VACAVILLE (KPIX) — Kwai Kong is getting familiar with the RV he just purchased.
“This feels like a home,” Kong said.
Kong and his family are ready to roll as counties release the brakes on stay-at-home orders.
“It’s kind of like a cabin fever,” Kong said. “So we’re just doing it safely.”
They’re not the only ones. At Camping World, sales associate Robert Smith said COVID-19 is generating another kind of surge.
“Sales are through the roof right now,” Smith said.
RV sales have doubled from this time last year. The Vacaville store lot is normally full, with more than 200 RVs but, these days, it’s half empty. Camping World has sold about 40 RVs each week over the past three months.
Travel trailers, fifth-wheels and motorhomes ranging from $10,000 to more than $200,000 each — customers are looking for the comforts of home. And they don’t just want kitchen basics like beds and bathrooms. They want extras, like solar power, storage and style.
Take for example an outdoor patio that unfolds from the back of the Outlaw motorhome. Many buyers want to steer clear of shared spaces, like airplanes and hotels.
“We find this is the safest way in terms of exposure to the virus,” Kong said.
“It’s a small, quarantined hotel on wheels,” Smith said.
Nationwide, a record 48 million Americans are expected to take an RV on the road this year, up from 28 million last year according to a survey by KOA Campgrounds of America. National transportation and camping expert Mike Caudill says RV rentals are soaring, too.
“Sales are up more than 650 percent,” Caudill said. “Consumers want ease and they want affordability. A lot of people have been furloughed or laid off. How can they still get away, remain socially-distanced and spend time with their family and bring pets along? This is the way that they’re doing it.”
Many people are driving their home on wheels out of their home state. Caudill took his family from Nashville for a three-week tour to the West Coast.
“A lot of people are hitting the reset button, they’re simplifying their lives and this is a way to do it,” Caudill said.
Smith added, “I think it’s going to pump a lot of money into the local economies. It’s going to be good for the country.”
Kong, his wife, and their six kids have their two-week, 5,000-mile trek from Gilroy all mapped out.
“We’re going to go to Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, then into Chicago,” Kong said, describing the first leg of the trip. For his family, their first big road trip won’t be their last.
“We have a goal of seeing all the national parks in North America in the next 10 years,” he smiled.