Rising fuel prices haven’t fazed the hundreds of vintage camper trailer enthusiasts who crowded onto the lawn at the Saratoga Automobile Museum for a four-day weekend of relaxed camping and workshops.
“These are not people who worry about where their next nickel is coming from,” said Rich Luhr, publisher and editor of Airstream Life magazine, and the organizer of the first-ever Vintage Trailer Jam that started Friday and ends today.
Many of the owners of Airstreams and other vintage trailers own small businesses, giving them the flexibility to travel and the independent mind-set to own one of the iconic silver Airstreams or white “canned ham” trailers.
Never mind that they only get 10 to 12 miles per gallon, depending on what they use to tow their trailer.
Besides, living in a trailer full-time is already quite the “green” lifestyle, Luhr said.
Commuting costs are nonexistent, residents generate less trash and buy fewer possessions, he pointed out.
Campground fees and utilities add up to about $500 to $700 a month, cheaper than most homes. Heat costs about $200 a year if you keep moving south as the weather becomes colder.
And moving around is key to enjoying the lifestyle, anyway.
“These people are at home wherever they go,” Luhr said.
He would know.
The Vermont native, his wife, Eleanor O’Dea and their 8-year-old daughter, Emma Luhr, have lived full-time in their 2005 Airstream for three years. Luhr publishes the magazine from the small kitchen table, and Eleanor home schools Emma.
They own a house in Tucson now and plan to move in this fall, Luhr said.
He said the traveling lifestyle is healthy for children, who meet other people of all ages and have the opportunity to see the country.
“Most of my friends haven’t ever been out of Canada,” said Piers Waldie, 10, of Montreal.
More than 80 vintage trailers gathered for the event at Saratoga Spa State Park.
Unlike classic car owners, vintage trailer fans actually drive their vehicles long distances, in all kinds of weather.
“Most of these are stored outside,” Luhr said. “These trailers have probably been outside for most of their lives.”
Don and Amanda Collimore of Easton, Conn. bought their 1977 Argosy trailer on eBay not long ago and have driven it to sites up and down the East Coast. They also spent the two weeks before the Airstream show at campgrounds in Greenfield and Gansevoort.
Their son Donal, who turns 8 today, is obviously comfortable in the Argosy. “I like to play games and I like to write on my whiteboard,” he said of the dry erase board that covers otherwise wasted wall space and serves as a sign-in log for those who enter.
Ken and Petey Faber of Wyoming, Mich., have been Airstream owners long enough to forge bonds with trailer fans throughout the country.
“We all know each other, or we get to know each other pretty quickly,” Ken Faber, 72, said.
“It’s like high school,” Petey Faber, 70, agreed. “Everybody scatters, but when you get back together, all those connections light up again.”
The couple runs an insurance and commercial real estate management company, so they can fulfill the vow they made to each other at marriage to travel 10 to 12 weeks a year.
The trailers can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a trailer that needs a lot of work to up to $100,000 for a fully and professionally restored Airstream, Luhr said.
Airstreams were first manufactured in 1935 and are still being produced today.
“They still make them. That’s the number one question we get asked,” Luhr said.