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Home Away From Home: The World Of Camper Vans And Motorhomes

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start scheduling vacations and getaways. For those looking for an alternative to their typical summer travel plans, Home Away From Home: The World of Camper Vans and Motorhomes proposes another option: Under the motto, “if you don’t like it here, all you have to do is turn the key,” the authors of Home Away From Home claim that motoring not only captures the essence of freedom — allowing vacationers to travel where they want, when they want — but also harkens back to America’s pioneering spirit.

Authors Lars Eriksen, Kate Trant, and Malcolm Bobbitt each contribute a section of the book, bringing their motorhome love and expertise to bear on various aspects of the adventurous motorhome scene.

Eriksen opens, putting the motorhome in historic context, from the covered wagons of the Oregon Trail to the development of Route 66 in the 1920s to the introduction of the renowned “shaggin-wagon,” a.k.a. the Volkswagen bus, in the ’60s.

Trant then highlights the joy of taking your portable home on the road and parking it anywhere, from sandy beaches to open fields, rather than chancing a dingy, roach-infested motel room.

While, as the recent film suggests, RV-ing brings families and friends together in a bond that is “both serious and playful” — 12-year-old Rebecca Redding relates how the family RV broke down, and she and her brother cracked up waiting for the RV to explode — some family members may become too attached to the RV itself. Many RV owners name their motorhomes, as in: “Max needs some oil” and “Max is getting a bit hot!”

For those who associate RVs with “trailer trash,” think again. In chapter three, Bobbitt focuses on the ever-evolving motorhome design, documenting everything from the streamlined tin-can, toaster-on-wheels model to the upscale, oh-so-luxurious love pad. The latter resemble chic hotel rooms, complete with flat-screen TVs, leather couches, kitchenettes, and minibars that put today’s SUV to shame.

The book concludes with a semi-serious discussion of the RV’s contribution to contemporary culture, leaving the reader wondering if minimal living really is the solution to a stress-free way of life.

Those not inclined to travel the country via RV may change their minds after reading Home’s liberating stories of adventure on the open road. Whether your RV is filled with kids, pets, and boardgames or packed with bikinis, booze, and beach towels, it’s hard to argue against the pleasures of living compact, footloose, and fancy free.

- Christina martinez

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