Outside Interests reader Jay Thompson has traveled many times with friends, “either to a specific event or destination or just to travel in our Airstream,” he said.
Airstreaming with trailering pals has always been a fun experience for Thompson—and here he offers his guidelines for getting the most out of traveling with others.
Limit the group to two to three rigs.
“The reason for this small group is flexibility of where you will stop, either for a break or to spend the night,” said Thompson. Traveling with four or more rigs requires reservations for camping, and limits finding places to stop to enjoy interesting things along the way.
Start with a final destination in mind, but not necessarily a route.
“Well, maybe a general route,” he said. “One that avoids the Interstate Highway system and large cities as much as possible.” Take back roads and travel at speeds of 55–60 mph or the speed limit; whichever is less, so you can enjoy the drive.
Plan to drive 200 to 300 miles per day.
Planning short travel days allows the flexibility to pause along the way. “You can stop when you find interesting things to see or do, and not be concerned about the schedule,” he said. Start your day’s travel at about 8:30 in the morning and be parked for the night by 4:00 p.m. “Stopping by four permits a relaxing social time around your rigs or a local spot.”
Worth repeating: stop and see what looks interesting along the way.
“Maybe you have a theme for the trip,” Thompson suggested. “Visit wineries, attend a music festival, or whatever you wish to make the trip interesting.” Do some advanced planning before you leave, but don’t hesitate to change or add items as you travel. “We always check out the Visitor’s Bureau when arriving to learn what events and attractions are available,” he said. “Other great options are apps on your phone. Some of our favorites are Yelp, History Here, Around Me, and TripAdvisor. These inform you of nearby events, restaurants, and local history.”
Have a flexible time schedule.
“Don’t stay in one location very long; a day or two,” he said. “This is a traveling trip—enjoy a stopping spot and then move on to more adventure”. If possible, don’t assign an end date for your “traveling with friends” occasion—you may find more places to go and things to enjoy as you progress along the way.
Don’t make reservations.
“This provides the flexibility to vary your travel time per day and route as well as places to stop for a day or two,” said Thompson, with a caveat. “The exception is to make reservations during a holiday period, or if near a popular national park or large city.” Thompson’s group makes their own reservations individually to keep the traveling simple. “We use the AllStays app on our iPhone to locate campgrounds or available boondocking locations.”
Be prepared to boondock…
…whether in natural environments or on blacktop. “Boondocking or dry camping permits an immense amount of flexibility both in your schedule, what to see, and the route to travel,” he said. “Many communities have ‘hidden’ spots to boondock for a night or two—you just need to ask.” Start your travel with the fresh water tank full and waste tanks empty; plan to re-fill and empty about every three to four days. “Every Airstream currently made has the capability of boondocking a couple of days.”
Take turns being the leader.
Mix up who will determine the route, suggest things to see, or choose where to stop for lunch and spend the night. “We developed a fun criterion to determine the stopping spot for lunch,” said Thompson. “The establishment must have parking available for our rigs—many pick-up trucks in the lot indicate a local preference—and most importantly, it must have a person’s name on the sign, like ‘Mary’s Diner’ or ‘Charley’s Place’.”
“Pulling into a lot with Airstreams always prompts conversation with patrons that may lead to local things to enjoy or a great place to spend the night.”
–submitted by Jay Thompson