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Get Ready, Here Come The Boomers!
How RV retirees will change the face of camping
By Jane Kenny
RV Lifestyle Specialist
By the year 2010 one-third of the population in the U.S. will be over the age of 50. That means the Baby Boomers – all 76 million of them – will be retired or on the brink of retirement. Retirees in the 21st century are healthier and will live longer than their parents and grandparents did. During their retirement years, Boomers want to be active, enjoy life and fulfill dreams. For many (if not most) traveling is a big part of the retirement dream.
Despite high gasoline prices and low miles-per-gallon, retirees are still heading out to the open road in recreational vehicles. Why?
• They want to fulfill a dream of a lifetime – traveling and seeing the county during retirement.
• The overall cost of traveling in an RV is not as expensive as other modes of travel.
Recent surveys indicate that Boomers will revolutionize society’s concept of retirement. Baby Boomers are largely ignoring the traditional model of a sedentary retirement. They opt for an active retirement lifestyle and expect to make time for travel…extensive travel.
Retirement on the open road? Many Boomers consider this to be an idea whose time has come. All over the nation retirees will be heading out in a new wave of RVs. And this will change the public perception of “camping.”
Camping holds a special appeal for Baby Boomers. They were the hippies of the 60’s in the beat-up old VW bus with the peace symbol on it. They were the ones who camped out in tents or under the stars, the environmentalists who wanted to get back to nature. By heading out to the open road, they come full circle to the free-wheeling days of their youth. But they are somewhat older – and richer – now. These days, their campers aren’t tents or VW buses. True, they want to get back to nature, but with more creature comforts. Enter the “big rig,” the 21st century Boomer version of the camper.
Today’s RV retirees won’t be low-budget type campers tooling on down the road in a little motor home with wiggling plastic hula girls on the dashboard. No longer are they the older folks perched in vehicles high above the road. Nowadays they are yuppies, former flower children with well-funded 401K’s, traveling comfortably in their high-end, modern “big rig” motor homes with price tags to match.
With new, roomy RVs on the market – RV travel is an attractive option for retirees, not only for people who have had some experience with camping, but for those who never camped before. Motor homes and fifth-wheel trailers have evolved to vehicles with double, triple and even quadruple slideouts. Many of these new RVs are aptly named COWs – condos on wheels. It can easily be said, “This is not your father’s camper.”
The price tag on a new RV is not the same as the price of your father’s tent or pop-up, either. However, Baby Boomers bring to their retirement years an unmatched level of financial independence. Consequently many can afford RVs that price out well into six figures. Many Baby Boomers who never thought they’d own a gas-guzzling motor home are considering the purchase in order to fulfill their dream of traveling the country.
Retirees who want to travel extensively are attracted to RVs because:
• Schlepping suitcases in and out of hotels is a thing of the past. Their clothes are with them, hanging in closets or folded neatly in drawers, in their home on wheels.
• They don’t have to deal with the hassles of air travel, namely passenger screening, changing planes and being at the mercy of tight schedules and weather delays.
• RVers can set their own schedule…travel when they feel like it and stay wherever they want for as long as they want.
• They sleep in their own bed and have their favorite pillows. They are sure the bathroom is clean. They have a kitchen and enjoy home-cooked meals on board.
• Pets travel with them.
• The “dream vacation of a lifetime,” one that lasts many months, even years, is affordable and achievable in an RV.
Current market research data show that RVs are increasingly viewed as status symbols. Large motor homes and fifth-wheel trailers are in vogue these days after being out of fashion for most of the 1980’s and 90’s. Boomers show a penchant for retiring earlier, traveling more and doing both in style.
A growing number of high income people prefer to spend their leisure time in high end coaches. While it’s true that they may spend a night or two en route in a campground, their final destination is always an ambiance RV resort in popular vacations spots such as Palm Springs, Hilton Head or Naples. Golf and gaming destination resorts are becoming as popular fishing destinations for RVers. Casino resorts throughout the country are scrambling to add RV Parks to meet the demand.
Many newer RV Parks are quick to identify themselves as “ambiance resorts.”
Boomers who can afford to pay for it will demand luxury in their home on wheels as well as at their destination resorts.
About the author: Jane Kenny’s second book,
RV RETIREMENT, How To Travel Part-Time or Full-Time In A Recreational Vehicle, is from Roundabout Publications at