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It costs more than you think… that’s usually the answer I’ll give to anyone who asks how much it costs to renovate a vintage Airstream. Just like any home renovation, there are lots of surprises and challenges you’ll face along the way.

The value of a vintage Airstream is a little counter-intuitive as the older and smaller they are, the more expensive they can be to purchase. I spent a few months searching around on Craigslist, eBay and Airstream Classifieds and found it to be true. The 1950’s and 1960’s trailers in the 18-22ft range are usually right in the sweet spot and that’s why I got excited when I found a 1966 Airstream Globetrotter 20ft trailer for $7,000.

We drove two hours to Palestine, Texas to take a look at it, but we already had the cash in hand as I was pretty confident it was a good deal (and I’m impulsive). The sellers had owned it for over 25 years, and while not at all updated and not too clean, the bones were still in pretty good shape. I had no idea what I was doing besides what I researched to look for when buying an old Airstream, but I didn’t let it stop me from a $6,000 cash offer which they happily accepted. That’s when “Penny Lane” became our trailer.

old-penny-lane

Time to renovate

My original estimate on our Airstream renovation was around $6,000, which would double our purchase price and leave us with $12,000 total invested. I was wrong.

I knew we’d have to replace all of the mechanicals, but didn’t realize how much everything would cost. The only thing we really kept were the oven and the original cabinets, but we spent a lot of time painting and redoing the cabinets. You can find the full renovation story here.

Our current Airstream renovation costs are $12,057, which more than double our original purchase price and gets us to $18,057 invested in Penny Lane. The cost overruns came from a combination of big things costing more than I expected ($1,100 to install the AC) and many, many small purchases I didn’t think about. The tile for our bathroom remodel alone was over $900 when including the silicone caulk and grout. There were too many trips to Home Depot and visits from the Amazon ferry to keep up with, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re remodeling a tiny house.

Here’s an overview of our costs by category:

Here's an overview of our total renovation costs

The biggest costs were the new appliances and new plumbing systems (all new tanks), but the surprising large category was “Interior” which became a catch all for many things like new lights, countertops, supplies and many other things. We did all of the work ourselves except install the axle and air conditioner, so it would have been much higher if this was totally outsourced… I’m thinking in the range of $15k-$25k total. Just remember, I worked on it full time for nearly three months and still didn’t have it fully ready.

The last big thing we have left is to polish the exterior. I’ve spent approximately 20hrs so far, but total I’ll probably spent over 200 hrs. From what I’ve researched, estimates for professional polishing can easily top $10,000.

In the end, I’m excited about our end product and very proud of our work. It will be our home as we travel around the country over the next year, and I’m glad we were able to make it as nice as we were. I’m not sure if I’d ever do it again or recommend anyone else to do it unless they’re a little bit crazy, but it was worth it!

penny-lane

Somewhere along the line, we’ve all been tricked. We’ve been tricked into thinking only certain types of people with well developed skills and a professionally vetted plan can become entrepreneurs. We think we need a license to entrepreneu (I made that word up) before we can become entrepreneurs.

Actually, it’s not even that we’re tricked, it’s that we’re trained to think like this. School doesn’t teach us how to become entrepreneurs, but instead how to be good employees. As I mentioned in the five things I never learned in school, we’re not taught how to assess ourselves, take action, question authority or even manage money. These are things most entrepreneurs do well. We’re taught to wait for the next assignment to be given to us, so we’re always dependent on being told what to do.

When we traveled the world in 2013, we realized most people in developing countries were entrepreneurs. This wasn’t because they attended Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” seminar, it’s because there weren’t other jobs! They couldn’t log on to Monster.com and apply to 50 different openings for a financial analyst. No, they just needed to be able to eat, so they found a way to make some money.

They’d set up little stalls in the market selling their goods, or save up enough money to buy a car and give tours of their city. They’d figure out how to get by, even if it was only by selling a few camel-skin purses a day. This has been going on for tens of thousands of years – ever since humans coexisted. In my mind, there are only a few basic requirements to become an entrepreneur:
1. Be a human
2. Ability to interact with people
3. Know the local language (optional)
Some people get by with only the first requirement! We all interact with people and know how to carry a conversation. This is the very basic requirement for entrepreneurism.

So why does entrepreneurism seem so hard to most of us in the US?

I think a lot of it has to do with what we see on television or the interwebs. We see news stories on guys like Zuckerberg or Larry Paige who invented freaking Facebook or Google! We try to compare ourselves with people like that, and of course our ideas aren’t going to look grand enough. We think we can’t start being an entrepreneur until we have a brilliant and original idea.

When I interviewed my entrepreneur friend Chris, he talked about how every app idea has about ten people working on it (yes, that even includes your awesome app idea). He said about 6 of those people have moved just beyond the idea phase to talk to some people about getting it started. Two have started the design and are building it out. The last two have already brought it to market and are working their butts off day and night to make it succeed.

A brilliant idea isn’t what makes an entrepreneur successful, so don’t let that hold you up. We’re seeing new companies pop up in old industries every day, and just when we think a market is tapped out, we see a new company come in and succeed. Look at the beer market. Ten years ago it was monopolized by about four companies and we were all forced to think Bud Light was a good beer. Now, there are new craft beer companies popping up everywhere, and it’s not like they’ve reinvented beer!

Entrepreneurism is possible, you just have to want it enough. And yes, this is coming from an unemployed guy who spends all day fixing up his Airstream!! However, I intend my next paid for venture to come from my own work, so let’s do this together, and I’ll keep you updated as I move down that path.

Also, feel free to print off the awesome certificate below so you can have your license to entrepreneur!!!

 

Entrepreneur License

Overall score (Dan) = B
Overall score (Jocelyn) = A

Total days = 4 nights, 5 days
Total cost = $1,132
Cost per day = $226 / day
Flight costs = $1,164 one-way from UK and through to US
Cities visited: Reykjavik, Vic, and other small towns along the south coast of Iceland

Summary

We made Iceland our last country to visit on our round the world trip because it made sense geographically as it sits between the UK and the US. We also knew Iceland is very expensive, so we limited our time to five days and hoped it would be enough.

It turns out we could’ve spent weeks exploring the island because it’s incredibly beautiful! Iceland’s nickname is the “Land of Fire and Ice” and visiting in early November meant we got to see some ice. We explored around volcanoes and saw many of them from the road, but we never actually got to see any lava – I think you have to pay the big bucks to go on a 4×4 excursion or helicopter ride to see that.

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Stonehenge, United Kingdom

Jocelyn and me in front of Stonehenge

Overall score (Dan) = B
Overall score (Jocelyn) = B

Total days = 9 nights, 10 days
Total cost = $2,005
Cost per day = $200 / day
Flight costs = $613 one-way from Tel Aviv
Cities visited: Sterling, Edinburgh, Bristol, London

Summary

As our flight touched down at London Heathrow, we were mixed with emotions ranging from relief to sadness. Relief from knowing our scary and exotic countries were all marked off the list and sadness for the same reason! Arrival in the UK meant that after this country we only had one left to visit – Iceland. It meant we were back to westernized countries where the people looked like us and everything was familiar. It meant our round the world trip was almost complete.

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How Much Did We Spend in Morocco?  Essaouira, Morocco

Watching the sunset with the city of Essaouira behind us

Overall score (Dan) = A
Overall score (Jocelyn) = A

Total days = 7 nights, 8 days
Total cost = $934
Cost per day = $117 / day
Flight costs = $616 from Tel Aviv (with stops in Istanbul, Rome, and Milan!!)
Cities visited: Marrakech, Essaouira, Taroudant

Summary

It seems like every time we think we’ve seen it all, we stumble into a new country and are blown away by what we find. From the snake charmers controlling the customer’s wallets as easy as they do the snakes, to the goats that climb trees in search of their next meal, Morocco is full of wonder, mystery, and danger; not necessarily the danger of physical harm, but more the danger of being swindled.

We were lucky enough to meet a friend in Morocco who pretty much planned out our entire 8 days! It came at a good time because after 8 months of researching new countries, reading the top 10 things to do on Lonely Planet, and figuring out where to stay, we were ready for a mental break.

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