Things are getting seriously real around here. Like you read about on Monday, we found our Airstream and paid 100% cash. It’s a 30′ 2005 Airstream Classic, and we’ve already given the trailer a name.
Our Airstream’s name is Charlie.
That name holds special meaning in my life. In the summertime, a yellow jacket likes to hang out with me while I’m cooling off in our backyard pool. He doesn’t bother me and I don’t bother him. He briefly lands in the pool to collect some water and then returns to the nest somewhere around the neighborhood. We’ve practically been nose-to-nose. It was a little creepy.
We’ve become like bros. Thus, all bros need a name, and I came up with Charlie. Apparently there was a book series by John Steinbeck back in the day called Travels With Charley (different spelling), so there’s that, too. Also, our dogs can be Charlie’s Angels! Yeah…
Last week we also found the perfect vehicle to pull Charlie – a 2008 Dodge Ram 2500HD 4WD. It’s a diesel and it’s a fucking beast. It’s also a 6-speed manual transmission. Torque is insane. Though I haven’t hooked her up to the Airstream yet (because we haven’t taken delivery of it), I have no doubt the truck will pull the trailer with ease. There’s something about bright red trucks.
Truck’s name is “Clifford” – yeah, like the big red dog.
We paid cash for this sucker as well. No debt going into our new lifestyle.
We have our foundation in place. We are rapidly approaching the time when we can put our retirement lifestyle to the test and have a little fun. It is getting real close.
Test driving our retirement lifestyle
Like I mentioned in my Airstream post, we aren’t taking delivery of Charlie until the end of March. This gives us a little more time to rid our current home of stuff that we no longer want (or simply cannot store after we move). Through a combination of Craigslist and garage sales, we are de-stuffing our place. House goes on the market in early April.
Around the same time, we officially start living in the Airstream (aka: “living in Charlie”, which sounds kinda weird). Charlie will be our home. Our permanent home. By this time next month, I could be writing blog posts from the comfy couch that needs re-upholstering in our 30-foot silver bullet.
Wow. That seems quick. Like, damn quick.
But now, we get to put our money where our mouth is. We get to live in a 200 square foot area with four living creatures (us two “humans” along with our two rescued dogs). We cook using a stove half the size of the unit in our current home. Charlie’s sink is probably a quarter of the size…maybe a third. The refrigerator, freezer, cupboards, counter space…you name it, all this stuff is much, much smaller.
No more Kitchen Aid food processor. No more big wok that we love to cook in. No more cabinets chalk-full of Tupperware to put leftovers in.
None of these things are sacrifices, however. Instead, it’s just different. We adjust and get used to everything that’s new (to us), like the smaller shower and bedroom (and bed), living room area and overall living space in general. Actually, that’s the good part. We have way too much damn living space as it is. After our move into Charlie, we will spend 10 minutes a week cleaning rather than the hour it requires today.
Laundry will be another new routine for us. Instead of grabbing piles of our clothes and simply throwing them into the washing machine with some detergent, we will need to more carefully plan our clothes-washing by visiting a laundromat. Some campgrounds have laundry facilities available, but not all. Certainly when we are out in the middle of nowhere, we will need to adjust accordingly to make sure we aren’t wearing dirty clothes! Again, just one of those changes that we will figure out and get used to.
In other words, we sink our teeth into the downsized lifestyle and start to get used to checking our water tanks every day, monitoring Charlie’s batteries, keeping an eye on tire pressure – basic shit that anyone who has ever traveled with any sort of towable living unit is well aware of.
Work? What work? Oh…damnit!
Yup, both the wife and I will still be working when we move into Charlie next month, so we can’t plan full-time travel until both of us officially quit. In many ways, that’s good. We will still have two solid streams of income as we begin to integrate ourselves into the trailer and get a feel for what it will take to “make ours”. Lots of organization elements will be installed. Fixtures will be replaced or painted. Wallpaper removed. Fabric cleaned or replaced.
All this stuff will require money, and it will be super-duper nice to have substantial income when we begin our Airstream journey.
I found a grandfathered unlimited data plan through Verizon, so I have all the data transfer that I need to continue working from home as I have been since last year. The nook might serve as my desk though the sofa has flip-up wooden tables on either side if I want to spread out a bit or relax on something a little more soft. I am only bringing one of my two external monitors for the laptop, however. Since we stream instead of watch traditional television, that external monitor will also function as our “TV”.
Weekend travel before quitting work
We plan to find a campground in town and rent a site for a month (most campgrounds give discounts if a site is reserved for the month). However, that does not mean we’ll be parked for months at a time until we finish work, either. We anticipate taking one or two trips a month with the Airstream out to “boondock” territory on BLM land, which means we’re living entirely off of our batteries (including a generator / solar) and whatever fresh water we bring with us in Charlie’s water tanks. No hook ups. We are completely off the grid.
This not only provides us with a change of scenery every once in a while, it also helps us to practice going through the process of getting Charlie ready for travel (unhook power cords, roll up water hoses, raise stabilizing jacks, safety-check the unit, hook up the truck – and those are only the outside duties). It gives me practice driving the truck while pulling the trailer. It also helps us become more familiar with the camping options around our area for when we do eventually quit our jobs and travel full-time. We will certainly be back through this area from time to time and knowing where to stay will be nice.
My wife works at a company that gives all employees every other Friday off, so we plan to schedule our outings for three-day weekends. We will probably leave on that Thursday evening before her Friday off-day. We will return to our reserved campsite after lunch on Sunday.
The only exception to this rule will be the dead of summer, where temperatures routinely get into the low 100s. Since we probably won’t be able to run our A/C when we aren’t connected to electricity (in camper speak, “shore power”), we’ll probably stay put during the warmest parts of summer – which may not be all that long after we move into the campsite.
We are almost at the point of testing out our early retirement lifestyle, guys. This is going to be some serious fun because we are going to make it fun!
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.