Airstreaming Overseas

Posted In: Airstream, Blog, Camping Abroad, Europe & UK, Photos

One of the best magazines has always been National Geographic ( In an era when many magazines are going the way of the dodo, National Geographic is still going strong – because it delivers quality, as it has done since 1888 (right about the time that radio was invented).

It's a little known fact that when this photo was taken, this girl was looking at an Airstream.

It’s a little known fact that when this photo was taken, this girl was looking at an Airstream.

While many magazines would benefit from going electronic (or better yet, going away), thumbing through a National Geographic is one of those experiences we associate with paper and ink. Maybe it’s the iconic yellow cover, the core design of which has been the same for so long. Maybe it’s the thick high quality paper they use. Maybe it’s the inevitably stunning photography displayed on those pages. National Geographic is that rare intellectual meal that tastes good and is good for you.

An Airstream caravan in Germany, 1957.

An Airstream caravan in Germany, 1957.

Of course, if not for National Geographic, generations of teenage American males would have remained woefully uneducated with regard to Pygmy boobs.

Believe it or not, I once appeared in the pages of National Geographic. The issue was September 1993, and the story documented the “velvet divorce” of Czechoslovakia where I happened to be teaching English. A National Geographic photographer photographed me and a friend dancing in Bratislava (the capital of Slovakia) on the eve of the split. Alas, the magazine incorrectly identified us as Slovaks. This was an understandable mistake, since we were dressed as Slovaks and celebrating amidst thousands of Slovaks. I will upload a scan of the photo from the magazine if I can find it.

RV camping has been well documented by National Geographic over the years. This is particularly true with regard to Airstream travel trailers. As the industry’s oldest RV manufacturer (founded in 1931), Airstream has appeared in the pages of National Geographic for decades.

Sure, Wally was marketing, but he was also walking the talk.

Sure, Wally was marketing, but he was also walking the talk.

For example, in 1957 there was a major feature story entitled “Through Europe by Trailer Caravan.” The article documented one of Airstream founder Wally Byam’s legendary international caravan trips.

Wally Byam was renowned for leading Airstream caravans around the globe (perhaps most famously across Africa). More than 50 years after the fact, we still marvel at his fearless ingenuity in organizing and executing these genius marketing missions.

Camping in the Vatican!

Camping in the Vatican!

If Wally Byam could pull off RV travel around the world in the 1950s, why can’t the RV industry do it today? A few intrepid souls have tried – and failed.

A few years ago, a group attempted to recreate Byam’s “Capetown to Cairo” trans-African journey. Sadly, after years of planning, the planned caravan was scrapped. It was judged simply too difficult, too demanding, and too risky.

Sure, Wally Byam was a marketing genius, but he also walked (and towed) the talk .

Wally Byam knew how to sell the dream.

Kristy and I started RV traveling not so much because we love RVs, but because we love travel. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could safely and affordably take our own RVs any place on the planet? Perhaps someday this will become reality (although I have a feeling the “affordable” part of that equation may take a while).

In the meantime, we’ve got National Geographic for $1.58 an issue. After 125 years, it’s still a deal.

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Essential RV Camping Gear

Scout365 – Our Inflatable Boat!
Counter Assault Bear Spray
Oxygenics shower head
Antisway bar

Inverter generator
LED spotlight
Sean’s Tilley hat
Merrell Jungle Moc shoes
Walkie talkies
Boeshield T-9 lubricant
Weber portable grill
OBDII code reader
Water “jerry can”
Eye masks for sleep
Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries
RV water filter
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The Next Exit book

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