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RESTON, Va., Jan. 5, 2005 -- This is the time of the year when people in most parts of the country have to cope with snow, ice and freezing temperatures. But for over one million new and used rvs, recreation vehicle (RV) owners, this will not be a winter of discontent.

Approximately 1.1 million new and used rvs owners, including a growing number of early retirees in their 50s, make an annual pilgrimage south in pursuit of warm weather and the good life. For them, there's no need to worry about digging out from a major snowstorm. In fact, it's likely that the closest they'll get to a shovel this winter is on a beach.

With an estimated 15 percent of new and used RV owners wintering in the South annually, according to a recent survey by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, snowbirding has become hugely popular. Not surprisingly, Florida, Arizona, Texas and Southern California are the leading destinations for RV snowbirds, some of whom spend weeks – or even months – at a time escaping the long, dreary winter.

RV resorts, campgrounds and parks in those states cater to snowbirds on a seasonal, monthly, weekly or even overnight basis. Some snowbirds stay at one RV site for as long five or six months and return year after year. And there's a new breed of RVing snowbird who visits several sites over the winter months, reflecting a younger, more active lifestyle.

"Over the last few years, the average age of our RV snowbirds has decreased," says Marlene Marchand, owner of Port of the Islands RV Resort in Naples, Fla. "We're getting younger, earlier retirees or business owners who can get away for a few months."

Jim Beach, general manager of the Mesa (Ariz.) Spirit RV Resort, says today's snowbirds, especially boomers now in their 50s, "want to do more than sit around. They're more adventurous. They enjoy hiking and bicycling, and they want to see area attractions."

In addition to the traditional snowbird visitors who stay five or six months, Beach says there's been a marked increase in short-term snowbird stays at his resort. The number of "traveling RVers," which Beach defines as those who visit an RV resort for a week or two while touring a region such as the Southwest, is up over the last few years.

To appeal to the active lifestyle of today's snowbirds, RV campgrounds offer a wide range of outdoor activities, including golf, tennis and boating.

Aerobics classes, yoga, personal trainers and Internet/computer rooms are among other amenities recently added by many RV campgrounds and parks. Conveniences such as these have contributed to the dramatic growth in RV travel, which saw new and used RVs shipments in 2004 jump by 14 percent over the previous year.

According to a University of Michigan study, there are more new and used RVs in use today than ever before. Seven million RV-owning households have discovered that RVs provide a comfortable, convenient and stress-free means of travel. With the fully equipped kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and baths found in today's RVs, travelers can enjoy all the comforts of home while on the road.

Not only in the winter, but all year long.

Order a free RV "getting-started" DVD or CD-ROM at 1-888-Go RVing or GoRVing.com. Surf the website for lists of Go RVing dealers and campgrounds in your area, as well as RV shows, publications, rental sources and clubs. Or write to: RVIA, P.O. Box 2999, Dept. P, Reston, VA 20195.

RVIA (rvia.org) is the national association representing more than 550 manufacturers and component suppliers producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States.

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