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Home away from home

Today's RV market offers a massive variety of choices

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If you're finding yourself increasingly more interested in RV ownership, you're not alone.

According to Go RVing Canada, a coalition of RV manufacturers, dealers and campground operators formed in 1997, 14 per cent of Canadian households own an RV. There's also been a shift in the demographic of owners, with the majority now under the age of 55.

"Canadians love to spend time outdoors, and RVing offers the flexibility and fun to enjoy nature at your leisure," said Go RVing Canada Executive Director Chris Mahony.

"More people than ever before are exploring the RV lifestyle because it's so easy to take off at a moment's notice. Busy career couples or families with children, anyone can turn a regular weekend into an RV getaway."

Go RVing Canada also recently released the results of a survey conducted by PKF Consulting which found that an RV vacation can be up to 78-per-cent less expensive than any other type of family trip, regardless of trip duration, distance or location.

After a whirlwind day checking out the latest models, I can shed a little light on the RV craze.

My first stop was Lapointe's RV Centre, located a few clicks east of the Royal Canadian Mint on the Trans-Canada Highway, Lapointe's is a family-owned and operated business with more than 150 different recreational vehicles for sale on their eight-acre property.

Owner Mike Lapointe took time away from his busy day to show me the most popular models they carry, and also shared a surprising trend in the RV market.

"You might think that smaller travel trailers would be our top-sellers, but bigger trailers have really grown in popularity," Lapointe said. "A lot of younger families are doing the buying, and they're getting permanent sites at RV parks."

There's no need to buy a truck to tow the trailer, Lapointe explained -- these new RV owners simply have the trailer delivered to their site and treat it like a summer cottage.


After a quick RV tutorial, we headed out to the lot where Lapointe showed me all the different travel trailers he sells. The selection ranges from smaller pop-up units to massive and fully decked-out homes-on-wheels that feature amenities that rival and in some cases surpass many houses. Options available in the larger units include fireplaces, convection ovens and even a separate master bedroom, complete with an ensuite bathroom.

It's a good thing Lapointe never left me alone or I might have moved in.

My next stop was DJ Cruz's on Henderson Hwy. You may recall that last summer I purchased a cute little teardrop trailer called a Little Guy from Cruz's. This year, in addition to these tiny but very functional little trailers, Cruz is also selling nifty toy-hauler trailers that feature the same posh living quarters found in regular travel trailers but also have a ramp door on the rear that allows you to ride your ATV or motorcycle into the back and bring it along with you.

"We've had a great response to our line of Little Guy and Tab teardrop trailers and wanted to offer another lightweight line of trailers to our customers," said owner Derrick Andries. "These Livin' Lite toy-haulers have an all-aluminum frame and are super-lightweight. They're also only six feet wide and really easy to tow."

Andries showed off all the cool features these ultra-lightweight toy-haulers offer, including a full bathroom, a roll-up awning and even a slide-out queen sized bed. I'm betting these cool toy-haulers will be hot-sellers.

If you're not sure what you want, or can only manage a couple of weekends away, many local RV dealers rent travel trailers and even those massive motor homes.

Big Country RV in St. Adolphe not only sells, services and rents motor homes and trailers, but also offers an innovative program that helps folks offset the ownership cost by renting out their new motor home or trailer. Like a time-share vacation home, the company's management program is designed to allow new RV purchasers the ability to earn rental income while retaining the ability to use the RV whenever they want. Brilliant!

The majority of RVs are built in Elkhart, Indiana, with nearly 70 per cent of all North American recreational vehicles are built in and around this area commonly referred to as the "RV Capital of the World."

In recent years, due to the economic instability that continues to plague the United States, prices on many models have dropped by as much as 30 per cent.

As an added bonus, financing in the RV world can be spread out for as long as 240 months to keep monthly payments affordable.

The good times, however, will last a lifetime!


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2013 A1

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