Those were sure a bunch of expensive RVs! We're just back from the record-setting Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa and in this week's RV Podcast episode we talk about that, give you a sneak peek at the race to build eRVs and answer in-depth a question about what's needed for a toad – a vehicle towed behind an RV.
We walked more than 12 miles covering this show, touring and videoing Class A, B, B+, and C motorhomes, Fifth Wheels, Truck Campers, Towables, Teardrops, and even a tiny RV that can supposedly be towed by a tricycle!
Click below for the Video version of the Podcast.
You can listen to the audio-only version through your favorite podcast app – Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher… all of them – or click the audio player below to hear it right now on whatever device you are now on.
Expensive RVs – The Elephant at the Fairgrounds
But first, let's address the number one thing we hear from those in attendance.
“Wow! Those are sure Expensive RVs!”everyone
Seriously, that is just about all we heard. Over and over again, everywhere we went on the Florida State Fairgrounds where the show was held.
Every type of RV seemed to be priced 25% more this year.
As Nick Schmidt, of Sunshine State RVs in Gainsville, FL (the RV industry veteran we interviewed in this podcast), and numerous other dealers, manufacturer reps, and experts we talked to last week explained, you can blame the price hikes on a lot of five different things working in concert:
- Unprecedented demand. It is a seller's market.
- Difficulty in getting chassis. The most popular Class B and C chassis continue to be in very short supply.
- Parts shortages. Manufacturers have lots of R$Vs all done and assembled but unable to ship because they are missing a crucial part.
- The supply chain crisis. Every industry is affected by this.
- COVID shutdowns, restrictions and illnesses.
How much are those expensive RVs?
The average price for well-equipped Class B or C motorhomes was near $200,000. These weren't super luxury models with every bell and whistle, ether.
A couple of years ago, pre COVID, they were about $150,000.
Here's a case in point: Of the long dual rows of Airstream travel trailers on display at the show, all but two units were priced over $100,000. This is for a travel trailer, mind you. Granted, Airstream is a top-of-the-line brand and has always been expensive. But they are even more expensive this year!
I saw several teardrops – tiny little pull-behind trailers with barely enough room for two people to sleep inside – priced at $50,000!
These are crazy expensive RVs.
Were there any bargains?
A few. Some of the bare ones Dodge Promaster-based Class B can still be bought for under $100,000. The Dodge Promaster chassis have not had the same demand as the Ford Transit and Sprinter models and are thus more available. Thor, for example, exhibited a very robust lineup of vans on the Dodge Chasis.
So did Roadtrek, though their units were more expensive but still affordable, upwards of $115,000.
Travel trailers, and Fifth Wheels, still relatively available compared to a many-month wait for motorized RVs, also showed less of a price hike than the motorhomes.
Camping can be expensive.
Especially if you are spending more travel time in outdoor spaces. Or, perhaps you’re living and working from your RV.
Traditional campgrounds can also be crowded and noisy. It can sometimes feel like the opposite experience you are seeking by getting away from civilization and into nature.
That may be why you are looking for cheap or free RV camping sites and that’s why I’m here to help. I’m going to introduce you to boondocking in off-the-beaten-path campsites and then teach you how to find them.
This ebook (not a print book – but you could print this one out on your own if you wish) is available right now.
Here's your Ultimate Guide to Cheap or FREE RV Camping Sites
eRVs are coming
Both Winnebago and Airstream/Thor had major announcements about electric RVs.
In the podcast, we talk about their products, both of which are prototypes now but expected to be commercially available in five years.
Check the video version of the podcast to see the most amazing capabilities of Winnebago's eStream trailer. You can detach it from the tow vehicle and then use an app of your smartphone or tablet to park it wherever you want. Amazing.
I'll have a much more detailed video on this coming soon but the podcast gives you a pretty good sense of these exciting new eRVs.
Mike and Jennifer's Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That's why we've created three guides, covering Florida's Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.
Altogether these guides are over 300 pages of content!
FAQ's about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers
What is the weather like along Florida's Gulf Coast?
The weather along Florida's Gulf Coast can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. In general, the area experiences hot, humid summers and mild, pleasant winters.
The Panhandle region can be quite cool in January. It is seldom below freezing, but daytime highs are typically in the 50s. It warms up about 10 degrees each month.
You can also generally add about 10 degrees for every 150 miles you travel south down the Florida peninsula.
By the time you hit Naples, daytime highs in January are in the comfortable 70s.
Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?
One of the best resources we can recommend is called Campnab. This service monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities.
The service works – but it is not free.
Campnab offers two ways to use the service. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you intend to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want them to check availability.
The second way to use the service is through a membership. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. Membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50), depending on your needs.
Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?
Not many. And they are very pricey. If you want to sleep directly on the sand in an RV, you'll have to stay at a developed commercial campground like Camp Gulf on the Emerald Coast or an RV resort like Big Pine Key Resort in the keys. Some state parks like the Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area in the Atlantic Coast or Bahia Honda State Park in the keys or Fort Desto State Park near St. Petersburg have beachside sites, too.
But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?
Sorry, none that I know of that would work for RVs.
There is unrestricted camping on wild beaches on a couple of islands, but you need a boat to get there, and it is for tent camping only. If you want to sleep directly on the sand, there is Anclote Key offshore Tarpon Springs, and Shell Key in Pinellas County. Another favorite is Keewaydin Island between Naples and Marco Island but that area remains pretty devasted from Hurricane Ian.
Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?
While it severely damaged almost two dozen RV parks and campgrounds, about 8-10 campgrounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area were completely destroyed. Most of the damaged campgrounds have been repaired and reopened.
Check with the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds if you have questions or concerns.
We have lots of RV tours still coming
We have a long list of RV tour videos yet to release on our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel. Several videos from the show are already up. We plan to release two or three a week. To be notified when they are available, make sure you have subscribed and click that little bell icon to be notified when the next videos are available.
Besides the podcast, we have already released videos showing:
The crowds were very enthusiastic
People were very happy. That was our overwhelming impression. They were glad to be outside, in the Florida sun, going RVs and dreaming of their travels again after two long, dark, and confusing years caused by COVID.
We had three different meet-ups at the show. It was so nice to see everyone and hear of their plans.
Here's a bunch of photos:
You can see all of these photos and more in this photo album.