Summer is here, and it's time for the great American roadtrip. But if the thought of heading out in a camper or an RV has you running to book airline tickets and hotel rooms, then you need to talk to Grant Miller. He and his wife Jeanne spend part of the year away from their home in Pennsylvania, caravaning around the country in their $1.4 million 2006 Marathon Coach RV, which has become their second home -- on wheels.
"I love to drive it," said Grant Miller of his extreme luxury vehicle from Marathon. "It's a dream to drive and it drives like a car."
The price of the average motorhome ranges from $48,000 to $400,000, depending on size and amenities, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. The Millers' RV was custom built, which is why the price was so high.
The Millers' coach has four -- that's right four -- flat screen TVs, including one on the outside wall so they can watch it while they're relaxing in the RV park. This car also boasts expandable rooms, walk-in closets, washer/dryer, automated doors, dishwasher, and fully equipped kitchens. Behind the wheel lies a gadget-freak's dream: controls for every aspect of the bus, including the cameras around the coach. And that's just inside. Outside the coach there's a roll-out cart to store everything you need for the cook-out with the neighborhood.
Sales of luxury RV's have increased more than ten-fold in the past decade. Of course, if you're going to spend a small fortune to mobilize your home life, you may want to find a nice place to park your new ride. RVers can go to more than 16,000 public and privately owned campgrounds nationwide, but if you're going around in a $1.4 million coach, you need to find somewhere with style.
The Millers go to Outdoor Resorts of America in Florida, a 280-lot property where you can purchase unimproved lots for about $80,000. Then, people tend to spend another $30,000 turning their lot into their own luxurious private retreat, some complete with stainless steel kitchen appliances, fireplaces, and water features.
"Our idea of roughing it, is when the wine isn't properly chilled out," said Paul Horner, who visits the Outdoor Resorts of America. "So that's about as tough as it gets. We have every amenity you can think of. And it's like living in your luxury condo, and your backyard is the entire North American continent."
But for many, the best perk at the park is the other RV-ers. It's the social aspect of motorcoaching that keeps them on the move.
"It reminds me of going to summer camp," Jeanne Miller said. "You ride bikes with your friends and you go to lunch... You know I have to go outside and say, 'O.K. Grant, tell your friends to go home, it's time to come in for breakfast now.' "
"In ordinary neighborhoods you don't see everybody every day, you don't socialize as much," said Andrea Strine, who also has a lot in the park. "Here we see each other every day. We're there for each other. We have a lot of fun together. We feel like family."
For Rodger and Florence Zawodniak , having a large patio to entertain guests and a pond out back for fishing are key to their mobile lifestyle, but they love to keep their wheels turning.
"We're free to do whatever we want," said Florence Zawodniak. "If we decide we want to pick up and go across country or whatever, it's so accessible in the motorhome, and we have our home right with us and all of our belongings."