How (and why) we moved from a van down by the river into an Airstream Flying Cloud Office

Before buying our Airstream Flying Cloud Office, we spent almost seven years living “In a Van Down by the River.” Alright, there hasn’t always been a river, and we haven’t been full-time living for seven years. But our Roadtrek was our dedicated home-away-from home for both weekend excursions and months-long travels and we’ve loved every second. 

Except when we haven’t. 

The past couple of years as we spent more time in Geraldine II – up to seven months at one time – we came to realize that it was no longer all sunshine and roses. Our 19-foot Roadtrek we so thoroughly enjoyed for its flexibility, ease of maneuvering, and ability to park at a parking meter or a friend’s driveway was no longer big enough for two adults living and working full-time on the road.

We couldn’t do conference calls at the same time. We had to play Tetris and move four things to get the one thing we wanted. And if we needed groceries on a Tuesday night we had to tear down and unhook everything.

After much thought, discussion, and tears, we finally agreed that it was time to start a search for something larger.

But what would that be? 

Florida RV Super Show

We went to the Florida RV Supershow in Tampa in January 2022 with press passes for our YouTube channel. We were going to check out the new RVs and do some video reviews. This also gave us a chance to see what new models, layouts and technology was out there. We had no intention of buying anything, especially nothing new, but wanted to see options and get ideas. Over the course of the week we checked out 100-plus rigs. We looked at travel trailers, Class Bs, Class As, truck campers, 5th wheels, and more. (Side note: with about 1,400 rigs on display, if you couldn’t find a rig at the show that worked for you, you probably shouldn’t be camping!)

One of the dealers at the show was Airstream of Tampa. The very first day we walked into an Airstream Flying Cloud with a built-in office. AN OFFICE! ALREADY BUILT IN!  We’d been considering buying a used travel trailer with bunk beds and converting them to an office. But in this case the work was done for us. We don’t have many “building skills” and weren’t sure what or how long a renovation would entail. An already-built office seemed enticing!

But this was only day one. And we weren’t there to buy something. Plus, it was brand new. And it was an expensive Airstream. So we moved on. 

The Decision

Five days and many many RVs later, we kept coming back to the Airstream. We almost put a deposit down on another Class B. But a lack of storage space and our gut had us walk away. No matter what we looked at that week, we found ourselves comparing it to the Airstream with the office. 

Before we left the show, we did the unthinkable…we put a refundable deposit down to get a build slot for a 2023 30-foot Front Queen Bed Flying Cloud Office. Due to production timing, we were told it would be November or December of 2022 before it would be built. That was perfect, since we needed time to figure out financing and find a tow vehicle. (We knew we couldn’t pull it with the Roadtrek, and our only other vehicle is a Jeep Wrangler.)

A 2022 Airstream Flying Cloud Office and 2022 Chevy Express 3500

Fast forward to June. We’d heard rumors that supply chain issues had delayed production and it was looking more likely to be closer to March or April 2023 before our build would be ready. So, imagine our surprise when our salesman contacted us in mid-June to let us know that essentially the Airstream we wanted had come available.

Another couple had backed out on their pre-order and it fit all but one of our build specifications. The one thing was luckily not a deal breaker (different colored couch material). It also turned out to be a 2022 rather than a 2023 model. But as luck would have it, we learned the 2023 wouldn’t have come with the hanging storage closet that we liked, so it was clearly meant to be. We didn’t want to wait another 9 months since our close quarters in the Roadtreak seemed to get closer every day.  After mulling it over, we decided that YES, we would take this one. 

We were elated that we could get one sooner. But we still hadn’t purchased a tow vehicle, believing we had at least another 6 months to look for one! Yikes! And of course, we were in Texas, the Airstream was in Florida, and we needed to get ourselves and the Roadtrek back to Michigan first.

Ari then did what Ari does best: he sleuthed around on the internet to find us a tow vehicle. We’d already decided we wanted a cargo van instead of a truck. Lo and behold, he found the perfect one less than 30 minutes away from the Airstream dealer. Bingo! All the pieces were falling into place. 

Our unique choice of going with the van is two-fold. First, we’re used to driving a van – we like the flexibility it provides for cargo space, and the ability to get in the back and change clothes, and to keep all our items inside and secured. Second, our long-term vision is to convert the van into a slimmed down overnight camper, so we can continue to live the van life when a 30-foot Airstream would just be too big. 

Baptism by Fire

Now we just needed to go pick them both up. We left Texas on July 1 and drove back to Michigan with the Roadtrek.. We booked airline tickets to fly to Florida on Monday, July 11, and picked up the van – a 2022 Chevy Express 3500 1-ton commercial cargo van. Ari spent the week driving around to put 500 miles on it to break it in so we could safely pick up and tow the Airstream. On Friday, July 15 we headed to Airstream of Tampa to pick up and seal the deal on our 2022 30-foot Front Bed Flying Cloud Office. 

The dealership did a thorough walk-through with us of the inside and outside, going over all the systems, circuits, awning, hitch, etc. Then they let us spend the night in their parking lot. This was perfect to try everything out and look for anything simple that needed fixing before we headed home. We did find a few minor issues that they repaired in the morning for us. 

Then we hit the road for Michigan. While Ari had towed before (we used to have a small popup), he’d never towed anything so long. Unfortunately, we had commitments back home, so we had to high-tail it instead of taking our sweet time. Talk about baptism by fire! Luckily, we were graced with great weather and very little construction or traffic. Our frenetic 3-day drive back to Michigan was largely uneventful and we learned a lot about the brake controller, trailer sway, back-end swing, blind spots, backing up, and overnighting in Walmart with a much larger vehicle. 

We’re now in the midst of moving in and testing her out; figuring out where to store everything; the best way to configure the van for storage of our bikes, kayak, tools, etc. We’ve done a few overnight trips to break her in and try out our storage setup, and we’ve even had a mobile tech out to fix the furnace (it gets chilly in Michigan in the fall!). 

We’re excited to start on this new adventure and look forward to all the fun places we’ll go.

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