High fuel prices curtail RV trips – just a little
For millions of Americans, towing the vacation home or traveling around the country in an RV is a way of life, even with the high cost of fuel.
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Cabela's anticipates some spillover effect on its sales. "Some customers travel 500 miles to come to the store to shop," says Bruce Biedenharn, manager of the store. "A good gauge will be after Memorial Day to see if people will jump in the car or RV to visit us."Skip to next paragraph
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If campground reservations are any indication, the fifth wheels will be rolling this summer. "We're hearing campground reservations are up 5 to 15 percent, depending on where you are," says Ms. Robey of RVIA.
The Pine Hill RV Park in Kutztown can attest to the incoming tide of RVs. Most of the RV park's 123 sites were taken for Mother's Day, especially after the offer of a free breakfast for mom. Only a few slots are left for Memorial Day weekend, says Pam Hasse, co-owner of the park.
"This summer, we've booked a lot of clubs like the Kangaroos, the Shriners, the Campers for Christ," says Ms. Hasse, who purchased Pine Hill in March.
Just down the road from Cabela's, the Boat-N-RV Superstore offers buyers 30 acres' worth of RVs for sale. The business is expanding, adding a fourth location, says manager Bert Landes. Some of the business includes RVers who are downsizing and buying vehicles that use less fuel.
Filling up an RV can be a wallet-sapping event. A Winnebago Destination, which has a $164,752 price tag, carries 90 gallons of gasoline. At today's fuel prices, it would cost $332 to fill it up – an event that occurs relatively frequently since the vehicle gets seven to 10 miles per gallon.
RV manufacturers are trying to produce vehicles that get better fuel mileage. "We're now building vehicles with a smaller chassis and lighter materials and utilizing engines with better fuel efficiency," says Sheila Davis, a spokeswoman for Winnebago Industries in Forest City, Iowa.
The vehicles with improved fuel economy are selling better than the traditional-styled motor homes, Ms. Davis says. "But bear in mind that, mileage-wise, most of the vehicles only travel 5,000 to 10,000 miles per year. It's not like driving a typical car."
In fact, the Timkos are quick to note that their impact on the environment is considerably less than when they owned a conventional home. "We're only heating and cooling 400 square feet of space," Mr. Timko says. "We've probably reduced our carbon footprint by 20 percent."