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Old 06-02-2014, 06:25 AM   #1
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Cambridge , California
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Full-time, cross-country, 2 people + pets

Hey all, new to the forums so bear with me if this has been beaten to death before, I'm not entirely sure of the advice I'm looking for so my previous searches weren't entirely successful.

In a few months my boyfriend and I will begin searching for our first trailer, our plan being to renovate (is that the term?) a vintage airstream over the next couple of years which we will then live in full-time while we work the music festival circuit and check a few more national parks off the list.

My first question is in regards to size- as obviously in this situation, it does matter. Obviously everyone has different personal preferences, and some folks can tolerate living in smaller spaces than others. I'm hoping to find a sweet spot between something that is comfortable to live in, comfortable to tow, and not too too terrible on gas mileage.

I have a fair amount of experience shipping horses, but never an RV style trailer- the main differences I would guess being that the bumper pull style horse trailers are much smaller than any airstream we would live in, and the large horse trailers are all gooseneck. However hopefully nothing in the airstream will be shifting 1,000lbs around back there

At what point/s does size begin making a difference both in terms of living space and in terms of hauling- because we will be fairly constantly on the go and not setting up camp in one spot that is a big concern of mine. In such a small space how much of a difference will a couple of extra feet in length make?

Similarly, gas mileage? Obviously there are many factors, but how noticeable of a difference would there be between 26' and 30' for example? We are not sure of our towing situation as it is so far down the road and I promise to tow with an appropriate vehicle- we'll be buying specifically for this purpose.

Living space is obviously a concern of mine as a first-timer. Our family consists of my boyfriend and myself, our fairly large (but SUPER LAZY) dog, one cat, and by the time we'll be on the road another dog as well. We have been on a bit of a down-sizing kick having previously lived in a 1400 sf home, and now a 900sf A-frame and aren't fully utilizing all of that space either- but that is still a far cry from even a large trailer. We spend a LOT of time outside and are currently brainstorming ways to "bring" outdoor space with us and definitely plan on lots of hiking and camping etc.

I'm sure there are a million and one things I'm not considering about the whole adventure, but I think narrowing down the search parameters is the best place to start. Thanks so much everyone!

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Old 06-02-2014, 07:06 AM   #2
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An oldtimer once told me your trailer gets one inch shorter every day you live in it in a row! Odd, but sounds logical to me.

Personally, bigger is better. I've rarely had a issue where I'm "too big", and I would think once your at the 25' mark, size effects driving/gas mileage nominally.

Sounds like your going to be living the dream. Congratulations!

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Old 06-07-2014, 08:16 PM   #3
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Welcome the forums. The amount of space needed to fulltime is a very personal issue. People are fulltiming in all types of RV's from truck campers to 45' Prevost Bus conversions.

We are planning on fulltiming in three years. We had an Airstream Classic 30 travel trailer and moved up to a Classic 34 when we heard Airstream was no longer going to produce the 34. We find the 34 to be much more spacious. Most fulltimers are in a fifth wheel (45%) or motorhome (45%) with the remaining 10% being travel trailers, B vans, etc.

The Escapees organization supports fulltimers. Read their forums Escapees Discussion Forum to get good feel for fulltiming issues.

Some people couldn't fulltime in less than a 45 foot motorhome and others are fine in a B Van.

We got 13 to 14 mpg pulling our Airstream 30 with a 3/4 ton diesel truck. With our 34 we are getting 12 to 13 mpg.

There are a lot of issues in choosing the right type of RV and size.

In the end only you will be able to determine what will work best for you. Everyone thinks that what they have is the best. That is true as it is the best for them.

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Old 06-07-2014, 08:33 PM   #4
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I pull a 26' Argosy with my '08 Tundra 5.7L.
Get 14mph in the flat country. Near El Centro, CA the mileage increased to 18mpg when below sea level.
I drive at 60 mph.
While in Canada last spring, driving Hwy 3 the average was 16mpg. I think it was because there is no ethanol in their gas.
26' would be fine to travel in. But full timing, with pets, it may get to be really small.
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:38 AM   #5
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Hi All! And welcome Fieldmouse!

I've been away from the forums for a while, but today decided to stop in to get some full-time thoughts from others.

Since March of 2006 I've been a full-time Airstreamer. A few months here and there out of the Airstream, but during that time I've logged over 6.5 years full-time. I'm in a 25 ft 2004 Safari Six Sleeper. And for the most part it's been pretty comfortable, but lately we're hitting a space issue.

I'm no longer "alone" in the Airstream, Jodi is now here with me (since 2011). And when you add a second person to a 25ft Airstream, well.....we need some more space! So I was wondering if anyone else who has been full-time for a while has moved up into a 27, 28, or 30....and if so, what do you think?

Currently I tow with a 2004 Nissan Titan. I average 12 miles to the gallon with the 25 footer. I'm not worried about gas mileage so much, as we usually stop for a good bit before moving on. The 27 is still something I could tow, a 30 would push me to a diesel. So I keep thinking about a 27, but I'd love to hear the thoughts of others.

For Fieldmouse..... Two people and a few pets will make your space feel small. When I first got the 25 foot Airstream it was my ex, and my two dogs. It hit me pretty quick, maybe we should have gone a little larger. During my time solo full-time the 25 footer was fine. Once we introduced the camera bags, computer bags, and clothing of a second person we were a little pressed for space given this really is our only home and you have to evaluate everything you have with you. I think if you're looking for a Vintage Airstream to restore and you have the opportunity, a few extra feet can't hurt.

Good to pop back on here! Glad to see the community is active as ever!

Rich C.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:04 AM   #6
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Fieldmouse: We have a 30 ft classic excella. We tow with a 2004 f250 diesel getting around 13 1/2 mpg. Truck plays with the load. We also have a cat and are about to start extending our trips into weeks rather than days. Our cat did not like the sound of the furnace fan. we understand he needs to have an adjust time, hoping we will not have to board him while we're gone. Point is that even in a 30ft'r the cat needs his poopy box and space for food/water bowls. I don't see you being very happy with 2 lge dogs or at least the dogs won't be too happy. Sorry but think it through. Our 30ftr actually has about 160 +or- sq ft. of living space. The cabinets, furniture and appliances take up a bunch of room. Ron
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:27 AM   #7
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Rich C., I think the current 25/27' models are a lousy use of the available space for the "living room", and you present front sofa model is much better. We took out piles of foam cushions to put in recliners, folding table, console and cabinet to use it 6-7 full months a year.

So full-timing the 30' is a good answer if you outgrown the 25', complicated by the tow vehicle question. We are destination travelers, go somewhere, take our time traveling, then stay awhile. So a large truck is something we would not care for as a daily driver.

We use a half-ton Dodge Ram with ProPride hitch ands it handles the trailer with ease. Not as effortless as diesel up and down steep grades, but otherwise it's excellent. If going to a 30' (similar hitch weight to our present Airstream) I wouldn't hesitate to use our present truck.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:59 AM   #8
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An important thing to keep in mind, as you consider going larger, is where you want to camp.

If you are sticking to commercial campgrounds, you would be in pretty good shape with a 30', but some you would not.

Also some of the public lands are limited space-wise in their sites.

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Old 07-22-2014, 11:11 AM   #9
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The Snowmads, Jason and Kristin Snow, The Snowmads | Digital nomads in search of adventure everyday
full-time in a 1965 Airstream that they rehabbed. They have three dogs, small to large, and tow with a Jeep. The canoe that you see in their photos was ours - we sold it to them late last year on their way to Cedar Key.

May your days be filled with love and laughter.
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Old 07-22-2014, 09:16 PM   #10
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Get a 34' and never look back!
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