If you're among the 8.3 million RV enthusiasts in the U.S., your RV is a home away from home (or really is your home). Ask anyone who has traveled cross-country in a rolling house: RV living isn't simply about seeing major attractions, but exploring all the off-the-beaten paths, small towns and scenic areas that make the United States the fascinating place it is.
RVs are made for every kind of lifestyle; whether you want to rough it or live in the lap of RV luxury, you can have it all on the road. These days, RVs can even be custom outfitted for people with mobility concerns.
While 35- to 54-year-olds currently hold the highest percentage of RV ownership (according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association), and people age 35 and younger are the fastest growing RV buyers, adults age 60 and older still make up a large percentage of people who own RVs. As baby boomers age (and gas prices go up), they may not be able to afford to trade in an older RV for a swanky new model. However, decreased mobility shouldn't stop these RV road warriors. If you're adapting an existing RV, here are some practical and affordable suggestions to age-proof every room in your RV. Don't let safety issues stop you from hitting the road.
Living Room and Kitchen
Like its name suggests, the living room is the most used area in an RV. Whether you're gathering for a game of cards, reading or just taking in the sights as you drive by, the living room can get cluttered with furniture. Consider removing certain pieces of furniture, such as a table or large chairs, to have more room to move comfortably throughout the space. Putting a couch against the wall of the RV will open up the room and allow for more mobility.
A kitchen galley is tiny compared to a home kitchen, but has its advantages in a moving RV. However, for someone with issues reaching high places, prepping even the most basic meal can be a challenge. By changing out the kitchen galley so that the microwave, fridge and cabinets are below the counter, you won't have to stand on a stool to access anything or worry about anything falling from a high space. You can also change out cabinet handles and faucets to make them easier to grab and open.
Bedroom and Bathroom
As we age, the bathroom can become a dangerous part of our home. In an RV, there's room to slip and fall in the shower, even in a tight space. Adding grab bars and nonslip mats in the shower and near the toilet can save you from a post-shower tumble. You can also change out the seat of the toilet so that it's higher, making it easier to sit and stand.
Bedrooms in most RVs are not what many would call spacious, but they do need to be comfortable. Consider replacing cabinet door handles again for easier opening. If possible, use under-the-bed drawers as main storage instead of higher cabinets that may be tough to reach.
Driving at night and through bad weather is par for the course when traveling in an RV; adding more lights and making existing lights brighter to inside and outside the RV ensures good visibility for both passengers and other drivers on the road. Adding magnification mirrors to side and rearview mirrors can help you see objects around the outside of the RV clearer. This will help avoid accidents, as well as make parking easier at RV parks and campgrounds.
If necessary, install additional steps for easier entrances and exits. You can also install a wheelchair lift or ramp for extra assistance getting in and out of your RV.
RV Age-proofing Accessories
Don't know where to begin your RV upgrade? Many accessories suggested here can be bought at an RV superstore. Check your local area for an RV dealer near you, or put the word out if you belong to an RV club about what you're looking to do. There are also plenty of companies that do custom work, which can help you find parts, as well as do the work for you. It's worth the time and money if RVing is the way you want to travel for a long time!
Check out the links on the next page for more RV travel information.
- Auvil, Jennifer Plum. "RV Crazy: America's Best RV Parks." Travel Channel. (May 17, 2011)http://www.travelchannel.com/Places_Trips/Travel_Ideas/Road_Trips_And_National_Parks/Road_Trips_Usa/Rv_Crazy_Americas_Best_Rv_Parks
- Bauer, George. "Is an RV right for you?" CNN. March 22, 2011. (May 17, 2011)http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/03/22/recreation.vehicle.travel/
- Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. "RV Quick Facts." (May 17, 2011)http://www.rvia.org/Content/NavigationMenu/RVFactsNews/FAQs/default.htm
- RV Basics. "America's Top 100 Family Campgrounds for 2010." (May 17, 2011)http://rvbasics.com/rv-lifestyle/Top-100-Family-Campgrounds-2010.html
- RV Basics. "RV Clubs Owners Groups and Camping Clubs Directory." (May 17, 2011)http://rvbasics.com/rv-lifestyle/rv-clubs.html