Trading the allure of the open road for a permanent campsite, more vacationers have embraced "park-model" recreational vehicles.
They're now buying luxurious and spacious travel trailers that are delivered on wheels but aren't moved much once they reach a destination. Some of the trailers are like cabins or cottages, with amenities such as bay windows and lofts, French doors and porches. Others are more traditional, with features such as slide-out sections to make rooms larger.
Up to about 40 feet in length, these big rigs could be pulled down the road if necessary. However, they're not meant for folks wanting to wander across the country. The park-model RV becomes their second home, much like a cabin or cottage. Now they don't have to worry about pulling the trailer in traffic, setting it up at various campsites, and doing chores like draining the refrigerator between camping trips.
"To us, it's just like home. Everything we need is in the trailer," Cross said. Any camping trailer, or even a motor home, could be parked all summer at a campground or other location used for vacation purposes. But often it's the big trailer that fills the role.
A 40-footer has enough room for two fairly large bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and more, said Tim Wegge, president of Burlington RV Superstore in Sturtevant. Some people buy a campground site for their trailer, or they park it on land they own. Some campground chains have locations that will sell or lease sites for privately owned park models, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. Putting down roots in a particular campground, for up to about six months at a time, is sometimes called "destination camping," said Kevin Broom, spokesman for the trade group. Some campgrounds will store your trailer and set it up for you prior to your arrival. "You might not get the same campsite every time, but it's another way of doing things," Broom said. Many campgrounds have areas set aside for park-model trailers, and some rent out the units on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Some people buy park models because they enjoy the social interaction and activities in an RV park. The parks sometimes have cable TV and wireless internet service, among other amenities. Up to 15% of RV enthusiasts are probably doing some form of destination camping, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. "People often set up fairly close to home, so they can have a lot of weekends or mini vacations at the campsite. If they're only 45 minutes from home, it's much easier to get away," Broom said.
The recreational vehicle industry has benefited from lower fuel prices and modest interest rates, in addition to more interest in big travel trailers.
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