We recently took another 2,500 mile trip to Ohio and back for Thanksgiving. Here are some important things I learned on this adventure…
Vibration is the Enemy!
This Airstream has never had shocks. When I first purchased it and had the axles and breaks checked and the bearings packed, the RV dealership I took it to told me that shocks on an Airstream are pretty much worthless, and that the torsion axle would do all the work. Since they were actually cutting their own profit by not selling me something, I believed them. They were certainly wrong. And on this trip, not only did we not have shocks, but one of our tires had tread that was actually coming off (though I didn’t realize this until later), so there was additional trailer vibration from an irregularly shaped tire. When we arrived at our destination, I found that all of the storage drawers and bins were filled with a fine dust consisting of plastic and metal, many things had “changed color” (the finish had rubbed off), and lots of things were broken. Imagine turning on an orbital sander and tossing it in a drawer with your stuff for 12 hours. It was exactly like that.
Storing Things in Bins Instead of Easy Access Cabinets is a Real Bummer
If you have to take a lid off of a bin every time you need something to cook with (bearing in mind that you have likely also set things down on top of said bin), it makes cooking and other activities arduous. Being able to get at things quickly and easily, especially kitchen utensils, pots and pans, spices, etc., is going to make a HUGE difference in the livability of the Airstream. Having a pantry and kitchen storage with drawers and/or shelves and a latching door will be one of the first things on the build list from now on.
A Thermostat on Your Heater is More a Necessity than a Convenience
Our Mr. Heater propane heater is fantastic for heating up the Airstream quickly, but leaving it on all night, even on low, makes things uncomfortably hot and wastes too much propane. Thus, I usually turned the heater off right before bedtime, which meant waking up to a super-cold Airstream in the morning. It was toasty and cozy under the blankets, but getting out of bed was paaaaainful. The portable propane heater is a good temporary solution for winter time heating, but a dedicated system (which will likely entail radiant hydronics) with a thermostat will definitely need to be installed.
Under Bed Storage is a Serious Inconvenience
I’ve got copious storage under the rear beds, but when the beds are made up (which ends up being pretty much all of the time on a trip), it’s a real pain to access that storage. The under-bed storage is accessed from the front via either drawers or fold down doors, but having to move the bedding and mattresses and slide the extensions back before being able to get at the openings is way more difficult than I had anticipated. I started leaving things “out” in the walkway area between the beds (under the sliding extensions), but even accessing that stuff was a pain. I’m going to really have to rethink what goes under the beds and how we get at it.
Camping Toilets Suck
We are currently using a “camping toilet” since the permanent toilet hasn’t been installed yet. It’s small and uncomfortable, and I HATE emptying it at the end of the trip (I puke every time!). I am really looking forward to having a “big boy” toilet.