ST. LOUIS — As St. Louis residents shrugged off days of ice and snow on Saturday, some found respite downtown dreaming of warmer days ahead in gleaming new trailers, fifth wheels and toy transporters.
This weekend’s STL RV Travel Show filled America’s Middle with hundreds of the latest recreational vehicles on the market amid soaring demand for life on the road. The three-day trade show, now in its 44th year, has attracted thousands of people looking to buy, upgrade or just browse what’s possible in camping, glamping and discovering America at their own terms.
Despite COVID-era labor, material, and supply shortages, the RV industry in North America is thriving. The RV Industry Association said last month that it expects wholesale RV shipments to hit a record 602,200 units last year, a 40% increase from 2020 and nearly 20 % more than a record set in 2017.
The reasons for the RV craze vary, but many said the main attraction was the freedom to travel the country without flying, staying in hotels or eating out.
People also read…
“You sleep in your own bed and use your own kitchen,” said Mary Beth Poorman of Holiday Shores, Illinois. “There are a lot of benefits.”
She and her husband, Steve Poorman, said they’ve been looking to upgrade the trailer they’ve had since 2016 for trips to state parks, but realize they may have to wait for supply and demand stabilize.
“Prices have certainly increased over the past few years,” he said.
Scott and Brandi Schuetz of Troy, Ill., said they look forward to driving their RV to Carlyle Lake this spring to pontoon with their 13-month-old daughter.
“We are counting the days,” said Scott Schuetz.
Debra Byrd, 54, and her husband Will, 53, of Collinsville, work in the same department at Scott Air Force Base and take their goldendoodles Jo Jo and Dex to state parks in the Midwest. They bought their first RV, a 32ft fifth wheel in November 2019 and are considering an upgrade as they plan to retire and go backpacking in Arizona.
“We’ve met some amazing people along the way,” said Will Byrd.
Eureka’s Sue Hartman said traveling by motorhome eliminates unwanted surprises — or even guests — that can occur when staying in hotels and motels.
“I don’t have bed bugs in my RV,” Hartman said.
Hartman said he’s been touring Missouri state parks in his 30-foot-long “Class C” motorhome for the past two years and is planning his first trip to the Grand Canyon this summer. She said her husband had always wanted to go, but they never made it until he died a few years ago. She said she could take some of her ashes with her when she made the trip.
His friend Cheryl Young of Wildwood sold her 4,500 square foot home several years ago and now lives in her fifth wheel on local farmland. She said the insurance company she works for allows her to work remotely, giving her the ability to travel and see all 50 state capitals.
“Oh, I’m so ready to go,” she said.
However, getting to Hawaii presents an obvious hurdle that might require rolling her motorhome onto a boat, she said.
Reuters provided information to this report. Joel Currier • 314-340-8132 @joelcurrier on Twitter [email protected]