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This Is RVing 100 Years Ago (+9 Other Decades)

The boomer generation makes up the largest percentage of RV travelers today. It makes sense. They’ve worked hard and now they’re playing hard.

But what did RV camping look like when the boomers were just babies? Or, even before the boomers were born?

Today we’re taking a stroll down memory lane as we look upon RV camping of the past.

These 10 photos will surly spark nostalgia!

#1 Is this the first RV ever?

Before RV manufacturers swarmed upon Elkhart, Indiana, many Americans make their own RVs. Is this the first-ever RV, or maybe the first “van conversion“?

#2 Camping & Chill

Long before cellular internet and Netflix, campers simply chilled. Here’s a 1960s photos of two ladies kickin’ it at an RV campground.

#3 RVers Have Always Loved Their Toys

Some things never change. Here’s a group of pop-up campers in the California desert. They’re about to hit the trails on their motorized bikes!

#4 RVs Stuck in the Snow

Truck campers were more popular back in the day (before Class A RVs became all the rage). Here’s a Ford & Chevy. Guess which one gets stuck in the snow?

#5 Sorry Chevy Lovers, This Truck Camper Couldn’t Hang

The Chevy needed a little help from the Ford to get unstuck.

#6 Badlands National Park Looks The Same

Here’s the beauty of National Parks; the government does an amazing job preserving them. In this photo yo can see campers driving the scenic loop. It looks the exact same as it does today!

#7 RV Shows Are Basically Unchanged

Other things that don’t change…RV shows. The fact is, Americans enjoy touring RVs. Here’s what RV shows looked like when Boomers were just wee lads.

#8 Never Feed The Bears

This camp host is setting a bad example. Never feed, play, or get too close to bears at the campsite!

#9 Tin Cans for Days

Along with truck campers, tin can trailers were also very popular. They were light and easy to tow. Here are two looking pretty stylish.

#10 One More Truck Camper for Good Measure

Let us know if your parents traveled in any of these RVs!

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  1. Jack Sanders says:

    I remember going to Alaska with my parents in a truck camper 1969 after graduating from high school. Thanks for the memories.

  2. Don Morgan says:

    Loved lying on the over cab bunk in my dad’s trunk camper and looking out the front window as we went down the road.

    Also used the camper to haul my bands gear to our local gigs ( 1970 ) .

  3. Christie Abbott says:

    That’s where my brother and I rode, for miles and miles! Great memories of camping with my family in the 60s.

  4. kjowens39 says:

    i also remember going to Alaska in 1959 with my parents with A 56 GMC and A Travel Queen slide in camper. I didn’t want to go then I didn’t want to go home. It has changed lot since then.

  5. David Yates says:

    Sorry the picture pulling the chevy truck out the vehicle doing the pulling looks awfully close to a Jeep, not a Ford truck…

  6. Cheryl Bacon says:

    In the 60’s and 70’s my parents had travel trailers. A lot of people had rv’s and/or boats where I grew up. We lived surrounded by water and were also lucky having 3 state parks within a bicycle ride or a short car drive away. We also had the mountains a few hours away. It was funny when it came to my friends, I had my home/school friends and my camping friends. When my dad was transferred, soon after my high school graduation, they sold everything and we lived in the travel trailer full time. They were going to buy a motorhome after we moved, but life has a way of throwing curveballs.

  7. Kathy Niemeyer says:

    Both my aunt and uncle worked building travel trailers and pop ups in the 60’s and 70’s. They lived in Elkhart. I have great memories of camping with them in June of 71 in their 1967 pop up. We did the “grand tour” of the Painted Desert, Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Disneyland, and Knotts Berry farm. No air conditioner in the pop up and no air conditioner in the car. No bathroom or fancy kitchen. Really just a place to sleep and it was wonderful. I repeated this trip with my husband in 2006 but we stayed in hotels, (not as fun).

  8. Mike Kemp says:

    My folks bought their first RV at the County fair in LA in 1961. It was a Terry trailer that looked like a cab over camper. Dad pulled it with a 59 Chevy Impala.
    Us boomers that know what that car looked like can guess what happened the first time Dad turned to tight towing it. Being the oldest I got to sleep in the front over hang. My folks slept in the rear fold out couch. My sister slot in the hammock that folded out over the rear couch. My little brother slept on the table that made into a bed just like RVs do today. It had a hand pump for sink water. Propane stove and heater and no bathroom. First trip was to Death Valley in the winter of 61.

  9. Rick Driver says:

    Our first camper was a Happy Times truck camper like the last picture. Great times back in the mid 70’s. 4 rv’s later still at it in a class A.

  10. Steven E Anderson says:

    There are photos (actually prints) of the “first motorhomes”. They where modified Fords, model Ts or As, that had Canvas added to them to create the Camper area. Then rolled up onto the Roof for highway use! Remember, years ago, the back doors could open to the rear, to give more space!

  11. Jan says:

    In 1974 my Dad ordered a new truck camper for his 1972 Ford pickup. We travelled an epic trip out west to see his family along the way and I got bitten by the long distance travel bug ever since!
    To this day, I dream of my next journey to explore the highways and byways, and the taste of being one with the beauty of nature.
    I have no fear of taking a 4000-6000 mile trip with no plans whatsoever like gas/food/RV parks along the way, I just study a route with no gps and go for it!
    On a wing and a prayer!🙏

  12. Thanks for the memories, youngbloods.
    Conceived, atwoperson post Korean War army tent.
    Hopefully, your daughter is well.
    My, how camping has changed.
    Marriage, strong.

  13. Frank and Phyllis says:

    Very interesting we have started a little late in life but still plan to do it from ohio to the west coast and back as soon as wife gets better.

  14. Lisa says:

    I keep signing up for the fifty free camping sites but they never come…..

  15. Steve says:

    You called old 1960’s travel trailers “tin cans”, they’re called canned ham, because of the shape of them.

  16. Gary says:

    signed up for the free camp sight list many many times still don’t have one. what’s the deal, is there a list?

  17. Jim Steelman says:

    My first RV was one of the Dodge conversion vans like the one shown in picture #7. I bought it around 1990 for $3k, used it a couple times and sold it a couple years later. Things sure have changed since then.

  18. Richard says:

    I think the free campsites they are talking about is boondocking with the US forest or BLM those are on the internet ……….

  19. Doug says:

    Is a bear box worth it. I would say hole heartedly yes. I can still remember a trip to the smoky mountains where a newbie left they’re for in the car with the window open. Just a crack but enough for the bear to get a good sniff. Well in the morning the campers awoke to find the door of they’re car gone and all the food everywhere but in the cooler. So is a bear box worth the time.
    I think that couple would say yes too.

  20. Bob Schroeder says:

    To #11. Jan.
    On a wing and a prayer??? Isn’t that the only way to go camping???
    We bought a 1979 Holiday Rambler travel trailer in 1990 and traveled all over the

    us with it.

    it was a 19 footer. we traveled with our 7 foster kids. That was much fun. For what it’s worth, I’m about to turn 80 and wife is 81. We have NEVER made reservations at campgrounds. I guess we should have one night. We were headed to Miami with the foster kids in the big bend area of Florida. We went from campground to campground. All were 55 and over. They wouldn’t let us in. Finally found one that let us in. Had to back up a little bit. There was no light in the campground. Wife was backing me up. She failed to look up. I would have too. I Backed the trailer into the branch of a large tree. We got to Miami with the right rear of the trailer full of duct tape holding it together. Needless to say, we looked up after that! When we parked at the campground, everyone looked at that raggedy trailer, the 1978 Ford van Holiday Rambler conversion, and all the little kids that came bounding out of the van and wondered what in the world was going on. That trip was so funny I still laugh about it.