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Old 12-17-2019, 04:38 AM   #1
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Pawleys Island , South Carolina
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Travelling Salesman Boondocking Question

Hey folks.. long time lurker.. first time poster here. ����*♂️

I'm planning to purchase my first RV in the next 2 weeks.. either a 2019 Interstate GT EXT or a 2020 version. I'm a 1099 employee that's responsible for my own expenses and I'm planning on turning all that hotel and restaurant money into RV ownership money.

Based on the systems currently onboard the stock Interstates for 19/20.. I'm wanting some feedback from the pros on how feasible my use-scenario is and to find out where my blind spots may be.

A typical day for me would be a day on the road.. and then boondocking at night.. either in a customers parking lot, Walmart, Cracker Barrel, etc. I would typically be docked from 5pm - 9am at which point I would drive to my next appointment.. typically 75+ miles away and then repeat the overnight cycle. I would typically do this 3-4 days a week in a row and would be in the RV solo.. I'd want to use heat / AC overnight, make coffee in the AM, etc.

With me driving somewhere everyday and recharging everything.. will I have to worry about anything power related? Could I run my heat or AC all night in that scenario?

I understand I may have to dump tanks towards the end of the week but from a power perspective.. is this feasible? Where are my blind spots?
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:03 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

Here are the 2 big issues I see. Others will chip in with more details, Iím sure.

1. Recharging your batteries. Solar wonít do it. With all that driving, you might want to consider a 2nd alternator for charging. You can run the generator at night, but itís really really noisy. Ask the salesman to run the generator for you before deciding.

2. A/C just isnít going to happen without that generator (see above). And the A/C itself is quite noisy. I donít know how long a tank of propane will last while running A/C, because I couldnít stand the noise long enough to test it!

YMMV!
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Old 12-17-2019, 08:00 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum!

Iím one of the few people on this forum who uses the Interstate owned by my husband and me as a work-related vehicle part of the time. I own my own business (an LLC, not a 1099, but the functional challenges are very similar).

Very briefly ó

(1) What the poster above said, times ten - there is no practical way to run air conditioning off-grid in an Interstate. Even if you spend an additional $20,000+ on upgrades, it canít be done without a great deal of hassle which includes running the generator and refilling the propane tank continually because of it. A few years ago, we had on this forum a very determined professional golf caddie who was hell-bent on living in his Interstate as he worked with his golfer who was on tour. Iím not sure how long that lasted. One of his main difficulties was needing to refill his propane tank every 2 days or so. That just is not practical.

Now, if you can find a way to structure your work such that you an plug in during hot weather, and or work in areas of the country where you donít need a/c, thatís a different equation.

(2) If I were you, I would choose a depreciated Interstate rather than a newer one. You better be making a boat-load of 1099 money to justify the price point of a newer Interstate. And BTW, IMO, if you *are* making that much 1099 money, you should be operating as an LLC for your own protection.

My Interstate is a 2007. We bought for five figures, then put, oh, I donít know - all totaled, Iíd guess at least another $25,000 into it, all under DIY labor, so that price is artificially low by market standards. Result = total investment still in the five figure range, EXCEPT we now have one of the most capable off-grid Interstates on the road today, bar none. It was a better use of investment to do it that way. But it did take a crap-ton of husband-and-wife hours to achieve the upgrades, the electrical upgrades in particular.

There are many more things I could say about working on the road out of an Airstream Interstate, but I donít even want to go there until you are sure thatís what is achievable for you - my other points might be moot, if you discover that your boondocking goals are not really do-able due to the a/c limitation.

I love it. All the DIY and money were well worth it to me, but what Iíve found over the past 5 years is that Iím the exception in that regard, not the rule. Most people start out with big dreams and then find that it canít work for them.
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Old 12-17-2019, 08:08 AM   #4
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I would add that parking for 16 hours, 7 or so of which are prime business hours, in a restaurant's parking lot would probably result in a request to move. Cracker Barrel, for one, permits overnight parking and I have done it, but typically arriving just before closing time for dinner and leaving after eating breakfast. Walmart is another story; typically not a problem where it is permitted, but not all allow it.

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Old 12-17-2019, 08:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al and Missy View Post
I would add that parking for 16 hours, 7 or so of which are prime business hours, in a restaurant's parking lot would probably result in a request to move. Cracker Barrel, for one, permits overnight parking and I have done it, but typically arriving just before closing time for dinner and leaving after eating breakfast. Walmart is another story; typically not a problem where it is permitted, but not all allow it.

Al
Copy that - thank you for the insight.
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Old 12-17-2019, 08:26 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
Welcome to the forum!

Iím one of the few people on this forum who uses the Interstate owned by my husband and me as a work-related vehicle part of the time. I own my own business (an LLC, not a 1099, but the functional challenges are very similar).

Very briefly ó

(1) What the poster above said, times ten - there is no practical way to run air conditioning off-grid in an Interstate. Even if you spend an additional $20,000+ on upgrades, it canít be done without a great deal of hassle which includes running the generator and refilling the propane tank continually because of it. A few years ago, we had on this forum a very determined professional golf caddie who was hell-bent on living in his Interstate as he worked with his golfer who was on tour. Iím not sure how long that lasted. One of his main difficulties was needing to refill his propane tank every 2 days or so. That just is not practical.

Now, if you can find a way to structure your work such that you an plug in during hot weather, and or work in areas of the country where you donít need a/c, thatís a different equation.

(2) If I were you, I would choose a depreciated Interstate rather than a newer one. You better be making a boat-load of 1099 money to justify the price point of a newer Interstate. And BTW, IMO, if you *are* making that much 1099 money, you should be operating as an LLC for your own protection.

My Interstate is a 2007. We bought for five figures, then put, oh, I donít know - all totaled, Iíd guess at least another $25,000 into it, all under DIY labor, so that price is artificially low by market standards. Result = total investment still in the five figure range, EXCEPT we now have one of the most capable off-grid Interstates on the road today, bar none. It was a better use of investment to do it that way. But it did take a crap-ton of husband-and-wife hours to achieve the upgrades, the electrical upgrades in particular.

There are many more things I could say about working on the road out of an Airstream Interstate, but I donít even want to go there until you are sure thatís what is achievable for you - my other points might be moot, if you discover that your boondocking goals are not really do-able due to the a/c limitation.

I love it. All the DIY and money were well worth it to me, but what Iíve found over the past 5 years is that Iím the exception in that regard, not the rule. Most people start out with big dreams and then find that it canít work for them.
Hey.. thank you for the note and the welcome. Great insight here.. really appreciate the thoughts. I do have an LLC and it would technically own the Interstate.

Sounds like I either need to get really good at cracking windows and using a small fan.. or ending up in places where I can plug into shore power. Thanks again!
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Old 12-17-2019, 08:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lineolated View Post
Welcome to the forum!

Here are the 2 big issues I see. Others will chip in with more details, Iím sure.

1. Recharging your batteries. Solar wonít do it. With all that driving, you might want to consider a 2nd alternator for charging. You can run the generator at night, but itís really really noisy. Ask the salesman to run the generator for you before deciding.

2. A/C just isnít going to happen without that generator (see above). And the A/C itself is quite noisy. I donít know how long a tank of propane will last while running A/C, because I couldnít stand the noise long enough to test it!

YMMV!
Great feedback.. thank you.
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Old 12-17-2019, 09:16 AM   #8
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Re: the parking comments, I have not experienced barriers in that respect. Youíd think that business owners would object for liability reasons to me parking on their property. However, the opposite has been more the case. My older Interstate with a vaulted solar panel array and WBCCI numbers on front and back... it looks like a fleet vehicle. Or a storm-chaser - people ask me why Iím driving a storm-chaser. Business owner clients generally welcome me parking on their private property because I discourage trespassers.

In part, this may be a Texas thing. Itís very common for industrial operators in particular to slap a low-end trailer with hook-ups on their property and then invite someone (typically an employee or employee relative) to live in it so that thereís a pair of eyes on the property 24/7. The trailer dwellers generally donít have to ďdoĒ anything from a security standpoint, except keep an eye out and call authorities if they see anything suspicious. Having the property manned is the best possible deterrent to vandals and thieves. It outweighs any concerns about on-property liability in many cases. Same is true of trusted mobile employees and contractors.

The most recent private property upon which I boondocked was a 300-acre surface mine site in a remote area. What a cool location that was! Only a small portion was under active mining. The rest was largely vacant wilderness. If I can get to the point of scrubbing identifying metadata from a photograph, Iíll post a pic on this thread. It was a unique opportunity to earn money and experience a camping scenario that is off-limits to about 99.99% of the people out there.
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Old 12-17-2019, 09:21 AM   #9
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Lock it up.

A big concern would be leaving you trailer in a parking lot while you're driving to appointments. If you do I'd lock it with the best wheel locks and hitch lock.
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Old 12-17-2019, 09:24 AM   #10
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Donít forget you have options to park in nearby campgrounds. Get an app like AllStays - you can see campgrounds in the areas youíre headed and usually it isnít a problem to find open spaces during a work week. You donít have to use them all the time but when very hot, youíd have AC without worries and youíd be able to dump your tanks there whenever needed. Even if you just do that once a week you might find thatís a helpful resource for you.

If youíre a member of an Elks or other similar lodge, you may find free camping available at their facilities - some with water and electric as well.

Last, if youíre a member of the Airstream club, thereís courtesy parking too and some club members may have water/electric.

Good luck! Love the thought process!!
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Old 12-17-2019, 09:53 AM   #11
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Love/hate relationship with interstates. They are appealingly salf-contained, but at 9PM when you need to make a beer run, you have to take your home with you to the nearest convenience store. If you aren't hooked up and dont have the awning up it is no big deal. But...

Trailer has the same thing going unless you have a bike you carry along... and you CAN carry more stuff along in a trailer.

Claustrophobia isn't quite the right word for any small trailer/interstate choice... stir crazy is. You definitely need more space just to chill and watch birds or people and get some exercise and human contact. Campgrounds with full hookups give you a chance to meet people, take a LONG hot shower, and maybe even go fishing, learn to play bocce ball, or swim in the pool.
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:04 AM   #12
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Oh, forgot this point.

How reliable is an Interstate as a daily driver and how long can it take to fix one?

I am a trailer person so take this with a grain of salt. YMMD. If I blow a transmission or engine on the mother truck, I can rent a big enough truck from Penske, or buy a used or new replacement vehicle in one day. You might need two days to find a shop that can work on an interstate... and you could be weeks back in hotels with a rental vehicle as transportation.
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:24 AM   #13
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I'd suggest looking into Boondocker's Welcome as many of the host locations offer 15 amp electric service, which is often sufficient to run A/C on low. We've used the service as a guest many times and have had good results.
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:27 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinshort View Post
Copy that - thank you for the insight.
In re-reading my input after your reply it seems rather curt. I was just adding to what others had said, but not welcoming. Welcome to Airstreaming and the forums and I hope you reach a good solution.

Al
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Old 12-17-2019, 10:50 AM   #15
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In areas where it cools off at night just use ceiling vent in conjunction with side windows, much quieter & energy efficient.
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Old 12-17-2019, 11:10 AM   #16
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One way to get around refilling propane tank every couple of days would be to look at switching the generator to gasoline and plumbing in to vehicle gas tank unless it is a diesel.
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:44 PM   #17
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The courtesy parking approach through WBCCI might work very well for you (of course, that would require you to join WBCCI, which is not a bad thing) ... you can arrange stays in advance. Not all would be able to provide water and electricity, but some will. Once in a while you'd have to stay in an RV park with power and water...the cost of an RV park could be part of your business expense just like a hotel room whould be. Overall I think you idea could work for you if yo plan ahead and think things through.
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Old 12-17-2019, 02:30 PM   #18
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Quote:
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A big concern would be leaving you trailer in a parking lot while you're driving to appointments. If you do I'd lock it with the best wheel locks and hitch lock.
AHHHHÖ quite right you are! (The OP is talking about a van / MH, but it's a similar concern for both MH and trailer.)

But guess what??

We have THREADS for that!

Threads that are not popular with posters who do not use their Interstates for work purposes, and therefore have no need to contemplate some of the unique security challenges associated with such a scenario.

Again, Iím going to wait until the OP develops his/her idea further, before diving into the weeds of this. But here is such a thread on this forum, and here is a doozie of a related thread on Class B Forum where the same types of issues were discussed (much to the annoyance of some, as you'll see if you read it).
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Old 12-17-2019, 03:53 PM   #19
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Welcome to the forum! If you must have an Interstate consider a small toad for business appointments then you can have hookups in a nearby campground and be more comfortable regardless of the weather.
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:53 PM   #20
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Welcome, not to be repetitive, AC is out unless you want a midsize generator. Add 2-4 solar panels to your trailer. Best single addition to a trailer. Longer battery life and much longer off grid time.
Buy used, there are many 2-5 year old trailers for sale. Welcome and good luck.
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