Traveling in an iconic travel trailer like an Airstream, Harry and I got a lot of thumbs-up, smiles and shouts of enthusiasm while we were out on the road. People were curious and constantly asked to take a peek inside of our silver travel trailer. These questions of curiosity inspired me to write a list of things "to know before you go" for first-time Airstreamers like myself.
I spent several weeks out on the road learning that Airstream living is really fun! But, as you can probably imagine, this nomadic lifestyle comes with challenges of its own. (That's where the fun begins, right?)
To decide if this type of travel is right for you, imagine settling in a different location every night and making camp in a small hotel. The catch? You’re in charge of washing your own sheets, doing the dishes and sweeping the floor. The good news? The dining room is also the living room, and the bedroom is only a few steps away, so the cleaning and tidying is done in no time!
Overall, I think you'd love Airstream living if you fall into one or more of the categories below.
- You're open to a minimalist wardrobe. While there is actually more closet space than you’d think in an Airstream, it fills up quickly with all the essentials you need on the road. I learned to choose some practical and some fun outfits, and stick to ‘em.
- You like being efficient. Get used to some short showers. Two minutes? Time is up. It’s amazing to have the luxury of taking a hot (or cold) shower after being on the road all day, but save the long soaking sessions for the rivers and lakes. You learn the importance of conservation and really pay attention to water usage when you have to physically fill up your water tank.
- You value flexibility. An Airstream provides and elevated level of mobility, since you're able to take your home along with you to beautiful and varied settings. With #AstridtheAirstream, we saw some gorgeous sunrises looking out at the Grand Tetons in Jackson, Wyoming and watched some stunning sunsets lakeside from our front steps. We’ve set up camp beneath the Red Rock canyons along the river in Moab, Utah and in a farm field by the pond behind the greenhouses in Trumansburg, New York. If you like waking up in a new place every few days, then life on the road is for you!
- You can make do without much "stuff." Even with a detailed packing list, you’re bound to forget things and chances are you’ll probably bring some things you’ll never need. When you’re traveling, you don’t have access to all the comforts of home, but you make do with what you’ve got. (And that ends up being part of the point!) #AirstreamDreams are not made by staying in your comfort zone. You’ve got to get out and tackle some challenges. At first you might just tolerate it, but then you eventually have fun in the process. You forgot coffee filters? Try using a sock! You get creative and end up laughing at the solutions you come up with. Don’t have a mixing bowl? No problem, borrow the dog’s water bowl. Thanks for sharing, Spot ;)
- You have a travel buddy. It's priceless to travel with someone you love, or at the very least, someone who makes you laugh. There are some long days, and like any adventure, there will likely be a few stressful situations. Choose your fellow adventurers wisely—my vote is for someone capable, silly, and enthusiastic. I found all that and more in Harry Yuan. Aside from being a great partner, he is also a pretty ideal travel buddy. While there were some tense moments, we generally keep each other smiling… and, neither of us even had to spend the night on the Airstream couch.
- You're a fan of local produce and creative, one-pot meals. The kitchen in an Airstream has all the necessities, but it’s definitely on the cozy side. Utilizing outdoor space like grills and picnic tables when available is a great way to expand your dimensions and prevent there being too many cooks in the kitchen. My advice is to identify a few easy recipes that come together in only a few steps. Leave the complicated coursed out French dinner for another time! You can get variety with the same recipe by mixing up the different protein and veggie combinations.
- You feel drawn to nature. Whether you already feel at home in the outdoors or have a willingness to grow more comfortable in nature, Airstream life is for you. If the thought of mud between your toes makes you queasy, or sand and dead leaves on the floors would drive you crazy, you may want to consider an alternate mode of transportation. Without a doubt, you’re going to end up bringing the outdoors in with you at some point. For example, when you’re out enjoying a serene float in the lake and a thunderstorm sneaks up on you. Or perhaps when joyfully trudge through the sunflower field just to get that perfect shot of your shiny home passing by. Vow not to let a little campfire smoke ruin your day and you’ll be set up for success. Smoky is the new sexy, right? Tousle your hair, grin and crack another beer.
- You're OK with disconnecting. Hitting the road meant getting real about surviving without internet for at least a few hours and not having a meltdown without a hairdryer. Most RV campsites have WiFi these days, or you can stay in touch with modern society relatively easily or by visiting a local coffee shop, but we’ve definitely come across places without internet. It can be a relief sometimes to be ‘out of service.’ It can be more and more difficult to focus on the present and just BE where you are. Well, being on the road can be lovely balm for those circumstances. Often, we encountered such captivating scenery that email, Instagram, and media expectations fell away. Frankly, I wish for that now! Being on the road can adjust your priorities. Working while on the road adds a certain flavor to travel, and finding that balance can take some practice. But believe me, leave the hair dryer at home. Chances are, you’re likely to appreciate your curly or frizzy hair in a whole new way, and besides it will disturb the peace, not to mention you may just blow fuse with it anyway.
In my experience, the community of people on the road are an open and welcoming bunch in real life. During our journey, we helped neighbors and received assistance in return. I can’t promise that you’ll share the same opinion on politics or nutrition, but if you’re in need, chances are someone will help.
If you want to learn and plan for your first or next adventure, there are abundant resources out there in the way of guides, itineraries, and best practices, and even packing tutorials. Airstream provides a wealth of these here on their website!
If you’re looking for inspiration or encouragement, let me just say this: you can design whatever kind of trip you desire. Whether you’re drawn to fancy campgrounds with amenities, a field of wildflowers or a desolate cacti oasis, the road can take you there, you just have to be willing to go the distance.
Travel takes you places, but it also puts you more in touch with yourself. All those hours on the road, in the woods, ultimately it’s not so much about the specific location, while it can be completely glorious. The real gain as I see it, is the confidence, depth of understanding, resolve and awareness that we carry forward with us as a result of those experiences. Travel makes a real impact on us as individuals, leading us forward on a path to greater adventure and discovery, both out in the world at large and within ourselves.
Read more about the origin of Airstream's partnership with LifeStraw as a part of our #LeaveItBeautiful initiative.