Nutshell

...sometimes I cry to sentimental songs written for "epic" children's movies, like Circle of Life from The Lion King or lately, Try Everything from Zootopia. Sometimes the truth of the songs, the message, gets in deep as I drive the five minutes from home to school, Adelaide jamming in the backseat. I never put the songs on without her request, and normally there's something else playing, anything from Willie to Rosemary, and then she asks and on the right day, in the right weather, in a strange sort of mind, my eyes crinkle at the corners. 

I kept failing today, dropping things, spilling my coffee, every camera battery in the house was dead and I had content to produce, and then I went for a run to beat the rain that didn't show until hours later, and the run was shit. I wanted to cry and my injury was flaring up and everything hurt. I limped home, wanting to give up, and curled up in my bed and watched Girlboss and felt sorry for myself, and then I jumped up and kept pressing on anyway, realizing that yesterday, when I had shit and puke to keep me company during a bout of food poisoning (thank you leftover bolognese), I managed to grocery shop, work, drop off and pick up, carry on playground conversation, make calls, and make signs to Save the Bugs for my little advocate, our sweet seven year old that doesn't want the bugs to be squished, but to be carted outside and given life. Isn't this what we do? We really do keep on, and as overplayed as that sign was, keepin' on is really what so much of life is.

The Old FAQ Page

Posting this because it's kind of funny, and I didn't want to lose it! This was originally written and posted when we traveled, and I think it was written Fall 2015, there are some later adaptations.

This is a list of the most frequently asked questions we get about our Airstream - and the list is long! These are all questions we are asked on a daily basis. We have compiled this list to help other Airstream/vintage trailer renovators or those just curious - because while we are so flattered and amazed that all of you trust our work, design, and advice, we can no longer keep up with all the emails, inquiries, and questions pouring in on a daily basis, as much as we wish we could respond to everyone individually, it's just not possible with our schedule. However, hopefully this compiled list will help!

**If you can't find something on this list, have extensive questions, or would like design assistance please feel free to send an email to kate@birchandpine.co. We are currently setting up Skype/FaceTime consultations to meet with Kate and/or her wife, Ellen. Kate is now offering her Airstream design services: concepts, layouts, finishes, fixtures, and decor, so if you are interested, please send her an email and start a conversation. We are also taking on Airstream renovation projects on a case-by-case basis, so just send us an email if you have a project for us!

AIRSTREAM FAQ

 

  • What year is your Airstream? 1957. This is the most asked question, on the road and online.
  • What model is it? Overlander.
  • Is it a single or double axle? Single.
  • Do you know how dangerous it is to tow a trailer with only one axle? Thankfully, we are well-read and intelligent human beings who researched issues with single axles and understand that our bearings have to be repacked regularly and we must check our tire pressure daily. We do a multi-point inspection before every drive. We also trust that the Airstream has made it 58 years without incident and as long as we are thorough and diligent in our maintenance and inspections, we'll keep her going down the road smoothly.
  • How long is it? How wide? How tall? 26 feet, tongue to bumper. 7 feet wide. We don’t know how tall, we’ve never measured it.
  • What do you haul with? We haul the Airstream with a 2014 Toyota 4Runner.
  • How can a 4Runner haul an Airstream? How much does your Airstream weigh? The 4Runner can haul 4700 pounds. The Airstream weighs around 3500 pounds with our stuff inside. So…with ease, and we get pretty great gas mileage to boot.
  • Did you renovate the interior? Yes we did!
  • Did you have to gut the entire interior? Yes, we did. As much as we loved the vintage 50’s interior and would have happily breathed new life into the original fixtures, not much was salvageable. The Airstream had been left to rot in a field for too many years and had been given some odd modifications through it’s various owners. The trailer was overrun with mice (dead and alive), feces, nests, trash. There was a huge amount of mold and rot, not only on the subfloor, but in the cabinetry. The flooring also contained asbestos, as well as various adhesives used throughout. The insulation was completely chewed through, as well as the wiring…the mice had made nests and tunnels in the walls. It wasn’t habitable in any shape or form. We had no choice but to rip the insides out down to the steel chassis and exterior shell. We then were able to repair the chassis ourselves by installing new cross beams where old ones had rusted through and then apply a special paint called POR-15 to stop the rust. Afterward, we were able to install a new subfloor and start with a completely fresh, new, and clean blank slate. *We were able to sell the original fridge to a guy that does Airstream restorations and used a few deco hinges in our new design.
  • Did you do it yourselves? We didn’t hire a single person. Not a contractor, not an electrician, not a plumber, not an Airstream expert. We did every single bit of the work ourselves, with occasional help from friends and family on some of the finishing touches: cabinetry building, paint, et cetera. We did every single step ourselves, from demolition to repairing the chassis to riveting to designing the new interior to choosing fixtures and finishes to polishing the exterior.
  • But you’re women. How did you know how to do it all? First of all, way to be progressive. Second, that’s super offensive. Third, we’re educated, talented, and resourceful women who aren’t afraid of sweat and hard work.
  • Did you polish the exterior? Yes, we have started polishing, but didn’t have enough time to work on the project when we still lived in a brick and mortar home with a driveway to renovate in. We have to finish the polishing while out on the road, which is quite the challenge: you cannot in campgrounds due to noise and mess, and you have to be able to plug in. We also do not carry a ladder and/or scaffolding with us. We do not recommend waiting to polish while out on the road, if at all possible.
  • Did you do it yourselves? See above.
  • How long did it take? Eight days, eight hours a day. We still have maybe another sixteen hours or so to go before it’s completely at mirror shine.
  • Where do you sleep? When we first designed the interior, we had our bedrooms swapped: Ellen and Kate in the living space, and Adelaide in the back. We changed things up after living in the trailer for three months, and just swapped spaces. Ellen and Kate’s bed is a full size and converts from a seating space during the day to a bed at night. Adelaide sleeps on one of the cozy benches in our dining nook and loves it.
  • Do you have a full kitchen? We have the necessities. Currently, we cook on an induction stove top and use a cooler as a fridge. We have a sink and faucet, fresh water tank, and 12v pump that supplies our water when off grid and we can last five days without filling our tank and replacing the ice in our cooler. That’s about as long as most fresh food will last in a refrigerator anyway. We have plans this fall and winter to install a fridge and a wood stove (which we will use to cook on when entirely off grid, as well as heat the interior). Our kitchen space is fairly good-sized, most Airstream designs just have one counter space, but we have two separate workspaces opposite of one another to form the kitchen workspace triangle, which is optimum for prepping food.
  • Do you have a bathroom? How does it work? Yes, we have a bathroom. Currently, we have a composting toilet and a shower. There is not a sink in the bathroom yet, but we hope to put one in someday. So far, it hasn’t been a priority, the kitchen sink suffices for washing our hands and faces and brushing our teeth.
  • You have a dog AND a cat in there? Where does the cat’s litter box go? The cat’s box is in the bathroom, hidden away next to the composting toilet. Unless I point it out to people touring the Airstream, they don’t know it is there. He slips through a cutout in the cabinet and can access his box immediately. The lid lifts off the cat box cabinet so we can clean out the litter box.
  • Does the cat try to flee? Yes, but we have a leash for him so he can sit and look out the open door, which he and the dog both love to do.
  • Where did you get your light fixtures? We have two separate styles. Our brass sconces are from Schoolhouse Electric, and they are AC. Our overhead lights are from Vintage Trailer Supply, and run on 12v (DC) power.
  • Where did you find all your replacement/replica parts for the Airstream? Surely they were difficult to find! We found nearly every single thing we needed via Vintage Trailer Supply. Replica window cranks, running and tail lights, fresh and gray tanks, fans, replica porch light, water pump and many plumbing supplies, window seals, overhead interior lights, door knob and deadbolt, buck riveting kit, you name it. It was a fantastic and completely necessary resource. If you are starting an Airstream renovation (or other vintage trailer) start there first. Not to mention, their customer service is extraordinary and they will stay on the phone with you and problem solve as much as you need!
  • Where do you store your tools while on the road? Essentially, the back of our 4Runner is our garage. We have three totes that fit in the back neatly and they store anything from a drill to screwdrivers to sporting goods and Ellen’s woodworking tools and supplies.
  • What is your storage situation like in the Airstream? You don’t have external storage like new Airstreams and campers, and it doesn’t look like you have much cabinetry to offer storage solutions. We have cleverly hidden storage under our bench seats in the dining nook, in the console at the front of the trailer, under the bed, and in all of the cabinets. We don’t have much stuff!
  • So what did you bring with you? Kitchen tools, clothes, shoes, jewelry (Kate), toys (Adelaide) books we couldn’t part with, backpacking gear, a tent, yoga mats, blankets and pillows, two sets of sheets and four towels (in case we have guests or can’t find a laundromat for awhile), art, beading, and weaving supplies, one laptop, one iPad, necessary chargers, Kate’s camera gear (two DSLR’s, various lenses, flash, various film cameras), Ellen’s woodworking gear (tools, a hand planer, solid slices of hardwood, sanding block, sandpaper), and then of course, decorative items to make it homey: baskets, living plants, throw pillows, macramé wall hangings, a copper jewelry box that belonged to Ellen’s grandmother, sentimental pieces we’ve made for one another.
  • How do you travel with live plants? We actually don’t have any of the plants we brought with us from our old house in Kentucky, since we crossed the US/Canada border six different times this summer (once to Ontario, once to visit my aunt in Vancouver, and then once more to drive to Alaska), so keep that in mind if you bring along plants while traveling full-time and want to cross any borders: it’s not allowed to bring live plants across the border – and they ask about it at every single border crossing and will make you throw them away if you have them. Now that we are done crossing the border for awhile, we decided to purchase new plants (Kate can’t live without them in a space). Ellen built plant boxes for several of the plants, which can be set in a safe and secure place on the floor, and those in round or hanging containers are set gently in the sink and then secured with old towels so they do not shift around when the Airstream is in motion. Most of the plants are succulents, which are very hardy. As soon as we stop at a campsite and set up, the plants are the first thing Kate addresses, setting them near the windows and checking to see if they need water. Because we are constantly in new locations with varying light (direction and strength), it takes moving things around as needed and paying attention a bit more than when in a house, but it’s definitely worth it.
  • Why did you elect to not keep or reinstall upper cabinetry or tall cabinets? Vintage 50’s Airstreams are much shorter and a foot less wide than Airstreams from the late 60’s-on, and Kate, who designed the interior, felt that with the limited head space, the Airstream felt too closed in with the overhead bins and taller cabinetry of the original interior. Keeping the Airstream walls and ceiling bare would make the space feel more open and airy. We have plenty of storage down low (see above), so it was the right decision for our design and space. However, we did just install open shelving in our kitchen, but we felt that open shelving, as opposed to cabinetry, would keep the same airiness. We obviously only use it when stopped!
  • What kind of insulation did you install? We used a mix of traditional fiberglass insulation and foil-wrapped foam. We wanted a more eco-friendly alternative, but couldn’t afford it at the time. It was a tough call to make, but we stay nice and warm and that’s what matters, right? The fiberglass insulation is in the walls, and the foam is in the ceiling – it was easy to cut and slide into place and didn’t fall out before we got the ceiling panels back in. Win win.
  • What’s your electrical situation look like? Do you have both AC and DC power? Do you have a battery? We have a converter box (available from Vintage Trailer Supply), a battery, and AC and DC power. Eventually we hope to install a solar system so we can be entirely off grid, but that is likely something we’d do next spring or summer.
  • Do you have propane? No, and we don't want your opinion on it. We weren't comfortable with running new propane lines, couldn't afford to hire someone, and didn't feel it was for us. We're doing just beautifully without it and don't ever wish we had it.
  • Do you have an air conditioner? A heater? No and no. We do just fine without A/C and we are purchasing a tiny wood stove soon.
  • How much did you purchase your Airstream for? It was listed on Craigslist for $4,800. We didn’t want to spend more than $4k, so when we decided to buy it, we asked the seller if he’d be willing to let it go for four thousand. Thankfully, he said yes.
  • Where did you find your Airstream? We found it in Michigan and were living in Kentucky at the time. We drove ten hours north with only a few Craigslist photos to go off of. We arrived after dark and viewed the Airstream by the light of the seller’s flashlight and our headlights. We knew it was the one as soon as we stepped inside, even if the project ahead of us was monstrous. It didn’t have working lights, so driving at night was quite the adventure, so we got a hotel room nearby and then sorted it all out in the morning. It was pure chaos trying to find a place to get us set up with lights, repacked bearings, and new tires, but we did and got on our way safely.
  • What was your budget for your renovation? We hoped to spend $5,000 dollars (in addition to the purchase price). We ended up spending about three times that amount and aren’t finished.
  • How long did you expect the renovation to take? How long did it actually take? We hoped we could finish in six months, but there’s this weird thing that gets in the way – full-time jobs, raising a child, selling a house, real life – not to mention, it was much more work than we anticipated. We bought the Airstream on May 29, 2014 and left Kentucky on our full-time travel journey on May 29, 2015. Dates not planned, but a bit freaky!
  • Are you still renovating? While the Airstream was completely livable when we took off from the Bluegrass state: it had working electrical, plumbing, all cabinetry and beds were built, the bathroom was built, et cetera, we had yet to polish and as we’ve lived in it, we realized how we actually use the space and we have begun to adapt the space as needed. We built a dining nook, walls, and added open shelving while in Portland for a few days in August 2015, and are in the process of adding countertops, a fridge, and woodstove. Other plans include a state-of-the-art composting toilet, a bathroom sink and mirror, adding shiplap to the bathroom/bedroom walls (to match the bedroom/kitchen shiplap), finishing the exterior polish, and installing a solar system.
  • Why didn’t you do all of this work before taking off? We worked extremely hard in the year we had between buying the Airstream and the day we took off on our journey. We closed on our house one week before our departure date, which meant that we no longer had a driveway space to work – but the goal was always to travel once our house sold, which was the only thing keeping us in Kentucky. Until then, we spent every single weekend working in the Airstream (12-15 hour days) and most every weeknight after we’d get off work. In between, keep in mind that we were selling our house (cleaning for multiple showings a week), both working full-time, raising a child, and living normal life: we had chores, errands, bills to pay, extracurricular activities for our kid. Not to mention we were downsizing our entire life in order to travel: we were constantly sorting through our belongings, taking them to donate, having yard sales (eight in total), and researching and planning. It was a crazy busy year…and there just wasn’t time to do everything before we left. Our goal was to make the Airstream livable and functional, and then see how we used the space before we purchased and added luxuries. Another HUGE factor: we refused to go into debt for this renovation and wanted to do everything right the first time. So far, we’ve definitely made mistakes, but we’ve not gone into any debt. So in summary: stay out of debt, do things right the first time around, and it was a massive project – we started from scratch. We had nothing existing to work with – and built up from there. And it’s just like any other home – improvements will always need to be made.
  • What wood did you use to build your cabinetry, beds, and walls? We used a mix of ¼” and ¾” birch plywood and then sealed it with a matte finish sealant.
  • What is your flooring? We laid down Smartcore flooring, which is a 100% waterproof and lightweight option comprised of vinyl and bamboo. We loved the look, and with a kid, dog, and cat, we knew the waterproof element was essential. We chose a dark finish to ground the light birch cabinetry and white walls, and really loved the texture.
  • Where did you get your curtains, that gorgeous white faucet, your pretty wire drawers, your dining table? We purchased some items from Ikea or other hardware stores, and built or made others. If you have any design questions, please feel free to email us about a consultation.

TRAVEL FAQ

 

  • What do you do for a living? Kate is a freelance commercial and lifestyle photographer. Ellen was a high school art teacher for seven years before leaving her position to travel full-time. She is now in the process of starting a small woodworking shop and is planning on returning to school next fall for a second masters degree.
  • How is it possible for you to live on the road full-time? We were able to start our journey comfortably with a hefty savings, but it is necessary for us to work along the way. Kate takes photography gigs along the route, and Ellen finds work whenever she can. So far, we’ve not had any trouble finding work or maintaining a steady income. While we went pretty hard and fast over the summer in our travels (some of it out of necessity with personal and work commitments), we have now slowed down and are staying in places for weeks at a time: this keeps costs low. We also try to free camp whenever possible…staying in RV parks and campgrounds can be really pricey and you could easily spend more than the cost of a mortgage over the course of a month just to plug in (or sometimes not even have that luxury, but be paying $$$ for just a parking spot under some trees).
  • How long have you been traveling so far? We have been on the road, actually traveling outside of the familiar, for 3.5 months (we started traveling on May 29, 2015).
  • How long do you plan to travel? We hope to travel for at least one year, but it’s possible we may travel for a little over that. Ellen will likely be returning to school for her MFA next fall, so we’ll have to stop then.
  • Will you continue to live in the Airstream when you stop traveling? It’s possible, but it is all dependent on where we are when we stop traveling and what sort of place we could find ourselves parked. We don’t have much desire to live in an RV park for an extended period of time.
  • Will you keep the Airstream even if you don’t reside in it? Most likely, yes. We hope to build a tiny house sometime in the next decade and use the Airstream as a guest house or rent it out on AirBnb or maybe use it as a home studio space. We absolutely love our Airstream and don’t see parting with it anytime soon!
  • Where have you been so far? So far, in order: we have been to Ohio, Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia again, Yukon Territory, Alaska, Oregon again, and California.
  • Do you miss anything about "real" life? Yes, of course, even though this is just as real as any life anyone else is living. We miss regular showers, our front-loading washer and dryer in a private laundry room, and ice in our water!
  • Where are you currently? Why don't you share your location online - I don't know where you are! We value our privacy. Do you share the location of your home online? Our home is mobile, so we like to keep the details of where its parked to ourselves and the people we personally know.
  • Why don't we see more photos of your daughter? Most moms post photos of their kids to Instagram. Why don't you? It doesn't even look like you have a kid from your Instagram. Do you not care about your kid? We should probably politely answer this question, although Kate being the feisty person she is might slip out a 'fuck off' for asking such a shitty question. There are several reasons for why we don't post photos of our daughter - which, by the way, should not be construed in any way as judgmental of those who do post regular photos of their kids. Kate follows many amazing, inspirational mamas online who post photos of their kids every day and they are some of her absolute favorite accounts to follow! For us, it makes us uncomfortable to share our daughter's face online. She's five years old - and doesn't really even understand what the internet IS. Shouldn't she have the option of choosing whether or not she wants her face plastered across the internet for anyone and everyone to see? There are some sicko people out there and that makes us (especially Kate) uncomfortable...really uncomfortable. Physically ill. So you might see her on occasion, but rarely will you see her face - and she'll likely be in photos with one of us. So whether or not we post our kid online shouldn't be a concern of yours - and that shouldn't EVER be a measure of how much we love her. Yeah, fuck off.
  • Where did you live before you started traveling? Frankfort, Kentucky.
  • Why did you decide to travel? There were many, many reasons. Mostly, we just weren’t happy – our life together wasn’t looking like the life we’d imagined or hoped for ourselves. It was incredibly difficult being a gay couple raising a child in rural Kentucky, yes – but even deeper than that, we just longed for more in life. Getting up, going to work, commuting hours a day to jobs that weren’t fulfilling, and barely seeing one another wasn’t for us. Taking care of a large house with a large mortgage was overwhelming: we didn’t even have time to enjoy the house we worked so hard to renovate and maintain and pay for. We knew we wanted to move or change career paths, but didn’t want to move somewhere we’d never been before (which is what we did when buying a house in Frankfort), and weren’t sure how to afford to go visit all of these far-flung places to see if one would be a good fit…we both traveled extensively in our early twenties, Ellen living abroad for a time and me living and traveling across the United States, and after we stumbled upon these amazing photographs, the answer was abundantly clear: we needed to travel to find home – but in order to do that, we needed to completely free ourselves of the anchors of our current life. When we first started dating, Ellen had told me that she dreamed of building a tiny house someday and showed me this book (which we carry a copy of in the Airstream), and it was one of the first things we really bonded over, as it was my dream as well! We realized that this was just a stepping stone to fulfilling that dream: being free of a mortgage and huge house and being nomadic for a spell could kill two birds with one stone: we could build a tiny house on wheels, save for a brick and mortar tiny home down the line, and travel to find a place to call home. A place where we were accepted, where we could lead fulfilling, family/love centered lives of intention, and build that tiny house together someday.
  • How do you budget for living on the road? We don’t necessarily keep a structured budget, but there are definitely things that we do to keep costs low. We free camp whenever possible, don’t eat out unless it’s an event (for example: we knew that Portland, Oregon, is known for it’s amazing restaurants and bars – we budgeted to spend a good chunk of change on eating out while there), don’t buy snacks and drinks at gas stations, and shop local farmers markets, co-ops, and natural grocers. We stock up on bulk items like recycled paper towels and toilet paper, organic toiletries, and organic cleaning products when in large cities. We honestly don’t spend much money day to day outside of gas and groceries. We don’t have many bills and don’t do touristy stuff (not our cup of tea anyway). We did purchase a Harvest Hosts membership for one year and a National Parks pass for one year (both of which have already paid for themselves), and recommend both for full-time travelers.
  • Do you guys actually eat Whole30/Paleo/organic all the time? Isn’t that difficult while traveling? We do, most of the time! Of course, we enjoy the occasional cheat – which mainly happens at one of our food events (trying a really highly recommended place, truly experiencing a city, et cetera), but for the most part, we eat and enjoy a very strict organic, Paleo diet. We do NOT only eat Whole30, but are always up for adhering to the standards whenever we possibly can. Kate and Ellen both have issues with gluten and dairy, and we try to avoid processed, preserved foods and added sugars. We believe strongly in how food affects the body - Kate went through some major health issues a few years ago that were very scary and involved two surgeries in two years, has chronic depression, and lives with an autoimmune disease, yet has kept all issues under control with this strict way of eating. It’s not just a statement or trend to our family, it’s a necessity: even when traveling. We stock up on bulk items when we can (dried fruit, canned tomatoes, rice pasta), and shop local farmers markets, co-ops, and natural grocers. It does take additional planning and preparation, but we are healthier and happier for it. If we can do it, anyone can.
  • What steps did you take in preparation to travel? We decided to travel in January 2014. Initially, we just did a ton of research! We knew people had been nomadic for years, but we weren’t aware of the sheer number of modern-day travelers. It was really exciting to find so many others who’d gone before us and were sharing their stories on their blogs. For the first few months, we read everything we could on traveling full-time and narrowed our search for a wheeled home to a vintage Airstream and spent every evening scouring Craigslist for Airstreams in our price range. In April of 2014, we decided to start sharing our story in hopes that we could connect with other travelers and share our progress with friends and family. We started our Instagram account and blog and immediately found the amazing Airstream community that we are now a part of, as well as the traveling community as a whole. We sold Ellen’s old ’94 Toyota pickup and traded in my Toyota Camry to purchase a hauling vehicle, a 2014 Toyota 4Runner. One week later, we found, bought, and began renovating our Airstream. We’d been finishing projects on our house and beginning the downsizing process during these months of research and preparation, and listed our house on the market on June 1st, with a fresh coat of paint on everything, new flooring, a brand new bathroom, a brand new living room, landscaping, et cetera – we were hoping to make a profit of at least $20,000 when we sold, so we made sure the house was looking it’s best before listing. We didn’t get an offer on the house until eleven months and two realtors later, and we closed on the house on May 22nd, one week before our scheduled departure date (we planned to at least travel for the summer in hopes that our house would sell before Ellen had to return to teaching in the fall), and made a fantastic profit that bulked up our savings beautifully. We wrapped up projects on the Airstream that next week while staying with a friend, and then departed on our journey on May 29, 2015, sixteen months after the day we decided to travel full-time. While it was often really difficult and we felt very impatient, we needed that entire time for every single thing to fall into place just as it should. We needed a year to renovate, so we needed to have a driveway and a house. The house sold at the perfect time, we decided and purchased a tow vehicle only one week prior to finding our Airstream, our Airstream was $4k and we sold Ellen’s truck for $4k. When money ran out, Kate was offered amazing photography gigs that helped pay for the renovation. We like to believe that through our hard work, patience, determination, and maybe a little fate…we got on the road. It takes a LOT of hard work and sacrifice (we didn’t have weekends or lazy days for over a year) to do something like this – so be prepared. Even if you’re just renovating an Airstream and not prepping to travel, be prepared to work your ass off. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely, one-thousand percent worth every single drop of sweat, every teardrop, every bit of back-breaking physical labor. We promise – if it’s YOUR dream, then it’s worth it.
  • Why an Airstream? We are both obsessed with design and aesthetics. Form + function play a huge role in the way we design our spaces and the things we buy and fill our lives with – so it was a no-brainer to buy an Airstream. They are absolutely stunning and are designed to haul beautifully. They are also so iconic of the great American road trip – which we are on! We also found community and knowledge/advice among the modern-day Airstream dwellers which was completely invaluable and a nice perk in addition to our initial two reasons.
  • Why a vintage Airstream? They are beautiful, classic, lightweight, and affordable. We really wanted a 13-panel 50’s model with a door-within-a-door – and we found one!
  • How do you find places to camp along your route? We use Campendium more than any other resource, but as we’ve gotten a bit more travel-savvy and less nervous, we’ve started to ask park rangers and locals for free camping spots. We strike up conversations with locals at coffee shops or on the street and often find ourselves in some of the most gorgeous locations where we can camp for free. As this is being written, we are camping on a beautiful farm on the Northern California coast with Redwoods, ferns, and other lovely foliage abundant, with an electrical hookup – and it’s free. We simply got to know two really cool people, and now here we are on their stunning property. Also, be sure to check out National and State Park sites, and don’t be afraid to check to see if a campground is really full or not: sometimes they get cancellations or have a spot you might fit in…and we’ve shared our campsite with tent campers before…perhaps someone might share and split the cost with you. Be brave, ask, and do your research. We find that not having a set plan works for us – it might get a bit stressful, but we love the freedom of being able to leave a place whenever we get the itch to hit the road again.
  • Isn’t your life just so dreamy and romantic? This might be one of those questions that when I answer, is going to hit a nerve with some folks. But since it hits a nerve with us every time it’s asked or stated (nearly every day), we figure we’re even, okay? Our answer is…no. It’s not. Yes, there are times where it’s absolutely amazing, and romantic, and maybe even a little dreamy. There was a moment when we were in the Yukon, on the Alaska Highway, with only a few hours between us and the border of Alaska…and we both burst into tears at the beauty of it, at the exact same time. The right song was on, the wind blowing in the windows was the perfect temperature, and the sights stretching out beyond us were like nothing we’d ever seen or experienced. It was like we’d finally arrived – all of the hard work and all of the time and patience were worth this very moment of pure beauty and raw emotion. But these moments, while they seemingly happen all the time on the very curated, TINY glimpse of our lives on social media, are few and far between – because we’re still living life…and dare we say a life that is even more challenging and involved than a stationary one. Tearing down and setting up your house daily, constantly cleaning and picking things up, hauling your house from place to place, plugging in, setting up your water and sewage/drainage, cleaning out your compost (toilet), finding camping, gas, and food in constantly new places – it’s really hard work. Most of our days are not spent frolicking on trails in beautiful locales, most of our days are spent working. After home is set up, real life continues. We are parents, raising a kid. We both work jobs and Kate maintains the blog and Instagram. We cook, clean, and run errands. We teach our child at home, which means a good chunk of weekdays is spent at the table with her, teaching the current standards. We also try to find ways to incorporate our surroundings into her studies, whether that be helping Ellen with a woodworking or Airstream project, going to a local museum, or hitting up a short trail for her Junior Ranger badges. Sometimes, you find yourselves on the side of the road to Alaska with no cell service, fixing your busted brake without ever having done it before. Or nearly running out of gas (we now have a gas tank we carry with us). We aren’t complaining – these are the realities of living on the road…like it or not. It’s not all flowers and trails and pretty landscapes and happy thoughts. People who tell you otherwise aren’t being truthful, or perhaps they have some secret to a perfect life they’re not sharing with the rest of us, or maybe they aren’t on the road yet. The reason we share honestly about the good stuff and the hard stuff…is because we don’t think that lying about the realities of life on the road helps anyone wanting this way of life out or does them any favors. With this way of life trending, a lot of people don’t recognize that it’s seriously hard work to get on the road and stay on the road. While in many ways, things are getting easier as we find our groove out here, that doesn’t mean the hard work stops or that things won’t go wrong in the worst place and time. In summary, it’s dreamy and romantic about 5% of the time for us…the other 95% is just real life happening: it’s just a nomadic life that happens to be in some of the most beautiful landscapes the United States has to offer.