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Old 08-17-2007, 11:44 AM   #1
Winter Springs , Florida
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4
What Size Airstream?? (First Post)

I am David Ford, wife is Sally, and we are in Central Florida and about to retire. Our first wish after retirement is to purchase a nice slightly used travel trailer and take an extended vacation around the western half of the country to visit some places we have never seen in person.

Our desire is for an Airstream trailer but I am wondering what size would be best for us. It will be just the two of us and we do have a new 2006 GMC 2500HD 4WD Duramax pick up that will pull and stop about anything. We both like a lot of room and are thinking this may be our home for four months or so of each year.

My thoughts are to try to find/buy a nice 34ft home but I wanted to ask here of your experiences and size reccommendations of owning and traveling with that much home. What should we be aware of or cautious of when deciding on length? Are there any serious disadvantages to traveling with a 34 ft home? Would we be better with a shorter home for traveling, say a 25-30 ft?

Thanks for any feedback.

Central Fla

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Old 08-17-2007, 11:50 AM   #2
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2007 25' Safari FB SE
Suburbia , Sunny So Cal
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Hi and welcome in!.

Lots of opinions here so we'll start with mine.

Since you are drawn to a 34 footer here's the pluses:

Lots of room.
Cheaper than the more popular shorter models.
You clearly have all the truck you need.

Now the minuses:

May be too long for some State Parks.

Get what makes you happy and we will want pictures.

I'd rather be boon docking in the desert.

AIR# 13896
CA 4
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Old 08-17-2007, 12:08 PM   #3
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1966 24' Tradewind
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Lynn and I are retired. We have no extended plans for lengthly travels. So we find our 24' tandem axle Tradewind (vintage '66) just right for up to two week camping trips. It is just the right size for small camp sites such as national forests and state parks. This in most cases means boonedocking so if you are doing so in one place for more than 3 or 5 days you 'may' have to take the trailer to a dump station...not a breeze with a 30 + footer. For on-the-go travel I would definitely consider as large a tow as you are comfortable handling. Oh, if you have grandkids they are gonna want to come too....they will need the room. Ours likes to sleep in a tent with his daddy. The 8 mos. old curls up on the dinette/bed with his mom.

Neil and Lynn
Neil and Lynn Holman
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Kirk Creek, Big Sur, Ca. coast.

1966 Trade Wind

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Old 08-17-2007, 12:16 PM   #4
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Virginia Beach , Virginia
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Get what's good for YOU!

Since you've got a diesel, you're good to go with truck stops rather than gas stations. There is almost never a problem with having enough room to get situated in those. I've got a 25 and still have to watch what gas stations I select. Thank god for Wawa and the other supersized ones.

I think a 34 might limit your options to interstates and bigger highways. We went so Sonoma, Az last year and boy, those switchbacks would be UUUUGGGGLLLEEE with a 34. You'd have to camp then take side trips for out of the way places on narrow twistee roads. Again, if that suits you, go for it.

Space is the big plus - living full time even for 4 months with two people in a small space can be tough, especially if you get 5 days of straight rain. If you're the type that goes out rain or shine, not such a big deal.

I full time (single) in a 25' and it's cozy and homey. I have to ruthlessly thin out possessions all the time though. I believe there must be some law that states "crap will accumulate to fill every available space you have to put it."
I'm a different kind of full timer in that I live in my A/S but I still work full time and then some... so I don't spend 24/7 in it. Often times it just seems to be where I sleep... but I never go to bed without thinking how neat the curved walls of my bedroom are, and I never mind waking up late at night to hear the foxes yipping in the campground, or see the egrets fishing in the canal.

The previous poster is right you can get a 31 or 34' at a much better price than the more popular small ones. Quite a few older people buy those, then age out of traveling, or decide they need to downsize. Before you buy though I'd suggest you find a local rally near you and visit. People love to show off their rigs and you can get a real feel for what's right for you and your wife. Also there are a couple of dealers in Florida. Visit them. Have your wife duct tape your hands behind your back to prevent "instant buy"... but look at the length and floor plans of the ones on the lot. 34's are special order only and most dealers don't carry 31's either. Look at my personal favorite, the 27 front bed (comes in Safari, Safari SE, CCD and Classic trims). Great layout. Great storage and yet much smaller than the 31/34.

Good luck and show us pictures of whatever you get.

Paula Ford
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Old 08-17-2007, 12:25 PM   #5
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1983 34' Excella
1967 24' Tradewind
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Rivet Proper Size

Hi Dave,

Welcome to the forums. After full timing in my 24' 67 Trade Wind for a while (stationary for a little bit), I bought a 1983 34' Excella this January. Even though I live alone, I am delighted with the space. I also enjoy having the dinette on the side. It's great to have a place to sit down and eat or work on something. Links to photos below:

34' gets my vote.

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Old 08-17-2007, 12:51 PM   #6
Winter Springs , Florida
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4
I actually have an older 37' park model Intnl that serves as my hunt camp home now so I am used to that length and space. Living full time in something much smaller may be a challenge.

After reading some of the info on this website I am thinking that maybe a midsize unit may be better, more convenient on the road, and OK for us even though we both prefer the longer. Hard to say. I just wanted to get some opinions from those who have already been thru this and have them point out the things I have not thought of.

Thanks, Dave
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Old 08-17-2007, 01:06 PM   #7
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We originally had a 22' International that was rather cozy with 2 dogs (labs at the time). Problems that proved to be too annoying over time all involved lack of space - especially when folks came over to visit - had to bunch up at the dinette &/or sit on the corner bed. Also, making the corner bed was a pain as well as having to get up in the middle of the night and stumble over my DW... Storage was also an issue.

We don't full time (one day, maybe), but when we do go out, we like to have some room, thus we traded in for a 30' Classic. Have been tempted to check out the 34' but as has been said, those extra 4 feet DO make a difference in state & federal campgrounds and narrow rural roads. Was looking at an '07 on Colonial's website (34' Classic limited slide-out) and man-o-man, I could see myself in that one. Fortunately, my better half could not.

You've got the tow vehicle to do with pretty much what you want to short of a 60' double-wide... the 27-30' are good compromises. Just take your time and sit a spell in each one...
Bill & Kim
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Old 08-17-2007, 01:54 PM   #8
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I think it comes down to what kind of campgrounds you plan to use. If you're partial to state and federal campgrounds, something up to 25 feet would work best.

However, if you are more likely to use commercial campgrounds, I'd go with a 34-footer. They're incredibly stable while towing - perhaps more so than any other Airstream model, offer the most bang for the buck space wise, and are the most accommodating for full-timing. Other than the aforementioned campground issue, the larger depreciation hit you'll take if you buy a new one (vs. buying a new smaller trailer), and the fact they go through tires more quickly, the 34-footers are hard to beat for full-timers with the appropriate tow vehicle.

Our 31-footer really isn't much if any more difficult to use/tow/park than our 24-footer was, and with a diesel truck, you're going to be using the truck fueling areas at most gas stations anyway. But the 31-footer is so much more comfortable to be in, and we find it smoother and easier to move down the road...
Both Alex, my Argosy, and I are kids from Versailles, Ohio!
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Old 08-17-2007, 02:11 PM   #9
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hi dave and welcome to the forums...

the key thing is to get INTO a lot of units and try out the space...

also helps to talk with folks who actually have/had a 34.

i've pulled on switch backs so tight i could see me coming AND going!

while tiny trailers are in vogue now, the rv community is dominated by giant mohos and 5th wheels...

a 34 is svelte in this league...

lastly a 34 WILL fit almost anywhere!

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 08-17-2007, 02:18 PM   #10
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2005 28' Safari
Pinole , California
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We had a 31' limited and it was a great trailer for a family of 4. But when our boy's no longer could join us we thought a 19' Bambi would accomodate our needs; but not so. I'm 6' and weigh 200 Lbs and the Bambi bed proved to be too small and I could not get comfortable with the small size. In addition, the bathroom was not designed for a large person.

We finally settled on a 28' Safari as it is small enough to fit into state campgrounds and roomy enough so you don't get claustrophobia. Hope this helps, Regards, Earl
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Old 08-17-2007, 02:53 PM   #11
2006 25' Classic
New Hyde Park , New York
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I wife and I recently purchased a new 2006 25' Classic. Our TV is a 2002 Ford 7.3 PS. WE plan on being on the road 4 plus months out of the year. We liked the layout and the location of the TV. Prior to getting it we went to a few AS rallys and folks were more than happy to show off there AS's. Most had 30-31' units. A few were going to remove or modify the dinette.
Having camped out west I agree with the other posters concerning size limits. The Federal and State parks were designed with smaller length RV's in mind.
If we were going to upsize it would be to the 28' Classic. It has a similar layout, but has a little more room overall.
Our dog doesn't care what size camper we have. She'll adapt.
Also, the larger the AS the more fuel you'll have to purchase.

Mark, Debbie and Belle
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Old 08-17-2007, 03:15 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by halimer
Our dog doesn't care what size camper we have. She'll adapt.
Also, the larger the AS the more fuel you'll have to purchase.
Mark, Debbie and Belle
With our 22', our dogs didn't care one way or another about the size just as long as they were with us... trouble is, with 2 labs and 2 adults, WE cared... when one of us got up, both of them did and were ready to go, ball in mouth.

As to fuel, we get exactly the same mileage towing the 30' as we did on the 22' with a diesel. Can't vouch for gasoline, tho'. With the equilizer hitch, the 30' tows like a dream - very stable. Prior to getting our 30', we had borrowed a friends 34' and camped a couple of weeks in it. Really nice space-wise & dog wise but just too long for us. They also ended up trading in on a 30'.
Bill & Kim
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Old 08-17-2007, 04:13 PM   #13
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1959 22' Flying Cloud
1972 25' Tradewind
1962 30' Sovereign
Navarre , Florida
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Practical space, real needs, Go bigger.

Having two different size and style of AS, I figured I would chime in. Where I love my 22 foot Flying Cloud, I think of it as a weekend warrior. Even using it on my own, it has limits for any extended use. With it being smaller, it tows anywhere, and the layout is great. It is suited for 1 - 2 people for short runs. I have learned different floor plans do make a difference, I know for mine there is a lot of storage. The cooking and bath work about the same for both styles. For short trips, this would be my AS of choice. Our Tradewind is 25 feet and more sleeper friendly. It has 2 double beds, and is divided by the compartment doors. Heavier tow, but better suited for spending time in if you are away for a longer period of time. We bought both to use after hurricaine Ivan as we rebuilt our home. The smaller one was not big enough for living in. The bigger one would have worked out but why not use both once we had them. Having done more homework since I started on this we are looking to add a 3rd AS to the family use. I am looking at 26 to 29 feet, older vintage. The towing weight is a factor to me, but also want something just a bit bigger. Keep in mind that comes from soneone using a 3400 square foot house for 2 people. Being a pack rat is a part who I am so having space to bring things with and get more stuff plays a role. For use on state parks, and ease of towing lenght I would stay between 25-31 feet, but go bigger if you are comfortable. Think about those 4 months a year what you will really need and do you have room for all of it. Also depending on the floorplan, some have more living space then you might think. Also although I prefer vinatge, there is more work to them, as oppsed to buying something newer. One common thing I have read on here is the need to upgrade on space. Cute is one thing, but practical means looking at real space for your living needs. If I go full time I will be looking at something 29 - 31 feet.
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Old 08-19-2007, 07:39 PM   #14
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Locust Grove , Virginia
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DW and I have a 2003 22'AS International. We'll be selling it at the end of this season and going up to a new 28' Safari SE. It's all the trailer we'll need (Unless we win the lottery) and has a great floor plan that doesn't leave you feeling cramped. With your tow vehicle, you won't even know it's back there.

2016 GMC 2500HD Denali (Betsy 4)
1996 34' Excella 1000 (Arvin3 as this is our 3rd AS)
2010 TREK 2.3
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