Inside the luxury Airstream trailers at AutoCamp, where you can spend the night in a travel trailer and see what it’s like.


Question from Bonnie

Hi Debra,

I have some health issues and have been stuck in Mi for 10 years. I have an older home and am going to sell. I am considering a RV full time for a couple years.

Just want to get out and live again.

Does anyone here live in one?

I know new ones are toxic but what about a 4 years old one? If it had a lot of real wood cabinets etc would it be doable? There are so many models that look nice and could be comfortable. Just a thought.

Debra’s Answer

This is something Larry and I are considering also and have been researching for the past year or so. You’re smart to ask lots of questions and find out as much as you can before making this decision.

I’m interested, too, in the experiences of people who have done this.

I can tell you some things we are doing.

1. Can you live in a space that small full time?
What we’ve been doing is working on reducing our stuff. This is a process. It’s not something you are going to do overnight. I think everyone has way more stuff than we actually use. We’ve released a lot of things we weren’t using and we still have more.

2. What is essential to have for your way of life?
For the past year Larry and I have been living in two small rooms: a bedroom and an office. But we also have access to a whole house with a kitchen and bathroom and garage and garden and everything else. Coming from a 1600 square foot home this is a big difference. For me, I need space to work. I prepare my own food, so I need a kitchen.

3. Do you really want to travel around to a different location on a regular basis?
I love to travel. I would love to travel and bring my home with me so I have everything I need and know I have a toxic-free environment at the end of the day. But Larry and I have also taken a fair number of road trips in our 30 years together and when you are moving from place to place frequently you are in a strange place over and over. You have to find everything and get oriented over and over again.

Some of you may remember the year Larry and I drove across the country in his Mercedes powered by vegetable oil. That was a fun adventure, but every day we had to arrive in a new city and find some vegetable oil. It was fun at first, but then got tiresome.

I think if we were to do this, we would pick and place and stay for a while and then pick another place. But I’m not sure I want to be a nomad. I like having a home base. I like belonging to a community. I like building relationships.

I would strongly recommend to anyone considering this to take a road trip in a car or van and see what it’s like. Some people clearly thrive on this, and other’s don’t.

4. Can you get an RV that is nontoxic or retrofit a used one to meet your needs?
It can be done. I know Larry and I can do it because we’ve been remodeling houses nontoxic for 30 years. But can YOU do it? Do you have the knowledge and resources and skills?

We just recently found AutoCamp , which is a small chain of “hotels” made up of Airstream trailers. They have them in Guernville, California, on the Russian River, Santa Barbara, and Yosemite. You basically get to have the Airstream trailer experience overnight.

Larry and I live 20 minutes from Guerville so we drove over there last week and looked around. It was beautiful. Like walking into a luxury California-wine-country version of summer camp. We couldn’t go inside a trailer because all of them were booked for the night. We’re going to LA this week and tried to stay at AutoCamp in Santa Barbara, but they were completely booked for the night we would be passing through. We’re going to LA this week and tried to stay at AutoCamp in Santa Barbara, but they were completely booked for the night we would be passing through. Read about how we peeked inside an Airstream trailer at AutoCamp Santa Barbara on our way home from LA.

Here some articles about the realities of life on the road from different viewpoints:

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The beautiful Airstream myth and painful RV reality of life on the road

SUNSET: Tiny home, big dreams

A SMALL LIFE: Things I Wish I Knew Before Living Full-Time in an Airstream

AND THEN WE SAVED: Living Tiny: Seth And Drea’s Airstream – Home Tour

There are lots more. I searched for “airstream living” to find these, since we’re specifically considering an Airstream only (for aesthetic reasons but also because they are exceptionally well-built and originally the least toxic).

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