Thursday, July 24, 2008

Road-savvy RVers adjust lifestyle as recreation costs rise

Jim and Sarah Hinkel's home is nestled beneath Theo Baars Bridge adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway.

For eight years, home has been a travel trailer. And their domicile — for now — is parked at Perdido Cove RV Resort & Marina, which opened July 1.

At one time, the couple rarely stopped at one location for more than two weeks. Now, thanks to gas prices hovering near $4 a gallon, the Hinkels are among the many recreational vehicle owners adjusting their traveling habits.

"We stayed three months at our last location," Jim Hinkel, a South Dakota native, said. "It's just getting too expensive to drive the way we used to."

Chattanooga, Tenn., resident Sharon Puckett, 65, usually vacations in the Panhandle every year with a friend who owns an RV.

"We didn't make it last year because of the high gas prices," said Puckett, a retired teacher camping at Perdido Cove RV Resort with her daughter, Jeanne Griffith, and two grandchildren.

Griffith, 42, said fuel costs are impacting not only how often they travel, but also how much they spend on other items.

"We can't afford to eat out at restaurants as much or spend as much money as we used to at souvenir shops," Griffith said.

Neither Puckett, Griffith or the Hinkels said they plan to give up RVing, however.
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