This is a photo of a diesel motorhome from Thor. It has four TVs (one with a 55-inch screen) and a king-size bed that tilts up at the headboard so you can watch TV without wasting your time propping up pillows. It has two bathrooms, a kitchen with a residential fridge and a stackable washer-dryer. Oh, yes, it has a fireplace, too. And for the hot days of summer, there are three air conditioners.
“Enjoy watching your favorite movie on the 55-inch TV in the living room with your Sony® BluRay® player from your plush sofa bed, Jack-knife sofa or theater seating. Relax during an intimate meal at the Dream Dinette® or buffet dinette with the JBL® soundbar with Bluetooth®,” reads the RV’s brochure. “Easy-to-clean polished porcelain tile flooring is perfect for pet parents and gives Venetian a luxurious ambiance. Modern-style Studio Collection cabinetry comes standard in every floor plan and provides enough space for camping essentials. The electric fireplace with remote control in the L40, R40 and F42 floor plans creates a relaxing environment that will change the way you travel.”
The 45-foot model on a Freightliner chassis weighs in at 61,000 pounds.
So, okay, this is not your average camper van.
Through the years, I’ve met people who never spent a night in an RV and never plan to. “I don’t like to camp,” they say. Now, you tell me: Traveling with this — or any similar RV — is that camping? I mean, really?
MOST BUSINESSES operate with the following idea in mind: Bigger is better. In the RV industry that often means each new model year there must be more slideouts, more TVs, more bathrooms — more gadgets to be packed in. So more sales (hopefully).
When I compare this luxury RV with the 15-foot travel trailer I camped in when I was a youngster, I realize how far recreational vehicles have come. Every year in the decades that have passed, RV makers have added features.
That Field and Stream trailer of my youth had no bathroom, no holding tanks, no slideouts, no TV, no AC — not even a heater. My idea today of camping is based largely on my experiences with that trailer, and the tent trailer before it. Those primitive RVs were where my family and I slept and ate some of our meals. Mostly, we spent our time outdoors.
I cannot associate this Thor motorhome with the word “camping.” You do not camp in it. You live in it. The basic difference between living in a traditional home and living in this RV is this “home” moves.
MY THINKING ABOUT ALL OF THIS — based on the “bigger is better” idea — boils down to a question: What newfangled RVs will we travel with ten years from now? Face it, every workday, RV maker big shots are sitting around big, round conference tables dreaming up new ways to further “gadgetize” their next year’s models. Three bathrooms are on the way, I just know it. Dishwashers will be far more common.
The people who build RVs will not stop adding new features. They can’t. It’s in their DNA. And every year that passes, with each new innovation, the word “camping” becomes even less appropriate in describing what you do with these rigs. At least to me.
It’s hard for me to imagine what’s in store for us in the next ten years.