Do a quick internet search and it’s easy to find information about the expenses of traveling – whether by plane, train, automobile, or RV. But it’s less common to read about the many surprising cost savings and health benefits of road trips in an Airstream. It’s only when you’ve talked to travelers who have also explored by bus, train, and plane that you uncover some of the unexpected advantages of seeing the country with an RV.
Airstream Benefit #1: Better Food
We’ve all tried to make do with what we can source from a convenience store, and airline food is in a category of its own (when it's even an option). But towing a kitchen expands your menu exponentially.
With a refrigerator, microwave, stovetop, and grill at your disposal, fresh, nutritious, and delicious meals are easy fare anywhere. You can sample and make use of local produce while cutting down on sodium, sugar, and preservatives.
“We live in California, and we eat fairly good food, nutritious food,” says Eric McHenry, president of the Airstream Club International. He and his wife, LaVerne, travel in a 30-foot Classic. “It’s nice to be able to take that with you and enjoy better meals.”
(Check out our guide to stocking your Airstream kitchen for a list of the basic gear and ingredients to eat well wherever.)
Airstream Benefit #2: Lower Utility Bills
With a smaller footprint comes smaller utility bills, especially if you can dial down your systems at home while you’re on the road (or give up home altogether).
“Because we boondock a lot and live off of 59 gallons of water, our psyche is permanently set to conserve water,” says Airstream full-timer, Jim Beaubeaux. “Our electricity bill is pennies a day because we just don't use a lot of electricity.”
Airstream Benefit #3: More Exercise
When you’re traveling by train or plane, it’s usually difficult to do anything but sit. Sit in the terminal, sit in your seat, sit in your transportation to your destination. There’s a reason why doctors recommend compression socks.
But when your ride is essentially a ticket to some of the most spectacular natural places on the planet, you get out and do more. It’s easy to stop mid-trip and bag a bucket-list site while stretching your legs. Especially if your RV is also home.
“We live outside a lot more than we did when we lived in a bricks-and-mortar house,” adds Jim Beaubeaux. “When you only have 180 square feet, you really want to be outside a lot. So the advantage of being in a trailer is that you just naturally are going to spend more time outside, and if you're outside, you might as well be kayaking, hiking, swimming, or biking. So, the advantage is just a lifestyle that's more active.”
Tim and Ursulla Elkins also find themselves enjoying better physical health, especially since he left his job – where he worked 60 hours a week – and they began living full-time in their 30-foot Classic.
“We just made a conscious decision to move from a 2000-plus square foot home down to a 300 square foot home and use the great outdoors as our living space,” Tim says, “not necessarily live inside the house 24 hours a day.”
Airstream Benefit #4: Fewer Germs
Gas station bathrooms are the stuff of legend. And between the crowds in airports and the close proximity and recycled air inside the cabin, air travel has its own set of challenges for germaphobes. So, it’s a bonus to travel with your own cooties. It’s not hard to hop in the trailer to use the bathroom when you fuel up, and you can grab snacks and drinks from the galley while you’re at it.
“When you pull into a gas station, you don’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to,” Eric says.
Airstream Benefit #5: No Toys or Kids Summer Camps Needed
When the great outdoors can serve as both a school and an amusement park, then who needs an afterschool program or summer camp?
Since the work-from-home lifestyle blossomed during the pandemic, parents have found new opportunities to take their kids on longer trips. According to 2023 North American Camping & Outdoor Hospitality Report, camping remains an affordable, flexible option despite fluctuations in the economy.
While Molly Moore and her husband, Joe, had to rein in their four kids’ desire for a T-shirt, a patch, and a sticker at every national park (“We had to keep ourselves in check and live like we aren’t always on vacation!”), she said that they saved on clothes, games, and toys while they were living in their 30-foot Flying Cloud for several years.
And though the Moores incurred a new cost for curricular materials while they were living on the road — the kids were in public school before that — they saved on expenses like daycare, after-school care, and after-school activities. Molly and Joe continued to work, but they were able to stagger their work hours to alternately educate and care for their children while traveling.
Airstream Benefit #6: A Different Relationship With Stuff
Traveling by RV does allow you to take your favorite creature comforts — the bed pillow that you absolutely have to have to be able to sleep, or beach chairs and inflatables for the kids. But if you’ve ever wished you’d never dust another knick-knack again, then consider spending more time in your Airstream.
“There's storage, but you have to be minimalist,” Jim Beaubeaux says. “We have nothing in storage anywhere. There's no storage shed with stuff in it. If it's not in the Airstream, and it's not in our little truck, then we don't own it. We're very minimalist … which then allows you to focus on other things that are not things — experiences.”
“So what we try to do is buy economically, and then only the stuff that is really going to last. We can't buy frou-frou stuff,” Carmen says.
Airstream Benefit #7: A Chance to Slow Down
Have you ever needed a vacation from your vacation? Flight delays and cancellations, overbooked hotels, and jet lag can make a trip anything but relaxing.
Traveling by RV, however, can offer a true change of pace.
“The way that you save money in this life isn't go, go, go, move, move, move, but instead it's counterintuitive,” Tim says. “Fuel is our number one expense nowadays, so if we want to save money, all we have to do is just hunker down in one place and live life. Go on more hikes. Go on more bike rides, enjoy the outdoors a little bit more than just getting stuck in the rat race or in the go, go, go of life. Which is great.
“I think my mental health has never been better," Tim adds. "My physical health has improved slowly since I left my job. And our relationship is definitely better because we have more time with each other and less time focused on how to get more time together. So, it's great.”
Airstream Benefit #8: A Sense of Presence
It takes a lot of planning to manage a family of six. And that doesn’t go away when you’re traveling in an Airstream. But it does change.
Molly found that she spent a lot of time scoping out where she, Joe, and their four kids were going next, how they were getting there, and where they would stay.
“But when we were in that place, when we got to the Tetons, after planning it six months in advance, I was more present. I was just there,” Molly says. “I wasn't folding laundry while I also tried to pack lunches for the next day while I also was watching the kids eat their dinner and making sure they're all gonna take a bath before going to bed.”
“There was an investment of some planning. But the moments where I wasn't planning or dealing with the logistics were way more present and focused than anything else in normal life, where things are always just busy, multitasking, or asleep, you know? Once you're there, you're going to find presence in a way that doesn't exist in your normal life.”
Ready to experience the life-changing excitement of an Airstream adventure? Find your nearest Airstream dealer and schedule a visit today.