When we began our adventure as full-timers, we had experience with Airstream travel trailers and already owned one. It seemed logical for us to continue to use an Airstream and a Ford van as our rig. We enjoyed the combination and were very pleased with the utility we received from it. For the lifestyle of many full-timers, it represented an almost perfect combination.
After we retired, we began a consulting business providing personalized internet and on-site training and development to both individuals and corporations. As the business has grown, our vehicle needs began to change. First, storage for the files, reports, proposals and the additional supplies necessary to run a business took its toll on the storage space and weight limitations of the Airstream.
Airstreams are very space efficient and provide a great deal of interior storage. However, that comes at the price of open interior space. They are built like an airplane with the curved ceiling and walls. This shape makes the trailer tow very nicely but does reduce the volume inside the trailer. The added clutter of the work-related items significantly reduced the available space inside the trailer. The new wide-body Airstreams have less curvature in the walls and roof and are wider. The 30′ and 34′ Airstreams are also available with a slide-out. Although we considered buying one, the lack of outside storage and the weight limitations on carrying capacity were a concern to us with the additional hundreds of pounds of paper and supplies we were now carrying with us. Additionally, Georgia missed having a small car to drive. She never enjoyed trying to maneuver and park the extended length one-ton van in shopping center parking lots.
The issue of the additional space and load carrying capability could have been met by a large fifth wheel trailer. We looked at the 38′ Teton, the 37′ King of the Road and the 36′ Western Recreation Alpenlite Villa. While we found these to meet our space and load carrying needs, they also were heavy enough to require a medium duty truck to safely tow them fully loaded. Georgia was not amused at the thought of taking a medium duty truck to the shopping center.
That brought us to the point of looking at motorhomes. To match the construction quality of the Airstream, we were going to have to get a diesel pusher. The gasoline powered motorhomes are built on a lighter duty chassis. We wanted large basement storage, room for a washer/dryer, an open kitchen, a floor plan that would allow easy installation of a full sized desk for business purposes and a separate icemaker. We had good luck with the aluminum Airstream so we began looking for an aluminum bodied motorhome. Most motorhomes have fiberglass bodies. There are pros and cons to fiberglass. It resists hail better than aluminum. It is relatively easy to maintain. It also can suffer from delamination, where the fiberglass separates from the rest of the wall forming a bubble.
We found what we were looking for in an aluminum bodied Safari Motorhome. With the motorhome selected, we now had to find a suitable car to tow behind it. One serious consideration was our Irish Wolfhound. He is not comfortable trying to sit on a car seat. He loved the 4′ x 5′ open area in the van where he could stretch out on the floor where the second row of seats had been removed. We considered small SUV’s, minivans and small station wagons. Then we drove the Turbo PT Cruiser. We were hooked. Power and handling were superior to the minivans and small SUV’s and with the back seats folded down and tumbled forward there was a flat floor almost as large as Patrick had in the van.
I have itemized some of the advantages and disadvantages of the move to the Safari here.
After 3-1/2 years in the Safari, we decided to move to a larger coach. We decided on a 43.5′ Newell Coach. I have itemized some of the advantages and disadvantages of the move from the Safari to the Newell here.