Blogs & Vlogs
The University of YouTube is a wonderful thing. We learned a lot by watching the experiences of other who have gone before us. We have watched more than a few YouTube channels over the past few years; here are a few of our personal favorites. I expect everyone’s “favorite YouTuber” list will be different!
- A Streamin Life (now A Dreamin Life). Steve and Courtney Adcock retired in their 30’s, sold their home and went full-time in their Airstream Classic for a few years. They now live off the grid in eastern Arizona — maybe they will take some more Airstream adventures this year! No kids and two dogs. We liked their travel style and philosophy. Very easy to watch their videos. We’ve even visited a couple of times: once in northeast Pennsylvania and again in Arizona.
- Living In Beauty. In 2016, Jim and Carmen Beaubeaux, two 60-something year olds, sold their California house, packed up their Airstream and headed out onto the open road. Carmen and Jim maintain a beautiful blog, which frankly has been much of the inspiration for ‘Underway Shift Colors’. Every other week (or so) they publish two in-depth, very thoughtful, and beautifully-produced long-form blogs, with an audio track to accompany! I love their photographs, their info-graphics and their layout. We have been fortunate to meet up with Jim and Carmen a couple of times already as our paths randomly crossed — I hope the next meeting is sooner than later!
- LongLongHoneymoon. One of the oldest Airstream sites on YouTube, we think it’s also one of the best. Sean and Kristy Michael have spent over a decade part-timing with their Airstream. They estimate they have towed over 100,000 miles, visited 49 states (sorry Hawaii) and several Canadian provinces. They are simultaneously enormously entertaining and informing (the secret to a good YouTube channel, right!?). Our paths crossed last year in Grand Teton. We have probably learned as much or more from them as from any other single source.
- Technomadia. Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard hit the road in 2006 and have been full-time mobile for 15 years now. They have lived in a converted bus, a boat and a van. Together Cherie and Chris run the Mobile Internet Resource Center (more about that later). Technomadia is there personal channel, but there’s plenty of technology and geekiness mixed in.
- Embracing Detours. T.J and Bri sold their house, bought an Airstream, and started the full-time life about four years ago. No kids, two dogs, and a nice, even, low-keyed presence. They have been quietly and very successfully building their their channel. We met them briefly at Alumapalooza in 2019.
- Adventurous Way. Matt and Diana are a young, high-tempo, British and Latvian couple. They are traveling the country to see every National Park Service site. They are also into serious DIY modification of their RV. Diana was very generous with her advice to us a couple of years when we were considering starting a YouTube channel of our own (who knows, maybe some day that will still happen!).
- Cruising the Cut. In Britain, David Johns, now in his early 50’s, ditched the conventional lifestyle (there’s a theme in the blogs and vlogs we follow!) and now lives aboard his 55 foot narrowboat, while exploring the canals of England and Wales. The channel doesn’t have much to do with Airstreaming or RVing across the U.S. honestly, but David is a very soothing presence on YouTube in his British-BBC-presenter way. And you have to listen carefully for the droll jokes that go floating by, along with the ducks in the canal. 100% relaxation.
And our Vlog! Well, we never really got around to creating it, despite the best of intentions. But we do have this cool (I think so!) timelapse video towing our Airstream through Yellowstone in October 2019! Enjoy!
For better or worse, we get most of our (non-video) social media from various Facebook Groups. The ones we use most often are:
- Airstream Addicts. With over 56,000 members, about half of whom are active in any given month, ‘Addicts’ is far and away the largest Airstream group on Facebook. We found (stumbled upon?) the group early in our journey, and have learned a lot, first by lurking, then by asking questions, and now as contributors. Addicts welcomes everyone (who is kind!) who has an interest in Airstreams: Renovators; first-timers; full-timers; early-career; retirees; never-done-this-before; camped for 40 years. It doesn’t matter, we like everyone (who is kind!). Full disclosure: Dave is one of the Admins of this group.
- Airstreaming for Newbies. Just what it says, a great place to start when you don’t even know what questions you should be asking!
- Airstream Classic Series Owners. A niche group to be sure, but nice to know when you ask a question that others in the group are likely familiar with your model and the specific ‘quirks’ (character?) of your type of Airstream.
- RV to Freedom. This group is more geared towards those with a plan to full-time in their RV. A few years ago, this was an independent group run by a couple who offered a course in “RVing for Dummies” (my title, not theirs!). Subsequently they sold the course and the Facebook group site to Escapees. We got a lot out of doing the course: some of the big things to think about and watch for, as well as simply learning the RV jargon and becoming comfortable with the lexicon.
Here is a list a brief description of some other RV services (broadly defined) we have found to be useful. Unless noted, we do not have an affiliate or any other kind of relationship with the products or companies — but we have found value in their services.
RV Clubs and Rallys
- Wally Byum Caravan Club International (WBCCI). A.k.a. ‘Wally Byum Airstream Club’ and ‘Airsteam Club International’. Whatever they are called this week, they are the original Airstream Club. You can join one of their many chapters or be a ‘member at large’ (our choice). Lots of opportunities for big rallies, meetings, join-ups, and caravans big and small. Through the club, there are some amazing opportunities, like the chance to participate in the Rose Bowl Parade or the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
- Escapees RV Club. Another large RV club, this one is not brand-centered. Escapees has rallies, caravans, etc. They also make a lot of efforts to attract and retain 20-, 30-, and 40-something year olds who are full-time RV’ers and working on the road.
- Alumapalooza. The (mostly) annual rally and gathering of Airstreamers on the factory grounds, nestled in the soybean fields of western Ohio. We attended in 2018 (before we had even bought an Airstream!) and again in 2019. Unfortunately our work schedule with the National Park Service conflicts with the present scheduling, but hopefully the stars will align once again for us to participate! Lots of talks, information, but mostly the opportunity to build and develop friendships and camaraderie with other Airstreamers. Subsequent to our meetings at Alumapalooza, we have hiked with our new friends in the Tetons, and visited when our paths have crossed in California, Texas, Ontario and Pennsylvania. We both had a great time and collected memories and stories to tell for years to come!
Places to Camp
- Harvest Hosts. Our ‘go to’ site when we are traveling from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ and just need a safe (and preferably quiet) place to spend the night with no fee. We are fortunate with our setup we can easily go five to seven days in a row without any services (power, water, sewer, etc.), so a overnight stay with no services is no problem! Harvest Host has a network of over 2100 farms, wineries, breweries, museums and even golf courses. All locally owned, all different, and (so far!) all good to great experiences! It is expected and customary you patronize the place where you are staying. So far our problem has not been finding things to buy, but rather restraining ourselves from buying too much wine, beer, or homemade food! It’s a great program and well worth its annual fee.
- Campendium. Great collection of campsites, parking places and even dump stations for RV’s. When Harvest Hosts is not an option, Campendium is usually the second App I’ll look at. We’ve found the reviews to be generally reliable. Anything rated 4- or 5-stars is pretty safe, and even the 3-star locations can be OK as long as you set your expectations appropriately. Their reviews are free and open-access, but we pay a bit of money to them each year, as we get a lot of value from the site.
- All-Stays. Another good site for RV campground reviews. They also have an ‘Allstays Military’ app that lists and rates Department of Defense ‘Family Camps’ (or FAMCAMPS in military-speak).
- U.S. Military Campgrounds. This website is privately maintained by a retired US Air Force person. It has lots of useful reviews. Ratings sometimes differ between this site and Allstays — but when both site have positive things to say about a location, it’s usually pretty good. The military campgrounds themselves are almost always located on a military base and maintained through their respective services Morale Welfare and Recreation offices as ‘Family Camps’.
- Wolfs Camping Resort. OK, full disclosure: my brother is the owner of this RV resort :-). Located just off Exit 53 on I-80 in western Pennsylvania, or about 100 miles from our home, it’s a great first stop whenever we head west, and an equally good final stop to make sure everything is cleaned up, emptied out (if you know what I mean), and of course, catch up with Peter! Very family-friendly. The resort has a 9-hole golf course, 18-hole mini-golf, a 9-acre lake for fishing, large heated pool, great snack-bar, plenty of space for kids to round around and burn off steam, and all the other things you’d expect at an RV resort!
- As mentioned above, the RV to Freedom course was sold in 2019 to Escapees, so I can’t comment on what the content of the course is now or how it is currently taught. In its previous iteration, we found it to be very useful to learn the basics. Even though we do not ‘full-time’ in our Airstream, deploying for four to six months at a time has a lot in common with the full-timers! Leave a comment at the bottom of this page if you have taken the course under Escapees!
- How to Plan your Epic RV Adventure, by Courtney Adcock, was a most useful course for me. Courtney is an engineer in her previous life, and the course provides a very methodical and logical process to plan an RV trip, big or small. Courtney advocates making the most out of Google MyMaps. Since I already use Google maps heavily for planning, this was a pretty easy step for me. Courtney’s lessons on Google My Maps alone make the course worthwhile!
Connectivity and Fuel
- Mobile Internet Resource Center. Like many (most?) RV’ers today, we need, or at least really like, to be connected to the world most of the time. Whether it’s for family, vestiges of previous day jobs, RVWeather, or just entertainment, connectivity is an expected part of life, like water, power and sewer. Chris and Cherie, of Technomadia fame run the Mobile Internet Resource Center (MIRC). They are a ‘freemium‘ business model with a lot of information accessible at no cost. We belong to the paid services: you get a ‘heads up’ on any significant changes to the cell carriers’ data plans, access to Chris and Cherie, and the knowledge that you are helping make their valuable services possible. It was through the MIRC that we learned about an unlimited Verizon data access plan for $65/month. It was also through MIRC that we found out Verizon had offered too good a deal to its customers, so they were going to shut down the plan to new subscribers, but would grandfather its existing customer base. We picked up the data plan a few months before we really needed it — and that has been our single best connectivity decision since we bought the Airstream, so thank you Chris and Cherie!
- TSD Logistics. A trucking company based in Texas, TSD Logistics offers non-truckers (primarly RV’ers) their discounted rates on diesel fuel at many truck-stops nationwide. With a 30 ft trailer and an F250 whose turning radius is about that of a Nimitz-class Aircraft Carrier, we fuel up at truck stops whenever possible. As you’ve probably seen though driving down the freeways, truck-stop diesel prices are not cheap! It turns out the diesel pumps at the truck-stops are quite different. In addition to being high capacity, they do not take normal credit cards like a typical gas pump. You can get around this by going into the store, stand in line, pre-pay for your fuel, then go back into the store and get your receipt. PITA. The card you get from TSD Logistics allows you to use the diesel pumps in the truck lanes with no going back and forth for pre-authorization. The discounts range from OK to fantastic. With a little trip planning, you can save 10-20% on your fuel cost. Before everyone gets too excited, you should know this card works only on diesel pumps at in the truck-stop refueling lanes. Their card will not work for gasoline, nor will it work on pumps that take normal credit cards.
Maintenance and Upgrades
- Can-Am RV Centre. We bought our used Airstream here, in London Ontario. Andy Thomson runs a great dealership. His forte though is towing and hitches, and ensuring whatever car/SUV/truck and trailer combo comes through his lot, it leaves with the best possible set-up. When we started on this journey, my knowledge of the details of hitching and towing was just about … zero. It was one of my greatest concerns going forward. While I have driven big things (see video above) in my previous lives, towing 53 feet of truck and trailer through crowded streets and on aggressive freeways concerned me. Andy ensures you have the right hitch and the right setup for your specific combination. We are happy to now count Andy as one of our friends, and look forward to the border re-opening so we can visit Can-Am again!
- Airstream Factory Service Center. You would hope that the guys (and gals) who built the Airstream would be able to maintain it — and sure enough the Airstream service center in Jackson Center Ohio is the place to go if you want the job done right the first time. Whatever your maintenance issue may be, chances are excellent they have seen it, and fixed it, before. They are polite, timely, and their estimates are very close to the actual cost. I could not call it a cheap place to get service, but believe it is very good value. We are fortunate to live one (long) day’s tow from ‘the Mothership’.