Is an RV the best way to travel this summer?
VANCOUVER -- With border closures and grounded planes, many British Columbians are looking at taking trips in their home province this summer. But if you're thinking of purchasing an RV and taking a road trip, there are a few things you need to know.
Karen and Mark Zoyhofski love taking trips with their family in their RV trailer.
"We absolutely do love going with our grandkids," Karen Zoyhofski says. "We're leaving this weekend, tomorrow, and that's all they've been talking about. You know you can't go to the amusement parks, you can't go to the zoos right now, so this is what we're going to do. We're going to camp."
And they won't be alone on the highway this year. Some RV and camper dealerships have seen up to a 170 per cent increase in sales, and many customers are first-time buyers. Jeff Bartlett, with Consumer Reports, says the uptick makes sense.
"When people are looking to get out of the house, a motorhome allows you to do that while maintaining social distancing," he says. "(It) even allows you to avoid some places that you might feel less comfortable, like staying in a hotel or going to restaurants. With an RV, you bring it all with you."
There are two types of RVs to consider if you're thinking of making a purchase. A motorhome combines the living quarters and vehicle in one package. They're heavy, and some may not have to meet all of the same safety standards as passenger cars, and are also not generally crash-tested.
"Motorhomes can definitely provide comfort, but can be a big hit to your wallet," Bartlett says. "A travel trailer is a more affordable option. Of course you'll need a tow vehicle, but because these come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, you might already own one."
Larger fifth-wheel style trailers will require a heavy-duty pickup to tow. Smaller travel trailers, like pop-up and lightweight ones, can be towed by most SUVs or even cars with a tow hitch. They're more fuel efficient than motorhomes to haul around, and start around the $10,000 mark.
But whichever fits your budget, go for one with as many safety features as you can afford, like backup cameras and electronic stability control.
If you want to rent an RV instead of buying, you're not alone – rentals are up too. But make sure to check the cleaning policies of the host or rental company before you book to make sure they're up to your standards.
You could even try peer-to-peer RV sharing with Outdoorsy - the Airbnb of RVs.
And you need to know the parking rules at the places you plan to stay before you set out on a trip. Many campsites have RV spots, which you have to book. And there are privately-owned and operated RV parks, though because of the pandemic, you'll want to call ahead and make sure they're open for business this summer.
With files from Consumer Reports