Have you ever dreamed of packing your bags and hitting the road on an Airstream adventure? You’re not alone. The Airstream is a modern marvel that promises freedom, comfort and self-sufficiency – and it has captured the hearts of dreamers, explorers, and design-savvy travelers for decades. We recently had the chance to take a brand new 2018 Airstream Globetrotter for a trip along the rugged coastline of California – read on for 10 things we learned on the way.
1. Don’t fear the tow
Prior to this trip, I had never towed a vehicle before – so the prospect of flying down the freeway with a 3-ton, $100,000 aluminum bubble made me just a little nervous. Still, I found myself at Bay Area Airstream Adventures with a media loan* for a 2018 Globetrotter and a Nissan Titan. Their knowledgeable, friendly team taught me everything I needed to know, sat me in the driver’s seat, and I hit the road just in time for rush hour.
Despite the traffic, the trip went smoothly. The Nissan Titan has plenty of power, and the Airstream team coached me to make slow starts, gradual stops, and “unapologetically wide right turns.” Once I made it through San Francisco and hit the Pacific Coast Highway, the rest of the drive was a breeze.
2. The world is your oyster
The Globetrotter can adapt to pretty much any environment – but when it came time to select a campsite, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Costanoa KOA is an eco-adventure resort set amidst one of the most scenic stretches of California’s coastline.
Located about an hour south of San Francisco, Costanoa is the perfect home base for exploring the region’s rocky coastline, lush green hills, and prime surf breaks. Elephant seals populate Año Nuevo State Park to the south, while the historic Pigeon Point Lighthouse lies just a few miles to the north.
The campground has the feel of a cozy coastal village with communal fireplaces, wooden lodges, a restaurant and a general store. It also offers full RV hookups and it’s great for kids, with activities ranging from nature hikes and whale watching to falconry presentations and photography tours.
3. It has all the comforts of home
This isn’t your grandfather’s airstream. The wood-heavy interiors of yesteryear have evolved into a light, bright space lined with skylights and panoramic windows. The Globetrotter packs pretty much every amenity you could want – including air conditioning, heating, a full kitchen, a microwave, a refrigerator, a Polk sound system, and two TVs with satellite cable.
4. Bring your friends
Thanks to some seriously impressive interior design, the Globetrotter is able to sleep six people. The master bedroom holds a queen-size mattress, another bed slides out from the sofa, and the dining table lowers and locks to create an additional sleeping platform. There’s plenty of room to comfortably lounge and sleep with four people, although I can imagine the quarters get pretty close at full capacity.
5. Smart storage saves the day
Organization is the key to living in a tiny home – and Airstream packed clever space-saving features into every nook and cranny of the Globetrotter. Eye-level cabinets are lined with lights and mirrors so that you can easily find what you’re looking for. Additional storage can be found beneath the banquette seating, within the wardrobe, under the sink, and even below the queen bed, which conveniently lifts upwards.
6. It’s chef approved
Despite its small size, the Globetrotter’s kitchen can make short work out of even complicated multi-course meals. The oven is topped with three gas burners, and a microwave slides stealthily out of a side cabinet. A full sink makes cleanup a snap, and it can be covered up with Corian insets to create additional counter space. It’s crab season in California, so we whipped up a seafood feast with a pasta course and a blood orange salad.
7. It’s off-grid ready
Thanks to smart systems design, the Globetrotter is equally adept at plugging into the grid or ‘boondocking’ in the middle of nowhere. It can tap into district water at a campsite, or you can draw upon its 39-gallon freshwater tank. Heating is provided by an electric heat pump or a propane furnace. The refrigerator can run on electricity or gas, and the roof comes ready to accept a solar array. These systems maximize the trailer’s flexibility and comfort in a wide range of environments and conditions.
8. But there’s definitely a learning curve
It takes knowledge and experience to maximize your efficiency – especially if you’re camping off-grid. Knowing which systems to activate at what time can spell the difference between a comfortable stay and a dead battery. Fortunately, there are lots of resources available online to help light the way.
9. Get ready to measure your footprint
With all the luxuries that the Globetrotter provides, it’s easy to forget that you’re working with certain constraints. A handy panel keeps the score, measuring the Globetrotter’s battery charge and fresh water levels (critical when boondocking) as well as how much room is left in the gray and black water tanks. Having access to this information really makes you consider the resources you use – and the waste you produce.
10. It’s built for the long haul
The Globetrotter appeals to a certain kind of traveler. It takes some effort and knowledge to get it to its location, set it up, and operate it efficiently, so it’s not as quick or easy as tent camping. But it’s definitely more comfortable, durable, and versatile – and with the right setup and practices, it can serve as a cozy, stylish, and modern home on wheels practically indefinitely.
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat