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Old 01-31-2010, 09:56 PM   #1
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Advice for a family of 6 looking to take off for a year or so

Hello All,

We are new to the forum looking for some advice for our family of 6 regarding which Airstream trailer that may work best for our family. I understand that a lot of trailers will sleep 6 but what we are looking for is something with possibly bunk beads or a separate room besides one master. I understand that we can customize one into our needs (also looking for advice on the right people to hopefully help us with something like that) as well as advice on which model(s) would work best for this kind of thing.
We are looking to check out for maybe a year or longer depending on how it goes and we have been looking at all kinds of possibilities, I myself am very partial to an Airstream because of the history, longevity, coolness & value/resale. But my wife who is completely behind our family doing this is concerned about space for the kids (4)(2,3,5,14) not having a little space of there own (someone gets sick, someone napping, etc) so she's been looking at all different kinds of brands/models. Most of them I don't think will last being used full time, and from what I've been able to see, there made so cheaply, thus basically assuring that we will not see much if any return on our investment when we finally settle somewhere.
So I am reaching out looking for some real advice on the best models, years, what to look for, and any other advice that we should consider.
I would like to thank the Airstream community for your help.
The Shambarger's

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Old 01-31-2010, 10:20 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum.

Hi, I'm sure you get a lot of help, but I will start out with, you might consider a 30' Bunk house trailer. They are no longer made so you would have to find a used one. There is a thread on the 30' Bunk House Airstream trailers on this forum. Good Luck.


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Old 01-31-2010, 10:31 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forums! Wow, it sounds as your family will be embarking on a great adventure! While I can't advise you on what model would be best... especially with 4 kids... but it can be done. Some Airstreams have a bunk bed thing going on... you might at least be able to think about that. You can also use a tent part of the year and the kids can have an adventure just for a break!

My suggestion would be to find a rally near you and attend. Ask a zillion questions, often folks will have tours of their trailers so you can get an idea of what is inside and how they utilize the space. Many trailers (usually not brand new) have been customized inside to accommodate individual tastes. I would suggest you look at as many trailers as you can! Don't forget that your kids will grow during that year! One family I know has 2 smaller children and one teenage boy ~ he (unless it is really cold) usually opts to make his bed in back of the tow vehicle rather than share with the little ones to get a little privacy and space of his own. Seems to work for them, but they aren't full timing either...

When I was a kid my Mom and Step-Dad lived full time in trailers, so either they "got" the bedroom in back and I slept on the pull out couch, or vise versa. It worked, but I only visited and didn't live full time with them.

Here is a good thread (older, but useful!) on things to think about:

You might also look at the pics in the vintage groups just to see what there is and what some folks have done. (you didn't mention if you want new, gently used, one in need of total restoration.... whatever...) you can find those here: Vintage Airstream Photo Archives

On the portal you can also find a link to this great list of things to review and inspect when purchasing a trailer:

I am sure others will chime in and put in their two cents! Good luck, looking is half the fun!
Mrs. NorCal Bambi traveling in S Tardis ~ from the Great State of Jefferson!

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Old 01-31-2010, 11:13 PM   #4
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Robert & Caddy,

Wow, thanks for the quick responses!!! We are totally open to new, used or totally used needing rebuilding!
Our tow vehicle (at least if nothing changes) is a custom built 4x4 E350 diesel Ford Van that I built and at the moment finishing up the interior on. Just think Sportsmobile Custom Camper Vans - Your Home Away From Home on steroids! It will also sleep/seat 6 with a galley, tv's etc., this will allow us to be able to get away without needing to always hook up if we find somewhere we are enjoying but want to explorer more.
I have thought about having our oldest stay in the van as suggested, but will see. The optimum situation would be all of us together (thats why we are doing this) to be together, with that as an option, this way when she's ready to killer her little brothers and sister, which will be most likely be by the second day, she has an out, haha.
Please keep firing off the suggestions, if anyone knows of a great restorer or knows of a unit for sale (that could fit our needs, please by all means forward them on, or the info....
As for going to some events or gatherings, anyone know of any coming around the Salt Lake area here soon or the surrounding states?
Thanks again, and we agree, looking is half the fun.
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:01 AM   #5
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Sounds very exciting! I'd like to be able to get away with the family for an adventure like that, but... can't.

I'd think the Safari 30' Bunk House would be a decent floor plan for you -

I think they made them in 2005 and 2006 - I'd scour the classifieds and Craigslist and the like.

Good luck!
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Old 02-01-2010, 11:17 AM   #6
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See also this similar discussion The usual recommendation is to start with shorter trips before planning/thinking seriously about much longer trips or FTimng. I think this is good advice. Generally, I don't believe FTimg with young kids is a good idea. While having the van will help with separate space, with those ages you will struggle to get the right mix of freedom and supervision. Ultimately you need 2 real bedrooms to make this work and no Airstream provides this. You would be looking at the largest class A motorhomes with slides or the 5ers in the 40' range with slides. In an airstream you not only lack sleeping accommodations but also sufficient galley size, eating area, water heater capacity, storage, etc for 6 people FT unless you are planning on staying someplace that provides these facilities external to the trailer.
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Old 02-01-2010, 11:31 AM   #7
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Advrider, you want the Safari 30 bunkhouse, no question.

Jammer is incorrect, the Safari 30 provides two full-time bedrooms. It's the only Airstream floor plan ever made that does so. It sleeps between 7 and 9 depending on configuration.

There some for sale right now -- check the last pages of the big "bunkhouse" thread. Expect to pay something in the $30s, at current prices, for a gently-used one.

Regarding your statement about "return on investment," you should be prepared to lose some money on the trailer if you choose to sell it later. All new RVs depreciate, just like cars. However, I think you will find that when you figure in the money saved from not owning a house, paying real estate taxes, utilities, and maintenance, living and traveling actively in the Airstream is considerably cheaper than staying in a house.

As someone who full-timed and traveled for three years with a young child, I can unequivocally say that it was the best thing we could have done for her. All three of us had an extraordinarily memorable experience and bonded as a family in a way we would never had done by staying still. We met many other (larger) families along the way, and they all heartily agreed. I strongly recommend it if you are the adventurous type and enjoy spending time with your kids.

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Old 02-01-2010, 11:49 AM   #8
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well 4 kids FULL TIME in a tube is crazy.

and crazy may be just fine...

get a panAM model, there is an ADULT bedroom up front...

and a separate ROOM at the back that could be easily equipped with BUNK beds and kids gear...

and could PROBABLY be configured to sleep 14, IF needed.

since the walls are bare aluminum it can be hosed OUT after the food fights and used for group showers, thus saving time...

while the 1 ton van was a good starting point for space and towing capacity...

highly modified or "on steroids" generally REDUCES towing capacity...

that matters with big heavy trailers...

the only 6 pack that fits easily into a stream is cold, foamy and made with hops...

but it seems these LARGE family, living-on-the-land-stream-threads pop up regularly,

they may not ALL be planted threads (see the link in jammer's post),

but i suspect that sales people with free time are AT the keyboards...

and most post only a few times then drift off, maybe they r just chasing d'kids...

the cliche i like is....

the smaller the trailer, the more kids and dogs roll out the door...

so get a bambi and discover america!

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 02-01-2010, 01:03 PM   #9
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this thread is BUNK...

or needs bunks...

forgot to add this poll and other useful threads...

and these threads on relatively SMALLER packs...

the MASTER of packing kidsin2astream has got chops...

seems he (on the wife) are up to 7 bunks and a full platoon of travelers...

or is it a battalion ?

but they are NOT full timing, that would be a circus show.

search ANY of his threads/posts since they are ALL about volume camping...

Airstream Forums - View Profile: PizzaChop

or just take a look at their photoe gallery...

- Photo Gallery

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 02-01-2010, 01:50 PM   #10
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2 Air is right. Check out Pizzachop's threads. He is the master!
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:17 PM   #11
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Growing up we traveled -- a family of five -- extensively in a 28' Silver Streak behind a V8-472 Cadillac for weeks at a time. None of us short in stature. Yours truly on the floor with an air mattress.

The reason I'm posting is that we didn't spend too much time in the trailer. We, as a group, were older than yours, but an overemphasis on interior space to the exclusion of being outdoors etc is to be watched. The trailer was sort of a hard-walled tent, as we all had clothing/gear for cold/wet/hot weather, and were expected to spend a fair amount of time outdoors. (Most of the time for some).

I would second/third/fifty-seventh trying to find the trailer mentioned above as privacy will be the key to doing it all. Just make sure, IMHO, that outdoor furniture is the type one can be comfortable in for hours when the trailer is reserved for more delicate members.
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:53 AM   #12
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2Air, you are the King of Threads--always, consistently pulling them out of the archives for anyone who needs them.

Sounds like a great adventure for you and your children. They will LOVE it. Having traveled and camped with up to 5 grandchildren at a time, sleeping space is important but not so much as room to sit, have meals and gather when you are parked.

Your 14 year old is the one most likely to need privacy, and to have that second bedroom to herself part of the time. The little ones can share a bed, we advise to keep bedding to a minimum (we like colorful, character sleeping bags, easily washed and stowed) keep a supply of bubbles and other inexpensive, easily accessed outside things to occupy the youngsters when you are setting up/packing up. (Grandma kept a lidded box by the door.)

Have a wonderful time and travel safe. Will look for you on the road.

🏡 🚐 Cherish and appreciate those you love. This moment could be your last.🌹🐚❤️
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:13 AM   #13
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sleeping six

camped for years in 35 ft with 4 grandkids, we had a lot of fun and loved it, but if i done it again i would want something with a slide. the weather is not always good and when you all are traped inside its BAD.
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:41 PM   #14
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I am currently on month 6 in my 34' full timing in a RV park. I have learned TONS! You might want to consider going to a RV park by where you live and talk to people there who are full timers. Their the ones who will tell you truth about the whole experience. I was amazed at how many people actually live in RV's year round AND with kids! The people in my Northern Cali RV park with children all have fifth wheels with slide outs. The interior is ALOT taller and with the slide outs, it gives you much more room. Some of these have actual bedrooms. I love my A/S but I live in her alone and keep her very nice. But when my one year school year is over I will be selling her and going home to my house. It's certainly been an experience though!

Home is where you park it.

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