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Many families and individuals are shying away from planes, buses and other forms of public transportation where you could be one sneeze or cough away from deadly exposure. And that is propelling many folks, young and old, to step into an RV for the very first time.
I have owned my own RV dealership for over 30 years, and have never seen such an influx of first-timer RVers. Business is up a whopping 150 percent. And they all come into my shop requesting the same thing -- a safe way to travel during this pandemic.
Many of us have gone months without seeing loved ones, especially older family members. Recently, I had one customer who wanted to rent a motor home to visit her 97-year-old mother.
She didn’t want to risk exposure to the virus on an airplane and then inadvertently put her mother’s health at risk. An RV was the answer. This mode of transportation is truly bringing families back together this summer by giving people a far less risky way to travel. The beauty is that it doesn’t just protect yourself, it protects everyone you love.
An RV is like a drawbridge on those old castles from the Middle Ages. If someone, or something, was not allowed in, the drawbridge would go up, and the uninvited guest would not get past the gate and into the city.
Think of your RV as your own little kingdom or ecosystem. You control what enters, and inside is everything you need. Food, entertainment and sleeping arrangements can all be found in your RV. You now can safely avoid public restrooms and the dreaded toilet plume, restaurants and rest stops. Even if you choose to stop at an RV park, you can easily limit your exposure to others when you step outdoors.
Plus, you can’t beat the convenience of the RV. There are no long airport lines or rushing to catch a 7 a.m. flight. You leave when you want to leave. And it’s pretty easy to get a window seat.
In addition, an RV doesn’t even have to be a big investment. You don’t have to buy one. RV sharing companies allow you to rent an RV for your vacation for a fraction of the price.
You just have to be vigilant about making sure that the RV company you are using is properly cleaning and sanitizing the vehicles between users.
But a word of warning: RV supplies will start to run low. Everyone knows the classic tactic where a salesman says, “Don’t wait too long. It might not be here when you come back!” In the RV industry right now, it’s not just a line – it’s the truth.
A few weeks ago, one man came to my dealership to buy an RV and found one he liked. But he hesitated to put down a deposit, deciding to just return a few hours later with his family. The RV was gone. If you find something you really like, my advice is to pull the trigger. Inventory is starting to run low and the factories are backed up to September and October.
There is a caveat. Don’t be in such a hurry that you end up dealing with a disreputable dealer. Do a little homework, especially if you’re purchasing. I always advise consumers to do business with small local dealers in your neighborhood. Not only are you supporting businesses in your community, but these dealers will give you the personal service you need, especially if you’re a novice.
The bigger companies just don’t have the capacity to give individual service, and your needs can get quickly ignored after you’ve signed that contract. There is no point in owning an RV this summer if it turns out to be a lemon that never makes it to the road.
I know many folks have spent years toying with the idea of a buying or renting an RV, but feel a bit intimated by the unknown.
This virus has given us many challenges as a nation. But there are silver linings here and there. It’s made us all take a breath and assess what we are truly grateful for. And it’s made us realize that if for years, you’ve had a little wanderlust and thought about exploring this great country, this might your moment -- the moment to discover the beauty of America out on the open road. Because no virus can take that away.
Gigi Stetler created and leads the first female-owned RV company in the United States, RV Sales of Broward. With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, she also launched and runs The RV Advisor -- the “Angie’s List” of the industry. An author and an accomplished equestrian, Stetler also founded the non-profit RV Advisor Consumer Association (RVACA), which provides RVs to healthcare workers who need a safe space to quarantine and isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic.