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Old 01-03-2017, 12:28 PM   #1
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Boondocking Full Time ON or OFF the Grid

(This is to activate some cerebral thoughts and I am just attempting to offer some ideas to get this started. Give it some thought and any experiences will be a fine addition to continue the theme...)

Yes. It can be done. Do you have what it takes? Probably not, if you have to inquire on this Forum for advice. Jumping into a Swimming Pool to learn to swim can be risky, as well.

Full timing- Off the Grid:

I am making the assumption you have a Tow Vehicle and your Airstream paid for. Mechanically both are reliable. You have all of the essentials needed for Boondocking. One important aspect of Boondocking is the appeal to those who are comfortable in making adjustments in their lifestyle… quickly, when decisions need to be made, themselves.

To minimize overhead, you must move with the Seasons. You may say otherwise, but eventually you will… move with the Seasons.

If you need to ASK on the Airforums if 'Full Timing is possible in an Airstream’, this may not be for you. You have no idea how complicated this short quote actually can become, even if you can financially support yourself without outside additional income. I personally have witnessed how competent Airstream owners find living on the cheap… is not worth it.

My wife and I find Boondocking Off the Grid to our liking. It is not something we decided a year ago and can do it. We were already camping as youths, familiar with the positive and negative aspects financially, emotionally and being self starters in our personalities. To some… people who enjoy this independence are, mentally wired in their abilities to disconnect from the comforts of having neighbors and access to immediate help without… neighbors and access to immediate help. Already self sufficient. Independent decision makers. Making judgment calls quickly, when necessary. More right decisions than wrong decisions.

It is a life style. Those who volunteer at National Forest campsites seasonally, understand. This is not for those who are nervous around strangers or new environments. There are discomforts accessing groceries, fuel, repairs & upkeep, laundry, and a basic understanding there are inherent risks involved. Many affecting your physical well being. Using restroom facilities, that do not exist, is often a major new experience.

I have lived Off the Grid. It can be extremely boring or extremely challenging. You must have a… PURPOSE. Otherwise you are wasting your financial resources and time. My purpose is the enjoying exploring the unknown edges of wilderness areas and the geology's hidden secrets from those with the intent of discovery. It is a passion to make sense of nature around myself.

When among several groups of Airstream Boondockers, it is apparent the first day who are most likely to survive, and those who have no business being away from home. My Airstream experience is from two years of Boondocking Adventures. It does not make me an expert from these two years. My experience(s) are from a lifetime. There is a personality type that makes this possible. My sister would be totally incompetent. My brother could survive, but would lack the financial ability to provide for himself. We share common experiences, but different personality traits.

This is not to offend anyone. Those who can… already know. Those who might… already have experience and just need to make the transition. Many… will have a very difficult learning curve and need to improve on their basic skills of survival… on your own.

Full timing- On the Grid (RV Park):

For the majority of Boondockers. This is viable. There also must be a source of finances to support this option. At times, working AT the RV Park will subsidize your ability to finance this choice. There can be substantial costs if you are doing this out of pocket. Many opportunities are Seasonal and you must move with the seasons, as an Off the Grid individual. I have met Airstream Full Timers at RV and Campsites with all or some amenities.

Some title their vehicle and trailer in States with minimal license fees and costs… and you know who you are, as well.

****** There are more RV Park Full Timers than Off the Grid. Many move with the seasons, unless in the climates that are within the comfort ranges within an Airstream. If money is not an issue… EITHER choice can be yours. If money is an issue… you had better work through the numbers as you… get what you ‘pay for’.

I am tossing these thoughts out for those thinking about changes in 2017. Food for thought. You may find yourself 100% capable. Explain how and why are you tempted. You may ‘think yourself capable’, that is a start if not sure. No one knows who you are. It is no reflection on yourself. This is a ‘choice’ and not a requirement. A hybrid option may suit you better.

Personally. I am not a candidate for Full Timing. I am a recreational Off and On the Grid Airstream owner. It is a choice. I enjoy our lifestyle of being Independent and use our Airstream seasonally. If we found it necessary to Full Time in our Airstream… we could. Since we do not need to Full Time… it is an advantage being able, IF that need occurs. If you have the ‘Right Stuff’ you can. It is not easy, nor simple. Your health must be able to handle the physical needs of Full Timing. If you must be connected to the Internet and Cell Phone every day, your choices must be picked, with those needs being met. List what is important in your life and proceed.

The LAST need will be the Tow Vehicle and length of Trailer. Otherwise… you are going to be disappointed.
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Old 01-03-2017, 05:48 PM   #2
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Good thoughts, Ray. We've not really boondocked with our Foretravel or with the mpg that came before it, but we're reasonably certain that, under the right conditions, we could have done so without any trouble.

As we research Airstreams for sale I'm please to see that all that we've looked at have at least some factory prep for solar. I'm hoping that adding some solar panels to whatever we buy will be one of the first upgrades we do.

We're full-timers, and sometimes our work requires us to stay in one place for several months, which is what is prompting our switch from our current Foretravel MH to a 34' Airstream. We'd like to go places that a 30,000 pound MH can't (or shouldn't) go. Strange as it may seem, there might even be a time when we would decide to move all of the stuff out of the bed of the truck, put in the air mattress, sleeping bags, pillows, and a cooler of food and spend the night out in a remote place, leaving the Airstream back at the camp site under the watchful eyes of our guard cat. We probably won't do that very often, since we creak more than we'd like, but once or twice, maybe.
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Old 01-03-2017, 07:14 PM   #3
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Thank you for adding perspective for alternative living options! Many have thoughts but are uncomfortable offering an opinion. There is no one way or right way to do this.

Artists that do Art Shows in small communities would be an absolutely perfect occupation for a trailer home / shop / travel. Had I any talent in this area... the conversion would have been prompt!

We did look at several late model, price right, 30 foot Airstreams in the Boulder / Denver / Colorado Springs area. They were asking less for them than a shorter trailer. It was longer by five feet, more or less than the 25 foot we decided to purchase new, but when you figure the square footage added and subtracting the hallway, the gain was not that impressive. Place a 'Want Ad' in this area when you become serious.

Had I the funds as a 23 year old procuring a 25 foot trailer and a tow vehicle, the opportunity for Summer work at Ranches and collecting Fossils on their ranch on my free time would have been a dream come true.

Even being a writer for articles in magazines or selling articles for the Sunday national newspapers is a perfect occupation, with trailer mobility.

Many inquiries on Full or Part Timing within a trailer, on the Forum, never discuss WHY the need. Some with similar occupations could give pros and cons with just a little more information. I have encountered Engineers working out of RV's with satellite dish and communications attached...

If there is a will, there is a solution. Large metro areas have more trailers for sale. Denver is a good place to start. Dry climate. Close enough to verify the trailer exists. Craigslist worked fine for me to sell our 23 footer. Sometimes there are multiple Airstreams for sale and other times... nothing. Winter sellers are the most negotiable. Spring... the least negotiable. Good luck in your adventure.

Dreams are for those who like to sleep.
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Old 01-03-2017, 10:07 PM   #4
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I don't think a Boondocking Full-Time 101 college course exists. It really just has to be learned through OJT, I think. My wife and I have backpacked for years, she more than I. I think what you're describing is similar to packing for a 30 day backpacking trip, where you plan to supplement the food you carry in with whatever fish and other things you can find while you're out there. My wife can accurately pack food and fuel for us for a 30 day backpacking trip so that we run out on the last day and maybe have a couple of cheese sticks left as we walk back into the trail head where we left our car. This same wife becomes throughly frustrated with doing the same thing for a week long boondocking trip in our AS. One would think it would be easier, as shelter, water, and propane are a given, and we have all kinds of options for preserving food that we don't have on a backpacking trip. The difference is that she's been packing for backpacking trips for more than 30 years, but for boondocking Airstream trips for less than 3, of which only two trips have actually been more than 3 days off the grid. She likes the idea of doing this, as we mature into our dotage, but it is a new learning curve. I think you just have to start doing it, and see what works and what doesn't. Probably a good idea to experiment where you can hitch up and drive out if things don't work out, rather than being caught in a snow bank waiting for the thaw.
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Old 01-04-2017, 11:55 AM   #5
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I have been boon docking and living in my FC for the past two and a half years. I love moving with the weather, having space around me, and seeing the world from my Airstream.

There have been a lot of lessons learned, but living this way is magical...
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:49 PM   #6
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Full-timing in a 16' Bambi (Sport) - no way, Jose

Okay, I had a 2005 19' International CDD for 10 years (bought her new). I LOVED that trailer like the second child I never had and felt like I had returned to the womb every night I slept in her. I would actually 'visit' her on weekends and sit in the dinette with coffee and a sweet roll and talk to her about our future adventures. And we had lots of adventures but not, (GOD, NO!) the full-timing kind. The longest trip I did in her was 3 weeks and it was all the way from Virginia to Idaho to fly fish with my retired Navy buddies. It was wonderful and magical and all that BUT after 10 years of many other trips of various and short durations with many friends, I realized that one day, when I retired and wanted to start seriously traveling the roads of America and finally let wanderlust take over my life that I had to have a bigger trailer. I am buying a bigger tow vehicle in June of this year and a 25' AS twin model in November because I realized after doing a series of reality checks on how much room I need to have in order to feel like I can 'breathe', 25' feet of aluminum felt just about right. Not as nimble and turnable and 'cute' as my former 19' Bambi but considering that I plan to plant myself here and there and everywhere for a few days to a few weeks to a month at a time, that is the size that will work for me. That you are even considering tinkering with the floor plan of your little Sport (removing the dinette, really?) tells me right there that 16' is too small for you. Sell your Jeep and get the right TV for a bigger A/S that you can live in without feeling claustrophobic after a rainy weekend (which will happen to you). Do it right, not in this half-assed, impulsive, Airstream-on-the brain fever way. Take a breath, plot it out, save more money, have a plan. And what is this about the shower anyway? That shower in the 16' Sport is awful - wet toilet paper and having to wipe down all that wall space everytime. Seriously? I'm 6 feet tall, with long hair and the shower in the 19 footer was just fine. For the first couple of years, I loved her so much I didn't use it because I wanted to keep her perfect. Thank God, I got over that - thanks to some of my cockamamie adventures and came to LOVE showering in her. One nice thing you made me realize (thank you!) is that the shower in the 25' twin is larger. Cool. Anyway, good luck!
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Old 01-08-2017, 04:42 PM   #7
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As a shopper for an Airstream I am disappointed that the company is a little behind with their use of solar panels and lithium Ion batteries. I sleep with a Cpap machine and it is very important for me to pull into a camp spot with no facilities and be able to sleep for 2 or 3 nights with my Cpap on. So I would like to begin with this issue for my off the grid dream!
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Old 01-08-2017, 06:24 PM   #8
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I also use CPAP, and find that my 160w solar panels are generally adequate to recharge the batteries from normal use of lights, fans, TV, and CPAP as long as the sun shines enough during the day. I don't think you would get 3 days use of those things without recharging your lead-acid batteries. Not familiar with the capacities of lithium ion batteries for RV use.


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Old 03-03-2017, 07:03 PM   #9
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Great read for this newbie - thanks
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