Heard of Boondocking? Go off the grid!
SEATTLE -- One sure sign that the economy is doing well, is to look at the recreational vehicle industry.
New numbers just released by the industry this week show a record 9 million RVs on the road in the United States. More than 340,000 RVs shipped to dealers in 2015 and that number's forecasted to rise through 2017.
Today's models are not like days of old and the people buying them are skewing younger and younger. And today's recreational vehicles contain most, if not all the comforts of home.
"You know RV is basically an enabler. It allows you to do what you like to do outdoors better," said Dave Helgeson, director of the Seattle RV Show.
Many now use it to enable them to work from anywhere.
"There's big group of people called work campers. And they are people that go around the country from job to job; they go out to the Beat festival in the Midwest. Amazon hires thousands and thousands of RVers at Christmas time," said Chuck Woodbury, editor of RVtravel.com
Workers who come with their own lodging? That's a huge plus for large employers.
"You would be amazed at the number of younger people who have said forget the corporate job, you know think about it today - you've the internet, you've got WiFi you've got the cell phone. You've got every convenience you have at home that's portable," said Woodbury.
Walking into some, you might feel like it's larger than that first apartment you had.
Okay, well at just under 400 square feet, the maximum allowed for RV parks, you are at least getting space that's likely more luxurious than that first studio apartment.
Manufacturers produce that much square footage, using slide outs.
"This is sort of a new development. Ten years ago you didn't see a slide out," said Woodbury.
Woodbury, who's been living the RV life for decades, said manufacturers at first were making the RVs longer, but then engineered the slide outs, to go wide instead of long, for more space.
Many of models with that feature, offer real wood and tile, full size refrigerators, plush leather furniture, fireplaces and more. One model even hid a safe and wine rack behind a large, television screen.
The out the door price on that one was $325,000, since it was a dealer's demo.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, you can find a number of small trailers, which you can tow with a car. A tear drop model that even included a shower, was selling for just $14,000.
So, how do you choose one that's right for you? Woodbury suggests you head to an RV show and walk in and out of as many as you can. List the activities you want to engage in. Do you have to carry toys with you for that fun, like kayaks, bikes, motorcycles, ATVs or snowmobiles?
Now do you want to tow it with a vehicle you already own? Do you need to buy a tow vehicle, or would you prefer to just drive and not tow at all?
And will you always be pulling into parks or would you prefer to head way out in the middle of nowhere?
"It's called boon docking and what it is, it's free camping on public land. And that might be on federal land, it might be state, it might be county."
Most federal land is open free. Helgeson explained that you can stay free for up to 2 weeks where someone has camped before.
This is why he owns a travel trailer, so he can disconnect and drive off in his truck. He also carries motorcycles or other toys in the truck with him, so he enjoys the surroundings.
So many options and questions, that once you narrow it down, Woodbury suggests you rent the type you're interested for a few weeks; check it out and see if you like it.