What are the specs on Mavis?
She’s a 1975 Airstream Overlander and is 27′ in length. As of now, we don’t have a final weight on her after the remodel.
How did you find Mavis?
We searched Craigslist, eBay and airstreamclassifieds.com for several weeks until finding one a suitable Airstream in our price range and a physical condition we were content with. Read more about our search here.
How much did you spend on renovations?
Our project was completely do-it-yourself. All together, we spent right around $20,000 including the cost of the trailer. This figure does not include labor, which is the always the costly part of a renovation. Our trailer was in very good, well-preserved shape with no significant interior water damage, body damage or any signs of mold or other infestations. Because of this, we did not do a total gut which saved tremendously on costs. For the difficult areas – the kitchen and bathroom – we enlisted the help of my dad and uncle who both have home building and metal fabrication experience. Click here to read our suggested list of things to look for when shopping for a vintage Airstream.
Do you renovate Airstreams for others?
Yes! My dad has since shifted his talents to full-time Airstream renovations and camping/vending trailer manufacturing. Click here to contact him if you are interested in a reno or new build. He is located in North Georgia but can locally source and ship a finished Airstream anywhere in the US. I am also available for interior design services.
How long did the renovation process take?
In total, it took 10 months. Most of that time was spent researching exactly what to do and what to buy. We renovated in two phases. First round we completely replaced the kitchen and bathroom and left the living and sleeping areas original (new mattresses and upholstery only). We did new paint, new floors, new electrical outlets, some new plumbing, new lighting, new Dometic AC unit, new window screens, etc. We also polished the exterior ourselves. This took seven months of two to four of us working part time on it. After living in this setup for three months, we decided some changes were in order. We swapped around the living and sleeping areas and added two dedicated work spaces. This took an additional three months of part time work. Read more about our renovation process here.
Is there anything you would have done differently with your floorplan?
We weren’t crazy about having a rear bath because of the low curved ceiling. We are both tall (Sheena’s 5’8″ and Jason’s 6’1″) and the shower is pretty cramped. But moving the bathroom meant a total gut and relocation of the tanks and plumbing. We didn’t want to take the time and spend the money to do this. And the only way to get a trailer that’s already set up for a mid-bath would be to get a 31′ Sovereign and we didn’t want something that large to navigate. A 27′ Overlander mid-bath can be done—it just means a total gut to relocate the tanks and plumbing. The kitchen was hard to get used to at first but now I’m a pro at navigating it. There’s one thing I would change and that’d be to install a single basin sink rather than the single basin sink with drainboard. The drainboard takes up too much precious counter space.
Did you make any mistakes during the renovation?
Frankly, neither of us knew what we were doing when we first started this crazy journey and we learned everything as we went. There was a seemingly endless cycle of buying parts, returning parts, re-buying new ones and then returning those too. Watching YouTube videos, reading up on Airstream Forums, Airstream Addicts Facebook page, you name it. And a lot of help from my dad to undo a few of our mistakes here and there. But in the end, we got it all figured out and with our knowledge could rebuild Mavis from scratch in a fraction of the time. We have one embarrassing mistake to admit: we neglected to remove the old inverter and replace it with a new one. Although it’s still fully functioning, it is now encased underneath the new bathroom. Once it quits working, we will be able to install a new one in a different location and bypass the old inverter and just leave it where it sits. So that mistake wasn’t the end of the world even though we were kicking ourselves for quite some time afterwards.
What was the adjustment period like when you first moved in?
There’s no sugar coating this one. It was pretty awful—to the point where we were asking each other if we had made a huge mistake. We’ve always got along great and are the best of friends but a small space amplifies everything. You very quickly learn that you can’t nitpick one another on things you suddenly find annoying now that it’s happening feet from you whereas in a house you had plenty of barriers. For example, I was all of a sudden hearing Jason flossing in what seemed like agonizing surround sound and he was now enduring my rapid mouse clicks. You learn that white noise is your best friend and barriers, even if just a curtain, are lifesavers. Eventually your tolerance levels go up and things that used to bother you become background noise. Read my initial thoughts on Airstream living after our very first month here and thoughts after three months here.
What are the drawbacks of living in an Airstream?
After 6 months of Airstream living under our belt, the drawbacks seem to have faded away. I asked Jason for his current list of drawbacks and he paused and said, “I’ll have to think about it.” At first, the drawbacks were blaring: the small space, no fenced yard for our dog, no washing machine, limited kitchen supplies and did I mention the small space? But now, we think our small space is cozy. It’s got everything we need, nothing we don’t. Simplicity and few possessions are amazingly therapeutic. Plus we can take it anywhere in the country. Tired of our view? Change it! Riley may not have a yard, but he has the run of every beautiful place we visit (plus a tie-out attached to our step for potty). At first, we were terrified at the thought of laundromats but now realize that you can wash multiple loads simultaneously and can be in and out in about an hour and a half tops. Laundry day in a house used to be an all afternoon affair and usually on a precious weekend day. And limited kitchen supplies don’t bother me anymore. We’ve figured out how to make almost anything in our kitchen. Click here for some Airstream hacks we’ve learned along the way.
Do you have enough space for your stuff?
Surprisingly, yes. Wardrobe space is plentiful (if you don’t have a TON of clothes) with a lot of room leftover. Click here for a tour of our wardrobe. We also have plenty of room for food – we usually keep a week’s worth at a time between the refrigerator and pantry. Check out more about our kitchen here. The one thing that was a little difficult to figure out was secure, dry storage for our tools, lawn chairs, generator and other things that didn’t belong inside the Airstream. As it turns out, a locking bed cover for our truck was the perfect solution. We got the Retrax Pro MX from truckhero.com and installed it ourselves in a couple of hours. Problem solved!
What do you do for power and water when you’re not at a campground?
Our Airstream has a 50 gallon fresh water tank with a water filter on the kitchen sink, a deep cycle battery to power the 12v devices like the water pump, power jack and 12v lighting. When we want to run the wall outlets and air conditioner, we have a Briggs & Stratton P3000 power generator. When it’s hooked up to the 30 amp connection, it powers everything, including the air conditioner. Under normal usage, we get about 6.5 hours out of a tank, which is a gallon and a half of gas. While this one works for us, we would recommend checking out lazydays.com – they have a broad selection of generators to meet your specific set-up.
What do you pull Mavis with?
We have a 2017 Toyota Tundra SR5 5.7L with a towing package and upgraded 38 gallon fuel tank. We find that it’s more than enough capability.
How do you travel and earn money at the same time?
Luckily, we both have backgrounds that enable us to work anywhere in the country. Jason works full-time telecommute for a Fortune 50 company and Sheena does freelance photography and manages an e-commerce business. Since we both must have an internet connection to work, we always check the T-Mobile 4G LTE coverage map before traveling to a new area. Remote parks and towns are saved for weekends and holidays. 🙂 For help on landing a telecommute job, check out Jason’s blog post here.
What do you do for internet?
We both have WiFi mobile hotspots with service from T-Mobile. Anywhere we have 4G LTE service, we are able to connect any internet device (such as our laptops, Roku, Smart TV) with surprisingly good speeds. We have an LG Smart TV and two Samsung S7 phones, which when paired allow for screen mirroring. This allows us to display movies and TV shows from our phone in HD on our LG TV. This is great if you have an unlimited data plan. All major carriers offer mobile hotspots but at the time we swapped carriers, T-Mobile had the best deal with the best coverage for our needs. Read more about connectivity on the road here.
Can I rent Mavis for a weekend?
Eventually! Our future plan is for her to retire in our backyard somewhere on a coast or in the mountains as a posh Airbnb rental. Until then, we roam the country in search of that perfect place.
What kind of camera do you use?
I use a Canon 6D with an assortment of L series lenses. My favorites are my 50mm f/1.2 and my 16-35mm f/2.8.
What kind of dog is Riley?
He’s a 10 pound senior toy poodle and the love of our life. 🙂 Read more about Riley here.