“Daddy, do we have to go to Hawaii? Why can’t we just get an RV?”
This excited shout changed my life, my business, and sparked an epiphany that would have a profound impact on the RV industry.
Ten-year-old Lauren said this while exploring the bunk in the back of a borrowed motorhome. At the same time, Lauren’s dad and my friend, Mark, tried out the driver’s seat. It was 1995. I had been in the RV business as a supplier for more than 20 years and loved the idea of RVing, but had never had first-hand experience camping in an RV.That’s why I made arrangements to borrow that big beautiful new Class A in my driveway. I wanted to see what it was really like to be an RVer. Not just for a few days, but for a two-week odyssey, a three-thousand-mile trek with my family, including our two little girls, 3-year-old Chandler and 5-year-old Kelsey. How would the four of us fare from Denver to Cherokee, North Carolina, and back, confined to 308 square feet for 336 hours?
Mark and his girls had never stepped foot in an RV, neither had many others in my neighborhood. So that gleaming 38-footer sitting in front of
our home became quite an attraction. Everyone’s eyes widened, eager to have a look. But not many really got it the way young Lauren did. For most, the RV was a THING to own, or tow or drive, whereas Lauren immediately perceived it to be far more than an object. She saw it as an adventure — an experience that was way better than flying to a resort in Hawaii — she saw it as pure JOY!
Of course I was far more skeptical. As a newbie, apprehension about using it eclipsed, or at least challenged any anticipation of joy. All that very quickly changed for me, and now I number the joys of RVing.
1. THE JOY OF NO SUITCASES!
Loading up the RV was an adventure, a fun practical lesson in organization and planning. Our girls, even at their young age, took great care and responsibility for their assigned space, clothes, books and toys. It didn’t take long to fill our RV with the stuff that made it our home. The realization that we wouldn’t be bound by packing only what would fit into a suitcase or hassled by having to pack and unpack throughout our multi-destination trip was pure, liberating joy.
2. THE JOY OF NEVER HAVING TO HEAR “ARE WE THERE YET”
My wife, Pam was prepared to entertain the girls during our long daily drives with toys and videos. Turned out, there was so much to see, so much to talk about on the road, they never watched a video. Farmers were burning the spent harvest in their vast fields, so Kansas trumped Disney’s “Little Mermaid.” Who woulda thunk it? You can’t roll through the cities and countryside of America, watching it all pass through panoramic picture windows and not be taken in by it, the wonder of it all.
3. THE JOY OF BONDING AS A FAMILY IN A WORLD OF OUR OWN
When those steps retract and its just you and your kids in that RV, the noise of the world is locked out, and that cozy space inside draws everyone together, close — not as in confined close, but distraction-free, belonging close.
4. THE JOY OF MUTUAL DEPENDENCE
It doesn’t take long for routines and responsibilities to naturally establish themselves. Everyone takes on a role, each according to their ability and interest. There are things to do before starting out on the road and things to plan before stopping. Everyone is interested in what’s next and takes part in the related tasks and chores. The kids got a sense of this and to my delight, even engaged in the common disciplines and tasks of stowing and securing things. Everyone pitching in and depending on each other seems to bring the family into a higher order. It’s not often in our day-to-day that families function as a team. In an RV they do.
5. THE JOY OF EVERY MEAL BEING SPECIAL
No one has to guess what’s for dinner because everyone has a hand in it. Mealtime is another opportunity for everyone to help. Whether it’s microwave mac and cheese, or pork chops on the campsite grill, or hotdogs burned just right on a stick over the campfire, no one just shows up waiting to be fed. Everyone is involved. So everyone takes all the more delight in the outcome. What might otherwise be a chore for mom is now a project for all. So if a family is inclined to say grace with a meal, the line, “God bless the hands that prepared it” prompts knowing smiles all around, by ALL the hands that prepared it.
Tom FaludyTom has more than 30 years of RV industry experience, where he rose from the ranks as head of sales and marketing to president of an RV accessory provider and later became executive vice president of a Berkshire Hathaway group of businesses. During his career Tom served on the board of directors for the Recreational Vehicle Association, helped found the Go RVing marketing campaign and was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in 2006. He now holds various global board and consulting roles for RV manufacturers, suppliers and distributors.
NOTE: Photos by Jeffrey Eatley- www.jeatley.com