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Old 06-21-2009, 09:25 AM   #1
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getting started

My wife and i want to get into airstream traveling. really not sure how to go about it. If we wanted to leisurely travel from NJ to Calif taking 3 months, what kind of costs would we be looking at , i.e campground, gas, tolls, food, misc? Thanks, for any info.
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Old 06-21-2009, 10:51 AM   #2
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2008 16' Safari
Destrehan , Louisiana
Join Date: May 2009
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Gas will be a big cost. I've done this trip a couple of times.
What you spend on camping sites will very a lot. Primitve no frills (ugly) sites are about $8.00 a night. KOA camp sites can get very expensive, over $45.00 a night in some places. Boondocking or WalMart parking lot is free but you get no power, water or sewage. Longer term sites can be very nice and priced low, but you have to stay for a week or more to get the discounts. Also check your route for state parks, national forest and even some Indian reservations will let you camp.
Expect something to break. It will.
Planing the trip carefully will help you save. Draw out the route you want to run and the things you want to see. Limit your daily mileage to 400 miles and you can really enjoy the trip. There are some places that are just no fun. Like I-10 from San Antonio to El Paso.
Get a map and a notebook and get started. Try planing a shorter trip first to see what works. Just rent a trailer for the test trip.
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:06 PM   #3
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Here are a couple of items to help you get started:

* Microsoft Streets & Trips software -- Approximately $40-50. Will help you plan routes and estimate fuel usage. Also, install Google Earth (free) for more detailed information and satellite photos (really helps see what campgrounds look like before you get there). Sometimes those campgrounds that say they are "close to the beach" are actually a mile or two away, and you can't even see the ocean, let alone walk there.

* Trailer Life Directory -- Use to locate resorts and campgrounds, and to see how the facilities, access, landscaping and especially showers and bathrooms are rated.

* National Park Service Annual Pass -- I think they renamed this NP entrance card, but it will pay for itself ($80/year) the first few times you visit a National Park. You still have to pay campground and tour fees, etc.; but it will cover all "entrance fees" for your immediately family (in one vehicle) in National Park and US Forest Service parks, monuments, etc. Also, I think it is only a $10 one-time fee for seniors. See for more information, and for ideas on great places to visit!

* Walmart Road Atlas -- At $5.00, this is a bargain for a new Rand/McNally Atlas. Plus, it includes locations and services at all Walmarts and Sam's Clubs, many of which are open 24 hours and allow overnight parking. This can be valuable for breakdowns or to restock on the road, or when you get off schedule and end up having to park overnight between planned campsites.

* KOA Directory -- Some Kampgrounds are much better than others, but most are safe and have full hookups. Sometimes, that's all you need. Plus, their Web site is pretty thorough and easy to navigate compared to many independent campgrounds.
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:34 AM   #4
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getting started

My wife and I really want to thank you all for that great information, and taking the time to get back to us. I am a new member and want our retirement to be the best that it can be. It will be a new experience for us and we have lots of concerns.... Traveling is in our blood and we could be Louis and Clark... We went to look at a new airstream at a dealer and it was so nice, but we got sticker shock big time... Getting started will cost me a arm and leg and maybe some of my hair. Ha-Ha. It is nice having joined this site, and having someone answer our questions. Thanks again, and I will be BACK. Spikedog
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:54 AM   #5
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2012 23' FB Flying Cloud
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Santa Rosa Beach , Florida
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Welcome from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

As far as the cost Airstream travel goes, we have been on the road in our '05 25FB for over 400 nights and 50,000 miles in the last 3 years.

We keep trip logs and details of all of our Airstream adventures. Here is what we have found:

- Figure fuel costs based upon 10 miles per gallon.

- Campgrounds go for $25-$50 per night. State parks go for less, but not practical when in route to a distant destination. They are not usually near the highway. Figure $35 as an average. If you have generators, you can do truck stops or Wal-Marts. This will help with the average CG cost.

- As far as food goes, it shouldn't cost anymore that it does at home.

- We have not found tolls to be a major factor.

We also use Microsoft Streets and Trips on the road. It is the best travel planing software that we have found. Sam's has it for $28.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
WBCCI #3628 -- AIR #14872 -- TAC #FL-7
2015 FC 25' FB (Lucy) with HAHA
2020 Silverado 2500 (Vivian)
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:40 AM   #6
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Melbourne Florida , Springfield Ohio
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We did the 19,000 mile trip - 4 1/2 months in 2005. We used "Passport" for most of the sites at 50% the regular nightly cost. They have a website.
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:53 AM   #7
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Here's the link to the Passport site:

Passport America - Campground Discount Membership. Save 50% At Participating Campgrounds. Campers Save On Camping.
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Old 06-23-2009, 08:09 AM   #8
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here is a dumb questions. I see under profile. Rivet Master with symbols under it.. I can not figure out what that means. So many new things to learn....
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Old 06-23-2009, 08:16 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by spikedog View Post
here is a dumb questions. I see under profile. Rivet Master with symbols under it.. I can not figure out what that means. So many new things to learn....
Welcome to the forum! Those symbols are rivets and are representative of the rivets on an Airstream. You earn rivets by the number of posts you contribute to this forum. When you have 500 posts, you become all-knowing, all-seeing Rivet Master Your post count is listed under your user name at left.
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Old 06-23-2009, 01:23 PM   #10
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Greetings and welcome! We are also very big Passport America fans, being retirees and roaming the nations' roads a LOT. Very good for overnight stays at 50% off, generally cheaper than anything else you will find. Helps keeps costs down tremendously. Resist the temptation to dine at every interesting restaurant you find, will eat up your disposable income very quickly. Have fun and travel safe.
Find a need and fill it.

🏡 🚐 Cherish and appreciate those you love. This moment could be your last.🌹🐚
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Old 06-23-2009, 03:17 PM   #11
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Grand Junction , Colorado
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When you buy and Airstream and a tow vehicle, start out slowly with some short trips, then longer, then longer and longer, so you get used to what it's all about.

Read all you can on the Forum and get some books on RV's. There is a lot to learn and it's worth it, but it'll take some time. They look so nice it's easy to buy one impulsively. We held out for a whole 6 weeks after we decided to look into it.

We bought a new one because I didn't want to have to fix things (remodeling our house and taking care of our land is enough). I would not buy a new one again because quality control on new ones is not good. Look for either (1) one several years old that's been well taken care of, or (2) one from the '90's when they were lighter and you didn't need a gigantic truck to tow it. While you look for that gently used one, you can spend time learning about them. You save on the depreciation of the new ones and any way you go, things need fixing. QC on RV's is not even close to that of cars and trucks.

As for costs of travel, figure 10-11.5 mpg, maybe less, maybe more, depending on how fast you drive, how many mountains you climb, what tow vehicle, how heavy the trailer is.

Campgrounds, moosetags got it right. We avoid tolls, easier to do in the west.

We use Woodall's Directory for campgrounds and the AAA campground books. Also, when we can, we check them out on the internet. This website can be helpful: RV Park Reviews :: Home

We don't use GPS systems, but discovered this technology called "maps". All the roads are "printed" on them and you can pick whatever you like, and they all have numbers that are right on the "map". It is made of "paper" and you can bring them along with you, or fold them up and get the one for the next state. Easy to store, though some people have problems with folding. Very handy items and you don't have to read a little screen while driving or have to talk to a robot. No batteries needed.

Bring a lot of tools. You'll need them. Woodall's has a book explaining how RV systems work—good for repairs of things you never knew you were going to be an expert on.

Figure that you'll be spending several hundred dollars on things you'll need right away and then a few thousand in the first year for things you either need or want. You'll also need a weight distributing hitch to tow it safely and a brake controller for the trailer brakes (some trucks now come with them).

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