From Travel Pulse
Travel agents can help anyone plan trips by booking plane reservations and hotels, obtaining reservations and tickets for excursions, planning itineraries and obtaining rental cars.
But can a travel agent help someone who’s traveling by RV?
“We handle everything but plane tickets and we reserve hotels, RVs, campsites and activities months in advance to ensure the best possible experience,” said Dan Wulfman, founder and owner of Tracks & Trails in Grand Junction, Colorado. “We sell our vacations through agents and direct to consumers.”
It’s definitely a market worth exploring for travel agents, as U.S. ownership of RVs has reached record levels, according to a 2011 University of Michigan study commissioned by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Approximately 8.9 million households own an RV. Today’s typical RV owner is 48 years old, married, with an annual household income of $62,000—higher than the median for all households, according to the Michigan study. RV owners are likely to own their homes and spend disposable income on traveling—an average of three weeks annually, RVIA research shows.
Wulfman said his best tip for working with clients looking for help with RV trips would be to partner with a specialty operator.
“RV trips are extremely difficult for an agent to deal with because there are so many variables and uncertainties.”
He explained that these variables include picking RV rental companies and the right recreational vehicle.
“National or independent? Class A or Class C?” he asks. “Campgrounds—privately-owned or inside the parks? Full-hookups or a more rustic option? Activities—which of these 5 rafting outfitters is best? Do we need a guide to explore this area? Itinerary planning—which destinations, which roads, how long to stay and what to do.”
If you want to work with a travel agent who specializes in RV vacations, it’s best to find one who understands the mechanics of traveling with an RV. They can help when mechanical problems arise and, if you don’t want to travel alone, can arrange a group RV tour.
For those who want to travel solo, Patricia Zacharias Monahan, founder & Chief World Explorer, Our Whole Village, went on her first RV trip this past spring break and has some advice:
“My personal best tip: get the smallest RV you can,” she said. “It was tricky to maneuver on windy roads of Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, and a lot of the roads are restricted for anything over 25 feet.”
Cassie Staiger’s parents recently sold their cabin and are living the RV life on the road. Based on their experiences, Staiger has advice for others who want to do the same.
“The biggest tip I can say is: relax, go with the flow and be open to deviations. There are countless opportunities on the road that you cannot miss by rushing to your next stop,” said Staiger, agent/owner, CS Travel Planners.
“Gas Buddy or Gas Guru are two apps you can utilize to plan out your filling stops. Make sure you know the price of gas since you are most likely filling a big tank. There is a very large, welcoming RV community in the US, so be ready to make new friends along the way.”
In addition to finding the right travel agent for you, The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) suggests that travelers surf the web and check out RVIA.org and GoRVing.com for information on RV travel trends, vehicles types, show listings and lists of RV dealers and campgrounds in your area.
Then, visit an RV dealer, attend an RV show, take the plunge, rent an RV and hit the road.
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Copyright 2017 Southern Arizona News-Examiner