You can take it with you As an antidote to the hurried summer vacation, hit the road this fall in an RV and go wherever the mood strikes you - no matter what the road throws at you GEOFF NIXON From Wednesday's Globe and Mail August 29, 2007 at 9:38 AM EDT David Fossey is not the kind of traveller who yearns for creature comforts and convenience. For the 72-year-old Englishman, it's all about the spontaneity that comes with life on the open road, even when it leads to undesirable situations - like careening down a mountain in a 24-foot Winnebago in a ferocious snowstorm. "We had a complete whiteout. We were at 12,000 feet. We started in sunshine, had the rain, then it turned to snow," says Fossey, recalling a recent drive through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado that saw him and his wife, Janice, creep down the steep slope in their 6½-tonne motorhome. "We still kept going, but it took us about two hours to do about 30 miles," he says, adding that the drive ranks among the scariest moments of his life. "Horrendous, absolutely horrendous." Strangely enough, he says he would do it all again. "We've done all that before," he says with a laugh. The Fosseys spent 506 days traversing North America on a trip they finished last June. In Canada alone, they visited 31 national parks and 27 provincial parks.And prior to that they spent a year and a half in Europe doing exactly the same thing. "We are nomads," Fossey admits. As the Fosseys likely know better than anyone else, the opportunity to take a trip in a motorhome offers the chance to do things your own way. You go where you want, when you want and you do it at your own pace. In a way, an RV vacation is an antidote to the hurried and heavily scheduled vacation that has become standard fare for many travellers. And while motorhome travel is in some ways closer to camping than paid accommodations - you don't have to dump the contents of your toilet when you stay at the Four Seasons - it has a certain charm that many find enticing. So much so that even high gas prices have done little to hurt RV sales, especially with affluent boomers still retiring in droves. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, U.S. manufacturers delivered about 34,500 RVs in the first half of this year, down about 7.8 per cent from the year before but still one of the best years in decades. In fact, for some, the relaxed pace of RV travel is desirable enough to do year round. Those who live this vehicular lifestyle call it "full-timing." Peggi McDonald, 65, has travelled full-time in an RV for the past 22 years. She and husband John, 69, both retired from jobs in the Canadian military, now spend their time roaming the roads of North America. They no longer own a house, having opted instead for a 38-foot Winnebago. "It is our home - it just happens to be a home on wheels," she says. McDonald, who writes and blogs about RV living, says that in a motorhome, every trip is a new adventure. "It's the freedom of what's around the next bend," she says, adding that she and her husband have traversed the country at least a dozen times - and are still having a blast. This summer, they started out in Lethbridge, Alta., and headed east. "This trip, as much as we've been across this country ... has been an awesome adventure," McDonald says. "We have still travelled to places we've never been before, and the scenery is just outstanding." Those working in the motorhome rental industry in Canada say these veterans have it right: Seeing the country by motorhome is a way for people to leisurely take in the sites and scenery that Canada is known for. "The country itself is really set up for motorhoming," says Brian Gronberg, president of national motorhome rental operator CanaDream. "You've got just a plethora of campsites across this country and a support system for the motorhoming populous."Gronberg says most of the rental business in Canada is focused on the summer months, when the majority of Canadians take their holidays, but there is also heavy interest in RV travel throughout the fall. In general, he says, foreign travellers tend to take in the traditional tourist draws - the Rockies, Niagara Falls - while Canadians tend to seek out a wider variety of activities. For people who wish to take to the highway in an RV for the first time, Gronberg recommends that they do three things: Book early, consider carefully the size and type of vehicle, and make a list of the things they want to see and do. The rest, he says, is up to them. While some people will plan every kilometre of their trip, others revel in the flexibility that comes with a driveable home. "We have some guests, they show up, they've got 10, 12, 14, 20 days and they know when the plane is going to leave and they just sort of wander," Gronberg says. "That's the beauty of a motorhome: It doesn't matter where you go, there you are. You don't necessarily have to have a plan." Derek Dobson, general manager of Leisure Time RV Center in Saint John, N.B., says motorhome travel is a way for people to see what they want on a budget. "It's a fun, enjoyable way to take a vacation with a family and relatively inexpensive in comparison with other forms of travel," he says. As for the unforeseen twists and turns that come with a vacation on the road, he recommends getting a good insurance package and taking your time when driving to minimize risks. "I don't even think you can plan ahead for a lot of the issues that you run into," he says. "It's thinking ahead." The veteran RV travellers have their own tips. Fossey says first-time RV travellers should make a plan so they get the most from their trip. "You've got to have a focus. You have to know what it is that you want to get out of it," he says. He also recommends picking a smaller vehicle - one that is able to drive through all types of roads and streets - and maintaining a relaxed pace so you don't feel rushed while driving a larger vehicle than you're used to on busy roads. McDonald agrees. "Space it out," she says. "Take your time and make the journey part of the destination. You'll save fuel. You'll have more fun."