New RV Lifestyle Trend: 30-Somethings Living On the Road
New and younger generations of campers are hitting the road in Recreation Vehicles and discovering the benefits of RV travel.
Millennials, generally those born after 1980, are appreciating the fun, freedom and flexibility of RVing -- something their parents and grandparents have known for years.
From weekend outings at the lake to long-term adventures, millennials are taking to RVing in greater numbers. The latest statistics indicate that about one-third of new RVers are now under 35.
More and more young families are claiming "the American outdoor way of life," according to Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA.org). "RV travel and camping helps them strengthen family relationships, enjoy outdoor adventures and be active."
In general, young adults, age 21-35, are interested in outdoor activities that are highly compatible with RVing, including kayaking, mountain biking, off-road four-wheeling, skiing or scuba diving.
Outdoors enthusiast David McKitrick, 30, of North Dakota appreciated the freedom and flexibility of a truck and camper during his 6,000-mile trip this spring.
Once at camp, the Alaskan's sides telescoped for a roomy, walk-in living quarters with insulated, weather-tight walls and more than 6-foot high ceiling.
The combined hauling and stowing capability of McKitrick's rig made it a breeze to carry his off-road motor bike and provided room enough to store his hunting, fishing and camping gear.
"It's great being able to chase down a forest service road where most campers simply cannot go, and at the end of the day know I'll have a water tight camper with protection from rain and cold," said McKitrick.
Urban dwellers are escaping to nature
It is estimated that more than 80 percent of millennials are living in urban areas, instead of the rural environment of a generation ago. This fundamental shift pushes the RV industry into producing small, lightweight and more fuel-efficient products.
For their first RV, urbanites Meagan Beaver and Alissa Jackson of Portland, Ore., were looking for something lightweight enough to be towed by their 2014 Subaru Outback and small enough to be stored in their backyard.
"We do a lot of camping with friends," said Beaver, general contractor and owner of Eight Penny Nail (8PennyNail.com) construction and remodeling company. "Our favorite camp locations are on lakes, rivers, or on the coast."
Because they prefer camping near water, they were attracted to a 2013 8-foot Classic American Dream Trailer (AmericanDreamTrailers.com). This uniquely designed 650-pound fiberglass camper has an attached rooftop rowboat with a small footprint, making it easy to "move, store, tow and row."
The retro teardrop-style trailer sleeps two and includes a cooking and storage galley in the rear. The rowboat is designed to carry up to "three people or 500 pounds," or, in their case, two people and a good-sized Labrador-Rottweiler mix named Moby.
When "Alissa, Moby and I took our little hot pink rowboat out for its maiden voyage," recalled Beaver, "because our dog is big, it took a second to get the three of us situated in the skiff, but once we did, it was so great. I have an electric trolling motor and we were able to explore the lake with silent ease."
Accountant Alissa Jackson added: "Having the attached boat is a huge bonus to why we chose this trailer."
Many of the newer model recreation vehicles feature cutting-edge technology demanded by millennials, including wireless capabilities, solar panels, LED lighting, and office space.
It is said that more than three million employees now work remotely. Virtual positions enables a person can work from literally anywhere with Wifi and cellphones -- as a result, a growing number of millennials are working remote from their RVs while meandering around the country.
One such young family is Jay and Liz de la Cruz and their young daughter of Florida.
They "worked" their way across the United States in their 2012 38-foot Winnebago Sightseer motor coach, To make exploring local sites easier, their tow a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Sahara, "with nifty upgrades and accessories ready for all terrain," said Liz de la Cruz.
"RVing is a great family-oriented lifestyle," she said. "It creates a healthy environment for families to unite and re-connect."
Younger RVers seem to appreciate the RVing lifestyle for much the same reasons as baby boomers and the old timers.
"RVing provides a home on wheels which makes it easier when traveling in comparison to airplanes, trains or automobiles," said de la Cruz. "You have everything you need with you, all the time."
Another couple, Heath Padgett and his wife, Alyssa, both 25, started RVing full-time two years ago, just four days after their wedding. They struck off in a 1994 Leprechaun Coachmen motorhome, purchased for $11,500 off Craigslist.
They both quit their traditional jobs and are now filmmakers and writers who are documenting their experiences on the road.
"I'm a bit of an RV enthusiast," stated Padgett (HeathPadgett.com), who also hosts a weekly podcast called "The RV Entrepreneur" where he interviews "nomadic entrepreneurs who have built businesses while traveling full-time." Based on his podcast interviews Padgett has written "The RV Entrepreneur: How to build a business from anywhere."
At the end of 2015 the Padgetts sold their class C motorhome for $9,700 and upgraded to a gas-powered 2016 Winnebago Brave motor coach, with the help of a partnership with Winnebago (winnebagoind.com).
Alyssa Padgett (AlyssaPadgett.com) wrote on her blog: "We plan to keep RVing, even though everyone's constant question is 'When are you going to settle down?' "
"We aren't going to settle down because we don't want to settle. Living in an RV isn't easy, but it allows us to accomplish more together. Traveling full-time makes us smarter, better people," she said.
"We may be 40 years younger than the average RVer, but all of our retired RV friends tell us the same thing: 'You're lucky to start this young. I wish I would've done this at your age.'"
1.) For more than a year, Jay and Liz de la Cruz along with their 3-1/2 year old daughter, Khaleesi, have been traveling full-time in a 2012 Winnebago Sightseer 37L. (Courtesy of CruzingwiththeCruzes.com)
2.) A growing number of young adults are switching from tent camping to owning recreation vehicles because of the convenience and comfort. (Photo by Julianne G. Crane)
3.) David McKitrick, 30, of North Dakota travels in his rugged 2013 pop-up Alaskan camper on a 2016 Ford 350 Super truck. (Photo by Julianne G. Crane)
4.) Documentary film makers Heath and Alyssa Padgett travel and work full-time in their Winnebago motorhome. (Photo credit: HeathPadgett.com)
5.) Urban millennials Alissa Jackson (left) and Megan Beaver of Portland prefer the small, light weight fiberglass 8-foot travel trailer-boat combo built by American Dream Trailer. (Photo by Julianne G. Crane)
JULIANNE CRANE has been a writer since the mid-1970s and began specializing in recreational vehicle lifestyle in 2003. Thousands of her articles and posts have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. In 2008, Crane began publishing RVWheelLife.com. Her homebase is Spokane, Wash., however Julianne is on the road RVing six months of the year, exploring the U.S. and Canada.