Things You Need to Start Your Airstream Travels

We did not spend one night in our Airstream before we started living in it full time — crazy, right? In the months that led up to our departure date, we scoured the interwebs to determine what things were needed to live and travel in an Airstream. Most items we purchased were hits; some were misses. After six weeks on the road, we’ve realized what’s important, what’s not, and what falls somewhere in between.

The following lists are what work for us in our life in our 2017 27FB International Signature. I have not included anything to do with the towing aspect including tow vehicle, mirrors, back-up camera, hitch, sway control, etc. I’m not posting links of where to find the products as that would take a looooong time, but if you want more info about something, let me know.

You Definitely, 100%, Need These Things:

  • Sewer Hose Kit
  • 30 Amp Power Cord (included with new Airstream)
  • Hose for Fresh Water Only (included with new Airstream)
  • Tire Chocks
  • Levelers
  • Bubble Levels
  • RV Toilet Paper
  • Tank Treatment Toilet Drop-Ins
  • Hitch Ball Lube
  • Disposable Gloves (for Dumping)

The above items will allow you to be fully hooked up, level, not roll away, and avoid poo issues (clogged black tank, stinky toilet, nasty hands) — so, the important stuff.

May Not Need Yet but Definitely Will Some Day:

  • Sewer Hose Extension
  • Sewer Hose Support
  • Hose to Flush Black Tank
  • 50 Amp to 30 Amp Adaptor

When I say some day, I mean some day soon. We lived without these items for a few days, but all but the sewer hose extension were purchased within the first week. The sewer hookup where we are currently staying is at the back of the site, so our original 15′ hose didn’t reach; therefore, we needed an extension. The hose support allows gravity to do it’s job when you empty the gray and black tanks. The hose to flush the black tank is used every time we empty it to get all of the ‘stuff’ washed off the sides of the tank. And the adaptor is used when only 50 Amp service is available, which happened at the first place we stayed.

Our 15′ sewer hose with 10′ extension which is supported with a sewer hose support system.

Don’t NEED, but Should Strongly Consider:

  • Hitch Lock
  • Propane Tank Lock
  • RV Surge Protector
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • LP Tank Monitoring System
  • Water Filter
  • Flexible Hose Protector

If we lived in a perfect world, you wouldn’t need the first two items — but we don’t, so you may want to consider them. The surge protector is a pricy item, but what’s even pricier is if you hook up to a bad current and it fries the electrical items in your Airstream. The tire pressure monitoring system is also a little pricy. If you don’t want to invest in it at this time, do make sure to purchase a tire pressure gauge and check the tires before every trip. There’s a lot of weight on those tires and they need to be topped off often, especially if they’re sitting in the sun. The LP tank monitoring system is so you know how much propane you have left. Some people may like to chance it, but we want to make sure we don’t run out on a night with below-freezing temps. For us, the water filter falls under necessity, but doesn’t for everyone. We don’t drink the water out of the faucets, but we do use it to shower, wash our hands, and wash the dishes, so we want the water to be clean. We hook the filter up at the spigot-end of the hose so that only filtered water runs through our hose.

Our Progressive Industries EMS-PT30C Portable EMS RV Surge Protector, which is secured with a cable and lock.
We mounted the monitor for the AP Products 024-1000 Tank Check LP with Monitor Kit under the SeeLevel Tank Monitor.

Don’t Need, but Make Life Easier:

  • Generator
  • Wet/Dry Vac
  • Small Air Compressor
  • Dehumidifier
  • Security Cables and Locks
  • Assorted Bungees and Straps
  • Assorted Baskets and Bins
  • Assorted Mounting Tape/Hooks (Velcro, 3M, Scotch)
  • Museum Putty
  • Magnetic Knife Holder
  • Magnetic Spice Tins

Some people will never use a generator — it all depends on what type of Airstreamer you are. They are expensive, so do not buy one until you need it. We use the (small) wet/dry vac to vacuum out the truck (often) and seal things into Space Bags. We have a small air compressor that we use to fill our tires. The dehumidifier is a ? for us thus far. Airstream owners swear that you need one because moisture = bad, but to date we’ve only been in the Southwest, where the humidity has been 25% at its highest and zero precipitation, so we haven’t needed to use it yet. Security cables and locks are important if you want to lock up your generator or surge protector or whatnot. They aren’t that expensive and they don’t take up a lot of room, so you can have them on hand if the need arises. The next four items are all about organization and securing things. For instance, we have our generator and gas can strapped in in the bed of our truck so they don’t slide around when we travel. We’ve used various (removable) hooks throughout the trailer, velcro to hold rugs in place, (removable) 3M tape to hang things on the wall, and museum putty to keep light things on the counter in place. And baskets — so many baskets! For DVDs and office supplies and toiletries and basically anywhere a basket fits. The last two items get items out of the kitchen drawers/cabinets and into an otherwise dead space. We mounted the knife holder above our stove and have the spice tins stuck on the vent hood.

Both the Ouddy 16″ Magnetic Knife Holder and the Kamenstein Magnetic Multi-Purpose Spice Storage Tins were purchased from Amazon.

So, that’s it — the important stuff, anyways! Of course, there’s still the camping stuff (propane grill, chairs, cooler, etc.) and the hiking stuff (backpacks, boots, headlamps, etc.) and the appliances (coffee maker, InstantPot, travel iron, etc.) and work-related stuff (printer and Gator Case for the iMac), but those are individual choices only you can make.

 

 

 

 

How We Work on the Road

The number one thing that most people want to know when we tell them we live in our Airstream and travel full time is what do we do for work.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, we own an ERP consulting business that we started six years ago. We’ve worked from home for the last six years, so there wasn’t a dramatic work-related lifestyle change when we decided to begin traveling. We did, however, search out the best products, devices, and services that would allow us to continue working remotely without interruption.

Cell Phones

We have three AT&T cell phones (two personal, one business) with unlimited data. We also have one Verizon cell phone (which is a spare) with unlimited data. We are able to use these as hotspots when needed. It’s nice to have options, as the cell signals can differ significantly between the two companies. A bonus with the AT&T phones is that we can stream HBO on DirecTV Now and it doesn’t count against our data usage. With the Verizon phone, we get NFL Mobile, so we never have to miss a Packer game! All of the phones are supposed to slow down after using 22GB, but we’ve maxed out on one of the phones this month and have not noticed a slow down where we’re currently staying.

Verizon Jetpack 6620L MiFi

The MiFi is a wireless router that acts as a mobile wifi hotspot. We also have unlimited data with this, but once we hit 15GB, it’s supposed to be throttled to 600kbps. You can find more information about the MiFi here, although our particular version is no longer available.

WeBoost RV Cellular Signal Booster

We bought the weBoost Drive 4G-X RV signal booster to help boost our cell and data signals in areas where they may be lacking. From their website: “The Drive 4G-X RV is our powerful in-vehicle cell phone signal booster kit certified for use anywhere in the US. The Drive 4G-X RV boosts voice and data with max FCC-allowed 50 dB system gain, enhancing 4G LTE, as well as 3G network signals, up to 32x. RVers get fewer lost connections and dead zones, better call quality as well as faster data uploads and downloads whether parked or in motion in their RV.  Works in all classes of RV; Class A, Class C and all towables.” An antenna needs to be installed on the top of the trailer and is connected to an indoor desktop antenna. We’ve noticed that you need to be within a few feet of the indoor antenna in order for the signal to be boosted, which generally works fine as the antenna is in the storage compartment above the kitchen table. When we’re in the bedroom in the back of the trailer, we generally have a weaker signal. You can find our particular model here.

The weBoost antenna on the top of our trailer

Computers

Travis uses a 27″ iMac 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 with 32GB of RAM and a 3TB Fusion Drive. When we are towing, the iMac gets secured in a Gator Cases Tote Bag, available from Amazon here. The bag fits perfectly in the space at the end of his bed so we don’t need to worry about it sliding around at all. I use a 13″ MacBook Pro 2.3GHz Intel Core i5 with 16GB of RAM and a 500GB SSD Drive.

Gator Cases Creative Pro Series Nylon Carry Tote Bag for Apple 27″ iMac Desktop Computer
Fits perfectly at the end of the twin bed in our International 27FB

Printer

We found the perfect printer for our needs! We purchased the HP OfficeJet 250 All-in-One Portable Printer with Wireless & Mobile Printing. It wirelessly scans, copies and prints (in color, if needed). It has a battery so it only needs to be plugged in occasionally to charge. The best part?! It easily fits in the drawer beneath the bench along with packs of paper. You can find it on Amazon here.

Fits in the bench drawer with room to spare!

Furnace Creek at Death Valley NP

Furnace Creek Campground is the perfect home base for exploring Death Valley!

First, about the campground…

We knew more than six months in advance that we’d be staying here as Travis and a friend of ours had signed up for the Death Valley Half Marathon and Marathon respectively. Because of the advanced notice, I was able to book the exact site we wanted as soon as it became available through www.recreation.gov. We chose site 76 because it had full hookups and was a pull through. It was also extremely long and level and was the easiest set up we’ve had to date. The Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center was about 100 yards away and a restroom with flush toilets was about 20 yards away. There’s also a sink area near the restroom where you can wash dishes. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table, and the pull throughs are blacktopped.

The Furnace Creek area is also home to The Ranch at Death Valley which has a couple of restaurants, a golf course, a hotel, a general store, the Borax Museum, a swimming pool, restrooms, laundry facilities, sport courts and a gas station. Although there are not showers in the campground itself, The Ranch has shower facilities that you can use for $5, which also gives you access to the swimming pool. The pass is good for 24 hours, so if you time it right, you can get two days’ worth of showers out of one pass.

Exploring Death Valley…

Just like any National Park, you have to drive a little to take in all of the sights. Luckily, many of the most recommended sights Death Valley has to offer are short drives from Furnace Creek. We got to Death Valley on a Friday afternoon. After unhitching the trailer at the campground, we still had plenty of daylight left to explore. Our first stop was Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America.

Next, we did the easy 1-mile-roundtrip hike to Natural Bridge.

After the hike, we went back to the campground for dinner. After all, the guys had a race to run in the morning and here’s something I didn’t think about — when the sun goes down, it gets dark. Really dark, fast — so don’t forget your headlamps. Death Valley is a Gold-Tier International Dark-Sky Association park, meaning that the skies there are affected by only the smallest amounts of light pollution, classifying it at the highest level of IDA designation. We grew up in a small town in Wisconsin where there are many open areas free of heavy light pollution, but never in my life have I seen such a dark sky and such bright stars — so amazing!

Our second day in Death Valley started with the marathon/half marathon. While the guys were running, the ladies took a drive along the nine-mile Artist’s Drive that passes through Artist’s Palette, with mineral-rich rocks displaying an array of colors.

We had a lazy afternoon involving some pool time, showers, and naps, but then decided to catch the sunset at Zabriskie Point before getting dinner at the Date Grove Diner.

On our final full day in Death Valley, we opted to do the moderately-difficult 4-mile Mosaic Canyon hike, just past Stovepipe Wells. The polished marble narrows made this hike a little interesting, but all in all I would say it’s on the low end of moderate for difficulty.

After the hike, we stopped at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes but only looked on from afar.

As we passed back through Stovepipe Wells on our way back towards Furnace Creek, we stopped at the gas station/general store to fill the gas tank and pick up a few supplies and souvenirs. **Important Tip** The gas in Stovepipe Wells is almost a $1.50 cheaper than in Furnace Creek, so fill up there! Our last stop for the day was the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail to see if we could see the rare pupfish (we did).

We bugged out fairly early on Monday morning as we had to drop the trailer off in Pahrump and then take our friends to Las Vegas, and then head back to Pahrump. Death Valley was very cool and we’re looking forward to exploring it again in the future. Dante’s View and Scotty’s Castle were both closed while we were there and we didn’t get the chance to drive over to Racetrack Playa to see the ‘sailing stones’.