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Slow Car, Fast Home Travels in a Vintage Airstream Powered by Battle Born Batteries

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Danielle and Tommy ditched their stationary life for the adventure of the open road in 2017. After spending three years in a small Toyota RV, they were ready for a change of space. They found an unbeatable deal on a vintage Airstream, purchased it, and completely renovated it to fit the needs of their little family. Three countries, nearly 48 states, and two renovated RVs later, they’re still enjoying full-time travel.

Meet Danielle and Tommy

Danielle and Tommy of Slow Car Fast Home next to their Airstream in the mountains

Danielle and Tommy’s story begins in Annapolis, Maryland. They grew up not far from one another in this picturesque coastal town. Surrounded by history and maritime culture, Danielle and Tommy picked up a passion for adventure at a young age. Despite going to different schools, they eventually met and fell in love.

Seeking a new adventure, Danielle and Tommy left their hometown. With their two pups, Missy and Trip, in tow, they traveled down the coast to Wilmington, North Carolina. The next five years were spent enjoying the sunshine and salty air in their little beach town. Much of their free time was dedicated to tent camping on the beach out of their old Chevy Tahoe. While they loved their time in North Carolina, Danielle and Tommy felt they were outgrowing their small town and were ready for a change of scenery.

Slow Car Fast Home Airstream drone shot

Following a vacation in Colorado, they knew that would be their home base for their next adventure and headed out west. After moving to Denver, Danielle and Tommy started a small, custom longboard business and began selling online, in local shops, and at makers’ markets. To help transport their things for work events, they inherited an old Ford van that was the perfect vessel for easily transporting their products and displays.

“We primarily used the van for work events at local markets, but it quickly doubled as our weekend camping vehicle. We started exploring Colorado and Utah on our days off and started dreaming of staying on the road for longer stints of time…”

Dreaming of a Life Off Grid in a Slow Car, Fast Home

Slow Car Fast Home's Danielle on top of their Toyota camper

What started as weekend adventures in the van snowballed into camping as often as possible. Danielle and Tommy spent two years in Denver, camping and exploring while dreaming of extended travel. More time spent on public lands ignited small conversations about one day hitting the road full-time. Eventually, these wild dreams slowly started to feel more attainable.

They casually started searching for RVs on Craigslist and RV Trader, as their old van wasn’t suitable for full-time travel. With an $8,000 budget, Danielle and Tommy were searching for an RV with plenty of headroom, lots of natural light, storage, a full bathroom, and separate sleeping and living areas. While this may seem like a tall order, Danielle and Tommy were planning on renovating the interior and just needed an RV with a solid foundation.

Slow Car Fast Home's dogs looking out the back window of their rig

“We finally found our rig on RV Trader, listed well above our price range at $11,500. Tommy bought a one-way ticket to Washington State, where the RV was located, took our $8,000 of RV savings, and flew out to take a look at the RV. He haggled the sale price down to $7,500 due to water damage in a small area within the interior, and the RV was ours!”

A 1992 Toyota Odyssey, later named Nigel, became Danielle and Tommy’s home on wheels. Despite the concerns, challenges, and “What ifs” of full-time travel, they jumped in head-first, excited for the road ahead. “Ultimately, what made us jump into this lifestyle is that we both love to travel, and the thought of being able to bring our two dogs on all of our adventures sounded amazing to us.  So, we really just went for it.  We didn’t have anything really tying us down to one location, so we took our little family and business and hit the road.”

Danielle giving peace signs on top of their Toyota camper

Transitioning from a Truck Camper to a Travel Trailer

Danielle and Tommy kickstarted their life on the road in 2017. They were amazed at all the places their little RV took them as they hopped all over the US, Canada, and Mexico. “One of the years we were on the road in the Toyota RV, we drove it all the way down to the tip of the Baja Mexico peninsula and then all the way up to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada.”

Slow Car Fast Home Toyota rig parked in front of a large lake

After three years of travel, Danielle and Tommy were ready for something new. The Toyota was a small, all-in-one rig that they had to move almost daily with their travel style. As their dogs got older, the constant movement was becoming more of a challenge, and they were all craving a slower form of travel.

“In 2020, we found a Facebook Marketplace ad for a 1973 22ft Airstream that was a full-gut renovation project.  It was listed at an incredible price that we just couldn’t say no to, and bought it sight unseen.” Danielle and Tommy were drawn to the more comfortable living space of the Airstream. It offered taller ceilings, room for more batteries and solar, a better kitchen, and an enhanced living space. Additionally, it gave them the freedom of having a capable 4-wheel drive truck they could detach from the trailer to take on smaller adventures without moving campsites.

Slow Car Fast Home Airstream in front of trees with yellow leaves

Although Danielle and Tommy were excited about their new adventures in the Airstream, they knew that they would miss some of the conveniences of the Toyota. Having a compact vehicle made driving and parking much easier, and they loved the large back window. The ability to travel to more places with less planning was a luxury they were willing to live without to support a better travel lifestyle for themselves and their pups.

Renovating a Vintage Airstream

Tommy holding his dog during the Airstream Renovation

The next year was spent renovating the Airstream. It was one of the hardest projects that Danielle and Tommy have ever tackled. When they purchased the Airstream, it was in rough condition. “It was partially gutted, and we knew we would have to do a full “shell-off” renovation.  Meaning the aluminum shell would need to be physically separated from the steel trailer frame so that we could repair the frame and beef it up a bit, replace the axles, and install a brand-new subfloor.”

In addition to the major, foundational restoration the Airstream needed, the aluminum shell needed to be repaired as well. It was full of dents and leaks that needed to be fixed, hundreds of thousands of rivets that needed to be replaced, and the entire exterior needed to be polished. A full 6 months of restoration work went by before they were even able to start on the interior.

Danielle working on the Airstream Renovation

“The interior renovation was the fun part for the two of us.  This was our second RV renovation, so we had more confidence in this area of the build.” They were excited to add modern comforts to their vintage Airstream and create a layout that worked for their family. Even with the challenges of the radial curves and absence of square shapes, Danielle and Tommy created an incredible, modern home within their vintage Airstream.

The kitchen was by far their favorite part of the renovation. After spending months planning the kitchen out in their heads, Danielle and Tommy were ecstatic that it turned out exactly like they wanted it to. “We tried to make the Airstream kitchen as functional, beautiful, and minimalistic as we could.”

Airstream Interior shot of the bed Airstream Interior shot of the kitchen sink and counter Airstream Interior shot of the table

Slow Car, Fast Home Upgrades to the Power of Battle Born Batteries

“Something we are most proud of in the Airstream build is that we installed our entire electrical system ourselves, which was a first for us.  We wanted the Airstream to be as off-grid capable as we could make it.” One of Danielle and Tommy’s favorite parts of being on the road full-time is being outdoors and immersed in nature. The ability to be off-grid capable and avoid campgrounds and busy tourist areas was a key consideration in their build. “Some of our best investments in our current rig are our Battle Born battery bank/solar system, Starlink, and our compost toilet.”

Tommy installing solar panels during the Airstream Renovation

When determining how to power their Airstream, they received multiple recommendations to use Battle Born Batteries. “A great product paired with awesome customer service and tech support from the Battle Born teams was a no-brainer for us!”

Danielle and Tommy decided to tackle the install themselves. With the help of a wiring diagram from EXPLORIST.life, they had the system fully up and running in 6 days. Six – 100Ah 12V Battle Born batteries gave Danielle and Tommy the perfect amount of power to comfortably sustain their lifestyle of boondocking. This was a major upgrade from the single, 100Ah battery in the Toyota. “We were constantly having to manage how much power we were drawing. Even to the point where we would unplug the refrigerator at night to conserve power.”

Battle Born Batteries power bank with Victron Energy components

“We’ve gained the freedom to use electronics, run lights, and appliances in our rig without having to constantly worry about what level our batteries will be at when we wake up in the morning.” The confidence of reliable power has been a complete gamechanger for Danielle and Tommy. With intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of their electrical system, they’ve greatly increased their confidence while on the road.

From the Great Frontier to the Baja Peninsula

Slow Car Fast Home Airstream being towed

Since hitting the road in their completed Airstream, Danielle and Tommy’s favorite memory was their trip to Alaska and Baja Mexico last summer. “Since we first got on the road in 2017, making it to Alaska was always a goal of ours, so finally making it there was huge for us. The day we drove into Alaska with the Airstream was a very memorable moment.”

In early 2022, Danielle and Tommy began slowly making their way to Washington State and officially crossed into Canada in June of that year to begin their journey to Alaska. “The drive through British Columbia and the Yukon along the Cassiar Highway and the Alaska Highway were everything we could have hoped for and more.”

Slow Car Fast Home Airstream with dog wearing a coat in front

Looking back on their time in Alaska, Danielle and Tommy reflected on all the little moments that truly made their trip memorable. From being awestruck by the stunning views of mountains, volcanos, and glaciers to camping in off-grid yurts and watching 4th of July fireworks at midnight, Alaska was full of little moments they’ll never forget. “It truly was the best summer of our lives (so far) and is something that will stick with us forever.  We can’t wait for our next visit back to The Last Frontier.”

As Danielle and Tommy made their way down from Alaska at the end of last summer, they immediately headed south down the Baja Peninsula. Drawn by warm weather and beaches after spending the summer in Alaska, they couldn’t wait to spend winter in Baja. After crossing the border in January of 2023, Danielle and Tommy spent 3 months enjoying the ocean, the camping, the food, the culture, and their company in Baja, and they can’t wait to go back.

Slow Car Fast Home Airstream parked in between palm trees

The Joys of Living in a Slow Car, Fast Home

“We have now towed the Airstream all over North America, with our most recent year taking us all the way up to Alaska and back down to the Baja Mexico peninsula.” Traveling in the Airstream has created a new sense of normal for Danielle and Tommy, and they’ve fallen in love with every part of it.

“We started focusing more of our time on our photography, video content creation/UGC, freelance marketing, and social media work with brands and companies in the outdoor and RV industry.” This has allowed Danielle and Tommy to continue life on the road and has given them work they are passionate about.

Slow Car Fast Home Airstream parked in front of a large snowy mountain

While out adventuring, they enjoy hiking, fishing, paddle boarding, and photography. Everywhere they travel, they get the opportunity to discover epic campsites and meet fellow travelers. Even days where they spend most of their time in the Airstream are some of Danielle and Tommy’s favorites. They spend time relaxing, reading, catching up on shows together, and spending time with their pups, Missy and Trip.

“We feel like we see so much more everywhere we go with the ability to drop the trailer and have a normal vehicle, and our senior dogs are incredibly happy with their new home.” Bringing Missy and Trip on the road with them was one of the main reasons Danielle and Tommy chose RV travel. The pups love car rides, hiking, and any time they get to spend with Danielle and Tommy. As Missy and Trip get older, the Airstream has been perfect, allowing the pups to get out and adventure while still being able to return to the comfort of home.

Danielle petting Missy and Trip behind the Airstream

What’s Up Next for Slow Car Fast Home

Throughout the last six years of full-time travel, Danielle and Tommy have taken their RVs to almost all of the lower 48 states, and they have no plans of slowing down anytime soon. “This upcoming year, we will be hopping around all over the country.  We plan to spend several months on the East Coast catching up with friends and family we haven’t seen since we took off in the Airstream and taking some time this year to look at land to purchase in some of our favorite areas.” One of their main goals is to get the Airstream up to Newfoundland, Canada.

Danielle and Tommy have even discussed building out their third camper if they stumble across the perfect one. They’re not completely sure where this year will take them, but they can’t wait to continue their adventure on the road.

Slow Car Fast Home Airstream being towed in the mountains

To keep up with Slow Car, Fast Home’s upcoming travels, be sure to check them out on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and their website!

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