Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Around the Campfire: How old is too old to RV?

We were a bit late joining last night’s campfire. Other campers had already gathered around the welcome warmth and were in the middle of a discussion. The topic? “How old is too old to RV?” As we joined our chairs to the circle, I took a quick glance at the other folks there. Whew! Hubby and I were safely within the age range represented: 30s through 80s. (BTW, I’m terrible at guessing ages. This was my best estimate for the ages of people gathered.)

Recent changes in the RV world

Settling into my chair, I thought about how things have changed just in the past five years. We’re seeing more and more younger, working full-time RVers than ever before. It used to be that only retired folks with a solid pension could enjoy an RV lifestyle. That’s changing. And changing quite a bit! What’s driving younger working people to a life on the road? Opinions differed around the campfire.

Claudie commented: “I think younger folks just don’t want the responsibility of owning a home, raising a family, and committing to the betterment of a community. On the road, they’re only responsible for themselves. They’ve opted out of the norm, like irresponsible hippies did, back in my day.”

T.J. had something to say about that: “Wait a minute! Just because I’m working remotely doesn’t mean I’m somehow opting out of community improvement. My RV is my home and I do act responsibly by taking care of it. If my wife and I decided to start a family, we might make a change. But for now, this works best for us. Did you ever stop to think that maybe this is the new norm?”

Another 30-something, single gal added: “COVID pushed me into RV living. So far, I’m loving it! This might be the only time in my life that I get to travel, meet new friends, see new places, and earn a paycheck—all at the same time!”

There are many, many reasons why so many more folks are joining the RV life. COVID and having to isolate, the lack of affordable housing (to rent or own), and the growing ability to work remotely are just some of the reasons for the uptick in RV ownership. Young families now know that their children can learn remotely, and many other parents have decided to home-school, as well. RV manufacturers have taken note and are working to add RV offices and work-stations along with other new configurations to appeal to the new and changing faces of today’s RV buyers.

The internet is also helping people get into the RV lifestyle. Folks of all ages can now buy older RVs and fix them up. You can find step-by-step directions for how to install or repair almost anything on YouTube. And Pinterest has countless ideas for designing and decorating your RV to reflect the way you and your family want to live.

A dramatic shift in RVers’ ages

80-year-old John said: “It’s best to RV when you’re young. I think this will be our last year RVing. Travel days really get to me. I get really nervous now when I drive our Class A. I never used to feel that way. Plus, my wife has trouble getting in and out of our RV. The steps are getting to be too much for her.”

John is not alone. Many of our “more experienced” RVing friends are calling it quits. Others are looking for viable solutions. Take John’s scenario for example. If he and his wife still enjoy escaping the cold Minnesota winters, perhaps he can hire someone to drive his RV to southern Florida. I see many permanent stairs leading up to RVs in our current park. These steps feature handrails on both sides for stability and ease of maneuvering. Maybe some kind of alternative step configuration or a ramp could be a solution for John’s wife.

“Well, we’re only 59,” Julia commented, referring to herself and her husband. “I’d love to keep on RVing. It’s the reason we retired early. But I figure that with today’s used RV prices, we can sell now, bank the money, and buy a better RV in a year or so. We’ll get back into RVing then.”

As with most of life’s major decisions, choices remain distinctly individual. We all act on decisions in light of our current circumstances and future goals. The brutal truth is that circumstances change. Goals sometimes need to be modified. So, I finally asked the question that everyone seemed to be carefully tip-toeing around: “How do you know when it’s time to hang up the RV keys for good?”

How old is too old to RV?

A hush fell over the circle of RVers. Old Timers seemed to lean in to learn the answer. Younger RVers hesitantly made eye contact with others in their age group, but offered no opinion. At least not at first. Then:

Bonnie, age 69, finally said, “Well, we plan to keep our rig. We’ll travel until failing health puts a stop to RVing.”

Several people around the campfire nodded in agreement. It makes sense to me. If you no longer feel safe or confident in your driving skills, it’s definitely time to put up the keys—for your own safety and the safety of others on the road.

Here are a few additional health considerations to think about:

  • Eyesight: Have your eyes checked at least once each year, and renew your prescription as directed. Tell your eye doctor about any concerns. Always wear sunglasses when needed to protect your eyes from glare.
  • Strength: The “set up” and “take down” of common RV routines require a certain amount of body strength. For example, if you have a fifth wheel, you or your travel buddy need to be strong enough to climb up to access the RV hitch inside your truck bed.
  • Balance: Troubleshooting RV problems may require you to access your RV roof or climb a ladder to access your exterior refrigerator panel, for instance. The ground around your campsite may be uneven, feature trip hazards like rocks and branches, or otherwise pose challenges for someone who does not have adequate balance skills.
  • Agility/flexibility: Maneuvering your RV requires a good bit of agility. Think: twisting around to back up into your site, cornering a rig on narrow roadways, wrangling water and sewer hoses, and more.
  • General health conditions: If you must see a doctor or receive health treatments regularly, you will need to plan your trips around those important visits. Or research places along your planned route that can accommodate your ongoing health needs.

Can you ever be too old to RV?

“No.” At least that’s what 90-year-old Carl says. He and his wife plan to keep on RVing until they “Either run out of money or good sense—whichever comes first.”

Todd seemed to summarize the conversation best: “You’ve got to be honest with yourself or pay attention to your travel partner, kids, or doctors. They might see things you don’t see for yourself. If you are healthy, have good reasoning and reaction skills, and can handle the physical parts of the RV life, go for it!”

What do you think? How long do you plan to enjoy the RV life? Travel on over to my forum and we’ll continue the conversation.



Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



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Paula Stone (@guest_236351)
6 months ago

Bless your hearts. I will be your age some day. However, I have my limits. You are camping still because everyone sees you and identify your capabilities through age and come to your rescue and help you. You can keep camping because of all of these wonderful people. I am not a selfish person and I am just saying I don’t go camping to wait and look for the older citizens and help them so they can continue to do camping trips Lourde help me. I can not believe I just said this to everyone,

Ed Thomas (@guest_236341)
6 months ago

The wife and I have been traveling in our RVs (3 different ones so far, class C, class A and now a 30’ travel trailer); have been traveling for 15 years and leave Florida for the Calgary Stampede next month. A 7000+ mile trip. We are both 79 and in good health. Plan to keep traveling as long as we are healthy and there are places to go.

Don N (@guest_236309)
6 months ago

We plan to continue using our Motorhome as long as health lets us. My last doctor said I have maybe 20 years yet. That would be 103 years! Our class C V-10 motorhome would be 40 years. I keep all repairs up to date and have updated the interior.

Mary (@guest_236271)
6 months ago

As with most things in life, one size does not fit all. My 93 y/o uncle still hooks up his travel trailer to his truck by himself and goes camping. He does all the set up by himself and everything else associated with camping. He is not your “typical” 93 y/o. He also works at his church’s food bank, works the local soup kitchen and delivers meals on wheels to the elderly and housebound folks!

Neal Davis (@guest_236257)
6 months ago

Thank you, Gail! I anticipate going until my early 80’s, if I live that long and my health stays good enough. I’m already 66, so, maybe, another 15 years; we’ll see.

Lee B (@guest_236249)
6 months ago

We just sold our bumper pull trailer and bought a 2003 33ft class A. Our plan is going from California to Tennessee and back. In getting stuff ready I’m thinking after we get back I’ll see if I can sell our MH. We are in our mid 70’s and the thrill is fading the excitement is gone. With all that’s going on in Traveling it might be time to move to another way.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_236226)
6 months ago

“At least that’s what 90-year-old Carl says. He and his wife plan to keep on RVing until they either run out of money or good sense—whichever comes first.” I LOVE this answer!
As WE age I find that we plan shorter trips a bit closer to home (under 1,000 total miles). Over the years we have explored and explored and found what are now our fave boondocking sites. We seem to gravitate to these sites instead of new explorations into strange areas. Is this what it referred to as “old and set in our ways”?

Jim Johnson (@guest_236214)
6 months ago

The ‘too old’ answer has a lot of variables, but to me the core response is “when you or people around you are unsafe”. Driving is the 1st no-go, but doesn’t matter if you are stationary. RV maintenance is the next no-go, but doesn’t matter if you have someone able to do it, either volunteer or paid. Getting in and out of the RV can be an issue, but decks, ramps;, etc. may mitigate that. So back to my statement, when you or people around you are unsafe. You either stop or if possible, change your situation to regain safety.

Cal20Sailor (@guest_233534)
7 months ago

Seems obvious the determining factor is not age but ability — some folks just shouldn’t attempt RVing or camping at any age, while others can keep going for many, many decades.

Wren Grace (@guest_233468)
7 months ago

Based on the comments, this article was an excellent conversation starter!

Dan H. (@guest_233446)
7 months ago

I’m 76 and the wife is 80. She’s my second set of eyes for the road and my navigator for 55 years.

This our 14th year as RV travelers with a 30’ TT and in a few weeks picking up our new “quick get away rig”, a new truck camper. All we need in life is a state highway and the horizon ahead.

Life’s way to short to sit around and be a grumpy old person. Your kids will spend your saving so fast it would make your head spin.

Make lemonade while you can, and go until you can’t.

Don’t forget to send RVT a check once in a while, the articles and the comments section is worth every dime you send them.

Diane McGovern
7 months ago
Reply to  Dan H.

I like your positive way of thinking about living life, Dan. 👍 And thank you for the mention of RVtravel.com. We appreciate it, and YOU, very much! Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com

Richard (@guest_233420)
7 months ago

FT 17yrs – In observing over the years I feel 80 is a turning point, for most people. OF COURSE everyone is an individual but lots of physiologic things happen around this age. I’ve seen 30 year olds I wouldn’t trust and 90 YOs I’d follow anywhere. Many 80s guys have said the ups and downs become too much for their knees. Reaction times lengthen into the realm of dangerous. Attention/cognoscente issues arise.
I’m focused on 80 as a stopping point, which is arriving WAY too quickly!

STEVE (@guest_169683)
1 year ago

When it’s no longer enjoyable is when you’re too old to RV. When the pain outweighs the pleasure, Hang it up.

Skip (@guest_169255)
1 year ago

First, thank you Gail (and RV travel staff) for this feature. I hope the many many full timers, and the rest of us, find options to get around the rising costs. Unfortunately, the cost of everything is rising and we will all have to be creative to continue to enjoy RVing.

Oscar Thomson (@guest_168005)
1 year ago

We Can’t get on the roof. The dealer has a free inspection. We can’t get under the fiver. I made some blocks to set under the self leveling Jack’s without pulling the pins. We have electric awnings. I’m not bragging but saying the good old days are now.

Deborah Johnson (@guest_167545)
1 year ago

My husband and I, each 69 years old, subscribe to the idea of our Go years, Slow years, and No years. We are in our Go years now, but I expect in 8-10 years or so we’ll be in our Slow years where we take a couple days to drive 300 miles. Our No years will see us possible getting a park model and taking day trips.

Bob Weinfurt (@guest_166636)
1 year ago

I’m turning 65 and my MH is 44. I’ll pack it in when one of us croaks.

Tom (@guest_236215)
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob Weinfurt

GMC Motorhome?

Paul (@guest_166609)
1 year ago

We are both 79. Neither of us is in perfect health. We have been full time in our current 36 foot DP for 10 years. This was after 10 years of most time RVing. I am currently planning a cross country trip from SoCal to NY state. It will be our 21st such crossing. We have reduced drive time to 2 hours each per day so the trip will take a while. We will get off the road for at least 2 nights every so often, what’s the hurry? We have full medical coverage at both ends of the trip and we have had the misfortune to need to find excellent care along the way a couple of times. Life can be like that. Once I had to call a son to come bail us out as we needed to drive from El Paso to Charlottesville and my wife was in no condition to drive. The lesson is fairly simple when one of us can no longer drive this big rig (for us) we will park it, hang up the keys and resort to Plan B. We haven’t decided what plan B is!

Mark W (@guest_166464)
1 year ago

Access to health care the older you get is everything. If you have a medical emergency in a remote location it could be fatal, but, having said that it’s impossible to predict and prepare for this.

Get annual physical check ups and watch your diet and exercise to ward off problems. Enjoy your life, but, be practical about your limitations. Age catches up with everyone and you can’t avoid it.

There’s no easy answer here and it’s all based on individual’s health conditions. There’s no generalizations here; every person is unique and it’s impossible to make any assumptions.

Bob Palin (@guest_166386)
1 year ago

I’m 65 and hope to RV for the rest of my life. The one thing I think will become increasingly difficult is putting a full propane tank into the fifth wheel. It’s a PITA now, not just because of the weight but because it’s such an awkward job to do. No problem with the weight (yet) but the angles and contortions needed to get it in there.

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