The Newbies Guide To Airstreaming

When you’re the editor of a magazine, or a serial novelist, or an egg-laying chicken, your workload tends to rise and fall as your products are eventually completed and released to the public.  It’s a great relief when a particularly tricky project is finally completed and off the desk (or out of the henhouse, as the case may be).  That’s where I find myself right now.

No, I don’t mean in a henhouse.  I mean I am in the final stages of finishing a new project that I am particularly proud of:  “The Newbies Guide To Airstreaming.” It is a 104-page book designed to give new Airstream owners a “quick start” to traveling, camping, and owning their shiny Airstream travel trailer.

newbies-guide-p1.jpgI’ve been working on this book for about eight months, with help from a few friends.  The job has been to collect as much useful and accurate information about Airstreams (how they work, how to maintain them, what to expect) and summarize it into a format that people will actually find useful.  There’s lots of information out on the Internet, but much of it is based on conjecture, or just plain wrong.  Likewise, the Owner’s Manual provided by Airstream is full of useful facts, but it’s very dense and certain important facts are well obscured, so few people actually bother to read it.  Rather than having to search hard for the basics, new owners will now have an easy guide to the stuff they need to know first.

Right now the book is in the final draft stage.  Review copies are being printed this week and will be fact-checked by a team of experts at Airstream and in the Airstream community.  Once I have the review copies back, I can make the final edits and release the book.

I expect we’ll have it out by April 2011, and it will be for sale at the Airstream online store, the Airstream brick-and-mortar store in Jackson Center OH,, and select Airstream dealers, for just $9.95.  (I worked hard to make sure we could keep the price reasonable.)  You can pre-order it now in the Airstream Life store for April 2011 delivery.  We’ll have a Kindle edition, too.

newbies-guide-p2.jpgA lot of thought went into this project.  In fact, I’ve been thinking about it for several years, ever since I first saw the Airstream Owners Manual.  It’s a bit rough, and has needed some updating.  I have a small collection of manuals ranging from 1968 to 2005, and each of them uses nearly the same wording in places, the same advice, and the same checklists.  There are bits of advice that go back 40 or 50 years, some of which are timeless and others which are … uh, not so much.

From a recent manual: “Avoid cash.  Use Travelers Checks …”  “Pack camera and film.”   Yeah, along with those traveler’s checks and film camera, be sure to pack a spittoon, typewriter, and spare buggy whip.  These days people are more concerned with carrying the iPhone, Gameboy, and laptop.   Film? What’s that?

Teasing aside, I have to tip my hat to the Owner’s Manual.  It does have much more info in it than I could ever get into a 104 page book, so in a few places I’ve deferred to it.  But in most of the book I gave my best shot at succinct, practical and tested answers to the most commonly-asked questions and typical “newbie” problems. That’s what made it fun — finding the best possible answers so that people can get up to speed on the Airstream as quickly as possible.

The book has sections on all kinds of newbie topics: understanding all the systems, camping, towing, solar & generators, maintenance, winterizing, simple repairs (like changing tires), packing, backing, dumping, filling, winter travel, Internet, cleaning, tools, myths, and a few sample checklists.  I think one of the best parts is the “Jargon Guide,” with eight pages of definitions of commonly used terms that newbies have probably never heard before.

I’m also really excited about the wonderful illustrations in the book.  Brad Cornelius, who has been a regular contributor to Airstream Life for years (and also designed the Alumapalooza art for 2010 and 2011) agreed to make over 30 illustrations for the book.   You can see one of them in the sample page above (that’s me).  Brad invented a pair of great little characters who demonstrate their Airstream as I explain things in the text.  I like looking at the pages just to see what they’re up to.

So I’m feeling good about my project now.  It took as long as making a baby, and the birthing process will probably be just as exhausting, but like a baby, it’s well worth the effort.  If the book does well, I’ve already got plans for a sequel on “Advanced Airstreaming” to produce next year.  Time to go start another egg …


  1. Rachel Hughey says

    Thanks so much, I preordered several; one for each Airstream. It will be a big help for the ones who inherit them. They don’t get to travel with us as

    much as they’d like.

    Looking forward to seeing them….


  2. insightout says

    Will there be medical “How To” chapters ?


    psychiatry….”take the if out of marital strife”

    sleep apnea……”dream away black tank nightmares”

    allergy…..”become the commander of pet dander”

    proctology….”guide to diplomacy with permanent trailer park residents”

  3. says

    Thanks for the orders! I hope you’ll love the book.

    Doc, your categorization of “diplomacy with permanent trailer park residents” tells us all too much about your approach to this issue… but you’ve given me some ideas for Volume II.

  4. Carroll Shores says

    Airforums, Common Sense Gumption), and your book, possibly will complete the library one needs to become a seasoned streamer….

  5. says

    Hi Rich;

    Congratulations for this great idea…

    if you have no title… here is one from the same style I used in my blogs (now 3)…

    “AIRSTREAMs for Dummies ”

    best regards


  6. Kathleen Hawk says

    So glad I found you, but I’ll have a hard time waiting for the publication of your book. I just today bought a beautiful 1986 32′ Excella, my first travel trailer. I’m planning to live in it fulltime.

    I don’t intend to travel in it. Yet. Until I find the tow vehicle and then the brave soul who will give me towing (and backing up) lessons. And then I’ll start wandering.

    Meanwhile, I’m learning as fast as I can find things to read.

    I’ll wait to order until it’s out in e-book form, Kindle or whatever. I’m sending my library out, book by book, to new homes. Except for the maps, campsite directories, sketchpad and Oxford Unabridged, no more paper.

    Nonetheless, I wish your book were here now. I’m a professional writer and editor. If you need another pre-publication reader (for style if not accuracy), consider me a volunteer.


  7. Stephanie says

    Hi Rich,

    My husband and I just purchased the Kindle version of your Newbies Guide and I read it all in one sitting last night! We are so eager for information as we will be taking delivery of our new 2011 Flying Cloud 19′ Airstream this coming April.

    One question: since we have the Kindle version, is there a place we could download a paper version of the checklists in the book to keep handy?

    Thanks! Steph