By Ashley Day and Laura Kidder
We sent two of our editors to Phoenix, Arizona this weekend for the first Good Sam Rally of the year, and their first RV show ever. They spread the word about Best of the Road, toured RVs on display, attended seminars and events, and scouted out the best vendor booths. Here’s a recap if you didn’t make it and need a little motivation to get to Louisville or Daytona.
Coolest Show Experiences
- A NASCAR simulator:The “pit-stop” signage and the “Victory Lane” at the Phoenix International Raceway set the scene and a few simulated minutes inside a tricked out (it jostled, it roared, and it had a video-game course) NASCAR vehicle once raced by Kevin Harvick drove it all home!
- Nifty giveaways:We’re pretty sure winning an RVND takes the cake, but bias aside, our favorite freebies were Progressive’s decks of cards, lunchboxes, and plush mini RVs, which may or may not be intended as dog toys.
- Vintage RV display:We’re suckers for a little history and this blast from the past was fascinating, if not a little tempting to recreate. A classic car towed a makeshift bedroom/kitchenette combo basically in a wooden box. We’ve come a long way from this set up to now be walking around luxurious homes on wheels, but the vintage trailer must’ve been mighty affordable back in the day.
- The Dog show: There’s a reason this event has gone on nine years strong: it’s adorable. If you can’t picture a canine swimsuit competition, we have plenty of photos on our facebook page from the pups parading in swim trunks, shades, sandals, and summer hats as happy as we were with some sun. In the end, 40 dogs from the local humane society were adopted on the spot, a heart-warming Good Sam Rally tradition.
Best Tips for Attendees
Gone With the Wynn’s kicked us off with great advice for new RVers, but we saw a few veterans who can help anyone attending enhance their experience with the simplest of steps.
- Keep your cool.It was HOT in sunny Arizona and we hear it is at most shows. In addition to comfortable walking shoes, we recommend packing a hat or visor, fan, cool clothes, and plenty of water. Our booth’s fan was an outright attraction.
- Time is money.We saw two essentials to save time and money: address labels and reusable bags, both for freebies. With dozens of opportunities to fill out raffle tickets and drawing cards, it doesn’t hurt to bring a page of address labels to avoid re-writing your name and address all day. This also helps with crowding, and a bag to hold all the handouts and giveaways you collect will keep you moving with less hassle.
- He talks, you walk. The smartest wife we saw brought walkie talkies to split with her husband every time he wanted to stop and talk and she wanted to walk and shop. This must not have been their first show.
Favorite RV Features
- Al Fresco Entertaining: Where does everyone at a party like to gather? The kitchen. Where do campers like to be? Outside. Well, the exterior kitchens on some Starcraft and Evergreen fifth-wheelers mean you get both. Not everyone’s a fan, though. As one Rally salesperson put it, “The men love it. The women miss the extra storage.” But ladies: wouldn’t it be great if he did more of the cooking?
- Tailgating: The Cyclone and Voltage fifth-wheel toy-haulers by Heartland and Dutchmen Manufacturing were extremely well-appointed–inside and out. Ramp-patio set-ups and garage areas with built-in seating/beds (one unit even had a half bath!) were open to the breezes and let in lots of light. Kitchens with islands and overhead task lighting and sitting areas with fireplaces below flat-screen TVs were among the luxurious interior touches.
- What A Trip: In terms of design, Holiday Rambler’s Trip is to motorcoaches what Apple’s iPad is to digital devices: sleek, streamlined, and oh-so user-friendly. Outside, it has a look that’s retro-cool; inside it has contemporary styling with hardwood cabinets, satin-nickel cabinet pulls, and Corian countertops. All this, and it’s comparatively fuel-efficient (15 miles to a gallon of diesel).
The best part? Meeting the RVers. At the end of the day, despite all the neat freebies, convincing demos, and tricked out RVs, the people make these shows such a hit. You’d be hard pressed to find a chattier, friendlier lot. All of them are passionate about their mode of travel, and that passion is contagious. A shout out to all the many folks from the West and to the many veterans.
Tell us your RV show tips and favorite parts of the Phoenix Rally here or on our facebook page! And keep your eye on bestoftheroad.com for new RV content on the way.