photo: Welcomia/iStock

Start Planning a Summer Escape at These Alberta RV Shows

By Craig Moy

There may be snow on the ground and an extreme chill in the air, but that just makes it more important to start dreaming about summer. You know, for your sanity. The Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association of Alberta (RVDA) is helping to bring summertime reveries a bit closer to reality at its annual Alberta RV shows in Calgary (January 30 to February 2) and Edmonton (February 6 to 9), where prospective and experienced Happy Campers alike can check out the latest trends in trailer-based travel.

We asked Dean Goerzen, operations manager at Go RV and president of the board of directors for RVDA of Alberta, about the upcoming shows and how RVs are continuing to evolve for 2020 and beyond.

What can visitors expect to see at the shows?
Both showcase the RVs that are sold by dealers in the area. In Calgary, a dozen dealers will have more than 300 of the latest travel trailers, fifth wheels, motorhomes and more. And in Edmonton there will be 15 dealers with just over 500 units on display. Aside from the actual RVs, we’ll also have numerous small vendors showcasing everything from campsites and fishing-lodge vacations to various RV-related accessories—things like hitches, solar panels and even mattresses.

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There will also be face painting, balloon animals, musical performances and other family-friendly things to see and do. And at both shows there will be giveaways for a grand prize of a $2,500 AMA gift card, plus other daily draws.

What are some of the trends in RVs that dealers will be showing off?
One of the biggest trends that we’re seeing has to do with technology. Everything in a trailer used to be controlled by a switch or a knob. Now we’re seeing a move toward Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Just as in today’s “smart homes”, many standard trailers can now be outfitted so that the electronic components, such as lights and awnings, can be controlled with a single app on your phone.

We’re also seeing a lot of millennials getting interested in RVing, because it’s a relatively affordable and very flexible way to travel and explore. One of the nice things about RVing is that you can set your own destination. You can go an hour from your house or across the country. You can use it as much as you want, but aside from gas and campsite fees, increased use doesn’t come with greater cost. And so there is also a bit of a trend toward smaller and lighter trailers that are not only less expensive to purchase, but they can be towed by SUVs—because obviously not everyone owns a pickup truck.

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Do you have any tips for prospective RV buyers?
The most important thing is to have a sense of what your needs are: What kind of towing vehicle do you have? How many people do you need to accommodate? How often do you expect to use it? When you know the answers to those sorts of questions, communicate them with the sales rep you’re talking to so that he or she can recommend a RV that’s going to work best for you—based on technical factors like the weight of the unit, as well as things like the overall layout of the interior and how much storage is built in.

And once someone gets an RV, where should they take it?
Banff and Jasper are obviously big highlights for RVers—even if you’ve already been as a tent camper or day-tripper. But also in Alberta there are also a lot of summer music festivals and other outdoor events that have overnight options for campers and RVers.

HOW TO SAVE
AMA members save 20% on tickets to the RVDA of Alberta EXPO—and receive a complimentary parking pass (while quantities last)—when purchased in advance at AMA centres in Edmonton and Calgary.