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Old 08-17-2011, 10:04 AM   #15
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Yes, I fully agree that a real "summary" would be a small book; my intention was simply to pull together information from several different threads into one place. Regarding workamping, I have long believed that if work were such a fine and noble thing the rich would have kept more of it for themselves.

As someone pointed out in some thread a month or two ago, if your intention is just to travel there are less expensive ways to do so than to buy a trailer, motorhome or fifth wheel. For the cost of a new Airstream I could live in KOA Kamping Kabins for at least 36 months, for example. If I were to travel 3 months a year, that would work out to 12 years. I think the question we need to ask ourselves is, "if I had enough money to do what I really want, what would it be?" For most of the people on this forum I think the answer would be to keep Airstreaming; for those of us trying to decide what to do the answer might be different.

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Old 08-17-2011, 11:27 AM   #16
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With a trailer I can park anywhere for a meal or rest. Without an RV of some sort I am dependent on others to an extent that limits me in many ways; captive to higher shall we call them fixed expenses. They are not quite the same, apple to orange, but that one must find true points of comparison.

I purchased both truck and trailer for just under $30k. I agree that there is a minimum number of nights to calculate to make accurate cost comparisons.

In just seven months of full-timing by us the offset was in favor of the trailer even after upgrades, repairs and supplies versus extended-stay hotels based on re-sale price of the trailer [including storage fees]. My trailer appreciated in value which is the advantage of old versus new.

Other points are just as salient if we search assiduously. In the end it is meant to be re-creational. That's the metaphorical coin flip for each of us.

I hope you'll continue this thread as you discover more of what may be best for your situation. The threads you may want may not have the title to them you expect.


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Old 08-17-2011, 12:59 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Mr.Bill View Post
1) the most important piece of advice is "don't sell your house until you've tried living in an RV for an extended period." Full-timing isn't for everyone.
Yes. RVing itself is not for everyone, because there is a minimum level of driving skill and mechanical skill that is required.

Regarding full-timing in particular, it involves a trade-off. You give up square footage and amenities for the sake of mobility. Mobility has to be important to you for that to be worthwhile.

2) surprisingly, most Airstreamers seem to think that an Airstream is not the right choice for full-timing. The roof leaks, the A/C won't keep you cool if it's really hot outside, the heater won't keep you warm if it's really cold, the refrigerator may or may not keep your food cold, there's not enough storage, etc. . A better choice is a motorhome or fifth wheel.
I agree with the conclusion but not the rationale. Airstreams are, generally, poor choices for fulltiming because they don't have as much square footage of living area, or as much storage, as most fulltimers seem to want. Most fulltimers travel with the seasons to avoid extremes of temperature.

3) trailers are really designed for people that are going to go somewhere and sit there for a month or so. If you plan on moving every few days a motorhome is a much better option.
I disagree. I use my trailer for trips with shorter stops and it works fine. Motorhomes tend to have worse road manners than my rig (except maybe for B vans and other really small motorhomes) and it's less work to unhitch a trailer than a toad.

4) the newer trailers are much heavier than the ones of 40 years ago. If you're buying anything over 19 feet long you're pretty much going to need a dedicated 3/4 ton pick-up to pull it.
Another way to look at this is that for any larger trailer suitable for fulltiming, the ideal tow vehicle is a 3/4 ton truck or something built on a a 3/4 ton truck chassis (like a suburban or an excursion).

5) if your plan is to stay in one place in the summer and a second one in the winter it's actually cheaper to buy 2 "park model" trailers and store them at the two locations.
Maybe, but most fulltimers move around more than that, often a combination of shorter trips out from their summer or winter "base" and lengthy stops on the way between those two points. It also detracts from the constancy of the indoor environment while traveling which is one of the main benefits of RVing.
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Old 08-17-2011, 09:03 PM   #18
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Now you're hitting some of the issues that we're talking about. Both DW and I really like Airstreams, but we're concerned about the "stuff" that would need to go along for FT use. Our plan is to travel for about a half a day or so, park there for a few days to a couple of weeks to see and do what there is to see and do, and then move on down the road. From what most have told us, we're kind of on the line between a MH and a TT.

The MH has more room than an Airstream, but is quite a bit heavier. Of course, a DP can tow a small, economical car for the running around, while the Airstream will require a 3/4 ton truck or SUV, which wouldn't do as well on the fuel. I guess I'll have to run some numbers and see what comes up.

One other factor is the insurance. I'll call our insurance agent one of these days and see if I can get a generic quote for an Airstream and tow vehicle vs a DP and toad. That might be interesting.
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Old 08-18-2011, 09:13 AM   #19
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Every choice in the RV world will have its advantages and disadvantages.
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Old 08-18-2011, 03:29 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by fmrcaptevil View Post
Every choice in the RV world will have its advantages and disadvantages.
Not just in the RV world, either!

That's why we are taking so much time to do research. We don't have the money to buy a FT rig and then decide that we would really rather have something else. We need to get it as close to right the first time as we can.

At this point we're kind of ruling out fifth-wheels, mainly because those that are FT-capable seem to require at least a one-ton dually, and probably more. An Airstream is pretty much the only TT we're considering, and part of the question we're asking is whether we should buy one as new as possible or whether we should get an older one and bring it up to current standards.

A DP motor home is the other possibility. I just found out this summer that Airstream used to build such vehicles, so we're looking into those, too.

At least the research is part of the fun.
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:23 AM   #21
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Several KOA campgrounds have Airstreams you can rent as an overnight cabin (can't tow them away). You might look into going to one of them and testing out if you like AS or not.
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:58 PM   #22
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Here we have three experienced and prominent groups who roam the country in travel trailers . . . combine crews, carnival workers, and gypsies. We used to have circuses here but they got a big rip in their tent and quit coming.
Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 08-19-2011, 07:28 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by kb0zke View Post
We need to get it as close to right the first time as we can.
I highly recommend renting an example of each platform you are considering and using it for at least a couple of weeks.

Keep a notebook handy and log all the upsides and downsides of each experience.

This will give you real-world experience and will reveal factors that are impossible to learn until you are out there, hands-on, living the ground-truth of each of the various experiences.

The rentals will not be cheap, especially the DPs.

You may have to search a while for a TT / 5er rental or settle for the option of renting a stationary unit. You may need to settle for a ride-along or a brief test drive of the towing experience of someone else's vehicles.

But even with the costs and the compromises, in our experience, it will be money very wisely spent and could save you much grief and buyer's remorse later.

Also, aside from the functional and financial aspects of each platform, there are also social and cultural aspects of which tribe you become a member of by your platform selection. That tribal / cultural aspect can shape your ongoing experience a lot more than tech factors or even total cost of ownership.

The forums are invaluable for learning of others experiences, but until you live your own experiences, you cannot know what you will value the most and what will be the most enjoyable and fulfilling experience for you.

Best wishes in your research, testing and travels.

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Old 08-19-2011, 08:06 PM   #24
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I've heard about those KOA's that have Airstreams for rent, but have never run across one. I just looked at their website, and it looks like the closest one is in Texas, so we probably aren't going to go there just to sleep in an Airstream.

I have been talking to lots of people about the various questions we have, and we try to look at as many rigs as possible. There are only two RV shows around here, and we go to both each year. We also visit the various dealers on a regular basis.

So far we have not found anyone who has not been extremely helpful and friendly. The advice we've gotten from the various forums has really been helpful.

If something would happen that would force us to go FT right now I'm confident that we could find a decent rig. It may not be the perfect one, but it would be pretty close. Since we'll be buying everything used, obviously we'll have to keep looking until what we want comes up for sale.

Yes, I have visited the Airstream factory, as well as two other factories, and we'll try to visit more as we travel to various parts of the country over the next couple of years.
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Old 08-19-2011, 08:57 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by kb0zke View Post
?.. Our plan is to travel for about a half a day or so, park there for a few days to a couple of weeks to see and do what there is to see and do, and then move on down the road. From what most have told us, we're kind of on the line between a MH ... That might be interesting.
MH's seem to be logical for the folks who wanna move a bunch...I think the opposite may be true....$/mile is pretty high for one of them...

We hitch-and-haul every few days when traveling and benefit from Airstreams tow ability. $/mile are pretty low...
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Old 08-19-2011, 09:03 PM   #26
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We bought a 25 footer and will try full-timing in that. Taking a big leap, but hey why not? Our conclusion based on no experience is that the 25' Airstream had enough storage for us, allows for fairly separate living/bedroom spaces, and a tow vehicle is only one engine we have to worry about.

Here are some pics:
82Smugglers - Airstream

Last weekend I gently dismantled most of the interior in preparation for a new floor, new back splash, counter tops and bed platform. I will start my own thread on it shortly.
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Old 08-19-2011, 09:27 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by kb0zke View Post
I've heard about those KOA's that have Airstreams for rent, but have never run across one. I just looked at their website, and it looks like the closest one is in Texas, so we probably aren't going to go there just to sleep in an Airstream.


Ah, the KOA Airstreams in Texas are new, they weren't listed a year or so ago when I was first admitting to my partner that I was serious about this crazy idea. I didn't look again before I stumbled upon our Argosy, so I didn't realize they'd added those. Luckily it worked out in the end, he likes traveling with the Argosy.

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Old 08-20-2011, 12:45 AM   #28
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Two-cents worth

I don't know anything about living or camping in a MH, but I always feel kind of sorry for people in the big ones when they pull in next to our Airstream. For one thing, they cost too much, for another, they use too much fuel, and for yet another, I would hate to drive one of those big things. I would hate to pull a stinkin' car, another motor and trans to maintain, so I could go somewhere once I get somewhere.

At this year's Alumapalooza, we learned that a 34' Airstream can be pulled with a Ford Edge or a minivan, if one has modifications done. I'm sure someone knows, but I forgot the name of company/person who makes these modifications. The information presented about it was amazing. There are a couple of people here on the forums who are pulling 'streams quite successfully with smaller gas efficient tow vehicles. I wouldn't believe it myself except I saw it. And these people have been everywhere! No short distance campers.

We pull our 29 ft. Excella with a Dodge 2500 Cummins diesel, and get 14-17 mpg while we are doing it, so that's ok with us. $100 at the fuel station is bad, but do-able. $300 - $400 a shot would mean we'd be eating beans and taters most nights!

When we come home from a trip, I always feel overwhelmed and slightly uncomfortable with all the "stuff" that goes along with having a house. The AS feels efficient, comfortable, cocoonish, and if, like us, your indoor recreation is mostly reading, writing, watching TV, surfing the internet, you can have everything you need in the trailer. However, we don't spend half as much time inside when we are living in the trailer. Our lifestyle in our Airstream is more active and healthier than our lifestyle at home.

We are consideraing a compromise between having a house or just having a trailer and full-timing. We may sell our home within the next year or so and purchase a piece of land with water, electricity and maybe a septic tank. We are interested in rural land which may have an old homesite or an old fixer-upper small house on it so all the utilities would be there. Then we'll park the AS when we're "home" and have an outbuilding, or fix up the house enough to store whatever we aren't dragging around with us.
Then we will proceed to continue to run the roads in our Airstream....unless we are at the "base" for a bit for doctor's appointments, family matters, etc. But it won't be much different than setting up at a campground, except we'll have no CG fees! Utilities should be minimum.

We've been in our Airstream when a tornado came very close to where we were camped this summer. It did major damage less than a mile from us - and it was scary, but she rocked very little and still felt like a safe haven. We've been through some big hail, and all that happened was hellacious noise and a few new dents (another reason I'm glad she isn't new). We camped two weeks ago in weather over 100 degrees and stayed comfortable either in the AS (parked in the shade, awnings out) or in the cold Ozark river which was out the door and down the hill. We have been in our AS when it was about 30 degrees, cold, snowing and windy - and the heat, along with warm clothing and a big comforter on the bed, worked fine. It was January and snowing when we bought it, and we were in it a lot with only an electric heater. It was chilly, but we were working and not freezing by any means. Our trailer is 20 years old, and aside from closing the blinds and curtains, we didn't do anything special to deal with the hot/cold. Of course, we aren't intentionally going anywhere that gets under 25-30 degrees. That's the idea of being able to travel around - following good weather.

The only place we really got uncomfortable was in Ohio at Alumapalooza, and who would have thought Ohio would get that hot in early June? There was not enough electricity for AC. Next time we'll know to camp down the road where they have electricity, and attend the mother-of-all Airstream rallies as day visitors.

Since we got our AS we've been made aware of how much of our "stuff" really is just stuff and not necessary to our life. In fact, it complicates and restricts it. A daughter and her two children are living with us now, but when they once again leave this nest, we don't need it.

I went into the Airstream the other day to get some things we needed here, and as soon as I went in the door I knew I was ready to get in it and leave again. Life is so much more fun and has so much less hassle lived in the AS. Sometimes we stay out in the AS for a month or more at a time, and I'm never particularly thrilled to get home. The AS, to me, is the more comfortable home - I'm more myself there.

Just my two-cents worth. You'll find what's right for you. Everyone is different and even after hearing and considering many opinions, you'll eventually do what feels right to you. The way I look at it, if we make a mistake, we'll just alter our course. Luckily, as long as we're breathing, we have options, and can even change our minds. Life is just an extended (hopefully) adventure anyway.

Happy trails.

2004 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins HD
1987 Excella 32'

"Besides, I'm a gypsy at heart
and I like to travel around."
Reba McEntire

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