ATLANTIC CITY — For a century, Americans have been hitting the roads to an untold number of destinations and bringing the comforts and convenience of home along for the ride.
The recreational vehicle is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and it's clear the allure of the RV and its lifestyle has barely wavered, if not considerably grown, as shown by the atmosphere Saturday at the 17th Annual Atlantic City Fall RV Show at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
Crowds walked the nearly dozen rows of RVs to tour the inside and outside of modest travel trailers to larger fifth-wheel campers to massive motor homes that rival a city bus.
With amenities such as flat-screen televisions, dual recliners, bunk beds and interior and exterior kitchens, modern RVs far from resemble the earliest versions.
The first RV was Pierce-Arrow's Touring Landau, according to a Smithsonian.com article, and debuted at Madison Square Garden in 1910. The lengthy Landau included a backseat that unfolded into a bed, a chamber pot toilet and a sink.
The increased popularity of automobiles, improved roadways and the opportunity to explore fueled the creation of the RV industry.
Those concepts and others is what Jack Berry, a resident from the Scullville area of Egg Harbor Township, enjoys about owning a 34-foot travel trailer.
"Getting away to spend time with the family and it's always affordable," said Berry, who was at the show with his family.
He said they have traveled to New Hampshire and Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and everything in between. The family likes the ability to take trips and not have to worry about things such as hotel reservations, he said.
Tom Norman, a 44-year RV veteran, loathes hotel rooms.
"It's a certain comfort level to have your own surroundings," said Norman, a resident of Branchburg, Somerset County.
He currently has a 27-foot trailer and was looking for a 22-foot motor home but was unable to locate anything he liked at the show.
Norman, for one, isn't entirely interested in the endless comforts available in the newer model RVs.
"Some of the older trailers had a wider, smarter use of space," Norman said. "Today, they try to squeeze so much into one package."
Jeff Bitter, of Driftwood RV in Atlantic and Cape May counties, said the transformation of RVs to include luxurious and technological features from when they were metal cylinder campers is simply progress.
"We have things we didn't conceive (of) years ago," Bitter said.
Bitter, who lives in Galloway Township, has owned an RV as long as he has been married - 32 years - and currently has a fifth-wheel trailer that measures 37 feet and contains an electric fireplace and washer and dryer.
"It's like a second home," Bitter said. "It doesn't lack anything."
Contact Christopher Ramirez:
If you go
Today is the final day of the 17th annual Atlantic City Fall RV Show. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for children. Kids younger than 12 are free. For more information, call 800-441-0013 or visit www.affinityrvshows.com