Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been RVer's for many years. My wife and I would be considered "on our way to forever together." We are both well into our golden years and think alike. Lately we grumble more often about the cost of things we enjoy, especially camping fees. Is it just our age? We remember when increases were 3-5%, but now they seem to jump 20-40% at a crack. We have watched camping fees rise over the years at a steady normal pace but now we see some of our favorite places almost doubling in price, while at the same time cutting service and maintenance. Are we just getting crotchety in our old age or do we have a valid concern?
--California Dreamin' of the good ole days
It is normal for aging RVer's to remember cheap gas, less crowds, inexpensive camping fees, and less bureaucracy. The dynamics of RV travel seems to be changing at a faster pace now for a couple or reasons. First, the "boomers are coming." Many of the offspring of the "Greatest Generation" are beginning to retire and hit the road. So supply and demand will play an ever increasing part in price leveraging as this wave of aging demographics swells into a tsunami. Let's not forget the implications of the "Great Recession." Government large and small trying to cover budget shortfalls are squeezing every potential penny they can from services rendered. We are already seeing federal, state and county run camping areas increasing fees, sometimes as much as 100%. This has a ripple effect on economies that rely on tourist dollars.
(Recent News On Californnia Parks)
The headline two years ago was, "Arizona with a multimillion dollar shortfall to close most state parks." As it turns out, states found that it cost them even more to close the parks because they had accepted money from the Fed to develop them and would have to reimburse. But it also brought to the surface how many small businesses rely on these parks for business survival. Although many parks of all sizes have opted to remain open in the face of financial woe, many have been forced to apply the large percentage increases you are seeing.
Remember adversity builds character, but also innovation. I can remember my father saying in the fifties, "Someone should start a chain of trailer parks." That was when we would park our Airstream at AW Root Beer stands, gas stations, or anywhere else my dad could get an electric hookup. Soon we had KOA.
Now we are seeing groups like the Escapees develop membership parks, friends buying property as co-ops, and as I have mentioned in other blogs, people staking mining claims to use as legal camping while they supposedly search for gold.
RVing is still a great lifestyle and your prospective of it depends on how long you have been at it. For those on a tight budget, you just have to think outside of the box. (No pun intended).
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink