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.
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