On an unseasonably warm Saturday morning for mid-March, Emily Michener sat down at a table inside a 21.5-foot Springdale comfort travel trailer that sleeps five.
Outside, her husband, Nick, received a walk-through tutorial from delivery coordinator Rich Matzen inside the showroom at US Adventure RV in Davenport.
The North Liberty couple's 3-year-old daughter, Lenyn, checked out the couple's newly purchased home away from home - bouncing on the queen bed, inspecting the two bunk beds, refrigerator, small stove, microwave, sink and dining table that converts to a foldout Murphy bed.
After spending most of last summer inside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first-time buyers pulled the trigger on investing in a $15,000 camper.
The couple has been skittish about staying in hotels and taking their daughter to kids' museums, playgrounds, water parks and other indoor amenities due to pandemic concerns.
'So we were just really kind of thinking the best thing to do was camping, and tent camping is really hard to do with a 3-year-old,” Emily Michener said. 'It was very much driven by COVID” and having a safer, more affordable travel option that provided opportunities for family outings and fishing trips with extended family who live nearby.
'Having a young kiddo and really just seeing that she was spending way too much time on technology, we just wanted her to be outside more” and appreciate nature, Emily Michener said. 'We were thinking of things that we could do that are COVID-friendly. And with a 3-year-old, there really wasn't much of anything.”
Largely because of buyers like the North Liberty couple, the recreational vehicle market has seen record sales in the time of coronavirus, providing the comfort of home with the benefits of the outdoors, with the less of the stress, worry and cost of booking a flight and hotel room amid the pandemic, said John Dresselhaus, president of US Adventure RV in Davenport.
'Business has been very brisk,” he said. 'It's been the best year in the history of the RV industry,” with a trend toward smaller, lighter-weight 'yet high-quality” types of campers and RVs.
'Families are just discovering it's a great way to spend quality time with each other traveling and exploring this magnificent country of ours ... and there's no better way to do that with your own schedule and in your own, safe environment,” Dresselhaus said. 'You don't have to book a plane. You don't have to rent a car. You don't have to stand in lines. You don't have to go to restaurants or book a hotel. You can control your own environment, your own diet and do it much more inexpensively.”
Nick Michener echoed the sentiment. He used the example of Door County, Wis., where the couple likes to travel.
'And you're looking per night something that might be two months worth of payments on an RV,” he said. 'And if you want to spent any amount of time up there, like a week up there, you're looking at spending, you know, a couple thousand dollars just to have a place to stay up there versus paying a nightly camp fee.
'You don't have to worry about who has been in the room before you or who you're going to run into,” he said. 'You take care of your own stuff and you're away from the general public and you have control of your environment.”
Check out the rest of the article from The Gazette here.