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Old 02-03-2016, 03:48 PM   #1
mdf
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Belvedere , California
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Purchase and Use Advice

Hello Everyone,

My name is Matt, and this is my first post. This site is a wealth of information....thanks to all of you as it's making research much easier!

I am considering doing a cross - country drive with my family this summer, hitting a significant amount of National Parks, etc. The route I have planned out, starting in San Francisco, and ending in the midwest, is roughly 4000 miles. I have 4 kids (oldest is 11, youngest is 7), so there will be 6 of us traveling. My questions are these:

1) Do you believe that the Interstate is a good platform for this trip? To be clear, we do NOT expect to sleep in the Interstate for the entire trip, but rather maybe here and there where there are good campgrounds, augmented by a large standalone tent. The majority of our overnights would likely be inns and hotels. I'm really asking about driving this thing 4000 miles (vs. our Sienna Minivan). My hope is that driving it on the interstate is relatively easy, and comfortable.

2) We are looking at the Lounge EXT model, as we need the storage space, and the seat belted seating. From what I have read here, the Air Suspension available in the 2016's will make anyone seated in the back significantly more comfortable. That said, there are some low mileage used models around at significant savings -- how bad is the ride of the rear seating for kids?

3) Given our targeted usage, if this isn't the platform, do you have any other suggestions?

4) Am I crazy? I think it will be a life experience that my entire family will retain forever. If any of you have done something like this, I would appreciate tips, tricks, advice, experiences, etc.

Thanks in advance!
Matt
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Old 02-03-2016, 03:59 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by mdf View Post
I'm really asking about driving this thing 4000 miles (vs. our Sienna Minivan). My hope is that driving it on the interstate is relatively easy, and comfortable.
The most miles I've put on my Interstate in one day was 746 miles, and it is the only vehicle I've ever owned or driven in over 30 years where I could rack up that many miles in one go and feel just as comfortable at mile 746 as I did at mile 1.
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4) Am I crazy?
Of course you're crazy! But sanity is just the standard set by risk-averse people with no sense of adventure. Enjoy your craziness while it lasts!
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:42 PM   #3
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Hi, Matt, and welcome to Air Forums! Your post put a smile on my face because we bought our Airstream Interstate about two months after driving my 2011 Toyota Sienna 6,000 miles round trip between Houston Texas and far northeastern Nova Scotia in the summer of 2014. We enjoyed the trip - it was an eye-opener, and a paradigm-breaker for us as we had only previously done long-haul travel by air. But the platform left a lot to be desired - two adults, a teenager, a 45-pound dog, an overstuffed Yeti cooler, and a boat-load of other supplies all crammed into that minivan for several weeks. I can't imagine doing it with FOUR kids instead of one teenager and one fur baby!!


Have you ever loaded down a Sienna like that?? You might be unpleasantly surprised by the result. Technically ours wasn't overweight, but with so much in the rear end, we had fish-tailing issues. It did fine on the trip but it was clearly up against its performance limits. I've driven Siennas exclusively since 1999, so I know what they're supposed to feel like.

Anyway, my best advice to you is to get out in the sales market and look at every conceivable model of extended capacity van, camper van, and/or RV that you might be considering. For a group your size, there are far cheaper options than the Interstate, but many of them come at a huge price of versatility and convenience. That's a bit of math that everyone must run according to their individual circumstances. A pre-owned Interstate proved to be the right choice for my family, to the point where we've invested quite heavily in enhancing ours for future travel. But it didn't come without certain downsides, chiefly a slew of repair issues.

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:43 PM   #4
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Sounds awesome!

We actually had considered doing something similar. I work remotely so we thought about renting/selling our house, buying an Interstate and traveling the country for a year - spending 1-2 months in various places (renting different apartments with VRBO to actually live in). What we ultimately decided was that we didn't need a $125k+ Interstate to do that. We have a large Toyota SUV that would've just as comfortably got us from point A to B (we routinely drive long distances in it and it's like riding on a couch). We went a different direction and put in an order for a new 30' trailer.

I could justify this purchase a little more as I felt that, as a family of 4, we could comfortably sleep in it. Couldn't do that in the Interstate. We'll use this for lots of weekend trips and the occasional 1-2 week trips the first year or two. Then will plan a similar trip to yours once we get the hang of it.

Sounds like a sweet trip and you only go around the track once, so I'd go for it. Good luck,

Eric
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mdf View Post
Hello Everyone,

My name is Matt, and this is my first post. This site is a wealth of information....thanks to all of you as it's making research much easier!

I am considering doing a cross - country drive with my family this summer, hitting a significant amount of National Parks, etc. The route I have planned out, starting in San Francisco, and ending in the midwest, is roughly 4000 miles. I have 4 kids (oldest is 11, youngest is 7), so there will be 6 of us traveling. My questions are these:

1) Do you believe that the Interstate is a good platform for this trip?

Yes, absolutely.

2) We are looking at the Lounge EXT model, as we need the storage space, and the seat belted seating. From what I have read here, the Air Suspension available in the 2016's will make anyone seated in the back significantly more comfortable.

I have gone on many extended trips completely across the country. From my home in Oklahoma, to the far west coast, up to Washington and back; another to Jasper National Park and back; another to Nova Scotia and back. All were almost month long trips and over 6,000 miles. And I have to say the Interstate is a very comfortable ride stock out of the factory. I took my adult daughter and her husband and son, and my wife, to Florida and back, well over 2,000 miles and I personally don't think ten grand for a better ride is worth it as no one complained, and they mostly rode, belted, in the back.

Sleeping six? Forget it. Not enough room for four, much less six. If you want to sleep it in, get a Class C or bigger.

But for just the drive part, an Interstate works great. No bathroom breaks to stop for, food on the fly, TV. What more do you need?


3) Given our targeted usage, if this isn't the platform, do you have any other suggestions?

Nope.

4) Am I crazy? I think it will be a life experience that my entire family will retain forever. If any of you have done something like this, I would appreciate tips, tricks, advice, experiences, etc.

Probably. But one regret I have, as I approach my retirement, is that I didn't discover the joy in RV'ing until after my kids had grown and left the nest. I see many other younger folks with kids, and the experience they get are worth every penny. You won't regret it.

GM

Thanks in advance!
Matt
You are welcome.
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mdf View Post

1) Do you believe that the Interstate is a good platform for this trip? To be clear, we do NOT expect to sleep in the Interstate for the entire trip, but rather maybe here and there where there are good campgrounds, augmented by a large standalone tent. The majority of our overnights would likely be inns and hotels. I'm really asking about driving this thing 4000 miles (vs. our Sienna Minivan). My hope is that driving it on the interstate is relatively easy, and comfortable.

Like Protag, I've driven 700+ miles in one day and when I climb out, I can immediately walk w/o the unkinking I have to do when driving 150 miles in my Tahoe. It is very easy to drive.

2) We are looking at the Lounge EXT model, as we need the storage space, and the seat belted seating. From what I have read here, the Air Suspension available in the 2016's will make anyone seated in the back significantly more comfortable. That said, there are some low mileage used models around at significant savings -- how bad is the ride of the rear seating for kids?

My experience w/ our four grandkids (9, 9, 12, & 14) is they don't seem to mind the occasional bounce. Too busy watching a movie or playing games on tablets, phones, etc.

3) Given our targeted usage, if this isn't the platform, do you have any other suggestions?

4) Am I crazy? I think it will be a life experience that my entire family will retain forever. If any of you have done something like this, I would appreciate tips, tricks, advice, experiences, etc.

I would recommend looking around for a clean used Interstate to save a good chunk of money.

Thanks in advance!
Matt
Good luck and welcome to the Air Forums.
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:43 PM   #7
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"I would recommend looking around for a clean used Interstate to save a good chunk of money."

There is a sweet spot in that idea for many people. Many of the older NCV3s are really starting to come down in price. RV Trader's 2010 models probably average around $70K right now. I have only seen one T1N listed nationally in the past several months, that being a 2005 for $52K.
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:15 PM   #8
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My 2011 is listed here and other websites at $83,900.
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:32 PM   #9
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We use our interstate as a road warrior and stay in hotels or vacation rentals.. I would much rather road trip in the interstate than a mini van ( but that's me)

The benefits are numerous, it's a comforting feeling to know you have a little house where ever you go. Get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and have to pee, no problem.. In a remote area with no facilities and want to stop have a snack and relax you've got a little house to kick back in..

We've taken ours across country into the mountains of Colorado to big cities of New York, Boston, Philly.

They are also great for a day at the beach or going to an amusement park.. There is nothing like the versatility of these rigs..

If I didn't have the interstate to road trip in, then I would fly. I couldn't go back to driving a regular car for road trips I'm way too spoiled now.. 😁
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:12 PM   #10
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There is another issue that makes the Interstate a desirable vehicle for long tripsó sheer size. Aggressive drivers tend to be less aggressive toward vehicles larger than theirs. I'd much rather be on the road in five tons of fine German steel than a ton and a half of fine Japanese steel.
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:15 PM   #11
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We bought our first interstate, a used 2010 for $80,000. Drove it for 2 1/2 years and put 25,000 miles on it.

We then realized this was the way to travel.

We then sold our 2010 for $79,000, 2 1/2 years later! And went and bought a leftover 2014.

We are a family of four and use it mainly for road trips. They are so great for long distances, short distances or even just bringing home and parking in my driveway and enjoying it.

It's definitely a must to have if you can.

I'm still asked by friends and family how I came across finding this type of vehicle.


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Old 02-03-2016, 09:37 PM   #12
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I'll declare up front by saying i believe it's the wrong platform. Here's my thinking, but others have a lot more experience and mileage than me (10,000 since May including cross country from Chicago to LA). So you have to factor in all the opinions, and also match those that are relevant with how you plan to use it.

1. Driving: the cab is extremely comfortable. Mileage and fatigue will NOT be an issue. The vehicle is a delight to drive, lots of visibility, very comfortable seating, really nice handling, etc. CAVEAT: WIND WILL WEAR YOU OUT Unless you've got one with modified shocks and sway bar in back There's a whole post thread about that

2. Sleeping: don't even think about it with more than you and your wife, unless you have tent(s) or other options for the rest of the brood.

3. Ride in back: UNLESS YOU GET THE AIR SUSPENSION ON 2016 MODEL, the ride in back is very bumpy. I would NOT sign up personally to ride in back if someone else were doing the driving. Another issue is temperature. When it's hot out, you'll have to run the coach air for your rear passengers (not just the cab air) which means generator. And it's noisy, which impacts conversation and entertainment / TV. Plus when you park someplace and come back, if it's hot out, the inside will take a while to get up to comfortable temps. Sure you can leave the air on while away (again, need the generator) or try to keep it cooled by running the fan with ventilation ... I"m just sayin'

4. Roominess. We love our Grand Tour EXT. That said, we're 2 not-large people, and it's skinny inside, with lots of "excuse me honey's" and moving out of each other's way when we move front-to-back. I predict 6 of you will feel claustrophobic starting mid 2nd day.

If you're really just planning to just drive a vehicle, and sleep in inns/hotels ... I would consider renting a very large SUV with 3 rows and entertainment options inside for the young kids.

Or a well-regarded Class C (I have no specific ideas on that one). Leisure Travel Vans have a couple of Sprinter-based models that are 18 inches wider and seem more roomy inside, with more floorpan flexibility. No air suspension in rear yet though as far as I know.


This is very subjective. Good luck.
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Old 02-03-2016, 11:24 PM   #13
mdf
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Belvedere , California
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Thanks for all of your thoughtful replies. I find them all informative. I'm leaning towards going for it. If for no other reason, that a) I have the time this summer, and b) my kids are of an age that they are old enough to get something out of the trip, but young enough to be awed by the sheer awesomeness of some of the places we see (and a bonus being that they still like me )

Thanks again everyone and keep them coming!
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Old 02-04-2016, 12:17 AM   #14
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Hello Matt.
My husband and I read your post and said hey! We need to respond!
We purchased our interstate ext in 2012...
We have 4 children and started our travels in the interstate when they were 5, 7, 9 & 11....in 2012.
We drove from Chicago to So Cal (where we live) over a few weeks doing parks between the two incl Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone etc. Since then, we have been doing our tour of national parks. Driving through AZ to 4 corners, Mesa Verde, all the Utah parks. Then another trip to Seattle and Victoria and all over Oregon. Several to Tahoe and San Francisco, Park City, and all over So Cal. Lots more plans before our now almost 16 year old goes to college.
We sometimes sleep in it if we need to (beds we created out of front seats and small tent outside) but mostly motels, hotels, RV parks and an occasional Walmart parking lot.

So here are our thoughts:

"1) Do you believe that the Interstate is a good platform for this trip?"
YES!
Note-we own an SUV w TV (a sequoia) for home driving and we rent minivans when fly somewhere like Hawaii -the interstate blows both out of the water!
Love it. If we drive more than an hour from home, we take the interstate!
Concerts w friends. Interstate
Camping trips with scouts. Interstate.
Thanksgiving an hour away. Interstate.
Super comfortable drivers seat. My husband drives mostly but on a long stretch I can pull my weight with 4-8 hours in the drivers seat.
As an expert passenger-and camper attendant- the front seat is great!
Music for mom and dad in front.
Second row is super comfortable (wish they reclined a bit more) -2 kids can relax, sleep or watch something w head sets on front TV.
The way back is great - another TV and space for 4 to sit. Plenty of room for children.

"2) We are looking at the Lounge EXT model, .... the Air Suspension available in the 2016's will make anyone seated in the back significantly more comfortable. That said, there are some low mileage used models around at significant savings -- how bad is the ride of the rear seating for kids? "

Definitely Lounge EXT but not sure about 2016. there is not enough room for 6 inside with any luggage- definitely need the extra storage space. We Tetris the way back with our bags toys shoes tent chairs air mattress sleeping bags etc... We keep blankets and pillows in the way back overhead. Re bumps:
Sure a bumpy road or an occasional speed bump is uncomfortable. Unless you have car sick inclined children-it's fine. A little better suspension would be nice. We rotate the kids around but they don't seem to mind the back at all. (Nor do I!)

"3) Given our targeted usage, if this isn't the platform, do you have any other suggestions?" I do not.

"4) Am I crazy? I think it will be a life experience that my entire family will retain forever. If any of you have done something like this, I would appreciate tips, tricks, advice, experiences, etc."

And yes!
Lots of tips and advice!
Here are top 10:
1- less is more! Leave it home, you can buy on road what you forget. 2- no one gets to walk around except mom when dad is driving- too crowded and dangerous otherwise. 3-headset splitter for way back TV or Bluetooth headphones. 4- make 2 extra small people beds using front chairs turned all the way around and plywood with rollup sleep pads and sleeping bag or blanket. 5- we take shoes off upon entry and put in small bin that acts as a foot rest for 2nd row-no one needs to trip on kicked off shoes! And keeps everything clean. 6-kid tip- only water! Spills are painless that way-Save the milk and juice for outside. 7- no pan cooking food inside so won't have lingering smells on the fabric walls of the vehicle. Cooking outdoors is better anyway. Except boiling water. That's is easier inside! 8- bottled water to cook and eat so you preserve tank water (& cleaner) 9-get to know your electrical and generator use combos. E.g. a/c and micro together no go. 10- never let the house battery run all the way down. Ruins it! $$$ it's an art. Have the dealer explain it serves times!

Welcome to club crazy! The best kinda crazy!

Erica and Tim
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