When we were searching for our Airstream, many folks asked us if we had “rented” an Airstream first to see if we really would enjoy the lifestyle. I never realized there was such a thing as renting an Airstream ~ who knew? Well, we went ahead and purchased our Beatrice with no regrets. In fact, we love her more than we ever thought possible. Enough of that sappy Beatrice talk, back to renting ~ I decided to start researching the rental market for Airstreams and I found John Abbott and his wife, Wendy from Airstreams4rent. John and Wendy were kind enough to share a bit of their story, which I am happy to share with you. Airstreams4rent is based out of Phoenix, Arizona. You can also “Like” Airstreams4rent on Facebook!
Me: How did you get started with Airstreams4rent?
John: The story that brought us to Airstreams happened when we were on a camping trip in northern Arizona in a borrowed pop-up tent trailer. It was Memorial Day, and it had snowed about a foot of heavy wet snow. We were with a fishing club, and there were two vintage Airstreams in the group. We got to talking about Airstreams and even got tours (it was nice and warm inside them). John had always loved Airstreams from when he was a kid and his family went camping in a homemade converted van. Wendy had waxed an Airstream for an elderly couple during her college days. So we both have a long history with Airstreams.
We started Airstreams4rent when we found no one was renting Airstream trailers. We also found from questions asked in various forums that there was a demand for vintage Airstream trailer rentals which no one was meeting. And the only folks who were renting Airstream trailers would not let you tow them yourself. It was more like an Airstream motel. And we think that is half the fun of RVing! Setting your own pace, your own itinerary, mapping your own way. That is what Airstreams4rent is all about. Letting you use our vintage Airstream trailers to enjoy a full RV vacation.
Me: Did you grow up camping? And if so, was it in Airstreams?
John: My dad made a pop-up camper out of a used Dodge van. We camped all over Texas growing up. Wendy’s family tent camped out in a 10 person tent from the back of their station wagon in their travels. Wendy remembers going from SD to TX to visit her brother before he shipped out to Vietnam.
An Airstream was out of reach for both of our families when we were growing up. We feel it is important to keep an RV vacation affordable for this very reason. So we keep our rental rates low on our Airstream rentals. We want our guests to be able to afford to bring along family and friends.
Me: I see you rent a Suburban? Can your clients tow your AS’s with their TV’s (tow vehicles) or do you tow the AS’s to a specified site and then pick it up once the client has ended their vacation?
John: We let you tow them yourself, which is half the fun. We find more and more folks don’t have a vehicle that can tow, and folks flying in need a tow vehicle. Most rental car companies do not allow you to tow with their rentals, and they are not set up for towing anyway. The ones that do rent tow vehicles are charging $100-150 per day for them. So renting our Suburbans for $59 per day or $360 per week is a great option for them.
We do offer delivery and setup for those who are just intimidated by towing a vintage Airstream. Most folks do very well, even if it’s their first time towing. We do provide an extensive orientation at pick-up, checklists for setting up and breaking camp, and a 24-hour phone number where you can reach us.
Me: How do your clients find you? Do you feel social media plays a role in finding new clients? i.e. Facebook and Twitter?
John: The majority find us when they search for something like “rent Airstream” online. We are also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and run a few ads on Facebook and other websites too. John is working on an Airstream blog too. Mostly it’s about restoring them. We also offer three different email series we call Trip Reports on our websites.
We have also been in magazine articles in Motortrend, Sunset and Airstream Life.
Me: Can you tell us about “Trip Reports”?
John: They offer vacation ideas for folks thinking about renting an Airstream from us. You can sign up from our website and get a series of emails chronicling one of our family’s Airstream road trips. They come every morning for about a week, then they start to space out more and more.
Me: What other services do you offer clients: repairs and polishing?
John: So many folks come back from their vacations and want to buy their vintage Airstream. We don’t sell our rental Airstreams because there is a line of people waiting to rent them. Yet since we have experience restoring Airstreams, we are now offering those services through a sister company we named Airstream Renovations of Phoenix.
It started as a polishing service, since there was a big demand for professional polishing. Airstreams made before 1986 have an outside skin of Alclad. It is very strong aluminum alloy that has a thin veneer of pure aluminum on the outside that polishes up like a mirror. But if you polish through the veneer it leaves an ugly mark that can not be repaired. So you must know what you are doing when you polish a vintage Airstream. We get a lot of trailers from California, where it costs much more to polish an Airstream.
We offer to help to help find a nice vintage Arizona trailer for our Renovation clients that we inspect before they purchase. Then we can do all or part of the renovations on the trailer. We specialize restoring them to original condition, but we can also gut them out and build to the owner’s vision for their trailer.
Me: Do you charge mileage?
John: Only if there is an odometer! So the answer is no for the trailers. We do charge for mileage on the Suburbans and on the Airstream Motorhome we are finishing up for rental. The Motorhome is 22 feet long and will sleep 8 when finished. It is priced the same as if you rented a Suburban and a trailer from us. We do offer 100 miles a day free, and then 100 mile “packs” if their trip plans call for more travel. We also price of the trailers the same, so our guests can just concentrate on selecting the right one for their family.
Me: What amenities come with an AS rental?
John: All of our Airstreams have a full bath, kitchen, A/C, flat screen TV, DVD player, and even a lantern for the picnic table. We also offer a “Silver Liner Package” for free with each rental. The items take up both sides of a piece of paper, so there is too much to list here, but it includes: RV safe toilet paper, trash bags, dish detergent, cloths pins, paper towels, 4 bag chairs (for by the campfire), all the hoses and cables, chocks, a cutting board, ice-cube trays, 2 pink flamingos, and even a loaner DVD of the Long Long Trailer movie.
We also have a Kitchen Package (pots, pans, & cooking utensils/ dishes, cups & silverware) and a Linen Package (sheets, blankets, pillow, & towels for 6) which are needed by our guests who fly into Phoenix. There is an extra charge to use the awning which covers wear & tear on those. Many RV rental companies don’t even have awnings on their units. The packages are each priced at $30 for the whole trip. We also offer generators, propane fire pits (for fire restrictions season) and trailer mounted brake controllers. We even allow pets in most units for an extra deposit and fee.
Me: I see “preferred status” on your website, what does this mean?
John: Preferred Status gets folks pre-approved for rentals. That way they can take advantage of last-minute deals we send out from time to time.
Thank so much to John and Wendy! And please contact them if you are ever hankering to experience what many of us have already found out ~ the most pleasurable way to travel is in an Airstream travel trailer.
Photo source: Airstreams4rent