An Airstream Brings Clarity

Posted on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 @ 09:40 AM

February 28, 2011 | by Becky Blanton

Not everyone buys an Airstream because the siren song of full-time nomadic living has called them. Some people consider an Airstream an investment in simplicity—a way to shed the weight of conventional living in favor of a more simplified life. Deke and Tiffani Waters are two such people. The two worked at the same company: Tiffani was in human resources, Deke was a computer game producer she recruited. Over time they got to know each other, and eventually married, and that is when their journey to simplicity truly began. 


Opposites attract, and the spark of their different lifestyles may have played a role in their initial vision of what constituted happiness, Deke admitted. “I’ve always lived a pretty simple lifestyle,” Tiffani said. “And I’ve always been a huge consumer. Loved my toys,” Deke said. He admitted he had expensive tastes and was a major consumer of anything electronic. “When I moved into Tiffani’s apartment after we got married I think the electric bill quadrupled,” he said.

Tiffani’s 600-square foot, one bedroom apartment proved too small for two adults—one with an addiction to electronics and computers, plus their dog, and their combined furniture, books and clothes. They did what any young married couple did: they went out and bought a larger condo, 2.5 bedrooms, to hold all their stuff. Then they continued to do what many married couples in their early 30s do—accumulate more stuff in pursuit of happiness.

“We were both working and doing our thing,” Deke said, “And then we took a vacation and everything changed.” In 2009 they took a trip to a little island off the Yucatan Peninsula called Isla Holbox. They spent a week without phones, work, office pressures and stress. In the place of stress they found people who “exuded fulfilled lives.”

“It was great,” Tiffani said. “We just fell in love with the simplicity.” She had always loved simplicity, but as a couple they’d never experienced such happiness in just being together, being with friends and seeing the possibilities of a life different than what they were living.

“I couldn’t believe how many of the people we met were truly happy, I mean soulfully content. And they weren’t living anything like we were in Chicago. We talked about it on the way home and decided then to simplify our lives,” Deke said. “For the first time, my wife and I clearly saw what’s possible when you find a way to follow your passion and do exactly what you love all day, every day.”

Once they got home they created a 5-year plan for their lives, along with a list of “must haves,” for the relationship.

  • We want to spend more quality time with each other.

  • We want to travel and experience more.

  • We want enough money to afford the lifestyle that makes us most content.

  • We want to work less for other people, more for ourselves.

  • We want to enjoy our waking hours, not dread them.

  • We want to leave a small environmental footprint on the places we live and visit.

They also wanted to travel. So they decided an Airstream was the best solution to living and working the dream life. They already owned a 22’ Airstream and considered living in it full-time, but decided to upgrade to a new 27-foot Airstream CCD.

While the two waited on delivery of their new trailer they began the big purge of their condo. A lifelong consumer, Deke admitted that he was a “stuff collector,” and had brought his materialism into the marriage. “We realized we were just collecting a lot of material things and we didn’t need them. They weren’t what was really important to us,” Deke said. “The mortgage, car payments, furniture, books, clothes—everything added up to more stuff.”

For the next year they sold everything they could and gave away what they couldn’t sell. They rented their condo and have begun moving to their new Airstream, at an RV park in Texas. Even with their life in boxes and more things to do before the big move, they’re still excited about their adventure.

To help make it easier for others who want to simplify as well, the couple started a blog (at about the process: where to sell things, how to purge, and life as full-timers working full-time jobs while living in a mostly permanent location.


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Bearing Up Well In A Japanese Airstream

Posted on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 @ 09:54 AM

February 28, 2011 | by Becky Blanton

The very real threat of Japan’s sometimes marauding bears is what drove Junichi Kanasugi and his wife and son to buy an Airstream. The family, who lives in Yokohama, Japan, used to be avid tent campers. But Japanese bears have found foraging near cities much easier than foraging in the dwindling wilderness.

Kanasugi says the family was never attacked, but they did yearn for more solid—yet mobile—walls around them. Four walls and a roof would not only allow them to enjoy the simple pleasures of staying near the places they love, they’d also be able to just relax.


A little over four years ago, Kanasugi’s son convinced his parents to drive the 30 miles to Airstream Japan in Saitama prefecture, where they fell in love with a 2005 Safari. The Safari was the first of only 10 Safaris made to commemorate the 100th Edition sold by Airstream Japan.

Aside from special trim for the 100th Edition, the trailer is a standard model Airstream with no special modifications. The family can’t use the FM radio due to a different frequency spectrum in Japan, and there are only five campgrounds in Japan with 30-amp power service, but they love their trailer.


The Kanasugis had the sloped garden in front of their house dug out to make a parking space for the Safari, and then poured a concrete slab for the trailer to rest on. The space is complete with 30-amp power, fresh water and a sewage connection.

Speaking through an interpreter, the Kanasugis talked about the trailer. “Most of the time the Airstream serves as a spare room, sometimes for guests, or to relax. No working in here,” the elder Kanasugi winked.

Kanasugi pulls the Safari’s 2.5 tons with a Ford Explorer, left-hand drive SUV. The Explorer only adds to the curiosity factor of the set-up. In Japan right-hand drive is the norm. When asked what kinds of comments he gets from people, the elder Kanasugi laughed, “Many just say, what is this? They called this trailer many names: one guy jokingly called it coal-fired, meaning locomotive, and a third-grader called it a vacuum car, mistaking it for a sewage truck. At a highway service area, many bus travelers admire the vehicle.”


Most of the trailers sold in Japan are the 8-foot wide version, to comply with Japan's traffic laws, which reflect the narrower roads in the country. Like many RV’ers, Kanasugi would have really liked to have the extra six inches of width, but is happy with what he has.

Unlike America, a special license is required to tow the Airstream in Japan. “You need to obtain a special trailer license, normally following 12 hours of driving instruction on a school ground, costing a thousand dollars. Very few people in Japan find time to do this, next to a busy job with little vacation,” he said.

What does Mr. Kanasugi like about the Airstream? “Well,” he says, “Living in a trailer you are all on the same floor and keep close company with the family members and the dog, or with guests. You can move it any time. The body is airtight and silent, no worry about your party upsetting nearby people on a campground. You have all the convenience of modern lifestyle, yet can move your walls-on-wheels to a different place every day.” And, most important of all, “You are bear-safe.”


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This Land Is Kyle’s Land

Posted on Sat, Feb 12, 2011 @ 09:46 AM

February 12, 2011 | by Rich Luhr

Kyle Bolstad has had a few mishaps. He backed into a cement wall once. He ran over his satellite dish another time. He’s been detained at the border, and generally he’s run into his fair share of challenges while full-timing in his Airstream.


But he feels pretty good about it all, because as he said, he’s “… had some truly amazing experiences. I have taken the Airstream on ferries in B.C., Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and the Outer Banks. I have taken it down every single mile of the Pacific Coast Highway from Blaine, WA to San Diego, CA. I went through all 10 Canadian provinces, and have been to 47 US states. I have stayed overnight in countless Walmart parking lots, rest areas, dirt lots, and friends’ driveways.”

“I have traveled over the Golden Gate Bridge, visited Mt. Rushmore, toured 17 US national parks, been stuck in NYC Friday afternoon traffic, walked in the Bay of Fundy at low tide, traveled over the Confederation Bridge, saw the Chateau Lake Louise, the CN Tower, the Chateau Frontenac, and Parliament Hill. I stay in touch with Airstreamers I met in Ohio, Lake Tahoe, Prince Edward Island, Florida, and some I have never personally met.”


Kyle knows that his little mishaps are child’s play in comparison with the travel memories he’s gained—and he’s gaining more every day. Kyle has lived in his Airstream full-time for more than 600 days. After selling most of his belongings from his Chicago apartment in 2009, his 23-foot 2008 CCD International became his home. And he’s definitely digging it: “I could not be any happier with my purchase of the Airstream! No other travel trailer even comes close. It is exactly what I was looking for—inside and out. The iconic exterior and the modern interior are an exact match to my sense of design and usability.”

Kyle has managed to make the open road his home because his work is as flexible as his schedule: he’s an independent software developer who develops websites, iPhone and iPad applications, gives tech seminars, and provides one-on-one tech help to other travelers. Though he’s occasionally constrained by poor Internet access in some locations, he often finds that the free Wi-Fi in RV parks and campgrounds does suffice, and that it can be supplemented at Wi-Fi-enabled coffee shops. His iPhone can be used as a mobile hot-spot when the connection is strong. He no longer needs postal mail—the road delivers all the messages he needs to read.

Weather does dictate much of his winter itinerary, however. “I go where the weather is nice; south in the winter, north in the summer. I find people I already know in various cities and hang out with them. I go back to a place if it is especially nice. If there is absolutely nothing remotely interesting in the area, I just spend the night and keep traveling. Last winter, I spent four months in a campground outside of San Diego. It was warm, and I ended up getting my pilot's license,” Kyle said.

Kyle has made some modifications to the International, such as removing part of the couch and replacing it with a desk. He put in a solar panel to help while boondocking and dry camping, and has gone as long as an entire week just living off solar energy. He replaced the factory-installed marine batteries with zero-maintenance AGM batteries, and installed a surge protector and inverter to safely power his laptop, TV, phone, blender, and more from the Airstream batteries. Other than the occasional mobile setbacks already mentioned, his V6 Volkswagen Touareg has been up to the task, including topping mountain passes over 10,000 feet.

Kyle is fully aware he’s got a mighty good thing going, and he appreciates that other folks feel the same. “I can't tell you how many times random people just knock on my door to see the inside of an Airstream. Even fellow RV’ers seem to take delight when they see me rolling into the campground with something other than the standard white-fiberglass, generic-brand trailer. People, in general, just love the look of the Airstream. They are amazed that I live such a normal life in such a unique and interesting way.”

Kyle posts regular updates to his blog and his website, There you can see his Top Ten list of the fantastic places he’s been, with commentary on what makes them great. And because he’ll be on the move for the foreseeable future, that’s a list that will keep changing. One item is a constant: the Airstream. “Imagine a trendy Manhattan studio apartment with views of the Pacific Ocean, the Rocky Mountains, the fall foliage of New England, and the sandy beaches of the Atlantic. I will be an Airstream fan for life!”

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