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RVs: The resilient vehicle Many are staying closer to home, according to some in the industry.

Source: York Daily Record
Publish Date: Thursday, July 17, 2008
Summary: Gas prices hovering near the $4 mark haven't stopped owners of recreational vehicles from vacationing, but many are traveling shorter distances and staying at one place longer, some in the industry say.

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Teresa Ann Boeckel

Jul. 17, 2008 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex) -- Kim Heist's family wanted to camp in Ocean City, Md., this summer, but with the price of gas, they spent a week in Gettysburg instead.

The Kampgrounds of America in Gettysburg is just a short drive from their Penn Township home, but it saved a chunk of change.

Ryan and Kim Heist tow their 32-foot travel trailer with a diesel truck, which together nets roughly 7 miles to the gallon.

"Unless the price of gas drops, we'll continue to camp locally," Kim Heist said.

Giving up camping altogether is not an option, Heist said. She and her husband bought the recreational vehicle so they could spend time with their three children, 16-year-old Lindsey, 12-year-old Daytona, and 8-year-old Ryan Jr.

The family hangs out at the pool,

makes s'mores over a campfire and puts out popcorn for the animals.

Gas prices hovering near the $4 mark haven't stopped owners of recreational vehicles from vacationing, but many are traveling shorter distances and staying at one place longer, some in the industry say.

Many of the guests staying at the Gettysburg KOA this year have traveled about an hour from home instead of thousands of miles from the West Coast, campground owner and manager Lorelle Bergeron said.

Bergeron estimated that business is down about 2 percent from last year.

She's seeing less travelers with big motor homes, and many campers are waiting until the last minute to make reservations.

Business is also down at the Otter Creek Campground in Lower

Chanceford Township, too.

It's started to pick up, but business is nothing like last year, park director Lori Heiland said. She had people cancel plans in May for the Fourth of July because of high fuel costs.

"The gas prices are just killing everybody," she said. "It's just getting ridiculous."

However, the waiting list for seasonal spots, which allow people to leave their vehicle at the camp for a period of time, is up by 100, Heiland said. That would allow the owners to travel back and forth with a car or truck.

She said she had hoped people would use their government stimulus checks for traveling, but she figures most used them to pay for gas and groceries.

Others said they were surprised their business was better than expected.

Ben Franklin Park in West Manchester Township is doing better than last year, said Joyce Lepore, whose family runs the campground.

It attracts guests attending events such as the World Horseshoe Pitching Championships currently going on at the York Expo Center, tourists and contractors working in the area.

Owners of recreational vehicles usually tow another vehicle and do pay more for gas, but when it comes to the cost of motels, "it works out in their favor to bring the RV," Lepore said.

People who own RVs travel an average of 3,000 to 3,500 miles a year, said Dan Saltzgiver, co-owner of Reichart's Camping Center in Hanover.

But many camping trips are within 200 miles of home.

The industry is changing, too. Manufacturers are coming out with stronger, yet lighter, recreational vehicles that allow owners to save money on gas, Saltzgiver said.

"It's really going to change the industry around," he said.

Some owners are trying to sell their RVs, especially large motorhomes, because of the gas prices, said John Grim, who owns John's RV and Trailer Center in Jacobus.

Grim said he was worried that business was going to die off because of gas prices, but that hasn't been the case.

He said he has been swamped with repair work since March.

"They're still going," Grim said. "They're just going in different ways."


Travelling by recreational vehicle is still a good value, despite higher gas prices, according to GoRving.com.

That's because families save money when it comes to airfare, hotel and restaurant costs.

Here are some tips from GoRving on ways to save money while camping this year:

--Stay closer to home. With more than 16,000 campgrounds nationwide, RVers can enjoy the outdoor experience whether they travel five miles or 500.

--Stay longer in one place. Many RV parks are vacation destinations in their own right, offering pools, playgrounds, hiking trails, entertainment centers, organized activities, convenience stores and more.

--Cook your family favorites in the RV to avoid the high cost of eating out.

--Drive 55 mph instead of 65.

--Adjust home thermostats to save energy when traveling.

--Pack lighter and purchase firewood, water and other camping materials at the campground to keep the RV lightweight while traveling.

--Tune up the engine of your motorhome or tow vehicle, inflate tires properly, and conduct regular maintenance to maximize fuel efficiency.

--Use the grade of fuel recommended by the engine manufacturer to increase miles per gallon.

--Travel at night when the weather is cooler and the vehicle air conditioning is needed less.


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