Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been full-timers for over 12 years. We are so old, we know too much. Some of our favorite campgrounds have priced us right out of enjoying them. Our cost of living increases are nowhere near the rising cost of eking out a living. Many National Forest, pit toilet campgrounds have gone to concession run conglomerates. We just left one that charged $19.50. Even with our half-price senior pass this is three times more than when we started traveling in our RV. I think we are going to be priced out of RVing before we get too old to drive. I guess thinking about the “good ole days” is all part of growing old. Everything we do, from pumping gas to buying groceries gives us sticker shock. My husband say’s he is going to start a roving RV diagnostic business. He says they charge $100 just to say, “Yup, she’s broken.” Are we just becoming sour grapes or do you think the cost of RV travel is rising faster than the cost of keeping up.
--Ready for harvest in Havre
I like your husband’s business plan. He won’t even need to haul any tools around. I have often said, “The boomers are coming.” Combat Camping is the new norm. Supply and demand drive the cost of camping, but also changing Fed policy. Shrinking government means getting out of multiple businesses. One business the government is getting out of quickly is the camping business. Many state and local forest campgrounds are now run by concessionaires that are starting to pay hosts a salary. That cost is passed on to each camper using the facility. The more pressure applied to state and federal budgets will see more increases in camping fees for less service. In Yellowstone this year I asked the ranger at the entrance booth about a dump station location. She said, “I don’t know about that, it’s not a park service facility, it’s run by a concession.” So, not only do they farm services out, they become a black hole (no pun intended) in the park service information sphere.
I don’t think you are quite ready for harvest. I think you just need to roll with the punches. Let your vast travel history and knowledge work for you, not against you. Keep copious notes, learn about changes and how they affect you. Budget campground spending. There are still a lot of great places to camp at a reasonable price.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink