Sierra Nevada Airstreams -> TT Owner's Guide -> Living

Enjoyment of the whispering winds, the zephyrs, the airstreams of the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin areas of the United States in a recreational vehicle.
Only in a few places will your trailer ever be hooked up to electricity or water from a hose. For lights you can use a butane light or buy kerosene oil lamps in Mexico, or use a Coleman kerosene or gasoline lantern, or you can use your car battery by changing your present light bulbs to 12-volt bulbs. There is plenty of butane in Mexico. Ice will oftentimes be available , but we cannot guarantee it at every stop. A gas refrigerator is obviously best under these conditions. Some method must be found for handling water for both drinking and washing. Some of us use a pressure water system, some a water tank and pump, and some carry their water in milk cans, army water cans or similar containers. - Wally Byam from the 1957 Caravan to Mexico instructions

Dry Camping

Camping without the need to be hooked up to water, electricity, or sewer connections is one of the greatest advantages of trailer travel. Not only does it significantly increase the possibilities for finding a great campsite it means you are able to do so and still have all the comforts of home.

Dry camping can be just a day or two to an extend stay of a week, a month or more. It can also enable you to travel in places where facilities are hard to find. The longer your stay or trip the more planning you will need to do.

From the January 2010 SNU Newsletter

Boondocking SNU Style

With the SNU boondocking isn't a special event, it is our standard rally preference. Boondocking is essentially a choice of rally sites that don't provide any amenities. Things like water, electric, or sewer hookups. Usually they are unpaved and dispersed sites, sites with no restrictions on where or how you park. If camping in this type of site is new to you or something you might not be totally comfortable with then we highly recommend you come to an SNU rally. We will introduce you to “off grid”, unstructured, boondocking Airstream camping like Wally Byam did when he designed this special trailer to travel the world.

At an SNU rally you will have a whole support system to help you out if your batteries go flat, you run out of water, a few rivets come loose, you are not sure what to do about gray water, or you forgot to bring bread for your sandwiches. Boondocking isn't just for vintage Airstreams. Many SNU rally participants have brand new rigs. SNU boondocking rallies don't mean you have to do without. We all have what is needed to live in comfort without any hook ups. This includes, generators, solar panels, extra fresh water tanks, gray water disposal systems, tools, and spare parts. Participants at SNU rallies have the same comforts and enjoy the same amenities that would be provided in a full service site. We use microwaves. Some of us watch movies in the evenings or catch up with the latests sporting events on TV. We have plenty of water for showers, dishwashing, and other things. We've even had participants run their vacuum to do a little house cleaning. We can sometimes get cell phone coverage although we'd prefer that any calls are not around the campfire or at our pot lucks. We've used our generators to cook waffle breakfasts, mix fruit smoothies, and hook up computers so we can transfer and and look at rally pictures. Not being tied to facilities gives the SNU a broader range of rally sites to choose from. It also helps us keep costs to a minimum and reduces the need for advanced reservations. It gives us an opportunity to test the various systems of our Airstreams. Most important, it provides us the opportunity to enjoy some of the unique sights and scenery that the Great Basin area has to offer without the congestion and restrictions often associated with more structured sites. So don't let the idea of a boondocking rally inhibit your participation.

The SNU has held rallies in all sorts of weather in all sorts of places. Granted there are a few things to keep in mind. For instance there usually isn't a grocery store or WalMart right around the corner. You do have to keep water and propane usage and battery charging in mind. That's where the benefits of boondocking with fellow Airstreamers pays off. Together we make sure that nobody spends a cold night, has to eat cold food, runs out of water, or has to deal with their black or gray water tanks overflowing. That said, the SNU is always open to trying new things so we'll be starting off the coming year with a rally at a full service RV park in March 2010. For those of us familiar with boondocking this will be a chance to see if we remember how to hook up to water and electric and how to have meals indoors out of the weather. For those of you who haven't come to a rally yet, this might be a great way to get started on some new adventures. There are lots of resources in the owners guide section of that will help you make the most of your boondocking experience.

From the March 2011 SNU Newsletter

Off Grid-camping will set you free!

If you haven't tried off grid dry-camping, SNU rallies are the perfect introduction. Among the many experiences we have had and things we have dealt with at SNU dry-camping rallies were batteries that ran flat, water systems that sprung a leak or weren't functioning in the first place and flaky refrigerators. Some members enjoy watching TV or movies at night. Some like to use a lot of water for showers or other washing. One member, for medical reasons needed to run a generator all night. They parked in such a way that it didn't impact others. We've had waffle brunches using an electric waffle iron with fruit smoothies using an electric blender. With a little care and caution, we run air conditioners to keep us cool and heaters to keep us warm. Even the newer Airstreams with their controller boards and alarms that use some residual power do just fine dry-camping as long as you pay attention. Dry-camping means adapting some of the things you do at home or at a full service site to accommodate more limited resources. For instance to make the propane go a little further, keep the heater a little lower or use a catalytic heater. BBQ instead of using the stove and oven. Batteries go a little further if you don't turn all your lights on for long periods at night and limit the use of other battery draining equipment. Consider other power sources like solar or generators to augment your on board systems. Water is a big issue with dry-camping. Having enough water and disposing of water properly make an impact on your enjoyment of dry-camping. With a little planning and consideration you can be totally comfortable while minimizing the amount of water you use. In regards to disposing of gray water, SNU members have utilized a variety of commercial as well as other methods for handling the water if the tank starts to get full. The thing to keep in mind about dry-camping is it is a state of mind. Dry-camping is not about doing without, it is about thinking about what you do and the systems you use. It is about how to use these systems most effectively and efficiently. The most important asset to dry-camping with the SNU is the experience of our members. Most of us have been there, done that for a very long time and are more than happy to introduce others to off grid dry-camping. There is always somebody at an SNU rally who can assist with any problems that might arise including charging batteries, sharing extra water or propane, or providing refrigerator space. We usually have a fair supply of tools and have frequently done a little repair and maintenance work on various Airstreams at rallies. And if necessary, we can even take a trip into the nearest town for parts or supplies. After learning to enjoy dry-camping SNU style, you'll have a lot more options of places to visit and things to enjoy.


Boondocking -

Fulltiming America -

Beginner's Guide to RV -

Boondocking guide -

gray watering - using grey water on the landscape

Free campgrounds - -

Escapees RV Club -

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