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Old 09-19-2014, 11:22 AM   #29
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Never had a camper growing up, and my dad wasn't big on camping. Had done some tent camping when we first got married, and bought an Airstream on a whim. We've gone out twice in it, and I've been working on and off on it for 3 years, and dropped probably a total of $10k into it. However, when done, it will look completely original and act completely modern. I wonder how much I will use it when I'm done. I have 2 boys, so I expect much, but we'll see...

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Old 09-19-2014, 01:56 PM   #30
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Airstream sets the standard - lowered that it may be currently - for towable trailers ... as well as for conspicuous consumers.

Some folks have a place at the lake ...summer home ... ski home ... etc.

[Those have both direct and indirect costs associated with them ... then there are the opportunity costs for the $$ spent (but not really invested) on the acquisition of the particular AS. It is truly an addiction ... a case of terminal aluminitis for us.]

We have all of that wherever/whenever we want - without the hassle of real estate ownership or time-share woes. Been there, done that. We choose the AS lifestyle. And, we don't really miss the aspect of the sailboat until we see a regatta under spinnakers... then it quickly passes and we sit back and smile inside the AS.

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Old 09-19-2014, 03:26 PM   #31
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Please excuse this wild tangent, my mind is racing all over the place.

Oddly enough the "cost of ownership" never once crossed my mind. Yes I did look for a deal, but I've never been one of those folks who objects to things that others might find pointless.

I've always been one of the types who doesn't see his vehicles as a tool to get from point A to point B either. Guess that's why I've always been a gear head. Every vehicle has it's own personality and flare. Others have no personality and are dull.

I see SOB trailers as having no personality and being beige. Trapped in a love affair with the design aesthetics of the 90's.

My 1980 Stingray Corvette is a boat. Doesn't handle well, it isn't fast, rides like a truck, but man, what a car. The engine sounds mean and she gets lots of attention and is A LOT of FUN to drive around in with the t-tops off.

A Toyota Camry might be a better car, but it will never ever ever ever ever be a Stingray Corvette.

We had access to funds to buy and Airstream, but we wanted to do something different than just buy an Airstream and enjoy it on the weekend. I'm sick and tired of our lifestyle, so we are downsizing.

Last March my wife left her 6 figure job to stay home with our daughter. Soon I plan to walk away from my 6 figure job as well. Although I'm going to go freelance, it won't be like the good old days.

But I know it's going to be worth it. I know a lot of folks with high paying jobs, massive student loans and feeling totally trapped and living for the weekend only.

No thanks.

We started selling everything, and we've always lived below our means, avoided debt unless leveraged, and have good savings and investments. So the transition hasn't been too hard. The hard part has been all the work required to actually downsize your life. And getting ready to hit the road. It really can't be done in a weekend unless you just want to give everything away.

Aside from the fact that SOB trailers tend to have interiors designed in 1987 with wonderful floral prints, and wood trim everywhere.... I spent my summers camping with my grandfather, and those shiny Airstreams always stuck out.

Eventually my grandfather had one for a few years. The natural chime and character of the Airstream, the iconic and TIMELESS design. That's what drew me to Airstream.

We knew we wanted to travel. When we had a family and realized a Westfalia Vanagon wasn't really for us, the next thing in my mind was the Airstream.

Oh yeah, a Westfalia. See, now maybe you understand this gear head.

Gosh, that probably didn't make a lick of sense, but I'm posting it anyways.

Pretty sure I just typed up my internal monologue too.
Family of 5 exploring the USA with a Ram Power Wagon & Airstream in tow.
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Old 09-19-2014, 06:31 PM   #32
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There are two concepts at work here: Cost and Value. As long as the value you get is worth more than the price you pay, you've come out ahead.

So, the question becomes, is the value of your sanity and your enjoyment and your fond memories greater than the price you pay for your Airstream? In my case it is. I bought my Airstream a couple of years ago when I started thinking about retirement. I've known too many people who died soon after they retired because they had no idea what to do with themselves without a job to occupy their time. I decided I didn't want to be one of those people.

By buying before I retired, I had a chance to get my feet wet, so to speak, and see if I liked it before I committed to retiring. Every camping trip was "retirement practice." Having confirmed that, yes, Airstreaming is a viable hobby to keep me active and alert through my retirement years, now it's time to actually retire. 104 calendar days and counting until I take that step!
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Old 09-19-2014, 06:51 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Having confirmed that, yes, Airstreaming is a viable hobby to keep me active and alert through my retirement years, now it's time to actually retire. 104 calendar days and counting until I take that step!
Congrat's on your 104 days (and counting)!

I find it interesting that you articulate an airstream as a retirement hobby. Most people would not consider something like a trailer a hobby, but they actually are.
Or at least they are in our retirement!
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:04 PM   #34
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I am a lover of cars and motorcycles and so I have always lusted after VWs, BMWs and Porsche Cars and also BMW, Triumph and Ducati motorcycles, so when it came time to go after a travel trailer, that is a pretty easy prediction. You have the SOB white boxes and the Airstreams. That is a no brainer.

I also love to travel. The SOBs are fine for short trips; the construction and suspension are just not made for long distances.

Then add in all the reasons that AirsDream provided so well in post #10.

Cost was never a factor in buying an Airstream. I bought a 1984 31' in 1999 for 10k because that is what I could afford. It was quite similar to the brand new ones at the time that cost about 60k.

Airstreams are expensive if you buy a new one or a next to new one. If you buy an older one or a vintage Airstream that has been well cared for they are not expensive at all. Vintage Airstreams don't depreciate.

Now having said all that if we had a pile of money and my wife wanted a new 2015 model with the ducted air, I would get one for her. However knowing her as I do, she would probably consider this to be a waste of money as we already have two Airstreams that will serve our traveling needs quite well. I would agree with her.

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Old 09-19-2014, 10:25 PM   #35
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The fact that old AS trailers are still viable is part of the charm for me. I spent my youth in an era where you didn't throw things away when they broke, you fixed them. We now live in a throwaway society where everyone craves the latest model. A lot of it is junk that can't be fixed.

My wife and I bought a Waring blender, chrome base, real glass, when we got married. That thing is still kicking 18 years later and still looks beautiful. We also bought a Kitchen Aid mixer that's built like a tank, and still survives. With all the attachments it's like the tractor of the kitchen. These things will be handed down to our kids.

I've watched people take the cheap route and end up spending more money than those that bought quality in the first place.

Keep your plastic and fiberglass. Aluminum for a TT, and wood for boats. :-)
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:29 PM   #36
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TD; this is for you ... from the back of our previous AS...
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:43 PM   #37
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I'm with you, Tomy: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" has been my lifelong motto--or you could just call me cheap. But so many things today are made so poorly they hardly last throwing away the packaging.

But Airstreams are still made with care and pride. (Perhaps not up to perceived standards, but maybe we just expect too much from this icon.) We own vintage A/Ss, and they will outlast us, for sure. We may lose money on restoration vs an eventual sale price, but we have the satisfaction of having saved something well worth the effort and cost, plus the fun of the resto and using it afterward. I can't imagine owning any other brand.

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Old 09-20-2014, 10:34 AM   #38
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A trailer, any kind, is great for back country camping. There are no motels, hotels or Dude Ranches that serve everyone's taste in the great outdoors. An Airstream, so far in my experience, has held up very well in the past and breaking in another Airstream will find the same or similar weak points and those can be improved for our camping preferences.

The "Holiday Inn is camping out for us" crowd believes they have a better deal than the owner of a travel trailer. This is where many of we travel trailers owners depart from the motel/hotel to independent camping. It is not worth debating as the personality types are so divergent, that the discussion becomes a lost cause for both... yet the Airstream owner's have it... right.

1- Hotel/Motels cost $40 to $150 per evening. It has been so long, I can only see the Motel 8, 6 and 5 prices on their lit signs... so have no clue today for rooms, other than New York City which... rent by the inch. Ouch. Campsites for travel trailers vary, but are more reasonable than physical stationary camping within a structure (Hotel/Motel).

2- Most National Parks, State Parks and Public Lands have access to trailers at the cost of entry. Often Free at Public National Forests, Grasslands and Bureau of Land Management lands. Many pay entrances to Parks are at a reduced price or free for the ... retired active adults. Often these campsites are within the outdoors that the hotel "campers" will never experience, but think they are in the outdoors.

3- The gasoline to get you to a Hotel/Motel is a cost to take into consideration when you look at your cost with a tow vehicle and trailer. It might be 40% more to tow your home over a Hotel, but you also do not have to unpack, pack or purchase things you forgot to pack on a trip. The trailer is a miniature home that can change the scenery with the turn of the ignition.

4- Food. We only will take food we like. We know spoiled chicken before it is cooked. In our trailer travel we have never suffered from a "bad meal". The cost of trailer cooking is a fraction of restaurant meals. Although, in Las Vegas... the Casino's offer a wonderful deal to keep you in the area and we do indulge in meals while traveling, but not always.

5- Both Hotel and Trailer travelers pay for taxes upon their modes of transportation. Trailers get hit pretty hard at first and decline over time. Home owners pay real estate taxes. Some full timers with a trailer are from States that have no trailer taxes, only plates and registration fees. Oregon and Florida come to mind. Some Hotel travelers fly to the destination, rent a vehicle... another way to look at it.

6- An Airstream is comfortable at an RV Park with full hookups, camped in the wilderness using the Airstream's self contained power and facilities or cross country traveling and stopping at a Highway rest area, Walmart or just a mile off the highway for catching an evenings rest and early start in the morning. A Hotel traveler is stuck in the system and whipping out the credit card to all the smiling proprietors, who have a travel trailer parked out of sight.

7- The Western USA and much of Canada has an unlimited number of options available to camp, bike, hike, swim and any other interest one may have. The Hotel traveler is usually confined to... well... hotels and people. Which is fine, but if I wanted to be around crowds, I would not need a trailer to do that. The Hotel traveler needs to get up early, eat, figure out where to go, fills up the gasoline tank and find an Airstream parked in these same woods. The trailer has the awning out, lawn chairs, kids and dogs running around the woods... as the car drives by and their kids are "wishing they were out playing instead of cooped up like poultry and getting car sick, plucking feathers from one another".

8- As I keep going on this list of trade offs, costs and benefits of traveling in our Airstream or any other brand of travel trailer... any incidental costs of owning a trailer far outweigh the hotel option. As you do not need to justify the costs of owning a travel trailer, it does give me, at least, satisfaction in knowing that when all costs are figured into the mix... we are such a lucky small minority of travelers. The costs of owning and living in our trailers, would otherwise go to a hotel owner, providing meals at a charge and the appearance the safety of numbers.

Many trailer owners are independent thinkers. They are comfortable in a city and in the deep forests, empty prairies of Wyoming, high mesas of New Mexico or just laying back outside Tucson, Arizona at a beautiful State maintained RV Park. The relaxation of these options is well worth any cost(s) I could not think of for this post.

When it is all said and done and any of us decide that we are too old to travel... we hook up the Airstream and find that those who are too old to travel are those riding in a large tour bus, given two hours to see and return, maybe make new friends or not... but Airstream owners are already friends. We live the lifestyle we choose and are flexible... well some are flexible, but while we traveling the highways and seeing an Airstream going the opposite direction, the first thought is... I wonder where they have been?

Airstreaming is a life style choice. You could have a pop up camper, the same spirit resides within. Maybe the Airstream is a bit of over kill, but I shrug my shoulders and think to myself "so what". So is wearing a suit and tie while on the tour bus through Yellowstone Park. ... so what. Have great trips planned before you find yourself on that Tour Bus hell. That is what we are all about...
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Old 09-20-2014, 10:42 AM   #39
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I think the word hobby is a little light in post #32 above.

I see our Airstream becoming a full time job keeping all systems and parts operational. Trying to do much of this myself will help keep the olde brain from turning to mush. My life experiences to date have provided me with air conditioning/furnace service experience, plumbing experience, electrical experience and general fixit experience.

I hope to attend a few Vintage trailer events to learn the "secrets" of keeping all the balls in the air at the same time.
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Old 09-20-2014, 11:26 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by switz View Post
I think the word hobby is a little light in post #32 above.
Not at all. I'm not getting paid for it, so what else would you call it?
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Old 09-20-2014, 11:29 AM   #41
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It is a hobby and passion for me. Used to be cars...but after 30+ years in that business, the magic is gone. I still have a passion for mechanical things, brainstorming issues, using tools, and fixing better than it was, and the AS certainly provides that pleasure. It is a hobby and a passion.

"If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." - Red Green
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Old 09-20-2014, 01:51 PM   #42
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We had spent a great deal of money every year with our small kids in condos on the beach - cabin rentals - hotels - enjoyed ourselves but as the kids go to sleep (around 8pm) we are stuck in a box to watch TV all week at night and during their naps (2 hours let day on avg)

In our trailer we spend the evenings with our kids around the campfire and as they go to sleep we stay up and enjoy the outdoors

The whole experience for us is incredibly more pleasurable

We used to get to a condo in the minivan - unpack - go grocery shopping for some stuff - eating out meant fighting some crowds - then dragging beach stuff out then back inside - then when leave pack all back up including trying to keep refrigerated foods in a cooler

It was not for us ideal

Now we pack up all we need for our trip - and when we get there we take no time and we are simply enjoying

Coming back from activities with kids stuff just goes in bed of truck or stuffed under the truck

If kids are sandy or dirty - spray em off outdoors with outdoor shower.

All meals often are enjoyed outdoors

Time spent in the condo itself is not all that meaningful for us.

We could do the same for less money but boldadventure covered that aspect nicely

We also can use it more often for local weekend getaways for very little money which we do

It allows me to go on a camping weekend on the lake of fishing - big fire - beer - and no one around for a mile or more.

It let's is meet up and camp with other family - my sister and her two girls have camped a bit with us and they will camp a full week with us next year on Tybee island and they will pay the rent for campground - it's cheap for them and after Camping with us - my nieces greatly prefer

Our unit when we retire in a million years will serve us very well - going across the US - visiting our family. I kinda hope that my kids in college may still wanna meet up with mom and dad for a week of camping when they are able.

We are now spending on par with our annual spending for other trips now and eventually it will cost us substantially less.

Is the cost worth it? Probably not - but don't try and tell our family otherwise cause we ain't havin' it!!

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