Holidays in the Airstream

It’s a few days before Christmas, but instead of sugar plums in my dreams, I am looking forward to our next Airstream trip.   Don’t get me wrong—this holiday week has already been great, and we’re looking forward to a nice quiet week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Emma and Eleanor are decorating the tree as I write, and some fabulous holiday meals are pending.  Seasonal tunes are playing in the background, and tonight we’ll light a fire in the fireplace.  It’s a great time.  We even have a 10% chance of snow tomorrow, which is pretty awesome for Tucson.

But the big highlight of this time of year has lately been our annual trip around New Year’s Eve.  Typically we pack up the Airstream and get lost in the southern California desert for a week or so.  This year we’ll do that, and a bit more. The trip plan has been stretched to include a jaunt up to Santa Barbara (CA). I am not sure how long we will stay out, but it will be at least ten days … and you know how susceptible we have been in the past to ad-hoc trip extensions.  Once we’re on the California coast, it may be hard to convince ourselves to head back home.

The holidays are great times to be Airstreaming.  We’ve spent many Thanksgivings, Christmases, and New Years Eves in our Airstream—every one memorable for the great places it has taken us.  All of the holidays we have spent at home have melded into one blob in my memory, but I remember clearly the Christmas in San Diego, the Thanksgiving turkey Eleanor cooked in the redwoods, picking out seven fishes for a Christmas eve meal at St George Island (FL), and all of the great New Years we have spent in Borrego Springs.

Holidays seem special when we spend them in the Airstream.  The small space encourages us to get outside and absorb whatever holiday vibe the local area has to offer.  The Airstream is always peaceful in a campground on a holiday.  It feels like the world has gone away for a day, and left us alone to enjoy each other’s company.  And it never feels like the sort of horrible travel experience people normally associate with holidays.  We move at our pace, free from airport crowds and TSA body searches, not rushing on a snowy highway to get to a relative’s house, not pressed to be anywhere, far from home and yet still at home.

We spent so many holidays in the Airstream that when we finally bought a house it was a huge novelty to spend Christmas eve in it.  The house was uninhabitable because of all the renovation going on, but we cleared a space in the living room, made a fire, and slept on the floor in sleeping bags just so we could wake up by the tree.  I like having the choice of home or Airstream every year, although we typically select the house for Christmas and the Airstream for New Year’s Eve.

Of course, in most of the country it’s hard to get out this time of year.  Most people have winterized their Airstreams for the season, and would be facing drives of 1,000 miles or longer just to get somewhere that the weather is reliably above freezing during the day.  But even if you can’t tow, you can play.  Does your Airstream live in the driveway?  If so, can you get a power cord to it?  That’s all you need to “camp out” for a few days.  Seems silly, but I know lots of people who do it all the time.  It’s just the change of scene that makes it fun.  It’s an adult version of sleeping out in the backyard in a tent.

Decorating the Airstream is easy, too.  It doesn’t take much to make it festive inside: a string of lights or two, a little rosemary bush trimmed to look like a miniature pine tree, a few small presents, and maybe a pie or some cookies.  Perhaps a little Christmas music on the iPod?  Add in your favorite beverages and some fuzzy slippers, and you’re in business.  Curl up on the bed or couch and watch a Christmas movie with someone you love.

And while you’re doing it, think about places you want to go.  Call up the Ghost of Christmas Future and ask him to show you where you’ll be spending the holiday some other year.  The world is wide open, and if you already own the Airstream, all you need is a little time.  Don’t wait for “someday.”  Happy holidays—this year and next!

About the Author

Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine