Return of the RV: 5-star camping is on the rise
Many out-of-staters are now picking wheels over water when it comes to making the most of an Alaskan summer. After taking a hit during the 2009 recession, the sale and rental of recreational vehicles (RV) is on the rise.
According to Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), RV shipments nationwide dropped dramatically between the summers of 2008 and 2009, before rising steadily to more than 30,000 in 2015.
For Debbie and Stephan Aleksa, a retired couple from Dallas, Texas, an RV trip is the only way to see the state.
“It’s cheaper,” Stephan Aleksa said. “And I’ve got to have my own toilet, my own bed.”
The pair hopes to make it to all 50 states by RV in the next few years.
Corbin Sawyer from Great Alaskan Holidays said he rents hundreds of RV’s each month to tourists.
“We’re pretty booked,” Sawyer said. “I mean, we’re 90 percent booked, so if you’re calling for a motorhome the next weekend, we might not have it.”
Sawyer was working in the industry back in 2009. While numbers are good now, he still remembers the scare.
“You know, a lot of our business from the rentals is mostly people who want to fly up to Alaska and see it, and even though we were kind of insulated from the problems that went on down there, our customers weren’t,” Sawyer explained, referring to the Lower 48. “And there was a lot of fear and uncertainty back then.”
For families like Christy Fann’s, visiting from San Clemente, California, traveling by RV lets them back it all in.
“Having a 14- and 11-year-old, where they’re kind of living their own lives,” Fann said. “They could be playing cards, and we could just see a view and pull over as long as we wanted to.”
For Fann, like the Aleksas, trips without a timetable are part of a larger journey that stretches as far as the road.