs. You can also sometimes buy well-appointed, luxury models tipping the scales at $100,000 or more.
Don’t want to haul something behind you but still want to RV? Check out Truck campers. Like smaller travel trailers, they are usually ideal for one or two people. And, like trailers, they also come in an array of size and price options, ranging anywhere from $8,000 for smaller units to over $60,000 for the top of the line.
Fifth Wheel towables are larger than travel trailers, usually starting at 25 feet and going up from there. Due to their size, Fifth Wheel owners need larger trucks and a special U-shaped hitch in the bed in order to tow them (the added hitch is where the term Fifth Wheel comes from).
Fifth Wheels can start in the $30,000 range, but typically they will set you back $60,000 or more. Luxury models often tip the scales at $125,000+.
Class A, B, and C Motrohomes all have their own distinct styles and uses.
Class B Motorhomes (or camper vans) are smaller, self-contained units fit for solo travelers or couples. They are one of the fastest-growing segments in the RV industry thanks to the #vanlife movement away from the office and towards a more mobile, digital nomad lifestyle. Class Bs tend to start around $70,000 and can come close to a quarter of a million for the top of the line.
Class C Motorhomes are larger than camper vans and are built with a cab and cut-away chassis, so the front of the RV looks like the front of a truck. Class Cs also have a sleeping compartment tucked away over and can accommodate anywhere from four to eight people comfortably. Most Class Cs are medium-sized vehicles, although “Super Cs” can reach up to 44 feet. Similar to Class Bs, these rigs can start around $50,000 and go all the way up to $250,000.
Finally, there are Class A Motorhomes. With their obvious size and distinct bus shape, Class As are hard to miss any time they are on the road. Featuring practically all the amenities of a typical home, the most expensive Class As can have things luxury extras like marble flooring, KIng-sized beds, and multiple bathrooms.
Class As cost the most to both buy and maintain given their energy and gas requirements. The average price of a Class A Motorhomes is in the $250,000 range, although it is possible to find premium models that cost over $1 million.
Types of RV Trips
Did you know there are different kinds of RVing? From setting up in a Walmart parking lot to parking beneath the stars off the grid, RVing can be as simple or as wild as you make it.
Campground RVing is the most obvious – you take a road trip or a quick local excursion, find a campground with sites and hookups, and park for a while. Campground RVing will usually mean neighbors, amenities, electrical and sewer access, etc. Some campgrounds also feature poured or prepared surfaces like asphalt or concrete which they will ask RVers to avoid damaging during their stay.
Boondocking, in contrast, means camping without any external hookups. This means being totally contained and self-sufficient. It requires a bit more planning and preparation but it can also lead to the most unique experiences. In fact, there is now more than one kind of boondocking these days.
Traditional boondocking is where you find a piece of land that is open for camping, but free from crowds or services.
Wallydocking is the practice of camping in Walmart (or other mall) parking lots. Usually, this doesn’t lead to great views or adventures but is a good way to break up a long road trip for a night or two.
Moochdocking is just what it sounds: having a friend who will let you set up in the driveway or on their land for free for a bit of time. Like Wallydocking, it is less about the experience and more about convenience.
“Membership” Boondocking is relatively new. RVers can now join clubs or platforms that help them find unique boondocking areas, sites, and hosts in order to improve their road trips. Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome are two examples.
Types of RVers
Not every RV is the same and not every RVer uses them the same way. Of course, there is almost an infinite number of ways to camp and travel, but here are a few general categories for types of RVers who you will see on the road.
Snowbirds are retired seniors who like to retreat from Northerly areas and towards the warm whenever winter arrives. Instead of having to hold a primary home and a vacation home, snowbird RVers can simply hop in their Motorhome or Fifth Wheel and head down to Texas, Arizona, California, or Florida (or all the above) whenever the mood strikes.
Digital Nomads are typically younger folks who are still working, but able to effectively operate from anywhere with a Wifi connection and a computer. With digital offices and distributed workforces becoming more and more common, digital nomad RVers are popping up in increasing numbers as they opt to leverage their remote-work freedom.
Full-timers are RVers who have chosen to leave the stationary house behind and live in the RV for good. While this would seem like a scenario best suited to a single individual, more and more couples and families are joining the 1 million+ people in the US who have become a tribe of full-time travelers.
Weekend Warriors, unlike full-timers and digital nomads, still live the traditional 9-5 life from Monday to Friday but are committed outdoors enthusiasts who try to make it out to the lake or the mountains whenever possible. Weekend warriors usually have families and tend to store their rig for the winter.
Off-grid campers are committed to boondocking (camping without amenities, electricity, or hook-ups). They are always on the lookout for unique, isolated areas, and sites seated deep in the wild. They are willing to stay for extended periods in self-contained units for the opportunity to hike, fish, stargaze, or sightsee in peace.
Newbies (new RVers) have only recently gotten into the RV lifestyle, but aren’t quite sure if they are going to be snowbirds, weekend warriors, full-timers, or anything in between. RVing has so many possibilities that it often takes some time to figure out how it best works for you!
How RV SnapPads are making life easier for RV owners
In 2015, RV SnapPad founder Gordon Wilson realized that far too many RV owners were straining their backs with the cumbersome process of setting up their jack pads. Eager to find a solution to this problem, he designed the RV SnapPad, the world’s only permanent jack pad. Unlike the above solutions, the RV SnapPad snaps on easily and stays on permanently, like shoes for your RV jack.
RV owners all over America have now adopted this jack pad that snaps on within seconds and protects the RV jack for a lifetime. For these people, the SnapPads are saving them the time and hassle they would originally have put into setting up and taking down their original jack pads. More importantly, the SnapPads offer the jack protection from the elements, preventing dents and scrapes in asphalt and concrete. With the RV SnapPads, leveling your RV will be easier than ever before.
How RV SnapPad was born
RV SnapPad was launched by Gordon Wilson and his three sons from their garage in late 2015. While it originally started out as a bootstrapped, direct-to-consumer brand, selling directly to RVers on their website, SnapPads have now grown into an omnichannel brand. In fact, SnapPads are now carried by hundreds of RV dealerships across North America, in addition to Amazon, etailer.com and rvupgrades.com.
Want to see how the RV SnapPad works? Visit their website for more information.