Are we totally insane? Maybe. Last weekend we made a quick trip to scenic Lakewood, New Jersey for the sole purpose of visiting America’s largest volume dealer in Airstream travel trailers. You see, we have decided that the best way to get out to enjoy the natural areas we love is to camp there. But I am not excited about foregoing the comforts of home, including, but not limited to, great cooking equipment, a bathroom, and a hard exterior that repels insects and rain.
So our compromise was to investigate purchasing a travel trailer that we can haul out to scenic parks and wilderness areas, and use as a camping base. After extensive research we settled on the Airstream brand. OK, actually we just picked the manufacturer that most reminded us of our IKEA-heavy home furnishings combined with our preferred industrial metal styling. It’s a happy coincidence that Airstream is also basically the founding brand of camping travel trailers, is renowned for its quality and design, and is made in the USA in Jackson Center, Ohio.
Why go to New Jersey?
While we’ve studied the Airstream website and floor plans extensively, there’s no substitute for seeing the trailers in person. Our research also made it clear that the very best place to see various models and ask questions about Airstreams is Colonial Airstream in Lakewood, New Jersey. They have been the top seller of Airstreams in the country for close to 20 years and offer unparalleled product knowledge. We were also jazzed about meeting YouTube celebrity Patrick Botticelli, who is well known in Airstream communities for his detailed video tours of different Airstream models.
After a few helpful phone calls with Patrick – who is even more informative in person than in his videos – we booked a quick 2-day trip to New Jersey to meet with him and view several different models of varying lengths and floor plans. True to form, on the first day of our visit we spent about 6 hours on site going through 5 to 6 different alternatives, evaluating the pros and cons of each in light of our intended use.
Being on site allowed us to test sizing. Ken’s height meant that some of the trailers (specifically the showers and bathrooms) were just too small. At the same time, for the best towing experience and the most options for campsites, we were focused on getting the smallest size that would reasonably work for us.
We ended up settling on a 25-foot front bedroom model, which is one of the most popular models for good reason. Both the living / kitchen area and the bedroom feature tons of windows, including skylights, which make the whole trailer bright and welcoming, while there is also a very functional galley area and plenty of storage.
We found a model on the lot with all the options we wanted, were offered a great price, and jumped on it during our second day on site. So we are now the proud owners of a new Airstream travel trailer! While our “second home” is currently in New Jersey, it has the advantage of not being required to stay in that state (sorry, New Jersey).
Only the Beginning
Of course, buying an Airstream is only the beginning. One of the features (or bugs?) of a travel trailer is that it does not propel itself. It needs to be towed. We love many things about our Mini Cooper – ask me about the time we moved nearly all our belongings to Miami using only our Mini Cooper – but its towing capacity is not one of those things. So we’ll be shopping for a truck now. Colonial will be storing our trailer until we can pick our new trailer and bring it on home to Florida later this year.
For now, we are looking forward to getting ready to use our new trailer, and very appreciative of all the terrific advice we received from Colonial Airstream. I highly recommend the dealership for its excellent pricing and even more for the great personnel. Thanks, Colonial!
Random Travel Notes
We don’t normally eat at airport restaurants. We typically travel between major airports on direct flights, and also don’t appreciate being grossly overcharged for mediocre food. But since we finished our purchase and arrived at the airport several hours before our flight’s departure, we decided to visit an Italian-themed restaurant at Newark-Liberty and share a small pizza. This is how we learned about how restaurants deal with a (TSA-created?) rule that I had never considered: no knives beyond security checkpoints. As the restaurant we visited, this rule resulted in a strange table setting consisting of: (i) a metal fork, (ii) a plastic knife designed to look sort of like metal, and (iii) a beer bottle, which according to every crime/gang movie I’ve ever seen can become a weapon just as easily as a dull restaurant knife. I am not convinced these rules make a lot of sense, but it’s interesting to see how the airport businesses are adapting.