There’s something intriguing about the type of vacationer that travels to their destination in a recreational vehicle. Or better yet, a person who uses a camper or RV as the destination in itself — a place equipped with all the necessary fixings for rest, relaxation and then some.
Today, the RV industry is experiencing a wave of technological advancement that gives modern-day campers the comfort of a secure Wi-Fi connection without losing the charm that comes from a small(ish) space that serves as a home away from home.
“Technology is really important to people,” says Dave Bulmer, RV outfitter at Alpin Haus. “They want to stay in touch while they’re away, but also want to enjoy TV or music on a rainy day.”
Even base model campers and RVs come with technology that makes them more efficient and eco-friendly, like LED light bulbs, which use less battery power and give off less heat, Bulmer says. And for those who want to interact with their camper without lifting more than a finger, smartphone apps allow for the opening or closing of an awning with a simple swipe or tap.
“Our camper is equipped with everything we need to make our camping experience not like camping at all,” says Cheryl Caza of Ballston Spa. Her main living space includes a flat screen TV and electric fireplace — and has a kitchen of a similar caliber to what you’d find at home — with a center island, a gas stove, oven, sink, refrigerator, microwave and abounding cabinetry.
But for Caza, technology isn’t the only thing that makes camping an ideal getaway. Caza and her husband are avid motorcyclists, which is apparent with her camper’s “garage” attachment on the back, which acts as a space to secure their motorcycles while traveling, and as an additional living space and half bathroom when they stay put for a few days at a time.
Caza has also customized her space with a towel bar in the bathroom made from motorcycle handlebars, along with Harley Davidson-themed decorations in the garage. They take about nine trips a year across the country, mostly for four nights at a time, with a couple of weeklong vacations booked for the upcoming season, which for the Cazas, runs from May to October.
“My husband once joked that we have traveled all over, but our accommodations are always the same,” says Caza. “I love that we are self-sufficient. No need to worry if the hotel is going to be clean or if they have enough towels.”
While the majority of the camper remains unchanged from the way it was purchased, Caza appreciates the level of comfort inside just as much as the ability to personalize it through design and making the best use of the space for their unique, motorcycle-focused vacations.
And while many baby boomers are traveling cross-country in a luxury RV with tech upgrades and their own personal style mixed in, there’s another generation of RVers out there investing in their own on-the-go type spaces for mixed use — millennials and young entrepreneurs who love the idea of a mobile business and the ability to get up and go wherever, whenever.
“We truly believe this industry is in a strong position for the next many years,” says Bulmer. “We’re seeing multigenerational types of buyers, from older, more established people to a younger generation who wants to be mobile and get into RVing while they’re young.”
Nina Young, owner of Rose & Dale Photo Co., purchased a 1963 Airstream from a Hollywood celebrity in an effort to combine her love for the unique space with her dream to become a local business owner upstate. Now she operates a mobile photo booth that travels wherever the company takes her.
Young curates a look within her Airstream that captures her upbeat, vibrant vibe as well as the vision of the clients she works with. The custom design and decorations are constantly changing with every type of event her Airstream plays a part in.
“One of my favorite things to do is to style and stage interiors,” says Young. “I spend so much time considering and creating the atmosphere inside the Airstream, and I absolutely love being in there.”
While Rose & Dale Photo Co. is primarily used as a photo booth for weddings and private events, Young sees the opportunities inside of it as endless thanks to the beautiful, empty canvas inside when all of her staged setups are removed.
“There isn’t anything in that space that I don’t completely love,” says Young. “I play music and light candles, hang art and have lots of plants, I use color and textiles that are interesting and fun, all in hopes that the set up brings joy to everyone else that steps foot into the space.”
Taylor Rao is a frequent contributor to the Times Union. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @whodatgirl_2bd.