For many Americans, the purchase of a recreational vehicle (RV) is the fulfillment of a dream -- taking to the open road, being totally self-sufficient, being able to choose where to go and when to get there, having shelter, food and provisions on board, deciding to take a right turn instead of going left – all add together to create a total feeling of independence.
But if owning an RV delivers freedom, why are so many RVers traveling as a part of a group tour — where one would seemingly forfeit those freedoms? Individuals are coming together to join preplanned travel itineraries, with nightly stays booked in advance and activities scheduled for their pleasure.
This year, Fantasy RV Tours is offering over 40 unique itineraries with 60 departing tours, taking thousands of RV travelers to such destinations as Alaska, the Canadian Atlantic Provinces, California’s Rose Parade, Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta, Australia and New Zealand, and even a tour to view Polar Bears in Manitoba.
When John Hamilton retired in 2009, he and his wife Susie took off on a three month trip on their own in their 40 foot Allegro motorhome. When they returned to their Georgia home, they realized that they could have avoided much of the time they’d spent planning their routes and booking campgrounds by participating in a group style tour. Since then, they’ve been on eleven RV caravans taking them to destinations that would have created an extraordinary amount of planning and preparation had they attempted these journeys on their own.
“When you travel with Fantasy, you just don’t have to worry,” says Susie. “They know all the best campgrounds, and we don’t have to spend time trying to find one which will accommodate our motor home. They do the work - planning, routing and arranging activities - but also leave us time to do things on our own.”
That thought is echoed by Matt Brannon and Bruce Holbrook, who are still working, but are looking forward to their second RV Rally with Fantasy as they get ready to attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans in 2017. “One of the greatest advantages is that we just show up and the plan is in place; from meals to tipping the bus driver, are already prearranged,” said Matt. “Their tour guides are familiar with the locations and often have great inside connections. In fact, our rally master has arranged for us to actually ride on a float in a Mardi Gras parade!”
Nel Filliger, Founder and CEO of Fantasy RV Tours told us how they keep these RV vacations fresh and timely. “We’re always looking for new, unique and different activities and venues to include in our tours,” she stated. “Each year, our travel ambassadors, our local guides and even our guests provide us with recommendations to add to our itineraries. Along with our incredible team in the tour coordination department, this valuable feedback enables us to continue improving our products.”
But what about the additional expense? Dr. Bob Wishant, a retired ophthalmologist has been an RV owner since the 1980s. In 2001, he started taking RV caravans and attending rallies with Fantasy RV Tours. He has completed 15 tours and has six more booked. “The expense is offset by the efficiencies; we are certain to have a campsite waiting for us at every stop; tour buses pick us up right at the campground to take us to various area activities; we have a tail gunner on caravans to help keep us mechanically sound; we have people that are happy to join us in the evening and share a meal or just talk about our day. It’s just so much easier and more enjoyable than doing it on our own.”
“You also feel very safe,” added Susie Hamilton. “We knew if we broke down or had a problem, there were staff right behind us and we wouldn’t be stranded.” At one recent event, Matt recalls that their Wagon Master wanted to help make their vacation be one that was worth remembering and not one filled with typical headaches, “…our leader actually came into our RV, was on his hands and knees, and fixed our water heater.”
Larry and Monique Murray are fulltime RVers from New Jersey who have been on four of these RV tours. More importantly, they have four more booked. “We take advantage of Fantasy’s payment plan options, which are not only convenient but give us time to get really excited about our next trips,” said Monique.
Susie Hamilton found caravanning doesn’t end at the end of the trip, “The most important part of these tours is the friends you make. We traveled with a group to Alaska for 61 days. Now, we have reunions every year, and often visit each other at our homes. It sounds corny, but you really do make lifelong friends.”
RV caravan tours have evolved from a time when people wanted to go places in their RVs with one another. Today professionally operated caravans provide the convenience, safety, planning and an atmosphere filled with comradery. Dr. Bob wrapped it up by saying, “Before we discovered RV caravanning – we spent more time planning than traveling …we have actually gained freedom.”
FANTASY RV TOURS is among the world’s most distinctive RV tour companies, providing sought-after RV vacations to exceptional destinations. With more than 20 years in the RV industry, Fantasy is one of the global leaders in RV caravan travel. The company joined with CREATIVE WORLD TRAVEL in 2005, which has shown RVers new ways to vacation since 1970.