The Aug. 14 Business article "Right at Home on the Road" by Raymund Flandez reads like a press release for the recreational vehicle industry.

In the first five months of 2004, RV sales have increased 37 percent. But RV campsites have not increased 37 percent in Virginia in 10 years. Most campsites were built decades ago, and many cannot accommodate a 40-foot-long motor home.

The 41-year-old air-conditioning maintenance worker cited in Flandez's story is making a bad investment in buying a $159,000 motor home if he is still working. He will probably use it fewer than 30 days a year.

Camping fees are going up at terrific rates. The only RV park near the District charges $50 or more per night, and all larger motor homes are charged the highest rate. Labor rates for RV repair run from $75 to $100 an hour. If any family can go camping for the summer for $500, I want to meet them.

There are a lot of other expenses. We are "full-time RVers" in a 40-foot diesel pusher that cost $157,000 in January 2003 and is now worth about $120,000. We keep good records. At a minimum we spend $2,000 per month. Campsites in Florida are scarce and expensive. Few state parks in Maryland allow pets, and 60 percent of RVers travel with pets.

Of course, we do love it. We have been to 49 states, all but two Canadian provinces and two-thirds of Mexico. But anyone contemplating enjoying the RV life should first go online and do some research. And they should get their information from RVers, not dealers, manufacturers or trade associations.

-- Bob Pence

Grasonville