Friday, June 7, 2019

Tails of Wanderlust: an Airstream Basecamp Tiny Trailer Owner Profile

Airstream Basecamp Tails of Wanderlust

"I used to sit in my work cubicle and just dream of my next vacation and what new places to visit," says Cass Beach. "After several years with my company, I was able to become a full-time remote worker.  This provided the opportunity to traditionally move around the country and I went from Central New York, to Charlotte NC, and then to Austin TX.  Somewhere I stumbled across travel podcasts, #vanlife, and online blogs of full-time RVers. After binge listening to The RV Entrepreneur Podcast, I decided I had to give this nomadic lifestyle a try."

There's a definite progression as to how Cass started a life of "full time on the road." First she downsized, selling her furniture and what she deemed unnecessary. Then she bought a 2001 Class B RV but sold it a month later--maintenance issues. Cass didn't give up, though. "I camped out of the back of the 4Runner. I have a twin size memory foam mattress in there, as well as storage for everything I needed. Both the dog and cat would go camping with me in the 4Runner." For eight months Cass and her dog and cat would live in AirBnBs during the week so she could work, "and on the weekends the three of us would live out of the back of the 4Runner."

Cass found working and living in AirBnBs during the week and car camping weekends "an incredible way to travel the country and meet locals along the way," but not having her own bed or kitchen grew tiresome, so . . . she bought a sixteen-foot Airstream Basecamp in 2018.
"I had a long wish list when I was looking into RVs, and the Basecamp is the only RV that had everything I wanted.  My list included a 'large' kitchen, plenty of natural light, a more modern feel, a spot where I could hide a litter box, a shower I could actually stand up in and wash my hair, a large bed (since the cat and dog sleep with me), and under 5,000 lbs so I could keep my Toyota 4Runner."
Cass's Toyota 4Runner is a TRD Off-Road edition, having only the standard towing features.  "I did have to put in rear suspension air bags as the rear did sag while towing."  With this minor change, however, the 4Runner tows the Basecamp very well.

Airstream Basecamp Tails of Wanderlust

So, is the Airstream Basecamp a "tiny trailer"? It is the smallest unit in Airstream's RV stable, and there are many larger travel trailers and 5th wheels rolling down the highway. However, there are also many smaller trailers available, down to the retro 4x8 classic teardrop. Cass has an answer for how to classify the Basecamp.
"For full-time living, I do consider the Basecamp a 'small trailer.'  But in the grand scheme of trailers out there, it is definitely roomy!  I love my 4Runner and did not want to trade it in for a truck.  So in purchasing an RV I knew I had to stay under 5,000 lbs.  Also, being a solo traveler, I have to tow and back up the trailer myself.  The small size allows for more maneuverability, and I know I didn’t want to go with anything over 20’. Now that I have it and boondock a lot more, the size and ease of towing of a small trailer is amazing for getting into some beautiful BLM campgrounds."
Cass remembers the excitement of her first real trip and stay in the Basecamp--at Ouray, Colorado, where she stayed in one place for more than a week. "It was at a beautiful RV park, surrounded by the mountains of Ouray. I was parked right next to the little restaurant that I would get take out food from several times, and the staff was some of the nicest I’ve met yet! It was during the fall, so the aspen trees were bright gold--a long time dream of mine to see.  So along with being in an absolutely gorgeous area, it was the first time I truly felt home in the Basecamp, and knew I had made the right decision!"

Airstream Basecamp Tails of Wanderlust
"Since my first trip out West as a teenager, I've always wanted to return to see the aspen trees turn yellow. And I've always wanted to backpack in for an overnight stay, but until now hadn't had the courage to do so. With my favorite adventure partner by my side, we hiked up to 12,000 feet, slept in 30 degree weather and drank our morning coffee overlooking the most beautiful blue lake."

Campgrounds were the norm when Cass first started living in her Basecamp. "I didn’t know the right techniques to conserve water and would use my fresh water and fill my black/gray within a day or two. My batteries would only last during a work day if there was enough sun to charge them through solar. If I had any rainy days, I would have to make sure I was plugged in to work."  Now that Cass has met other full-time RVers, they have taught her much in regards to boondocking.  She has also recently upgraded her solar system to lithium batteries, so she no longer has to worry about battery capacity.  "So now boondocking is our norm.  I’m going on week eight of boondocking right now, with only one night in an RV park on a travel day.  I’m also able to take my tanks and last between 8-10 days without having to go dump."

Where Cass camps varies, based on the time of year.  "Since I boondock now, I don’t have AC, so I need to stay in areas where it doesn’t get so hot that it is uncomfortable.  So we chase the weather, but also go to different geographic locations/states to check out points of interest.  I have a map of all the places I want to see in the country, and we are slowly working on checking that off.  But I love a good mix of the desert and the mountains."

Cass is not retired or independently wealthy. She works for a living in the insurance industry, but her remote, full-time work via phone and computer takes place in her Basecamp office. Ain't the view out the window great!

Airstream Basecamp Tails of Wanderlust
Mobile office and the head of security

Starting her work in the insurance industry in a corporate cubicle six years ago, it took three years before Cass could stop fighting traffic and work remotely, which she did from home. Then she realized she could do her work anywhere that had an Ethernet connection, which was required for her position and responsibilities. The AirBnB phase ended when Cass was "able to move into a Process Consultant position with the same company, and could now work off WiFi," which opened the option to live in an RV.
"I work a standard schedule (9-5, M-F).  So during the week, I live a pretty 'normal' life.  Get up, walk the dog, make breakfast, work, etc.  In the evenings we are already out in nature, so it’s easy for us to hop in the 4Runner and go for a quick hike or check out the local area for a few hours.  Then weekends are our time to explore.  Sometimes we’ll take several hour trips to go see a national park or landmark nearby; other times we’ll spend a relaxing weekend at the campsite."

Cass rolls with her two amigos: Jasper, her floppy-eared dog, and Napoleon, her twelve-year-old adventurous cat. Because Cass loves animals, she adopted these two rescue animals ten years apart. When she decided to live the traveling life, she didn't think twice about taking her two pals with her. The adventures these three share is chronicled on Cass's blog, Tails of Wanderlust, and on her Instagram account of the same name. The three constants in her photo record of her full-time tiny trailer life are Jasper, Napoleon, and her beautiful Airstream Basecamp--fortunately for her followers. Of the 45,000 miles and nineteen states they've traveled, Cass makes sure her companions are safer and more comfortable with pet booster seat/harness arrangements.

Airstream Basecamp Tails of Wanderlust

The real eye candy of Cass's online presence, of course, is her Airstream Basecamp. At sixteen feet in length, although not a "tiny" travel trailer, it is the smallest of all the Airstreams. Cass was made an Airstream Ambassador during the last few months and is featured on the Airstream website. The article is a bio of her life, focusing and culminating, of course, on her Basecamp experience. From the Ambassador article: “It is so freeing, and it's a lot easier to do the things I love and really live life with the Basecamp,” says Cass. “I have the freedom to pursue my passion because for me travel is my passion. It’s the fact that I can actually live every day following my passion with the freedom and comfort that I absolutely love.” According to Cass, her "ambassador" duties, in addition to the website bio, are to provide specific content when asked, such as providing recent information for the company's blogger about "the paradox of possessions," and to provide opinions of products the company is researching.

Airstream Basecamp Tails of Wanderlust
On Instagram, Cass is asked if she would recommend owning a Basecamp. This is her response: "Absolutely. I love my Basecamp! The exterior construction is very solid. I’ve been in 40 mph wind gusts and it barely rocks. It drives beautifully. And it’s been solid through a variety of weather. I will say due to the cost, it may not be for everyone. Such as for a weekend camper a few times a year, there are definitely better options out there. But if you’ll use it enough to make it worth it, I’d recommend. I honestly wouldn’t trade it for any other RV." Albuquerque, NM

Even with the beautifully designed Basecamp, Cass says that for full-time living, surprisingly a lot of modifications and upgrades were necessary, as well as some warranty work, such as replacing the heating/hot water unit and a water pump. The mods are listed below.
  • Added 3” of memory foam to the top of the bed for extra comfort, as well as a waterproof cover.
  • Installed two 12V plugs so I can charge my electronics via the batteries/solar without an inverter.
  • Cut the bed platform so that the Basecamp can now have a half bed, half bench set up.
  • Changed out the shower head for an Oxygenics one, as the original used a lot of water.
  • Added a shut off valve to the shower to stop the “dribble” and conserve more water.
  • Added a shower curtain and rod into the bathroom to keep water from the wet bath out of the kitchen.
  • Added a lot of command hooks/shelves, etc., for extra storage.
  • Added wood plank stickers to the one blank wall to give an aged wood look.  Added a framed painting and stand for my iPad, which is my full entertainment center in the Basecamp.
  • Added a WeBoost signal booster with suction cups that I can take on and off the roof.  This boosts the cell signal for my internet for work.
  • Added lights into all the cabinets as they are deep and it was hard to find things.
  • Upgraded to two 100A BattleBorn Lithium batteries.
  • Upgraded the battery and solar control to a Victron model.
  • Added a 2,000W inverter to power the whole RV.  Now I can run all my outlets via the inverter.
  • Added an exterior motion sensor light for extra safety.

Airstream Basecamp Tails of Wanderlust
Farmington, NM

There are quite a few promotional videos on YouTube that cover the Airstream Basecamp. One is a video on Cass's experience with her Basecamp, focusing equally on lifestyle, experience, and trailer. From the Drivin' and Vibin' YouTube channel, Kyle and Olivia interview Cass about her solo life on the road. (video below)

Cass has traveled a long road since she was that person working in a cubicle and dreaming of the perfect getaway. As a full-time traveler who is also fully employed, she is happy to share the wisdom that she has gained from her experiences.
"My advice would be that you can live with a lot less than you think. When I first moved into a tiny RV, it was stressful trying to find a place for everything and worrying about how to bring everything along. Since moving into the trailer, I find more stuff is just clutter. So every month it seems I’m finding myself at Goodwill donating more. It’s truly amazing how little you need to be comfortable. Keep a few things from family/friends that you treasure and use that to decorate your home. And worry more about finding new experiences than new possessions. 
"For work, it is actually much easier than you would expect to work remotely full time. You need the discipline in order to stay focused, but internet and cell signal are very easy to find, even boondocking out on public land. The amount of technology to support you on the road is incredible. There are also some great groups out there to meet like minded folks, such as Xscapers."
Cass's future plans are to visit as much of this continent as she can. Specifically, she's hoping to get up into the Pacific Northwest soon.  "And my tiny trailer dreams are to keep enjoying life, exploring nature, and giving my animals the best life I can."

(To read all the Green Goddess Glamping owner profiles, check out the Owner Profiles page. Click the link or the Owner Profiles button beneath the header photo.)

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  1. Great info keep exploring, and post, my wife and I thinking of bying motorhome or RV and travel for a year from Austin Tx.

  2. Good luck on your travels. My wife and I just ordered an Airstream Basecamp--arrival in January 2021.

  3. I am wondering where you keep the litter box and food bowls? My husband and I want to invest in a Basecamp or something similar for weekend or occasionally longer trips, but we've got four cats to plan for. Logistics-wise, we need space for two litter boxes and two food bowls.

    I'm curious about pictures from other websites that show something that looks like a wooden hatch in the floor near the back door. Where does this hatch lead?

    1. If you open the Tails of Wanderlust link in this article, you'll get to Cass's blog. She talks about how she sets up her pets in the trailer. I think she has an article, but if not you can email her through the blog's email gadget.

  4. Replies
    1. My wife and I are excite that our Basecamp should arrive at our state's Airstream dealership in January. Thanks for enjoying the article.