How RVs Work

Announcer: Go behind the wheel and under the hood on everything automotive with High Speed Stuff from

Ben Bowlin: Hey, Scott. How are you doing?

Scott Benjamin: Doing well, thank you, Ben.

Ben Bowlin: I have had, yet again - you know I'm a little bit impulsive.

Scott Benjamin: Right. Well, yeah, I know that.

Ben Bowlin: Okay, well, you know, we're still friends nonetheless.

Scott Benjamin: Um-hum.

Ben Bowlin: I think it'd be kinda cool to live in my car. I know we did a podcast about this earlier and please don't think I'm rehashing the same material because what I was hoping we could talk about today -

Scott Benjamin: - Wait. Wait.

Ben Bowlin: - What?

Scott Benjamin: Is this a van down by the river?

Ben Bowlin: This is not - well, not any more that you brought it up in a way that sounds -

Scott Benjamin: - Okay, because I could see you maybe wanting to live in a van down by the river, but no, okay. Go ahead. Sorry, didn't mean to, you know?

Ben Bowlin: - Van down by the river.

Scott Benjamin: Well, yeah, you know, the little bit.

Ben Bowlin: God bless Chris Farley.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, I know.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: I miss him.

Ben Bowlin: I, you know, I do want a van and I love rivers, but before I go to that step, let's Plan B that one. Let's consider that Plan B.

Scott Benjamin: Okay.

Ben Bowlin: Because right now, Plan A for me is RVs.

Scott Benjamin: Oh -

Ben Bowlin: - First question: Do you know what that stands for?

Scott Benjamin: I do and that's a much better idea than, you know, the van idea. RV is recreational vehicle and there's a lot of different types of these things. We can talk about a few of those today if you want to. You know, there's everything from the bus style all the way down to the little tiny kind that you pull behind your car.

Ben Bowlin: The fifth-wheel kind.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, fifth - well, even smaller than that.

Ben Bowlin: Oh, okay.

Scott Benjamin: A lot smaller than that. So, there's a ton of different - you know, a lot of variety, I should say. And well, where do you wanna start?

Ben Bowlin: Okay, all right. This sounds like we can dig into this. Let's start with defining an RV. What makes an RV? What's the difference between an RV and a car?

Scott Benjamin: Okay. Well, easy enough, I guess. If you're talking about the big RVs that you drive -

Ben Bowlin: - Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: Okay, that's where it gets a little confusing. There's about seven different classes here. So -

Ben Bowlin: - Okay.

Scott Benjamin: - if you wanna talk about the ones that you drive, most people are familiar with this. They look like a bus, usually.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: They're great, big - of course on wheels. They have sleeping facilities. They have their own electricity. Well, actually, they hook up to electricity. They have their own water. They have their own, you know, restrooms. They have -

Ben Bowlin: - Kitchens.

Scott Benjamin: - large-screen TVs. They have everything.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: They're the big ones. You can take this all the way down to the little pop-up campers that, you know, you pull behind a truck or something like that, or maybe even a car. It depends on what kinda car it is. But there's everything in between as well and, you know, it just depends on how much you're willing to spend, how much you're going to use it, I guess, and if this is gonna replace your home, really, because I think for some people, it replaces their home.

Ben Bowlin: Oh, yeah. The practice I've heard is called snowbirding by some people. It's people who are camping enthusiasts or want to travel around rather than live in one place, actually living in RVs.

Scott Benjamin: That makes sense. They're moving to suit - the weather to suit them, I guess. Is that right?

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, yes.

Scott Benjamin: Oh, okay. I understand. It seems like a good idea, I guess. If you get to a certain age, retirement age maybe, you know, you don't want that house up in - I don't know - Massachusetts or something -

Ben Bowlin: - Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: - where you know you're gonna get a ton of snow.

Ben Bowlin: Or Naples, Florida or something.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, or Naples, Florida and it gets too hot in the summertime. You may wanna, you know, head north for the wintertime for months at a time, and it may just be more economical to take everything with you.

Ben Bowlin: Sure, birds do it.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, sure.

Ben Bowlin: I mean, I don't think they take everything with them on that point.

Scott Benjamin: No, no. I know. Well, I don't know, maybe.

Ben Bowlin: Who knows?

Scott Benjamin: What do birds own?

Ben Bowlin: You know, I'm not an ornithologist, nor am I an economist.

Scott Benjamin: Oh, very good.

Ben Bowlin: - So, I couldn't say for sure.

Scott Benjamin: Um-hum.

Ben Bowlin: And actually, I don't even know what the seven types of RVs are.

Scott Benjamin: Okay, well, I have a list.

Ben Bowlin: I love a list. I love a little list.

Scott Benjamin: We could talk about them as we go. I'll keep it short, but let's see. Let me just make sure there's seven. I think there's six maybe now that I look at it.

Ben Bowlin: - That's -

Scott Benjamin: - We'll get into it, okay. Class A, which is the big one - the big daddy. There's gas or diesel, which are - and these are the bus-style, you know, of RV.

Ben Bowlin: Okay.

Scott Benjamin: Huge. They're built on a specialty chassis so they're not any other vehicle that's converted into an RV. They're born as an RV.

Ben Bowlin: Oh, okay.

Scott Benjamin: They are from the manufacturer - from the factory - an RV. They're never anything but that and these are the giant ones that you see. And these things, I'll tell you - they have all the amenities that you have at your house and then more in most cases. A lot of times, you know, people have RVs that are better equipped than their homes because they have so many features; they're so advanced; they're so - I guess - well-constructed; and so well thought out that, you know, everything is there. Flat screen TVs, you know, sleeping quarters, the kitchen area - and sure, it might not be as large, you know, spacious as how your home may be, but it may be more plush.

Ben Bowlin: It's an apartment on wheels.

Scott Benjamin: It really is, yeah. For some people, I guess, if you had an apartment, this would be even bigger.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, I could see that because, you know, a lot of people - when people, at least in the States, live in a house, a lot of times it's an older house. So, even if it's bigger than the RV they may own, if it's a Class A, the Class A probably has more amenities.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, it could be, yeah, yeah.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: I think in many cases that's true. The next one is Class B of course, and really, this is a van conversion, which - you've probably seen these before. It's like a van that has, like, a - kinda like a bubble on top, really. It's nothing more than just a big van with a little extra space on top for maybe a bunk.

Ben Bowlin: Yes.

Scott Benjamin: Or, you know, that you can stand up inside the van.

Ben Bowlin: I've seen that.

Scott Benjamin: It's pretty simple, really, but Class B is much smaller than Class A. And again, that's a van that's been converted into something like this.

Ben Bowlin: Okay.

Scott Benjamin: Class C - that is a van or a truck cab with a body that's built by an RV manufacturer.

Ben Bowlin: Huh.

Scott Benjamin: Now, that's a little more rare - I don't know if you could say more rare or not, I guess, because we're right near I-75 here.

Ben Bowlin: Sure.

Scott Benjamin: And I see a lot of RV traffic going up and down I-75. So, we happen to see a lot of RVs. These - this type, I think, is pretty common on that highway really, I mean, to see that. This isn't the giant bus type. It's something in between. It's not the van conversion we just talked about. This is one where it's kinda seamlessly built into the van or truck that it was - I guess the donor vehicle, really.

Ben Bowlin: I see.

Scott Benjamin: So, there is a donor vehicle involved. It is a truck or a van. However, it's got a much larger RV body built on it by the manufacturer.

Ben Bowlin: Okay.

Scott Benjamin: So, a lot of space in that one. There's a lot more room in a Class C, which is, you know, this add-on type thing versus the Class B, which is really just the van with the extra little space on top.

Ben Bowlin: Right, okay.

Scott Benjamin: Okay, I'm getting near the end here. Don't worry.

Ben Bowlin: Oh, no, no. I'm actually - in my head, I'm imagining living in each one of these.

Scott Benjamin: Okay.

Ben Bowlin: So -

Scott Benjamin: - That's good. That's, I guess, good to do. Pop-up trailer - that's the next one I've got here on my list. This one - this is the kind that you'll see towed behind a truck or a van and typically, these are maybe three or four feet high at the most.

Ben Bowlin: Sure.

Scott Benjamin: And these fold out. You see them - they actually get quite large when they expand. And they often have soft panels on the side, so that, you know, it expands up and then out in all directions - well, front and back usually.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: Decent-sized, you know, camper - enough room for, you know, three or four people. Not as nice as, you know, maybe, like, a big purpose-built, there-all-the-time RV, but -

Ben Bowlin: - Sure.

Scott Benjamin: - the pop-up camper is good for a lot of families and it stores well. It's really small. You can put it - you know, put it in your garage, park it next to your garage and throw a tarp over it - whatever you wanna do.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: And I think it tows a lot better than, you know, some of the bigger camper -

Ben Bowlin: - Oh, yeah.

Scott Benjamin: - the flat front-end type things. Again, they're not very big. So, it's nice - good option.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: The next one - truck camper. And this is one that you've probably seen before. It's a camper that sits right in the bed of a truck.

Ben Bowlin: Yes, I've seen those. I was waiting till we - to get to this because I actually have a specific question about these.

Scott Benjamin: Um-hum.

Ben Bowlin: You know that - the protrusion that comes out over the cab of the truck?

Scott Benjamin: Yes, I do.

Ben Bowlin: Are there beds in there or is that just storage?

Scott Benjamin: You know what? Some - I think it depends on the manufacturer, but -

Ben Bowlin: - Okay.

Scott Benjamin: - I think that oftentimes, there will be a bunk up there that, you know, lays sideways across that way.

Ben Bowlin: Okay.

Scott Benjamin: I know that I've seen people laying with their, you know, head out that way if there's a window up there.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: Usually there is and, you know, kinda looking out. That's kinda a cool view, I bet.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: Not necessarily safe, but -

Ben Bowlin: - No.

Scott Benjamin: - I bet it's pretty interesting to look at.

Ben Bowlin: Well, when I had a - I used to own a pickup truck and it was a nice - it was a smaller one and I really - for a while, I thought about getting one of those.

Scott Benjamin: On a small pickup?

Ben Bowlin: I know. That's why I said, "For a while."

Scott Benjamin: Oh, okay.

Ben Bowlin: Because it turns out I don't think there's - I don't think that there was one that fit. I had a little Chevy.

Scott Benjamin: Um-hum.

Ben Bowlin: It's like two seats, you know, and -

Scott Benjamin: - Oh, sure, like an S-10 or something like that - whatever the model was at the time.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, yeah.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, I don't know. There may be, you know, campers that fit that. I'm just not sure.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, I'm sure there is somewhere, but anyway, I digress.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, we can look into that later. Okay, last one is a fifth-wheel. Fifth-wheel - now this one - probably the easiest way to describe this is - have you ever seen a semi trailer with no trailer?

Ben Bowlin: Yes.

Scott Benjamin: Okay, so it's just, you know, the cab and then that - kinda that flat area in the back? The connection point for a semi trailer is usually like a fifth-wheel hitch trailer would be for a pickup truck for an RV or for a camper.

Ben Bowlin: Oh, okay.

Scott Benjamin: It has kinda a horseshoe shape and the mating the part of that would be a kingpin that slides into that horseshoe shape, and then, there's like a grease or a lubricant that's used on that horseshoe to allow it to pivot. And what that does is it gives it pretty good maneuverability.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: So if, you know, you have a truck or a camper - I'm sorry - a truck or a van that has a hookup for a fifth-wheel, usually, they can maneuver that thing pretty good because it just seems a little more easy to maneuver than something that's attached to the rear bumper of your vehicle.

Ben Bowlin: Is that the same hookup that's used for - have you seen those trailer that carry horses -?

Scott Benjamin: - Yes.

Ben Bowlin: - like livestock? Is it the same kinda hookup?

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, usually you'll find - because they can carry a lot of weight.

Ben Bowlin: Okay.

Scott Benjamin: Because the weight that - the kingpin is placed - I think it's either just in front of or right over their rear axle. And that allows it to carry a lot more weight than if it's on the bumper, which is, you know, way behind the rear axle.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: So, for weight concerns, you know, if you're carrying a lot of horses - and they're huge trailers, usually, those horse trailers. Yeah, that's the kinda connection you're looking at and also, these - the RVs that are fifth-wheel RVs are really big. You'll find that, you know, they're not real short RVs.

Ben Bowlin: Right.

Scott Benjamin: There wouldn't be much purpose in that. These are almost, you know, like a full size - like, nearly the van size that we were talking about.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: Or rather the bus size - nearly. Maybe not as tall, but they're definitely a long RV.

Ben Bowlin: Really?

Scott Benjamin: Yeah.

Ben Bowlin: I guess I could see that because, you know, are you familiar with the movie Snatch?

Scott Benjamin: No, I'm not.

Ben Bowlin: There's this movie by this guy named Guy Ritchie. It's an English gangster movie.

Scott Benjamin: Um-hum.

Ben Bowlin: And it deals with these - some of the characters in this film are called travelers or, I believe, Irish travelers. And they are a group of people in England who live in what's called caravans, or the equivalent of, you know, trailers - similar to RVs because it sounds like they have the same fifth-wheel connection point, and they're pulled behind trucks. And those things are pretty large. I mean, the people live in those.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, they're big. They're - I mean, if - it sounds like you're talking about the exact same thing that I'm talking about.

Ben Bowlin: Yes.

Scott Benjamin: And yeah, I think it's definitely possible to live in a fifth-wheel. In fact, I know for sure it is. When I had a neighbor when I lived in Michigan who sold his home, bought a huge setup like a rig - I guess he had done this prior to living in Michigan as well.

Ben Bowlin: Uh-huh.

Scott Benjamin: He was retired. Bought a giant truck, bought a huge fifth-wheel camper and as far as I know, he's still out on the road somewhere and this was years ago.

Ben Bowlin: Wow.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah.

Ben Bowlin: Would you ever want to - I usually save that till the end. Would you ever wanna drive around in a snowbird lifestyle?

Scott Benjamin: I absolutely would not.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah?

Scott Benjamin: I enjoy being on the road. I really like that and I like traveling, but for me, I've always, always had trouble with a trailer. Now, if you're talking like a bi g - maybe a big camper that - I'm sorry, a big bus type -

Ben Bowlin: - Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: - that might be a little different, but maneuvering a trailer and just the hassle of having to uncouple everything all the time, and find a place to park that, and being able to pull through a certain spot, or being able to, you know, go to the - even to the gas station -

Ben Bowlin: - Sure.

Scott Benjamin: - where it gets awful crowded sometimes on the highway. For me, far too much frustration. When I moved down here, I had a huge truck with a trailer with my car, and that was a nightmare.

Ben Bowlin: I imagine.

Scott Benjamin: A nightmare. I almost - well, we'll talk about that later.

Ben Bowlin: Is that for another day?

Scott Benjamin: I guess so. I got stuck at a restaurant and - well, anyways. Never mind.

Ben Bowlin: Okay. For our listeners, we should say that Scott is getting a bit of a dark look on his face.

Scott Benjamin: - Yeah, it wasn't a good day.

Ben Bowlin: Okay.

Scott Benjamin: Not a good day.

Ben Bowlin: Well, we'll go past that one.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, yeah.

Ben Bowlin: So, those are the classes of trailers.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah.

Ben Bowlin: I'm thinking maybe we could do it this way. Tell me how you feel about this: Maybe we can a little bit - just touch on the history of RVs in the U.S. and then, maybe we can talk about some of the pros and cons of owning an RV.

Scott Benjamin: Sure. Do you - are you hip to the history of RVs?

Ben Bowlin: I've got just a little bit. I've got just a bit.

Scott Benjamin: Oh, well, good because that's a little bit more than I have. So, have at it.

Ben Bowlin: Well, let's just touch on it broadly. One of - at least in the States, and this might not apply in other places where RVs are common, one of the names we usually associate with RVs is the Winnebago.

Scott Benjamin: Oh, yeah.

Ben Bowlin: You know, going back to Winnebago Van.

Scott Benjamin: Sure, I remember that one.

Ben Bowlin: And as we know, that was founded in 1958 by a fellow named John Hanson in Iowa. And this has - this company has continued to earn a name and they're pret ty iconic. I mean, when you say, "Winnebago" people instantly -

Scott Benjamin: - Oh, yeah. You know what I think of? I think of those really flat face, extremely square -

Ben Bowlin: - Oh, yeah.

Scott Benjamin: - machines, but I don't know if that's true any more, right?

Ben Bowlin: That's - well, we're talking - that's the future.

Scott Benjamin: Oh. Oh, yeah, okay.

Ben Bowlin: - We'll stay here in this history. No, no.

Scott Benjamin: All right, yeah, okay.

Ben Bowlin: - We'll stay here in history just for a second -

Scott Benjamin: - Okay.

Ben Bowlin: - because looking into this, it's interesting if you trace it back with RVs because it didn't by any means start with Mr. Hanson, as innovative as he was. Because if you think about it, when you go back this lifestyle of people living in mobile, you know, vehicles, you know, you could trace it back to even pioneer days - excuse me - in covered wagons.

Scott Benjamin: Oh, very good point. Yeah, so the covered wagon trains were kinda like, you know what we're talking about with RV camping right now.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: People headed off to who knows where and they set up camp wherever they can find, right?

Ben Bowlin: Yes, yeah. And a lot of times, the motivations and certainly the technology differed, but a lot of the day-to-day routines, I'm sure, were similar. You go during the day and you pull over at night.

Scott Benjamin: Sure, you hook up to the electricity. You get your flat screen TV out with your satellite dish.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: These are pioneers, right?

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, these are the pioneers.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, yeah, sure. Yeah, I'm okay.

Ben Bowlin: - Yeah, because that's how they figured out where the Pacific was - their GPS, right?

Scott Benjamin: - Sorry. Yeah, they were watching The Weather Channel to see what was coming in, you know, over night.

Ben Bowlin: Oh, Scott, Stuff You Missed in History Class is gonna be so disappointed in us.

Scott Benjamin: - Yeah. Yeah, okay, all right. I took that far enough.

Ben Bowlin: - Then we can even go back. Well, maybe not back farther, but you also remember the old gypsy wagons in horror movies and stuff.

Scott Benjamin: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, those are called vardos and it's almost a similar idea - that we live in these mobile units, but - and here's an interesting little tidbit I thought you would enjoy - a lot of people nowadays associate those with a very ancient practice or something, you know?

Scott Benjamin: Hum.

Ben Bowlin: But they're relatively recent.

Scott Benjamin: The vardos are?

Ben Bowlin: Uh-huh, yeah.

Scott Benjamin: Okay.

Ben Bowlin: Around the 1800s from what I was looking into - 1800s in Europe. So, the people - and I'm sure I'm butchering the pronunciation - the Roma or the Rom - I can't remember the correct way to say it.

Scott Benjamin: Ah, don't look at me.

Ben Bowlin: Okay, all right. I'm not looking at you.

Scott Benjamin: Yes, you are.

Ben Bowlin: I'm looking at the microphone. I promise. But these people originally didn't start off with these wagons. So, we've seen this evolution. The RV is not really new thing and as we've said, although the specifics of the technology have changed, the concept hasn't really. And I would argue, and maybe you can beat me on this one, but I would argue they still have a lot of the same pros and cons.

Scott Benjamin: Hum, pros and cons? Maybe. I think there's a few that maybe - there are a few cons now that maybe weren't around back then. Fuel cost has gotta be No. 1.

Ben Bowlin: Oh, touché.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, but -

Ben Bowlin: - Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: - But because I've read that these things are, you know, they're getting like six maybe - some are getting four, six, or eight miles per gallon.

Ben Bowlin: Wow.

Scott Benjamin: Which is ridiculous, but then again, they hold 200 gallons of fuel. So, the range - you know, or something like that. Let's say that they hold a ton of fuel.

Ben Bowlin: Uh-huh.

Scott Benjamin: Like a boat almost, you know, where you can take these long journeys safely, I guess, you know, the good range. However, your consumption is really, really high. We know that, of course, they didn't have fuel to worry about.

Ben Bowlin: Well, they had livestock.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, sure they had to -

Ben Bowlin: - So -

Scott Benjamin: - feed the horses and get them -

Ben Bowlin: - Sure.

Scott Benjamin: - or oxes. Oxes? Oxen. They had to feed the oxen to keep them moving, but yeah, and I guess maintenance would still be a concern, right?

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, okay.

Scott Benjamin: I mean, now and then.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: Right?

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, that's certainly true.

Scott Benjamin: What else have you got? I mean -

Ben Bowlin: - As far as cons?

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, cons. Any other cons because -

Ben Bowlin: - I mean -

Scott Benjamin: - I can think of one more, but that's about it.

Ben Bowlin: Okay, first, I think it's not the best idea. This ties into maintenance and fuel or, I guess, transportation power. The problem with living in one thing that moves around is, you know, not just that maintenance is necessary, but the maintenance can really sink you. Because if you live in a - excuse me. If you live in a neighborhood where know everybody, and something happens to your house, you can ask your neighbors for help. If you live in an RV and something happens, you have to hope that somebody on the road will help you, unless you're in an RV park or something.

Scott Benjamin: Now you rely on the kindness of strangers, I guess, right?

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, yeah.

Scott Benjamin: That makes sense. That makes perfect sense.

Ben Bowlin: - Yeah. What do you got?

Scott Benjamin: - You're gonna have a - well, it pales in comparison to that, but I was thinking that, you know, today - now - there may be sites or places that you wanna go that if you have a camper that's too large, it just won't fit.

Ben Bowlin: Oh, yeah.

Scott Benjamin: If you have decided to live in your RV, and you're traveling around, and you like to stay in certain spots - certain location - you may not be able to camp there. They may not permit you to be there because of, you know, low tree overhangs, power lines, whatever they have within the facility.

Ben Bowlin: - Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: You may have to find one that's nearby. You may have to - I guess you may have to settle.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: You may have to, you know, decide that, you know, "I can't go there. I'll go here today, and stay overnight, and then find somewhere else in the morning."

Ben Bowlin: You know, honestly, the biggest con to me is the space issues.

Scott Benjamin: Um-hum.

Ben Bowlin: I don't like - I know this sounds weird coming from someone who drives a land boat that is a Monte Carlo, but I would really prefer smaller vehicles. I go out of my way, you know, if I'm with a group of people not to be the guy driving the van, or the truck, or whatever you have. So, I just can't imagine. To me, the idea of retiring to drive a bus is - that's how I equate it. And, you know, I don't mean to sound dismissive at all. It's awesome to have your car be the place where you live; you're on a never-ending road trip. But the fact that there are other cars on the road, really bugs me.

Scott Benjamin: Oh. Let me tell you. I totally understand that. I'm a small car guy myself.

Ben Bowlin: Uh-huh.

Scott Benjamin: And if - I mean, if I get into something like a four-door sedan of some kind, that's huge to me. And trying to navigate a bus through city traffic or through - you know what we sit in daily, you know, going home.

Ben Bowlin: Oh, sure.

Scott Benjamin: Because, you know, you'd find yourself in that position at some point.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: That would be difficult. Or driving through the mountains, or trying to navigate, you know some switchbacks on Highway A1A or whatever.

Ben Bowlin: Right.

Scott Benjamin: It would be - or I should say on the Pacific coastline. That would be difficult. I mean, I can't imagine what it would be like trying to navigate - plus, you know, a lot of times, you're towing a vehicle - car along with that.

Ben Bowlin: Oh, yeah.

Scott Benjamin: And that's - you know, so that you have mobility when you get to wherever you're going. You know, you could park the van and then take that out to dinner, or to, you know, local sites - wherever you're gonna go. So, yeah, I think to me, it might be a little difficult.

Ben Bowlin: And also, final point that I'd like to bring up - a lot of the really interesting landmarks in the U.S. don't allow motorized vehicles. So, if you wanted to go see parts of Yellowstone or something like that, you would have to, oddly enough, park the vehicle you were in.

Scott Benjamin: Your home.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, park your home, exactly. And then, go to the visitor's center and, you know, rent a burro or something?

Scott Benjamin: - I don't know, yeah. I guess you would have to do that. That gets back to the - you know, the vehicle being to large for some places to go.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: Now, if you have a smaller vehicle, you might be okay.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: You can get close enough to, you know, to hike just like anybody else would, I guess. But you're right; you would be restricted in some circumstances - from getting to interesting places.

Be n Bowlin: Yes. So, what about the pros? I feel like we've gone pretty - we've been pretty hard on RVs.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, I know. You know what? The idea - they're pretty cool, really. I mean, it's a neat vehicle.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: And I like the concept. What I think is maybe the biggest pro - I'll be honest; it's the only pro that I have here - is the freedom.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: Just the outright freedom that you have to go and do whatever you wanna do. That you're not tied to one place. You don't have one home to go to in a certain state, in a certain location.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: Not that that's bad.

Ben Bowlin: Right.

Scott Benjamin: I'm just saying that, you know, with an RV, you're free to go where you want to.

Ben Bowlin: That's true. The horizon -

Scott Benjamin: - What about you? Do you have any -?

Ben Bowlin: I do. I have one pro. I don't know how much it applies.

Scott Benjamin: Um-hum.

Ben Bowlin: But I think it's a good point. For some professions, it's actually better to live in an RV than it is to live in a house. Now, hear me out.

Scott Benjamin: Okay, I'm dying to know. What are you talking about?

Ben Bowlin: Okay, okay. I've only got one and I will be completely honest with you - it may almost be cheating. But for travel writers, an RV is better than living in a house because, you know, you will always be at work even if you're just relaxing, and more and more with the evolution of Internet technology, we're seeing people who work from a laptop, you know, in Starbucks across the United States.

Scott Benjamin: Um-hum.

Ben Bowlin: And for people who need to mobile - perhaps they're also traveling professionals, engineers, things of that nature - then it really helps not to be tied down in one place if there is an RV that comes out that has something close to fuel efficiency, which doesn't happen now. I mean, the - what - four - what did you say? Four to eight miles per gallon or so?

Scott Benjamin: I'm - it's a wild guess on my part because I remember hearing numbers somewhere in the neighborhood of, you know, six miles per gallon.

Ben Bowlin: Okay.

Scott Benjamin: Eight miles per gallon for the big ones.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: And it may be a little higher now. I'm not sure, but you're talking about a 40 - you know, 43-foot long -

Ben Bowlin: - Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: - 400 horsepower diesel engine.

Ben Bowlin: It's a lot of weight, too.

Scott Benjamin: And this thing is shaped like a bus. It's flat.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: It's heavy. It's climbing mountains. You know, you're doing - you're expecting a lot of this thing or you're even towing another vehicle behind it. I just don't see it getting great gas mileage ever.

Ben Bowlin: Right. It's - I mean, we're talking Hummer gas mile numbers right there.

Scott Benjamin: - That's right.

Ben Bowlin: - Gas mileage numbers.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, not to pick on Hummer, but you're right.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, that's - it's extremely low and it has a lot to do with - you know, we've talked about it so many times - the weight, the shape, and the size of the engine, and just, you know, what you're towing behind it, what you're expecting of the vehicle. And they do a good job at what they're built for.

Ben Bowlin: Sure.

Scott Benjamin: And if you were to lighten them somehow - you know, make an ultralight RV -

Ben Bowlin: - Wow.

Scott Benjamin: I don't know how that would work.

Ben Bowlin: - I have -

Scott Benjamin: - I don't know if that would work because you probably would, you know, with the surface that you're talking about, you probably would be blown over on the highway if a strong wind came left to right or right to left. I've heard of empty trucks being blown over before. So, if you make it too light, you know, there's a danger there, too.

Ben Bowlin: Definitely. Well, that - you know what? That segues very nicely into one of the last points we should probably talk about - and you really just touched on it here - the future of RVs.

Scott Benjamin: Um-hum.

Ben Bowlin: Because I came into this podcast, I really wanted one. I had done a little bit of research -

Scott Benjamin: - Hum.

Ben Bowlin: - mainly into my budget, which cannot afford one right now, but also into the problems. In defense of Hummer, you know, people who purchase Hummers really are looking for a power vehicle more than they're looking for a place to live.

Scott Benjamin: Oh, yeah. Someone is not gonna live in a Hummer, I would think.

Ben Bowlin: - Right, right, probably not. And so, as a result, you know, I think that manufacturers of Hummers, manufacturers of RVs are aiming toward two different mark ets, but man, Scott. I just can't get an RV unless they're - I don't know - solar-powered, hydro-powered.

Scott Benjamin: Hydro-powered, oh, good.

Ben Bowlin: - Yeah, that - I don't know.

Scott Benjamin: - Yeah, a small nuclear reactor.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah. You know what? I'll be honest. I had thought about this question because we talked about this beforehand.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: Is there a future for RVs? And I think that there still is, but then again, I'm finding myself flip-flopping on this, back and forth.

Ben Bowlin: Okay.

Scott Benjamin: And the reason - the big reason that I'm saying no is that they're pretty darn expensive.

Ben Bowlin: Sure.

Scott Benjamin: Well, then again, houses are expensive, too. And you know, high-end vehicle - if you're talking about selling your house and buying this, you know, the tradeoff might be exactly equal. It might be, you know, a wash.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: But you're talking - you know, some of these things are - they exceed $200,000.00 for the -

Ben Bowlin: - Class As?

Scott Benjamin: - the big ones, the Class A, brand new or even used. Some of the used ones are $220,000.00.

Ben Bowlin: Wow.

Scott Benjamin: You can get a Class A that's smaller, you know, like maybe a 30-foot Class A for $60,000.00 or something like that - you know, that range. One that maybe already has 45,000 miles on it or something like that, you know, a used vehicle, and also is about seven or eight years old.

Ben Bowlin: Uh-huh.

Scott Benjamin: You know, so there's a little bit of wear and tear. But, you know, they're expensive. The fuel cost is high, but then on the positive side we talked about the freedom.

Ben Bowlin: Um-hum.

Scott Benjamin: And I think that, you know, people - if you're talking about rental, I think people would rent RVs and go on vacation because that's a relatively cheap vacation for somebody. You know, it may cost them less than going to a resort.

Ben Bowlin: Good point, yeah.

Scott Benjamin: And it gives a family the opportunity to spend time together on the road -

Ben Bowlin: - Um-hum.

Scott Be njamin: - to and from the vacation destination. And when you're there, of course, you know, you're gonna be close to the family, I guess. Everybody is gonna be in the same vehicle.

Ben Bowlin: Sure, which could be, you know, good and bad.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, it could be either way, I guess. And I don't know. I just think that, you know, I'm kinda back and forth. Like I said, you know, there's good and bad about this thing.

Ben Bowlin: I've got one. This is probably not gonna make up your mind, but it's gonna flip - it's a flip to your flop.

Scott Benjamin: Ah, got you.

Ben Bowlin: Okay? Here we go. Yes, the gas is expensive, right?

Scott Benjamin: Um-hum.

Ben Bowlin: And the entry costs, I agree, are enormous; however, as you said, the entry costs are comparable to those of a house for a Class A vehicle. And consider that the gas costs are somewhat offset by not needing to pay utilities and rent. Wait. No, rent is not fair because the payment on your RV note becomes your rent, right?

Scott Benjamin: Well, yeah, I guess so. Yeah, because you're paying - you would paying much like you would a mortgage.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, it would be comparable to that. I mean, if you're talking about a $220,000.00 RV -

Ben Bowlin: - Yeah, that's hefty.

Scott Benjamin: - most people are not gonna pay cash for that up front. They're going to put a down payment on this and pay for, I guess - then again, I'm guessing.

Ben Bowlin: Sure.

Scott Benjamin: Twenty years?

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, I would say that.

Scott Benjamin: I would think. I mean, to make it affordable. If you wanna, you know, really go all out, I guess you would make that a much smaller payment or a bigger payment smaller time frame.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, I don't know if I'm ready to buy an RV yet, Scott.

Scott Benjamin: - Well, that's - we're talking extreme.

Ben Bowlin: Sure.

Scott Benjamin: You could probably get a cheaper one.

Ben Bowlin: So, okay. I don't know, man. What do you think? I think we've taken a pretty good look at RVs.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, I think we covered it pretty good.

Ben Bowlin: You know what though? We could always ask for listener mail about living in an RV, perhaps.

Scott Benjamin: Oh, sure, yeah, because you and I, we don't have any experience of actually doing it. We've just read about it, kinda investigated it a li ttle bit, and have our theories, but it's always good to hear from somebody that actually does this or maybe even if it's just a weekend. Not necessarily somebody lives full time in an RV, but that'd be nice to hear from, too.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, that's a great point. So, to our listeners, thanks for tuning in, and we hope you enjoyed it. If you have lived in an RV or spent some time in one, please, do send us an e-mail telling us about it at

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