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Old 11-06-2008, 08:20 PM   #29
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
Santa Fe , New Mexico
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If I may jump in, I would tend to be against an Airstream even though I own one. All the previous postings tend to point out the positive virtues of an Airstream, which I agree with. But this is a case of a young family, probably workers in a horrible economy.

The decision should consider how much the unit will actually be used. A decision to buy an Airstream wouldn't make sense if it was only going to be used 2 or 3 weeks a year. Most young families maybe couldn't even do 10 days. If a very usable pop up can be had for $10,000, that extra $10,000 plus storage fees and associated hassles may not be worth it. What about insurance and maintenance costs as well? Bottom line, if the young family has money and the time, then yeah, the Airstream is great. But just the fact that the writer mentioned budget limitations suggests this may not be the case.

I'm retired and bought a new Airstream two years ago. This has only made sense because we use the thing 8 weeks a year. If I was in 2 week mode, I'd own a pop up.

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Old 11-06-2008, 09:59 PM   #30
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2003 22' International
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When I started camping after a ten year hiatus I purchased a pop-up. We never had a bad experience during the time we camped in the pop-up.

Advantages (in general and compared to tent camping) to a pop-up:

1. Pop-up could be towed by our vehicle and was very easy to tow and maneuver.

2. Pop-up was fairly inexpensive.

3. Pop-up provided a convenient place to store all our camping equipment and there was surprisingly plenty of storage space. When I was in my tent camping phase, all of our equipment was stored in the utility room. Some of this equipment was multifunctional and an inventory had to be made before each trip to ensure everything was packed.

4. Pop-up provided dry, warm and/or cool (heater and air conditioner) respite from unfavorable weather.

5. Pop-up provided ample comfortable sleeping areas. Although lacking floor space, pop-ups in general have large capacities for sleeping. There was also plenty of seating and table space when needed. Our pop-up had a king and a queen end, a dinette and a wrap around (U-shaped) dinette. Both dinettes converted into beds. This is truly one of the main advantages of a pop-up over an Airstream. When we had our pop-up we often didnít even have to use the dinette beds.

6. Pop-up was small enough to be easily stored.

Perceived Disadvantages to a pop-up:

1. If it rained during a trip the pop-up had to be set up and allowed to dry.

2. Although there was a lot of storage space, getting to things required shuffling things around to get to the storage bins. Pop-ups donít have much drawer space and virtually no cabinet (typical kitchen type) space. Because of this lack of drawers and cabinets everything has to be stored in bins and the bins are usually stored under the seating areas. This really only becomes a problem if you are taking a trip with multiple destinations within a short period of time. It can get really monotonous setting up and breaking down every day.

3. Set up and break down of the camper only took about 15 minutes. Actual set up and break down of the campsite probably took 1 hour and 1.5 hours respectively. This takes into account that I did all of the work, perhaps it would take much less time with someone helping.

4. Our pop-up didnít have a bathroom, though we did have a porta potty.

5. Very small refrigerator. Ours was a 3-way so that did provide a level of convenience. Since the refrigerator is so small you have to pack perishables in coolers and replenish the ice.

6. There isnít much security in a pop-up as itís pretty much a tent on a platform. This became an issue for me only after a service tech made a comment which made me aware of the vulnerability of tents and pop-ups.

I bought our Airstream 5 years ago and we have enjoyed it tremendously and look forward to many more years of camping in it.

Advantages of an Airstream (many of the advantages would apply to any travel trailer):

1. Easy to tow.

2. Set up and break down are easy.

3. Our Airstream has a lot of cabinet and drawer space. This allows things to be organized, easily accessible and easy to find.

4. Airstream has a bathroom, larger capacity water tank and waste holding tanks.

5. Our Airstream has a very nice kitchen area with a larger capacity refrigerator.

6. Feeling of security being in a hard-sided camper.

Perceived Disadvantages of Airstream ownership:

1. Fairly expensive.

2. Had to purchase a tow vehicle so that had to be factored into the expense of Airstream ownership for me.

3. Airstreams hold their value. Especially if you buy a used camper as you will bypass the new vehicle depreciation.

4. Not much sleeping capacity. This may become an issue as your children grow up and require more sleeping room. It may also become an issue as they get older and want to invite friends along.

5. Storage of your camper may be a problem. I store mine on a driveway extension and donít cover it during the winter (though it is often covered in snow!). Having direct access really helps when getting ready for a trip and when unpacking.

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Old 11-07-2008, 12:17 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Jezibels View Post
BTW the tow vehicles we have are an 06 Chevy Trailblazer EXT and an 03 Lincoln Navi. Are those sufficient for a 25' or less? Im sure a dealer will tell me they are!
Hi, "Can we tow it?" "Yes we can." [Bob the Builder]
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Old 11-07-2008, 06:01 AM   #32
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We bought a new popup in the 80's and camped in it for 17 years. We enjoyed that trailer very much. It did get smaller over the years as our dog family grew. We bought the Airstream because it was time to move up. We love the Airstrem life very much, but also love the times we had with the popup.


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Old 11-07-2008, 08:27 AM   #33
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If I were in your exact shoes, in these economic times, I'd probably opt for an inexpensive, used pop-up. Our Coleman Williamsburg could sleep 6 comfortably, and had a hot-water shower- all for $1k, about 10 years old. Also cheaper to tow, cheaper to store (in your garage), cheaper to repair, cheaper tires, etc. They are definitely more like "Camping" than an AS, which is more like having a small mobile home. Your priorities will give you the answer. Either way, you will have fun!
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Old 11-07-2008, 08:42 AM   #34
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All kinds of good opinions here so I won't rehash what's been said. But please let us know what you decided on.
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Old 11-07-2008, 09:43 AM   #35
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Thumbs up Airstream or PUP?

All posters to my thread:

We are leaning 90% towards A/S, my DH's motto "Go Big or Go Home", we know we love to camp, and security is the big issue with our tots, we will buy in a year or two and explore adding on a 3rd car garage with a 10' door opening, then we can keep it inside and @ home.

We love all the advice you guys contributed and I printed this up for the A/S file!! I will post the new addition as soon as we buy it....oooo I cant wait!

Ill be on here everyday, this forum is really large, Ive been swept up in it for hours at a time! Thanks for welcoming us into your community! I feel at home here!
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Old 11-08-2008, 09:41 AM   #36
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I would try both... rent or borrow a pop-up for a camping trip and then try a travel trailer the next time. Most larger rv places rent units, I would try both before buying. While the travel trailer most likely will not be a Airstream, it'll give you a good feel for both.
Plus it will also give you an idea of what features you want and like.

good luck.
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Old 11-08-2008, 10:36 AM   #37
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Welcome to the Forums,

I have never owned a pop-up so I might be a little biased.
My parents had hard sided trailers.

Towing is a major factor to be considered.
The trailer weight should not be over the tow vehicle's towing limit.
The size/weight of an Airstream does dictate the size of the TV.

One major factor to consider is that an Airstream trailer properly maintained will last for many many years.

How many 20 or 30 year old pop ups do you see on the road?

What ever your choice may be, enjoy RVing.

It is a great lifestyle.
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Old 11-08-2008, 12:04 PM   #38
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I have a pop-up as well as an airstream. I find the pop-up more of a pain to set up, and not soundproof enough at loud campgrounds. You should find some good deals right now on airstreams.
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Old 11-08-2008, 05:23 PM   #39
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With a young family I'd go for the pop-up! We started with a pop-up in 1963 ("Florida Camper"), graduated to a Starcraft in 1968, and then, in succession, bought two more Starcraft, with the last one being a Starcraft Galaxy - which I sold in 1988. We took the Galaxy on a 15,000 mile, 3-month tour around the U. S. and parts of Canada with three kids, accompanied by the Grandparents who were towing another Starcraft. I wouldn't trade those years with the pop-ups for anything! We frequently made overnight stops enroute to new places, and yes, we put it up and took it down in quite a few thunderstorms. The answer was "technique" - as we never once had wet mattresses. The only "drying out" took place when we returned home and prepped the rig for the next outing. We often, via the use of an attached "add-a-room" were accompanied by two or three additional kids or an additional couple and child. We were also heavily dependent on a top-notch Eureka screen room - which is where the wife and I took refuge after putting the kids to bed. We had a Norcold AC/DC chest-type refrigerator/freezer that travelled in the back of the Suburban until we arrived at our campsite. It then sat outside the camper door on a low portable steel table, plugged into available A/C. The interior iceboxes that were so common in early pop-ups were virtually useless for anything other than dry storage. Once the two older kids got the hang of things we could set up or take down the whole rig in less than 10 minutes - consistently - and the kids loved doing it! Truth is, if I was feeling a bit worn out after driving all day, I often sat back and had a beer while they worked. During this period I had the opportunity to buy a small 19 foot travel trailer real cheap. We may have camped in it once or twice before the wife and kids mutinied and refused to go anywhere with it. They felt closed-in and somewhat claustrophobic. When fully rigged out, we carried two 17' Grumman canoes on the Suburban and five bicycles on the Starcraft - plus lifejackets, a 3 hp Evinrude outboard, a trolling motor, canoe paddles, and miscellaneous additional gear. We frequently camped at Fort DeSota Park in Pinellas County - where we had the distinction of being the first pop-up camper to ever camp there. Other frequent campgrounds were Juniper Springs in Ocala National Forest, Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, Florida, as well as many different campgrounds in the Smoky Mountains and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Now that we're retired the Airstream is definitely the way to go - but I seriously doubt that you would regret starting out with a pop-up.

2003 GMC 3500 D/A, CC, LB, 4x4 and 2000 Airstream Excella 30. WBCCI 7074
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Old 11-08-2008, 05:54 PM   #40
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I don't disagree with any of the advice given here - aren't these folks great. Just ask and they share life experience. I have had both and went long distances with both. In my view, it is a majr lifestyle choice. Pop-ups are all that has been described but still reminded me of camping in a tent. Being in an Airstream is like being at home. Then there is the pride factor.

Not mentioned is the tire size. Pop-ups have smaller tires for the most part and tend to overheat and have flats more often. I personally love the 70s models which are available for very reasonable prices and can be refurbished personally or professionally.

If you have the tow vehicle, get the Airstream. What's the question anyway? I know the answer is obvious to everyone on the forums. We're affected by the disease.

Good luck.
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Old 11-08-2008, 08:03 PM   #41
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Airstream or Pop-Up?

Greetings Jezibels!

My first introduction to camping as a child was in a then brand-new Airstream Overlander owned by friends of my family -- it set my standard for camping/travel and I have never truly been satisfied with the other options that came between that day and the day when I pruchased that same Overlander in 1995.

(This was the Airstream two years after that first trip.)

The first option tried was the pickup camper. It was brand new in 1969 including the Chevrolet C-20 to carry it. This combination lasted for two years -- My father who wasn't particularly fond of camping disliked driving the truck with camper mounted and it had to be mounted to be stored in our driveway (it was a bear to park in downtown lots near his place of employment). My mother wasn't satisfied with the truck as it didn't offer the comfort and convenience of the family Oldsmobile.

(This was our short-lived 1969 SunWay Truck Camper)

The next experiment was via one of my mother's sister -- she invited us on a camping trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. The mode of travel was a 1971 Vokswagen Campmobile towing a 1971 Montgomery Ward Tent-Trailer. I think that we were both relieved to return home -- the VW didn't have air conditioning and the lack of operable windows limited air flow. The tent camper took a minimum of 30-minutes to set up and was only a tiny step above a cabin tent.

(1967 Montgomery Ward Tent Camper similar to the one we used)

The next step was tent camping with our 1971 Buick Sportwagon. This option worked well, but no one in the family relished the nightly setup and the morning tear-down. We were fortunate the few years that we traveled in this manner to never have it rain while the tent was setup.

Another change came about in 1979. After less than successful experiences with tent camping, tent-trailer camping, and truck camper camping -- it was time to try another variety -- Nomad 17' travel-lite travel trailer. This trailer was special-ordered with nearly all factory offered options. This was a somewhat successful during the first season with the exception that the only car that we owned that was powerful enough to tow the coach was my '65 Dodge Coronet 500 Convertible. The second season was marred by an accident caused by a defective leafr spring mount that sheared while underway and caused a 180 degree skid -- the tow vehicle was undamaged, but the trailer had significant damage -- it was never to be used again after the insurance company repaired it and it was traded on an economy car. It did answer the question that this was the most preferred camping method by my parents and myself.

(1965 Dodge Coronet with 1979 Nomad 17' Travel Lite)

In 1983, it was time for another change that took us to a US-built conversion van (B-Camper). It was a brand-new GMC G-20 Van with Ultra Vista conversion by Compliment Vans of Iowa. This was a very comfortable long-disance travel machine, but a very inadequate camper as it featured very limited ventilation and no RV air conditioning. It did, however, prove to be very underpowered for traveling in the Rocky Mountains with its 307 cubic inch V8. This coach made two vacation trips and was traded in 1985 as no one in my family cared to drive it as daily transportation -- too many blind spots on the right side.

RVing was out during the period from 1985 through 1995. That didn't keep me from scanning every RV lot in our area looking for an older Airstream travel trailer. By 1995, it was obvious that I needed to begin the search in earnest for an Airstream. My search took me to many dealers as well as many individuals who were selling older Airstreams. I finally found one that had been advertised for nearly four months that I decided to see -- after spending the better part of an hour driving around trying to find the obscure lane that the owners lived on, it turned out to be just what I had been searching for the past three months. It had the center twins, rear bathroom. and front lounge that I remembered from my first camping trip. Less than two hours later I was placing a deposit on the trailer prior to returning home to have my '95 Chevrolet pickup prepared for towing. It wasn't until several months later that I learned that this was actually the same trailer that I had taken my first camping trip in during the summer of 1964. Needless to say, I still own this trailer.

(1964 Overlander International with 1999 GMC K2500 Suburban -- summer 1999)

My mother said it all about a year after I purchased the Overlander when she said: "We should have purchased that trailer in 1980 when the original owners decided to retire from traveling. We could have saved a significant amount of money and had something we could enjoy for many years." My mother's health never permitted her to join me for a trip in the Overlander, but she anxiously awaited my photos whenever I returned from a trip.

There is one danger to Airstreaming -- it isn't uncommon for the only-trailer to eventually convince its owners that it needs a sibling. My '78 Argosy Minuet joined the family five years ago. It is smaller and lighter than the Overlander and is ideal for short weekend outings -- but it has been the trailer of choice for the past two International Rallys due to the distances involved.

(1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible with 1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre)

The one thing that was learned through my family's successions of RVs was that it wasn't a good idea to acquire an RV that wasn't viewed favorably by the family. It would have been much more cost effective had we purchased an Airstream in 1969 rather than the pickup camper as a full size trailer was desired by all in regard to amenities available.

As others have written, getting the family steakholders involved in the selection should help to insure satisfaction. The one great thing with an Airstream is that it could be the last RV that you need to buy as there are many 50+ year old Airstreams still being utilized on a regular basis -- the key is diligent regular service. I know of at least two Airstreams that are currently owned by the third or fourth generation of the same family.

There are several RV dealers not too far from Chicago who handle several brands of RVs including Airstream -- Ace Fogdall--Cedar Falls, Iowa; Ewald's--Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Airstream of Chicago--Chicago, Illinois, Outdoor Recreation Center--Council Bluffs, Iowa, Shorewood RV-South--Des Moines, Iowa, US Adventure RV--Davenport, Iowa, and Bill Thomas Camper Sales--Wentzville, Missouri.

Good luck with your research and welcome to the Forums!!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:44 PM   #42
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To all who contributed last year, we are once again revisiting this and once again reading all your posts with your important views on both. Thanks once again for posting, we are leaning towards a vintage Airstream, Love the twin beds in the middle, and you cant deny the cool factor and the fact that AS's really hold their value! We will buy in Spring (I know the worst time to buy an RV) but thats when the DH-Accountant says so. Any more info/opinions are appreciated!

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