Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you write a column on RV travel for beginners? My husband and I will be retiring in a few years and have always thought it would be fun to spend some of our time traveling around the country in an RV. What can you tell us?
--Ready to Retire
The affordability, combined with the comfort, convenience and personal freedom it offers has made recreational vehicle (RV) travel immensely popular among retirees over the past decade.
According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, there are approximately 35 million RV enthusiasts in the U.S., including a growing number of baby boomers.
Some of the reasons RVing has become so popular is because of the freedom and flexibility it offers to come and go as you please. If you like where you're at, you can stay put. Or, if your feet get itchy, you pack up and move on.
Another popular aspect among retirees is following the seasons. Snowbirds, for example, like to travel South for the winter, while southerners migrate North during the hot summer months.
RVing is also a very affordable way to go. Even considering ownership or rental costs, RV travel is cheaper than traveling by car, plane or train -- especially when you factor in lodging and restaurant costs.
Most people, when they think of RVs, think of huge motorhomes, but RVs run the gamut from folding camping trailers and truck campers to travel trailers and large motorized RVs.
Cost, too, will range from as little as $4,000 for pop-up campers all the way up to $1.5 million for luxurious motorhomes. To learn more about RV options, check out gorving.com, a resource created by the RV travel industry that breaks down all the different types of RVs available today, along with various videos and other RV information.
The best way to ease into RV travel and find out if you like it is to rent. Renting can also help you determine which type of RV best suits your needs. Rental costs will vary greatly depending on what you choose, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 up to $300 per day. To locate one of the 500 or so RV rental outlets around the country, check your Yellow Pages under "Recreation Vehicle" or search The National RV Dealers Association website at rvda.org.
With around 14,600 public and privately owned RV parks or campgrounds across the country (see gocampingamerica.com and trailerlifedirectory.com), RVers can roam coast-to-coast with no shortage of places to stop, or options to choose from.
Most RV parks are open to all comers and rent spaces on a nightly or weekly basis, much like a motel or hotel, with rates typically ranging from $15 to $50 per night, however some in city and country parks may be $10 or even free.
RV parks can also range from rustic facilities with limited or no utility hookups, as are more often found in state and national parks, to luxury resorts with amenities that rival fine hotels.
To research RV campgrounds, get a copy of the "Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory" for $10. This guide breaks down what each campsite offers, along with their policies and costs, and a rating system. Also see rvbookstore.com for dozens of books and DVDs about RVs and the RV lifestyle.
There are also a number of RV clubs you can join, like the Good Sam Club (goodsamclub.com), that provide member discounts on parks and campgrounds, travel guides, fuel and propane, roadside assistance and more. Passport America (passportamerica.com) is another popular club that gives 50 percent discounts on more than 1,800 campsites across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.