Back in the Airstream - Our Tips for Long Term Storage
This is the second time we have stored our Airstream for more than a week. On the first occasion we left in a hurry after a family medical emergency but this time we had lots of opportunity to plan and prepare. We knew we would be gone for a number of months so we wanted to make sure our trailer was super secure and not a potential home for pests and rodents while we were gone.
We were cautious about everything and I'm happy to say after 6 months in storage the trailer was perfect when we picked it up. Here are some of our tips.
Location and Weather
Choosing a storage location is one of the first decisions to make. If you have friends and family who will let you store on their property that is awesome but for the rest of us picking a paid-storage location is the next best option.
First we narrowed it down to a rough geographical area. Where you are leaving from on your trip is an obvious consideration, but also think about where you will want to go with the rig when you get back. The climate while it is being stored is another major consideration. Our flights to Asia were from San Francisco and just before flying we were camping in the Southern California desert so somewhere between the two was logical. We chose Bakersfield in California because it is dry nearly all year and we planned to travel through the Central California Coast when we got back.
Another consideration is cost. Less populated, rural or lower cost of living areas often have much cheaper storage. Bakersfield had several inexpensive storage options available. The same can't be said for the San Francisco Bay Area.
We chose to store our truck in a different location because we wanted it to travel around for a few days visiting friends before our departure from SFO. Otherwise we would have stored the rig and trailer together to be more cost effective.
Scouting Storage Facilities
Once we had decided on Bakersfield we researched suitable facilities that offered the type of storage we wanted. We called all of them in advance to check on costs and availability. We narrowed it down to two options and rather than book in advance we decided to wait until we visited the locations in person to chose between the two. We booked into an RV Park in Bakersfield for a few nights where we could get the trailer ready and then scouted out the two options. If you get the opportunity to do this I would recommend it. We ended up switching our decision on our preferred place after visiting them when we got to Bakersfield.
Making a Choice
Our first choice from online research didn't give us a good vibe when we got there. The security was more lax than we were comfortable with and it was next to an open field which increased the chances of a mousy visitor or two. Instead we chose Loyd's Aviation at the Bakersfield Airport. The security was tighter, the neighborhood was better and it is surrounded by lots and lots of asphalt. Perfect for storage.
Covered or Uncovered?
Covered usually costs more but if you are in an area with harsh weather it may well be worth it to keep your rig in good shape. Since we had selected Bakersfield, we did not need to winterize the rig and knew that heat and sun was our main threat. Given that we travel full-time and the rig lives exclusively out in the elements we decided to take our chances uncovered to save some cash. This is a personal decision based on potential weather where you store.
Preparing the Rig
If possible, have a few days close to where you will store to get the rig ready. We took a couple of days to get all the food out of the rig, and clean like our life depended on it. My theory is the cleaner the rig the less chance of any infestations. Unlike most of the recommendations I did keep some food in there. I had some oils and vinegars that I sealed with wrap and elastic bands around the bottle tops and then put inside airtight containers. Anything that couldn't be stored that way or is prone to mites (like flour) we consumed or threw away.
We paid particular attention to the fridge and freezer, after defrosting I made sure it was spotless. I paid particular attention to remove any crumbs inside all of the cupboards . Someone recommended leaving dryer sheets in cupboards to deter vermin. Who knows if it really works but a few bucks on dryer sheets is worth a try.
Once the inside was ready we towed to the storage facility. An additional precaution for the inside was to add some Damp Rid containers. Even though Bakersfield is dry most of the year we still had the rest of winter to get through and rain is possible in the area.
We covered our tires, which given the summer temperatures out in Central California, seemed a wise thing to do to avoid degradation. We stored our bikes inside the trailer itself and other boxes from the truck that we didn't need. Once we locked everything up Iain took a few extra security measures (you would think he worked at Fort Knox with his security regime) but given this is our home it seemed sensible to make it super secure. We invested an a Mega Hitch Lock for extra peace of mind. You can't prevent everything but you may as well make it difficult to steal the thing!
Take Some Photos
We took some photos of the rig before we left that we could use for insurance purposes in case there was any damage or other incident while we were gone.
Last time we stored it was in a hurry. After 7 weeks in storage during the Washington fall we returned to a soggy Airstream. The whole rig felt damp and we wished we had used Damp Rid to absorb the moisture. But given the emergency we were responding to there was no time. On this occasion we were more prepared and placed several Damp Rid containers around the trailer. However on our return to Bakersfield I'm not sure if they were necessary. In fact, we noticed that our wooden cutting board was completely dried out when we got back. Since then we have had a recommendation of actually leaving bowls of water around the trailer to help maintain some moisture. This helps prevent wood drying out and warping in storage environments that are super dry with consistently high temperatures.
Some of these precautions may be overkill, but those few extra days to get ready for storage gave us the peace of mind to not worry while we were away. We came back to a pristine trailer. Do you have any tips for long term storage of your rig when you travel full-time? Share them in the comments below.