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Old 09-05-2020, 06:21 PM   #1
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White-knuckle Newbies Open to your Advice!

Hi all -- We just purchased a used 2017 27' Flying Cloud and are taking our very first trip next month from Seattle-Missoula-Jackson Hole-Moab and we just joined this forum so apologies if we make any forum newbie mistakes but hello! I've wanted an Airstream ever since I can remember and we are curious to know your thoughts on this ever important question -- For total newbies to the experience would you recommend sticking to RV campgrounds and save dry docking or rustic camping for when we have more experience? Thanks in advance for any advice. Also, thanks to all for the great info on this forum. We are especially interested in the essential gear we need to bring along type stuff that we've seen already.
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Old 09-05-2020, 06:33 PM   #2
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I think it really depends on how you plan to travel. Will you need to work while on the road? Do you have a way to keep the batteries charged? There is certainly a “safe” feeling being in a cg and having hookups. You can test out the different systems while knowing you can hook up if things don’t go as planned or expected. However, being forced into uncomfortable situations has made us feel more comfortable over all. We were in a cg in Taos when we experienced our first snow and prolonged below freezing temps. It was a little unexpected but we learned a lot and quickly became pretty comfy winter camping. At another point we needed to get from Park city Utah in the winter to Cape Coral Florida in as few days as possible. We made it 4 days sleeping in truck and rest stops. We have a little solar and are pretty good at resource management at this point so we just made it work. So I don’t think is a right or wrong way, just opportunities for learning and resolution. The group here is awesome and I’m sure lots will chime in with all kinds of helpful information!
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Old 09-05-2020, 07:17 PM   #3
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Why not try a little of each. Boon dock for a night or two and then go to a campground. If you are going to Misoula, may I suggest a stay at Jim and Mary's RV Park. It is one of the nicest parks we have stayed in and we have stayed in hundreds of parks.

Moab is always super busy and finding a spot can be problematic. Dead House Ranch State Park is nice and close to Canyon land. There is also some BLM land on the road to Dead Horse that you can Boon dock on.

We try to stay of of the Interstates as much as possible. The back roads are easier to drive, have fewer big trucks and let you see more of this great country.
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Old 09-05-2020, 07:25 PM   #4
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Greetings and welcome to the Airstream owner's community. Find Airstream Life (a great magazine) website and order their "newbies" book. It will give you all kinds of knowledge about your trailer. So will your owner's manual. Airstream Life also has a good "maintenance" book too. I have both of them.

Go camp in your driveway or storage spot and learn how systems work with or without hook ups. I would recommend commercial campgrounds first as there is a better chance of getting help if something goes wrong. Once you are good at solving problems (e.g. why won't the furnace run?) then you will be more confident in spending the night on government land or other "boondocking" locations.

You need some practice if you have not towed a 8500 pound camper before. You need experience in how the rig will accelerate up a freeway ramp, concerns about lane changes and reading your mirrors, braking distances, cross winds, down hill braking and the like. These normal events are different with a trailer behind you as you may already know.

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Old 09-05-2020, 07:32 PM   #5
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Move around this Forum reading a lot, but not so much that you will be overloaded. There are books on RV's for the inexperienced. Read a few. Go through the trailer checking out stuff. Crawl underneath. Read the Owner's Manual. Some of it is not up to date in many cases. If you didn't get one, look on the Airstream website to download one. Look trough all the owner's info for the appliances, axles, etc., that should have come with it. Go for some short camping trips as soon as you can to learn what you are doing.

There are a lot of threads about being in exactly the position you are in and will all have useful info. Good luck. A lot of idiots buy RV's and somehow make it and learn what to do. You can spell and use grammar correctly, so you are ahead of the game already.
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Old 09-05-2020, 07:37 PM   #6
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I'd prep the fresh water tank by sterilizing with bleach. Look online for percent bleach to water. Drain tank several times while at home to purge the bleach. Get a regular Camco blue water filter from Walmart ($10 +/-) and attach it to the water hose at your house to fill the water tank full. Note the flow direction on the filter. A full water tank will last at least three days of showers, dish washing, and normal use.

Unless the prior owners replace the batteries, you probably have a pair of 12 volt interstate batteries. Those are okay and should last 2 or 3 days without a recharge at a RV park. When plugged in the trailer will automatically recharge the batteries.

If both things above are okay, your trailer is designed to serve you well without hookups for a few days. Have no fear. Its better than a tent.
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Old 09-05-2020, 09:37 PM   #7
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My advice: Go to a campground a few hours away and for a weekend with full hookups learn how to manage the systems; become familiar with the furnace, the AC, the heat pumps, the water pump, how much water you use before you have to dump the grey water or the black water, how the inverter works, the awnings, the fans, the stove, the refrigerator, the water heat, etc.

You first trip has a significant learning curve. So you might as well enjoy it instead of getting stressed out about water useage, etc. I can tell you right now if you boondock you will need to watch your water use very carefully.

Also if you are going to boondock how are you going to charge batteries if they run down? Do you have a generator, solar, etc. I would only boondock if I had a solar or generator system; especially if you have interstate batteries. Just as you need to learn how to manage water you will need to learn to manage battery power. And you really need to be familiar with your systems.

One night of boondocking isn’t a big deal. A weekend that’s a different story.

What I would do is go to a site with full hookups and then practice boondocking. Don’t use the hookups at all. See what it’s like. If you get into trouble you have the back up of knowing there is a way out. Then at the end of the weekend you can dump, run the water and take a nice long hot shower.

Then when you are fully familiar with the systems and had a dry run you can boondock with a bit more comfort.
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Old 09-05-2020, 09:46 PM   #8
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I second Jim and Mary’s. Nice laundry facilities! You will quickly learn the value of that!
Build your comfort level. Staying at a nice campground doesn’t mean you won’t get to take in the majestic scenery and hikes - how much of that do you do at night anyway? There is a LOT of competition for the public parks this year, as well as boondocking sites. Research before you go - campground reviews.com is a good resource.
Also check your route for challenging conditions, especially passes. Maybe make a trial run over the Snoqualmie Pass?
There is a nice private campground just east of North Bend where you can practice “semi” roughing it. (Valley View?)
Best of luck. Stay within your comfort level - it’s not a competition!
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Old 09-05-2020, 09:47 PM   #9
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Yes.

A RV campground is the way to go to learn the ins and outs, especially as Covid has made travel more complicated.

At an RV campground you will have the ease of level sites that are large enough for a motorhome, so no worries about backing into tight sites and trees and rocks being a problem.

At an RV campground you will have water and electric, and probably also sewer personally for you and you alone right at your site. At state parks many will only have electric, or electric and water. Usually you will have to use the dump station for waste. National parks and BLM and boondocing will likely have none of this.

Now this more rustic experience is fine, but does take some learning. It also can take additional equipment that you will need to purchase and bring along, like waste water blue boy totes, fresh water cans to add water, a generator to power your rig. If you stay at RV parks you can avoid all of this for now.

Lastly, due to Covid we have camped places that have their bathrooms completely closed. As in plywood covering the doors. This means that having your own electric, hot water for showers, sewer at your site is a big plus.

There will be lots of time to learn and plan more rustic camping, but for a long trip like you want to do, at the end of the season, with no experience, I think that RV parks are a good solution.
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Old 09-05-2020, 09:53 PM   #10
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Here are some threads from our experiences if you are interested in info on national park camping.
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f29...-a-153482.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f42...re-152213.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f38...nt-140119.html
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Old 09-05-2020, 10:52 PM   #11
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Always chock. Always. Don't care how level it is. Get good rubber chocks. Do not unhitch without chocking.
I know it might seem like idiot advice, but we saw an unhitched Airstream without chocks within the last month.
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Old 09-05-2020, 11:09 PM   #12
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many thanks

Everyone -- you all rock -- thank you so much for the great advice... I'll summarize the big take homes for us below:

1. RV CAMP YES! Boondocking can wait for more experience
2. CHOCK CHOCK CHOCK
3. Boondock the first night at an RV camp to see how it goes.
4. Use the back roads.
5. Read the books, read the forum, but don't get overwhelmed.

Best, Becky and April ("The White-Knucklers")

p.s. we have 2 solar panels and upgraded the batteries to AGMs.
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Old 09-06-2020, 06:05 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by beckys View Post
Everyone -- you all rock -- thank you so much for the great advice... I'll summarize the big take homes for us below:

1. RV CAMP YES! Boondocking can wait for more experience
2. CHOCK CHOCK CHOCK
3. Boondock the first night at an RV camp to see how it goes.
4. Use the back roads.
5. Read the books, read the forum, but don't get overwhelmed.

Best, Becky and April ("The White-Knucklers")

p.s. we have 2 solar panels and upgraded the batteries to AGMs.
It seems as though you have received some good advice. Experience is not always the best teacher. You can learn a lot from others.

I might also suggest you look up the local unit of the AS Club, https://airstreamclub.org/. There you will find like minded folks that can be a source of assistance. Plus we have found that it enhances the joy of owning an iconic AS.

All the best!
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Old 09-06-2020, 06:59 AM   #14
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Welcome Aboard👍

Newbies don't make mistakes...only faulty executions.

Don't over think it...it ain't roket seince.

Even today there are many more folks who have started streaming without all the interweb 'help'.

Common sense rules...bring the stuff you know you'll need, and add the stuff you don't think you'll need as you need it. That saves space in the AS, WallyWorld is your friend.

POI...we started last century, long before 'web help'.
First few times we went to a 'full service' CG, and didn't 'hook-up'. Learned quickly how things worked and what the limits are.

Sweet Streams...have fun.

Bob
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Old 09-06-2020, 08:39 AM   #15
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Congrats and welcome to the family! You are in for a lot of great adventures and memories.

The best way to know what you need is to go camping. You could try a night or two at a place nearby home. However, we have rarely been on a trip where - either there or on the way - we haven’t been able to buy something we want. So pack the basics, don’t over pack, and hit the road works too!

Have fun and be SAFE!
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Old 09-06-2020, 09:14 AM   #16
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Hi,

Exciting times!

I too was white knuckle...hands and feet!

There was a local KOA that was VERY nice and within a mile of RV stores. Nice level pull through sites so I could concentrate on the basics. There will be stuff you forget to buy so start a list and try to get as much of the essentials before heading far.

Go ahead and pay the premium for the 5 star RV parks with pull throughs till you get the hang of it. If you've not mastered backing into a right angle tight space don't give yourself that challenge with all the rest of it. Take an afternoon to hit a big parking lot occasionally and practice the backing skills instead of at the RV park when you're already tired from the road.

I recently hit a KOA that was down a 1/4 mile narrow road. No big deal EXCEPT a worker had knocked down a telephone pole blocking that entrance! I had to back all the way down that road to main road to other entrance! I'm OK at backing up a 25 footer but it was still a challenge and would have been a bummer if this happened day 1! Took me ~15 minutes!

Oh and BTW NO ONE is watching you despite what you think! Have fun!
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Old 09-06-2020, 12:01 PM   #17
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The first time I towed our brand new Airstream, I noticed this space ship was a few feet behind me as if it were driven by a madman who loved to tailgate. If your tow vehicle doesn't have tow mirrors, you will have to buy either tow mirrors that attach to your side mirrors or upgrade to the truck manufacturer's mirrors (most state laws require you be able to see anything 200' behind you). As I drove the mile to a campground, I was sure that enormous spaceship would tear down the fence at the dealer exit, go over the curb as I entered the street, or when I had to turn onto another street, would hit either some other vehicle, a road sign or the median. Then I drove to a campground and fortunately was not placed in a back-in space. The site was level and I figured it out. Stick with pull throughs for a while. Until you get used to how this thing works, avoid boondocking. Then try it for a day or two. The grey water tank fills up much faster than the black tank, so when boondocking, do dishes in a small tub and dump the dishwater in the toilet. Four days has always been our limit and we do not shower, but sponge bath to save water and grey tank space. Do not dump grey water one the ground (it is illegal most places and bad for the environment).

Overnight we found lots of things the dealer had not taken care of. We took it back that morning. They fixed them. On the way home (250 miles) we found out more things and they piled up during the ensuing months. Brings tools with you.

The dealer will sell you things like hoses, chocks and such for inflated prices. Check out Walmart or other big box stores for RV parts. RV dealers usually have parts stores and there are some things you can only get there or online. Camping World is a national chain with some discounts by joining their club. For the first year the club can make some sense because you will be buying a lot of things. Avoid the shop at CW to fix anything on your Airstream. Sometimes when near a CW we will stop to see if they have some discounts on something we might need. We found two fold up chairs at much less than half price in Albuquerque a year ago—a good time to replace the chairs we had which were starting to fall apart (I guess our $8 bargain chairs don't last more than ten years). CW and Good Sam are the same group of companies and once you get on their mailing lists you will be barraged by mail and email. Good Sam gets you discounts at some campgrounds, but just being a senior will do the same usually. Good Sam sells towing and roadside assistance insurance as do a number of other insurers. We have used Good Sam once for a tow and they took our truck—it was making noises I could not find—about 30 miles to a garage. The noise was a failing catalytic converter. No problem. I have heard of them towing vehicles or RV's hundreds of miles along the Alaska Hwy. because there are so few garages. A friend of mine has had good experiences with Allstate.

Make sure your tow vehicle has good brakes. You will need a brake controller in your vehicle to make the trailer brakes work properly. You should be able to get a good one for less than $100. Some trucks now come with a built in one, otherwise you need to have one installed. While you are getting walleyed watching both side mirrors, holding onto the wheel with white knuckles and finding you can't accelerate nearly as fast as you are used to, you will find out that it takes a lot longer to stop. Keep a distance from the guy in front of you. In heavy traffic someone will cut you off in that space in front of you and you should drop back even though you may be thinking of driving over him to teach him a lesson. Drive in the slow lane most of the time and if you have to pass someone it will take a lot longer than you are used to.

Turning corners means a wide berth. Notice how big trucks turn from two lanes and watch for those things you are turning around such as sign posts and people. The rear of the trailer makes a wide turn, not as wide as an 18-wheeler with a long trailer, but you will take more space. Gas stations can be a challenge. Watch for a low gas station roof (or low bridges). A lot of pumps can be difficult to get into or out of. The day you have to squeeze between a bunch of big things and then back out onto a busy street because the way out is impossible, you will have earned your trailer medal. Your trailer is the maximum width allowed—8.5 feet wide. It is wider than your truck. You will find that some traffic lanes are narrow, rarely less than 9', but usually 9-12'. Stay in the middle of the lane. You will find yourself looking in the side mirrors less and less as you learn to control where you are going around curves, corners and obstacles. The most fun can be construction zones where highway crews put cones and barrels making the road very narrow, not too concerned with your plight maneuvering through. While it is tempting to crush the cones to teach them a lesson, don't do it. Neither of us have ever hit anything with the trailer and we were newbies. Our first backing into a busy street from a gas pump came in Arizona on our third trip, happened again several years later near Banff and never has happened again. Sometimes the tests come early, sometimes never.

If you have hills going home, downshift going downhill. It saves your brakes and sometimes your sanity. You will feel the weight of the trailer behind you. It loves to go fast, but you won't. The basic rule is go downhill in the gear you went up, but with automatic transmission that can be hard to know. Downshifting will sound loud, but the engine and transmission are built for that.

That you have white knuckles means you are not overconfident. That you admit it means you want to learn. You have begun with the right approach.
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Old 09-09-2020, 01:34 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beckys View Post
Hi all -- We just purchased a used 2017 27' Flying Cloud and are taking our very first trip next month from Seattle-Missoula-Jackson Hole-Moab and we just joined this forum so apologies if we make any forum newbie mistakes but hello! I've wanted an Airstream ever since I can remember and we are curious to know your thoughts on this ever important question -- For total newbies to the experience would you recommend sticking to RV campgrounds and save dry docking or rustic camping for when we have more experience? Thanks in advance for any advice. Also, thanks to all for the great info on this forum. We are especially interested in the essential gear we need to bring along type stuff that we've seen already.
Beckys - we are new to Airstreaming (campers all together) and we've had ours out for two trips so far. We have stuck with RV Parks (i.e. KOA & Good Sam Parks) to learn the basics on how to operate without suffering utter catastrophic events that usually follow us (last name fate...duh). Our first outing was a week in the driveway which was a great suggestion I got from many in the group.

Next year we will venture out on some boondocking adventures close to home until we understand things better.

You will love your Airstream as we do ours and like you, we have been wanting one for years!
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Old 09-20-2020, 10:55 AM   #19
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Try it local

We found that going to a local park (as others have mentioned) is the best way to get comfortable. Close enough to home if something went wrong and we had to cut it short. Also, close enough to civilization/stores if we found we forgot something. Two or three days would be sufficient to get used to all the systems. Unplug and disconnect water (if you are at an rv campground) for one full day to see how you manage water and power. It will go a long way toward removing most, if not all, of your fears.
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Old 09-20-2020, 10:58 AM   #20
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There are a number of campgrounds along the colorado river up canyon from Moab. Check out www.recreation.gov for info. Moab has a great full service campground just over the bridge on the right side. Go to Yelp.com for restaurants and activities
Stop by ZNP in my neck of the woods.

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