By Emily J. Minor
City & Shore PRIME Magazine
Taking off in an RV to see the country is not for everyone, let’s start with that.
The road is often bumpy, and not in a colloquial sense. Most RVs are smaller than even the tiniest of the tiny houses on TV. Repairs are part of the glamour, and where in the heck do you collect your mail?
But for thousands of Americans who have always loved the freedom and beauty of fancy “camping” – oooh, we’re gonna hear about that one – traveling in a recreational vehicle is a dream.
Take, for example, Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Burdick.
A county commissioner for 10 years and a school board member for 16 years before, Burdick, 66, is retiring from politics in the fall of 2018 to go on the road with her husband, attorney Greg Burdick, also 66.
Indeed, they’re selling their house in an historic neighborhood south of downtown West Palm Beach to make it happen.
“We’ve always been tent campers and I’m ready to be done with that,” she says. “I want my own kitchen, my own bathroom; I don’t want to find the campsite, set the tent up, deal with weather.”
RV salesman Steve Bents runs into this kind of wanderlust just about every day.
Bents, the marketing and internet director for Palm RV on the Gulf Coast – one of the few places in Florida that performs service and sells these RVs – says that while the accommodations of RV living have changed, the reasons behind RV living are the same.
“The RV lifestyle is about seeing places and building memories with family,” says Bents, who’s been selling RVs for several decades.
“It’s about unplugging – which is exactly what RVs were built for back in the ’50s.”
But today’s RVs are not you grandma’s camper.
“There are a lot of changes throughout history in what an RV has been,” he says. “It goes all the way back to the single axle, pulled by the family car, that basically just gave you a place to sleep.”
Today, though, you can spend anywhere from $13,000 on a modest cable-ready model with a queen bed, refrigerator, air conditioning, lights, USB ports, full bath with a shower, and a hot-water heater.
“That one is probably around 140 square feet,” he says.
Or you can nudge the price tag closer to $1 million.
“Imagine everything you would want in your high-end home, and you can put it in an RV,” he says.
Porcelain tiles. Farmhouse sink. Cherry cabinets. King bed, chandeliers, three ACs on board.
“And I’ve seen an RV that turns into a double-decker,” he says. “When you stop, it raises to another level.”
The Burdicks’ dream?
“Oh my goodness, we don’t need anything fancy,” says the longtime commissioner. “We just want to travel the state parks and our national wildlife refuges. We want to see our rivers and our national recreational areas and our national seashores.”
They want to take their granddaughter to Gettysburg. And what 8-year-old really wants to sleep on the ground?