So You Want To Buy An Airstream

For those thinking about buying an Airstream I wanted to share some links that I found helpful when I began my search. I read these articles and joined these groups before going to my first dealership so I could arm myself with as much information as possible.

I have successfully negotiated prices on vehicles before, my mother sold cars for many years and I understand how that process works. I’ve never negotatied for an RV. I usually just pay sticker price (horrible, I know) because I have no idea of the markup percentage or the prices paid by actual buyers. Thankfully, the internet came to my rescue!

First, this article explains the markup and negotiation strategies for new and used Airstreams. “Buying an Airstream: Getting the best deal” is a great source of information on buying from a dealer or a private seller. Here is a preview of a bit of their advice:

Buying an Airstream can be a big purchase. They are one of the most expensive travel trailers you can buy and they hold their value better than all other brands. Making sure you get the best price possible could save you quite a bit of money. Typically you are going to buy from a dealer or an individual seller. Each has rather different strategies…

Head over to the Airstream website to find out what the MSRP is for the models you looked at. Keep in mind options can change prices a fair bit. Google for other’s selling the same trailer and see what they list it for. If you are dealer shopping, stick to dealer offers for comparison. Make note of the best prices you find and where they are offered. The rule of thumb is you are looking to get from 20%-30% off the MSRP. Pretty much no dealer is listing their bottom price on the trailer sticker or online.

Next, join the online Airstream communities on Facebook and the web. Search for and join the Facebook groups Airstream Addicts and Airstream Hunter to see discussions and ask questions – they are an invaluable interactive resource. Search for the website Airstream Classifieds to see what prices vintage, used, and new units are going for. Finally, I recommend joining the forum at www.airforums.com for user information on vintage/remodeled, used, and new products.

Happy Hunting!!

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Navajo National Monument

After driving through Four Corners we headed for the Navajo National Monument. We had heard there were free campgrounds there so that was our initial reason for stopping. It was the halfway point between Pagosa Springs, CO and Zion National Park. I’m so glad we stopped there because it was such a great experience that we would have missed.

The free campgrounds are Canyon View Campground and Sunset View Campground. There are no RV hookups at these sites. Sunset View has spaces for small RVs, but no RVs longer than 28′ are allowed because there is limited turnaround space. Our truck and r-pod fit in the pull through space perfectly.

Road view of our campsite

The views at this campground are lovely. The campground also has flush toilets, a potable water station, and picnic tables/grills at each campsite. It was well maintained and very clean. It was also super peaceful and serenely quiet.

Canyon side view of our campsite, with wild Chianti growing out of the rocks

We walked to the visitor center to view the videos on the Anasazi and Dineh (Navajo) people. There are 3 videos that cycle through and take about 45 minutes. We did a little shopping, too, picking up a hat with 50 SPF shade for hiking and a few medicinal balms.

The medicinal balms are made by Navajo healers and contain natural botanical ingredients from the flora of the area to treat things like insect bites, sore muscles, sunburn, eczema, dry lips, and dry skin. I bought several and can’t wait to try them all. They are the “Medicine of the People” brand.

On the way to Aspen Trail

Next we walked the trails. There are three short trails that originate at the visitor center and take you to different views of the canyon and of the 13th-century Betatakin alcove dwellings of the Anasazi. There are two longer hikes that are lead by a ranger. The first is a 5-mile hike to the Betatakin dwellings that takes 3-4 hours. The second is a 17-mile hike to the Keet Seel archaeological site that can be an overnight trek.

Perhaps in the future when I’m in better shape I can take the longer hikes. We definitely plan to return to the Navajo National Monument when RVing through this area.

Taos New Mexico

So, let me begin by saying we arrived in Taos, NM on May 3rd and the overnight low was 31 degrees. Come mentally prepared for this. We were not, as we left New Orleans with balmy 89 degree days.

We stayed for just one night before heading to boondock in Pagosa Springs, Colorado so we wanted hookups to dump and add a little fresh water.

We found Taos Valley RV Park to be clean, comfortable, easy to find, and a great location with lovely views. I highly recommend it for short or long stays in Taos. Just down the block from the RV Park on the main highway there is a restaurant called Guadalajara Grill with yummy tacos. My husband was tickled that he got to eat “Tacos in Taos”.

We hooked up and then took an Uber into the downtown area for dinner at the famous Taos Inn. They have a great bar, a fabulous restaurant, and live music most nights in the lobby. We had the Cowboy Buddha margarita and it was well made with no shortcuts on the ingredients or the tequila.

We slept well as the RV Park was quiet and woke up the next morning to head to Pagosa Springs. We planned four morning stops: Carson National Forest headquarters for a map, Albertsons on the main highway for Starbucks coffee, a boutique called Substance of Taos to sample their Vapour organic beauty products, and the historic Taos Pueblos.

We nixed the Pueblo because it was 40 degrees and we didn’t want to be outside. Our southern skin wasn’t acclimated enough to the cold yet.

We got maps for the trails because next time we come this way we will boondock in Carson NF.

Coffee in hand we found Substance and waited for them to open as 10am. It was SO worth the wait. Monica was very knowledgeable about Vapour organic cosmetics and they had a great sample display so I could test out the colors and shades. I’ve been interested in this cosmetic company because they are organic, mineral based with not a lot of water in the products so bacteria doesn’t grow as fast. They have natural-looking buildable multi-use pigmented products that I think would be great for a travel beauty routine. I was not wrong! Monica walked me though their primers, their “multi-use stick” colors, their foundations (which I ended up buying even though I usually don’t wear makeup), and their lip glosses.

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I bought a multi-use stick in the color called “Lure”, a velvet lip gloss, and a soft-focus foundation. Monica threw in a few freebie samples for me to try on our trip.

The boutique was amazing in other ways, too. They sold other bath soak salts, soaps, lotions, jewelry, clothing, and hair salon services. If you visit Taos do stop in. You won’t regret it. It’s on the corner of La Placita and Rancheritos.

Leaving Taos and heading north on US 64 you cross the Rio Grande River Gorge and Rest Area. Make plans to stop.

 

 

The gorge views are SPECTACULAR.

 

After the rest area there is the world headquarters of Earthship Biotecture and you can tour their off-grid sustainable homes.

An Unlikely Hiker?

Challenging the image of an average hiker!

“The switchbacks repeated themselves so many times I couldn’t tell what progress I’d made, but there it was, the last one before the crest…”

I really identify with Bruso, who calls herself and “unlikely hiker”. In her 20s she was wholly uninterested in the outdoors. In the years since, she’s has become an avid hiker who works tirelessly to challenge the mainstream’s idea of who recreates outside.

Like Bruso, CityGirl did not grow up recreating in national parks and forests. “We didn’t like the dirt, the bugs or feeling uncomfortable,” she says. “We would much rather watch TV or ride our bikes around the neighborhood.”

At 40 I hiked Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park. I echo Bruso’s sentiments: “As tough of a time as I was having, I was not immune to how beautiful things were and how they sort of sunk into me”. She marveled at the smell of the forest in the summer sun, the sight of fiery wild rhododendrons. On every hike I take I feel the same way.

I’m still learning my limits and building up the stamina and strength it takes to hike strenuous trails. I’ve had two ACL surgeries so my hamstring muscles and tendons are weak and I suffer from Semimembranosus Tendinitis (due to a previous ACL repair surgery). That means I have to pay special attention to my body telling me I’ve done enough.

I’ve read up on and made investments in proper gear. I educate myself on the trails I want to do ahead of time so I know what to expect. Most of all I enjoy reaping the benefits of being an unlikely hiker. My spirituality and mental health both benefit from being out in the wild outdoors surrounded by creation.

Cracker Barrel Overnight RV Parking

So…. last year when we went across the country we stopped at RV parks every night. Once we got to the west coast we found Harvest Hosts and used it to stop overnights at wineries. We also heard about overnight parking at Walmart and tried that on the way back to Louisiana from Washington State. Let’s just say that for light sleepers Walmart may not be ideal. It is very brightly lit (great for security, though) and noisy at night from cars passing by.

This year we used an app called AllStays to find places to park overnight and sleep in our RV while en route to destinations along our route where we plan to stay for a few days and plan to use campground hook-ups. As I write this post we are on the way from Shreveport, LA to Amarillo, TX. Last night we parked and slept at a Cracker Barrel for the first time and LOVED it.

We arrived around 8pm and found the spots clearly marked for RV parking. There was one other RV parked at the opposite end of the row of spaces. It was quiet, dark, and we parked next to a row of hedges for privacy (and kept that window open with the fan on all night, as it was the perfect temperature outside). I have to say that it was a great first experience. We will look for Cracker Barrel in every quick stopover city from now on!

I also recommend the AllStays app. More on that later.

Keep in mind that this policy could change for all stores or be different at the store you want to stop at, so here are a couple of tips for boondocking overnight at Cracker Barrel:

  • Pick up a map inside any CB for info on locations that allow overnight parking
  • Use AllStays to read about other experiences with that CB location
  • (Or) Call the CB ahead of time and ask if they allow overnighters
  • If you arrive before they close or leave after they open DO buy something in the store or restaurant. You gotta eat anyway, right? They also have great vintage snacks and drinks 🙂
  • Don’t put your jacks down unless you have permission from the store manager
  • Don’t put your slide out and block the adjacent spot (we parked so our slide went out over the grass/hedges)

Top 10 RV Apps for 2018

There are many apps out there that can help make RVing so much easier. Most of the ones we’ve found are free and the ones that cost or require a membership fee are worth it because they pay for themselves within 2 or 3 uses. As part-time RVers we have saved time, money, and stress by using these apps regularly:

  • AllStays Camp & RV

AllStays Camp & RV is perfect for planning your next RV trip and/or for when you’re making decisions on the road. It costs 9.99 and the app more than pays for itself. It helps find truck stops, rest areas, free RV dump stations, free camping options and a lot more. Instead of having separate apps for finding a Cracker Barrel or a Flying J, you only need this one.

  • Harvest Hosts

For a $40 membership fee this app shows you wineries, farms, gardens, and ranches that allow overnight stays in exchange for any purchase. We’ve stayed at picturesque wineries in Northern California, breweries in Montana, and a ranch in Texas. Two of the three actually has water & electric hookups. We simply bought and item as a thank you for allowing the stay; honey at one place, a wine tasting at another, a bottle of wine at another. A great way to see small business with great products in scenic settings all over the country.

  • Google Maps

We use a Garmin Nuvi that a trucker recommended for navigation purposes, but we use our Google Maps app on the fly to determine distances in case we want to stop earlier or later than we planned. We also use this app when we read about a place we want to stop in the future. If you are logged into your google account you are able to save a location on the map. This helps us remember amazing places we’ve been and figure out where we might want to visit next.

  • Yelp

You can find almost anything using this app from a good dog groomer to the best happy hour in town. The reviews are helpful when looking for good food in a new place.

  • Starbucks

It’s not just for coffee discounts either (but we love earning stars for that too!), we’ve saved time/money by using these spots for WiFi and clean bathrooms. When traveling through some states this is the most decent coffee you’ll find, anyway 🙂

  • Weather Channel

Of course you need to know the normal forecast when traveling, but this app has added features: severe weather updates plus air quality and UV indices. You can even see a 15 day extended forecast.

  • MyRadar

Beyond normal forecasts this is a quick way to see the Doppler radar for an entire region so you can plan accordingly. When severe weather is eminent this tool is a lifesaver.

  • Waze

When you’re stuck in traffic in a new city and need to know what’s going on up ahead this app is indispensable. It also shows cops ahead 🙂

  • Instagram

It is likely that other travelers and bloggers you follow are on Instagram (IG) and geo tag their location on the app. If you see they’re nearby, it’s as easy as leaving a comment to see if they want to meet up. It’s also a great way to let family and friends see photos of where you are and what adventures you’re having.

  • GasBuddy

GasBuddy is a free app that displays gas prices around the United States so you can compare and choose where you spend your money. There have been times where we saved over $.20 per gallon thanks to this app.

Bonus! For those RVers who love hiking, mountain biking, and overlanding here are two apps you need to check out:

AllTrails

iOverlander

AllStays Camp & RV App

This is a must have for those interested in boondocking and/or saving money while RVing across the USA.

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After two years of part-time travel we have been consistently impressed with one of our Top 10 Apps for RVing, the AllStays Camp & RV app. It’s a jewel of an app for full or part-time RVers. This app is great for planning, saves you money, and reduces the stress of finding anything from overnight accommodations to free dump stations.At 9.99 it pays for itself the first two times you use it. It’s our #1 must have app for RV traveling.

Main Features

When you launch the app, it shows where you are and displays the services in that area on a scalable map. You can zoom in/out, move the map and choose from standard, satellite, or hybrid map views. Here standard view of me searching for Amarillo, TX.

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There are some of the display categories on the map:

– Camping (e.g. State/National Parks, Casinos, BLM Land, Army Corps, National Forests)

– RV related businesses (e.g. dealerships)

– Rest areas

– Stores (e.g. Camping World, Costco, REI, Walmart)

– Truck Stops (e.g. Pilot & Flying J)

This is what you see when you tap on any of the icons to bring up a quick overview.

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To see additional information, tap on the info banner. In this example, you can see the Cracker Barrel has a overnight parking and a phone number plus reviews and a stay within the past year.

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Usually this page shows extra info like phone number, website, images, reviews, rating, weather, map. There is an “Update” section where users can submit information if there is an issue or change in status for the spot. User submitted information is displayed below the address and GPS coordinates. When you come across outdated information, you can send an update.

Filters

The main categories can be filtered by tapping the options you want to see on the map. To access the filters, tap on “Filter” in the main screen.

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Advanced Filters

From the filter screen, tap on the advanced filters option to search for specific things like free campgrounds.

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Offline Access

The offline access feature is very handy when there’s no cell service.

Save Money with thisApp?

Well…

  • Free dump stations
  • Free RV camping
  • Verified free overnight spots
  • Filter campsites by price