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Old 02-26-2016, 02:45 PM   #1
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Full Timing: Greenhorn Airstream Owner

I am Full Timing with our Airstream parked in our RV garage attached to our home. This the best option. Experience tells me that to Full Time I must give up many things taken as necessities.

Our Airstream is comfortable. We can carry two weeks of water. Two weeks of food. If we conserve, even longer. Four weeks is easily attainable with planning ahead. We and our two Blue Heelers are... SFT's.

Seasonal Full Timers. There is a time and a place for our traveling in our Airstream.

Before you begin to become too critical of my introduction, let us look at how YOU live at the moment... not in a trailer of any size... but at your home with electricity, gas and water.

What are you willing to give up to go from a house to a trailer? Be realistic.

- How often do you shower?

- What room temperature ranges do you tolerate?

- Do you have a pet(s)?

Clothing. Segregate in your closet at home those clothes required for Full Timing.

Tools, appliances, hardware... needed for your crafting/sales or job.

How many pairs of shoes, boots, slippers do you... require?

What is your monthly budget? Can you afford full hookups at a RV Park, or are you Base Camped with no overhead costs other than your own.

How far must you commute to work? How often? Are these Part Time or Seasonal Full Time, or what?

Are you hauling bicycles, canoes, boat, floats, fishing equipment, gasoline powered generator, fuel, dog food, water jugs, etc....

Now that we have settled on what you need... remove HALF. Now you are serious about full timing in your Airstream.

I could live a week with what I carried in my 1956 VW Bug with a tent and sleeping bag Off the Grid in the Rocky Mountain region. I could, as I did. Anyone asking questions about Full Timing on this Forum... need to do their homework. There are hundreds of Threads on this Forum alone that you should have already read and taken notes. Most threads with this question have not even stepped out side and looked at a trailer for sale in the winter of Minnesota. Life requires some Common Sense.

Anyone serious about Full Timing cannot use the advice of someone full timing in Tucson, AZ or Palm Beach, Florida. PRICE a RV Park during the winter months versus the summer months in these areas. Do your homework.

Solar during the Winter in the northern Latitudes? Does the sun during the day in International Falls, MN keep you warm standing outside? Imagine a trailer where the heat is as fleeting as the sun, this time of year.

Before you make the big leap to Full Timing... check the local RV Parks. Some people have choices, some do not due to financial reasons. Ask questions. Then make a decision from accurate local information.

Myself. Full Timing requires a person or couple who can earn an income and can move with the Seasons. If you have no skills that can be carried in your tow vehicle or trailer... you had better have a big, fat savings account.

You will need it.

Human Bean
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Old 02-26-2016, 04:42 PM   #2
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We go back and forth whether to sell the house and go full timing when we retire. You really have to be minimalists to full time. We feel with our both our Social Security we could full time. Worse case is to withdraw a little out of our savings and investments every month and by the time we are 70 1/2 we will be forced by the Feds to start withdrawing from our 401ks. We would use full timing to search for another location to possibly lay down roots before we end up in a nursing home. The older I get, the less stuff I desire. Lets face it, when you own a house you have to fill it up with furniture and other money consuming objects, you have to maintain it, mow lawns, constantly putting money into a money pit. If I desire something its to replace something it is fore something I already have and so far all I desire right now will fit in our Airstream (new laptop and accessories, camera). We are more interested in seeing stuff, experiencing stuff, living a healthier lifestyle than sitting around a house and paying a mortgage, property taxes, home insurance bills, high electric and gas rates, and cable TV.

So to prepare for possibly full time I'm working on upgrading our Airstream to support this lifestyle.

Looking at the way the elections may end up we will probably be better off somewhere on BLM land in our Airstream than holed up in a house.


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Old 02-26-2016, 05:37 PM   #3
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Full timing in an Airstream TT isn't the
only option. Airstream did make very roomy motorhomes.

Sent from my iPhone using Airstream Forums
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Old 02-26-2016, 06:48 PM   #4
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Full-timing: check!
Greenhorn Airstream Owner: check!

We moved into our Airstream a month ago and are now slowly heading west. With the exception of some boxes sprinkled among family members along with some artwork, everything we own is with us. Downsizing took two years and the last month was hell. But now the pain of letting go of almost everything is largely forgotten and I'm really happy we didn't resort to a storage unit. We have too much in the truck, but over this next year we hope to jettison a lot of it when time proves it's not needed. Every week we get rid of a little more.

We just retired and don't need to earn an income. No pets. Can move with the temperatures. We still have a long way to go to learn how to make the gray tank last longer. Yes there's a lot to learn, but we'll figure it out. Our motto -- every day's an adventure!
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Old 02-26-2016, 06:57 PM   #5
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Ray and Fresh...we are not even SFT's yet but following these threads help me through the off season. And good luck on all your travels. Many of us will enjoy going along.
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Old 02-26-2016, 09:13 PM   #6
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"I am shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in here!".... Casablanca.

Same applies to those who actually planned well for their Greenhorn Full Timing Adventure. Sometimes a situation forces someone to consider Full Timing in their trailer. Some manage. Most will not. Those who do manage already understand what Full Timing requires of an individual.

Strong Will. A workable Plan. Enough finances to cover unexpected costs. ...and a few pages of other things not even considered.

These recent posts are true stories of those considering Full Timing. Not a television commercial with smiling faces camped full time on Venice Beach or in the woods with a group of giddy twenty somethings dressed for a wedding rehearsal in the forest. These people would not even know how to find their way off the movie set.

Full Timers do not need to keep paying for a storage unit full of couches and unusable furniture. That cost will cover the propane and more each month. If it is in storage, as much as it might hurt... sell it all. In three years the mice, mildew and those Storage Unit auctions will be the only people benefitting from your junk. Create new memories and leave the rest to others.

Full Timers have a plan. Not just a dream, but a viable plan.

The dreamers... never seem to have a plan. Just a dream and it stops when out of money, out of fuel and the trailer's batteries are dead. Full Timing is hard and difficult, at first. Stop by a RV Park and talk with the Full Timers. I have. Many have interesting stories. Many actually enjoy moving with the seasons and find long term friendships over the years. They know all of the best places to set up, the costs, how long you can stay and when to move when the seasons change. They are bright and intelligent people. They are restless and actually do not stay too long at one place. Much like hummingbirds traveling far and wide, but always following a pattern as the Seasons change.

The financial costs of Full Timing in any trailer or RV are more than you think. Unless you are handy with tools and able to haggle on parts or work with sweat labor for a repair... you may not have what it takes.

It helps to have a monthly retirement check being deposited into a bank account every month. Or income from an investment. When the money runs out, the dream is gone. The trailer is gone. The tow vehicle departs towards the sunset. It is 15F outside. It is not a pretty scene.

Being "able" to Full Time and "doing it" are two entirely different decisions. Security for the first and Risk Takers as the second. Most people I know cannot last three days camped in a tent. Total chaos. Confusion and bewildered. Not everyone is cut out to do this.

I admire the thought. My wife and I enjoy the independence of traveling in our home on wheels. But... to Full Time at one place where the seasons go from -20F to 90F... you can do better. Only a few can manage to last Full Timing. Those are the people you need to meet and understand, before going out on your own.

The majority of Full Timers are financially secure. They may even appear to be unshaven and wearing worn clothing and shoes. Do not let that fool you to believe it is easy. Their home is a $200,000 RV.

Sit down and plan your dream. Consider interviewing people at a RV Park or campground about their experiences and how they managed to find a way to survive. The majority are living their dream, temporarily. Tomorrow... you are buying their trailer as their dream was just that. A dream... Not a plan.

When you have come to a decision... tell us how, what and why. There is no one single way to enter Full Timing in a trailer. The failure to do so has thousands of reasons. Knowledge in this area is scarce. I have taken the time to offer my experiences for all to judge. This would be a great opportunity to hear YOUR "rest of the story".

(To have done something and failed, is better than doing nothing and succeeded.)

A dream must be planned in reality. Otherwise reality will win every time.
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Old 02-27-2016, 10:42 AM   #7
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Love this thread

My wife and I are going full timing this July in our 2001 30' Airstream with an end date of some years or decades in the future.

I have told my employer my last day in the office is July 1st.

Our home is for sale and we have a potential buyer in negotiations.

For the last two years we have been selling or donating everything (everything) we own and are getting close to that goal. Most remaining stuff will be sold once we are in the last few weeks of escrow. If it doesn't fit in the rig, we are selling or donating. Nothing will be placed in storage.

We will live off the equity from the sale of the house and 40 years of putting 20% of my salary in a 401K.

We do not know anyone who has done this, although we have tent camped for weeks at a time since the 70s. We bought our AS and Ram diesel a year ago and we have taken them out for many 2 week 'test trips' at various sites. Currently we are having various proactive maintenance done on the AS to prepare her for full timing.

We are blogging the preparation to take off in July and then will blog the adventure. You can read about it at

Hope to see you on the road.
2001 Excella 30' (Beauty)
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Old 02-27-2016, 10:48 AM   #8
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I came up with some ideas to present to newbie trailer owners that want to Full Time. Making the change from a home to a trailer takes some thought. Going from a Full Timing Trailer life back to a Home... is EASY.

Tools. What tools do you need to include? What sizes and number of nails, screws, plumber's tape, oil, fuses, electrical tape, soldering iron, spare lengths of wire, brake adjustment tool, duct tape, kinds of philips and straight edged screwdrivers, socket sets, breaker bar for lug nuts, tightening tow balls, grease, shovel, battery charger for battery operated tools, computer, cell phone, jumper cable, rope... and on.

What kind of hammer? What kind of shovel? Need a tarp? Outside floor mats.

Cooking utensils. Outside propane cooking stove as an option for frying inside. Cutting utensils. Measuring cups. Cleaning supplies. Hats. Flashlights. Medical supplies for headaches to tweezers to pull out fine stickers from yourself or pets, and so on.

The next thing you know, the tow vehicle is full. The trailer exceeds the maximum weight, as does the tow vehicle.

In 2006 I weighed everything that went into our 23 foot trailer and wrote it down. With the weight maximums... for each trailer... you had better recheck your trailer's capacity. Also your tow vehicle's capacity. Your tire ratings. It got to the point that what we wanted to take, exceeded our capacity to safely carry it on board.

Was our trailer too short, too long or just just right?

How many empty water containers might be needed to camp without water? How often does a dump station be found for your grey and black water usage?

This is an abrupt life style change. I have to admit that it would be very difficult for us to Full Time with a life time of experience... you never have everything you may need when... needed. The trip you do not take something... you need it.

We would be very interested in knowing how someone who is an active Full Timer figured out the delicate balance. It would be an eye opener to most. Myself included.

Full Timing is not being at a RV Park, with a metal shed, motor cycle under a tarp, cartons of stuff in the shed and a framed patio cover. Although this is what I find the normal Full Timer. A house on wheels with what was stored in a house. And maybe this is where I am wrong thinking being self contained and leaving the trappings of the past, left behind.

Where does one draw the line? Does one need to live the life of a Spartan? Only what you can carry, or dropping anchor and living full time month to month at a RV Park for $500 a month?

The image of Full Timing varies as much as the personalities. None are better nor worse, but the "image" and "reality" might not be the same for everyone. As you can see already... I am a Full Timing Greenhorn with an Airstream.

I have met one family with three children who full timed in their 34 foot Airstream. They were happy and well adjusted to the lifestyle. Myself... where would I put all of my rocks found on my adventures? A geologist without rocks is like a golfer without... balls.
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Old 02-27-2016, 11:05 AM   #9
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[QUOTE=JBBeaubeaux;1755128]My wife and I are going full timing this July in our 2001 30' Airstream with an end date of some years or decades in the future.

I have told my employer my last day in the office is July 1st.

Our home is for sale and we have a potential buyer in negotiations.
You are one of a thousand. You will be writing "the book" while I am still pondering which of my 20,000+ geology, archaeology, paleontology and other mundane subject books are necessary to explore the Rocky Mountains!

My last "real full time job" I quit in 1979. A promising administrative assistant at Pepsi Cola. I was not even 40 years old with a family. I could do better self employed and independent. My wife could not understand that some do not need to put in time of 40 to 60 hours a week on salary. By the second year... we were building a new home that would hold three times the junk I considered... my business inventory.

Some people will be found face first onto their desk of forty years as a farewell to fellow employees, but comfortable in spending their life, dedicated to their passion and guaranteed check at the end of each month.

Some... will eventually draw the line as life is growing with shorter expectations of a future of health and the insecurity of Social Security... It is only for the strong willed to take the least traveled path.

Our trails will cross. It may be a different individual or couple... but we all share that rare mind set. Making the best of what options are available.

You are among good company.
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Old 02-27-2016, 02:45 PM   #10
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I cashed out of Nor-Cal in 4/04, moved all my stuff to Flagstaff with a 1/2 ton ford and a uhaul. Then I drove back to Lodi for my new 40' toy house, picked up a used freight liner to haul the 5er, then back to Flag. Spent 2 1/2 years moving stuff in and selling the extra. Weighed the rig and was 25#'s over without water. I lightened the load a bit, then hit the road.
Ten years later after hauling some stuff I didn't use, I downsized to my current AS. That extra is stored in a 6' x 12' cargo trailer that I use on my winter layovers. The summers I travel with only one moto, golf clubs, kayak, settling out the load I carry in my 3/4 CTD ram as to tools and such. I have been staying in parks mostly unless traveling for a couple of days.
I'm planning on a loop thru Oregon to get the solar system then on to Sturgis and back for the Aluminumfandango.
I don't believe that you have to boondock to be a full timer, but it is an added layer in self containment. My solar upgrade will help in that.
In my travels I am looking for the place to stop when my personal wheels fall off.
See U on the road, , ,
"Chip Tank" is in Vacaville Ca..
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Old 02-27-2016, 04:29 PM   #11
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Full timing

The definition of a full time river is simple - someone who resides in his/hers rv full time. The differences come in with COMFORT! We have been full timing for one year in our AS 27 FC. Overall, it has been enjoyable, but with a number of sacrifices. I have come to the conclusion that AS trailers are not meant for full timers. Storage space is minimal, no place for toys i.e. Bikes, kayaks, etc (if you can't have these and other extras, then you can't really enjoy the rv lifestyle. Where did I put that can of beans? Pull everything out to get it. Yes, I know it sounds trivial, but the little things add up. Bench seating for relaxing??? Can't really sit at our table, we are using the space under the table for, guess what, STORAGE, just like that he shower. In one week we are trading my truck and AS in on a 40 ft. motorhome. We are counting the days. BTW, we do love the AS, but it just isn't a full time rig.
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Old 02-27-2016, 05:00 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
The trip you do not take something... you need it.
So true! But likely as important for the year-round full-timer as for the weekender or the seasonal full-timer (is that really a thing?) one could keep in mind G.K. Chesterton's quip “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

Every year in April when I start loading up the "essentials" I must remind myself that I am headed out for three months camping in the American west (where there are stores, etc.) not heading out on an expedition to the South Pole. The less I take, the happier I am. It's an exercise in letting go.

"Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands... A journey, in fact, appeals to Imagination, to Memory, to Hope,—the three sister Graces of our moral being.’
Sir Richard Francis Burton
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Old 02-27-2016, 05:58 PM   #13
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The less I take, the happier I am.

Great that Rgmhog1450 mentioned storing items in the shower.

We store extra bedding for those cold mountain evenings in the shower and an occasional case of good IPA beer while browsing the store aisles. The two sleeping bags protect the shower floor and the beer. A win / win.

'55 Airtight... said it best. Take only what you need.

I had a geologist friend who spent most of his Summers, for years, west of Kemmerer, Wyoming at his fossil fish quarry. He had a small trailer, maybe 8 feet long. Full timed the entire summer. There was a jeep track above the quarry, so he started his D-10 Caterpillar and pulled / dragged the trailer to the top. Set up a gasoline generator for power and operated the diamond saw to trim the limestone slabs. Had it been a 16' Bambi, it would have been front page news in the local newspaper.

I am a tender foot camper compared to him. He now has the trailer at a Jade Quarry in Wyoming that I wanted to take the 2016 Wyoming group to... but he is gone to Colorado for a rock show to sell Wyoming Jade and jewelry made from it. Maybe the trailer is getting closer to 9 feet by now...

We all have a different definition of Boondocking, Base Camp, Off the Grid and visiting relatives as a captive. I try to define my terms on some other threads so there is little confusion, but still get my ears pinned since some do not read through my lectures... as they see them.

The only Airstreams I have seen at a Base Camp were at Quemado, NM last year. This year that will change as more daring souls are going to take this on. These owners will understand what some of you have mentioned, first hand. I do hope they survive to report what they learned about spending ten days touring western Wyoming.

Thank you for your input.

As '55 said: "the less I take, the happier I am". That is why some travel Solo. I read that Thread as well.
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Old 02-27-2016, 06:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post

Myself. Full Timing requires a person or couple who can earn an income and can move with the Seasons. If you have no skills that can be carried in your tow vehicle or trailer... you had better have a big, fat savings account.

You will need it.

I feel a little safer posting my subjective and controversial opinion here. As we full-time with kids over the last year, we have encountered and know of other young couples who think that all their financial problems will be solved by buying an RV and full-timing, because you can camp "for free". And we have witnessed some folks burned by this process.

One couple bought an old bus, with no income didn't fix it up and with their 4 kids and $2000 to their name foolishly drove across the country. They blew through their savings replacing 4 tires and then when their engine blew in Colorado they were begging people for money. I did feel bad for them, but at the same time, I really wish someone would of said, hey you could of avoided this. You made a series of foolish decisions.

We are financially secure. And I'm now of the opinion that full-timing is better if you aren't poor. And I know plenty of fixed income retiree's living on less than 20K. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about, you have problems with money and you think full-timing will solve them. That only works for a small subset of people who want to be actual hippies and don't mind living out the back of a van.

Feel free to judge me.

It's just really nice to live our lifestyle, and not worry about what we are going to eat, or if all 4 tires blow out or if we are running out of our budget. I don't want to sound snobby, but with children I thought very long and hard about the financial component of this lifestyle.

Having solved that, we can focus our time and energy on enjoying this great country. Not worrying.

Family of 4 living, working & exploring the USA in our Airstream.
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