Livin’ the Airstream Life

Santa Barbara Silver Safari Makes Retro Camping a Snap

Silver, shiny, and stylish, the Airstream survives as an American icon, representing the open road and outdoor escapism more than any other vehicle. Today, anyone can experience a taste of the Airstream life thanks to Santa Barbara Silver Safari, which rents out a fully restored, perfectly retro version and delivers it to your campground of choice.

Leading the safari is Meredith Klassen, a mother of two who purchased the trailer in 2006 as a compromise to her no-tent-camping husband. After a nationwide search, they found their Airstream in Colorado, and drove there to pick it up after their son graduated from kindergarten. “It’s been a love affair ever since,” said Klassen, who then had to spend hundreds fixing up the old beast. A friend in the Bay Area suggested renting it out to help fund the repairs, so Klassen created a rental Web site in 2007. That’s all it took. “I didn’t advertise. I didn’t even tell that many people about it,” she said. “It just exploded. : The reason for that is not very many people who have these vintage Airstreams want to share them with people.”

She became so busy, in fact, that Klassen-who works by day as a clerk in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court-now only rents it out for a couple of extended weekends per month. But top treatment remains a priority, so if guests want to barbecue, Klassen will stock a portable grill and some meats in the fridge. She’ll also play the concierge, setting up wine tours and other outings. “If there’s something you’re really interested in doing,” explained the Santa Barbara native, “I probably know something about it.”

With three beds (two small twins and a larger one), the Silver Safari Airstream is “perfect for a family of four,” said Klassen, and also features a full kitchen, new stereo system (complete with iPod dock and stocked CDs), and a bathroom with a shower. And with a vintage awning, hardwood floors, and happily stereotypical upholstery, Klassen calls the decor “very ’60s-very lemon yellow and faded green.” While Silver Safari will deliver 30 miles in any direction from Santa Barbara, it’s usually found at one of four places: Ocean Mesa Campground (near El Capitan State Beach), Lake Casitas, Flying Flags RV Park in Buellton, or the Ventura Beach RV Park. The cost is $175 per night, plus a $150 cleaning/delivery fee.

While she’d like to “increase her fleet,” Klassen is satisfied with her one Airstream. “I just really like them because they’re cool,” she said. “They call it aluminitus: Once you fall in love with an Airstream you just see them everywhere.”

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