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Old 09-01-2011, 07:47 PM   #1
Rivet Master
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Sioux Falls , South Dakota
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 924
Best length for full-timing

We're still in the information-gathering stage, and we will definitely be buying used. Living in the Airstream (assuming that we go that route) will be DW, one lively cat, and me. We'll be doing a mix of workamping and traveling/sightseeing. When we're in the travel/sightsee mode the plan will be to park somewhere, see and do all that we want in that area, and then move on an easy day's travel, and repeat the process.

From what we've found out so far, the Airstream line(s) that would suit us all include the word "Classic" (Classic, Classic Limited, etc.). As chief dishwasher I want a double sink, and we've been told that the Classics are the only ones that have that particular feature. We also prefer the rear queen bed floorplans.

Don't know whether it is just a typo, but the 2011 30' Classic Limited has a higher empty weight than the 31' Classic Limited, but both have the same GW of 10,000 pounds. The 34' rigs that are currently for sale are older ones, and actually have lower gross weights that the current 30/31-footers. A 28' is lighter, but has less space.

With all of this information, what would you full-timers suggest we look at? A slide isn't a priority for us, but I'm thinking that dual air conditioners would be a necessity.

Thanks for your comments.

David Lininger, kb0zke
AIR 54240
Heartland mpg 181 (sold)
1993 Foretravel U300 (for sale)
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:50 PM   #2
2 Rivet Member
2011 30' International
London , Ontario
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 58
We just went with a 30 international for 10 months of full timing. I thought a 25 would do, but my wife thought a 28 or longer. The 30 seems ideal for full timing. We are only 2 weeks in but I agree except price

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Old 09-01-2011, 08:43 PM   #3
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2008 27' Safari FB SE
Frederickburg , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 190
We are in a 27 FB and love it. It works for us but no double sink or rear queen. We are a month into it and would not change a thing. That's our two cents. Good luck!
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:36 PM   #4
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Northern Illinois , Illinois
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 438

The size of RV to fulltime in is a very personal choice. There are people fulltiming in all size RVs from popups to 45' Prevost bus conversions. We purchased our Airstream Classic 34 planning on fulltiming in the future.

Previously we had an Airstream Classic 30. The difference in interior space surprised us as the 34 seems so much bigger. The 34 feels like it has two distinct living areas. The kitchen / living room and the bedroom / bathroom. I believe that this is due to the center aisle taking a jog by the refrigerator. Whereas the 30 has a straight aisle from the couch to the bed. The 34 has a bigger closet. I also have an Ekorne recliner besides our couch. When you are fulltiming your RV is your home; you are not camping.

For us the 34 is the smallest size RV we would want to fulltime in although we could do it in a 30. I wouldn't mind fulltiming in a 40' diesel motorhome. (Howerever that solution has a whole different set of issues.)

Others will tell you that a 34 is too large and go with a 27 or smaller. Again it is a personal choice as we are all different with different needs, wants, taste.

Airstream stopped manufacturing the 34 with the 2011 model year. There is still one available at Bill Thomas Airstream in St Louis. The difference in price between a new 30 and 34 is not that much (MSRP of $92k vs $101k) Also you should be able to get a discount of 20% to 23% off of MSRP.

Currently we have only one air conditioner but will add a second when we go fulltime.

Another consideration is how long you plan on fulltiming. If it is only for 1 to 2 years then the size may not make much of a difference. Two years ago at the Escapees Escapade we met a couple who have been fulltiming in an Airstream 34 for 17 years. They also know a couple who have been fulltiming in an Airstream 34 for 31 years.

Take you time in doing your research to determine what will best suit you. It's less expensive in the long run.

Good luck in whatever you decide.

2008 Classic 34
Dodge Ram 2500 Quad Cab CTD

AIR #7317 WBCCI #1772 TAC-IL 1
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Old 09-02-2011, 02:35 AM   #5
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Vintage Kin Owner
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 223
Images: 1
First a 36' Fiver then a 34' Airstream

We currently own a 1997 34' Excella Airstream which we bought after full-timing for five years in a high-line 36' fifth-wheel that we towed with a Freightliner FL60 diesel tractor. We have had our Airstream now for nearly five years also.

The 34' Airstream has enough room for us. We have the queen rear bed, but honestly I wish we had gotten rear twins. While we like to snuggle, the rear queen is a bit tight to walk around and that's not a problem with the twins which have an ample center aisle.

The Excella has a double sink and an ample closet and is a dream to tow with our 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 4-Door 4 wheel-drive. We bought the 2006 because that is the last year Dodge made the 5.9L diesel engine which gets vastly superior fuel economy to any other diesel before or since (ours gets between 28.2 to 30.3 mpg when not towing - and 14 to 17 towing). The 34 tows like it's on rails.

The Airstream is a wonderful trailer for full-timing. Certainly fifth-wheels have more room, but we spend FAR LESS maintaining the Airstream then ever we did with our $130,000 fifth wheel. Also, everything about the Dodge Ram Cummins is cheaper than the Freightliner FL60 (fuel, insurance, maintenance, registration).

Additionally, while we always got some admiring comments on our nearly quarter-million dollar truck/trailer, virtually everyone moons over our Airstream. We could not be happier. I'm sure you will be as well with whatever size you decide to buy.

Would you rather have a mansion full of money or a trailer full of love?
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Old 09-02-2011, 06:13 AM   #6
Rivet Master
2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2,743
Others are much more qualified to respond than I because we don't full time, and I'm afraid never will as my wife cannot be talked into even considering it - I've tried!

I would think though that if we did, much as I enjoy our Classic 30 - (actually 31' long) for our present use, maximum stay about 6 weeks, I think I would opt for a conventional class A motorhome with a couple of slides and lots of basement storage.

I know that it is trendy to be a minimalist these days, but I think compared to a "regular" travel trailer, or especially compared to a motorhome, storage space is at a premium.

We have met many people on the road who are full-timers, pretty much all of them have been in large motorhomes. Some have shown us the amount of storage space that they have in the "basement" of the motorhome and it is huge.

That would be for me! Having said that, I'm sure that many people will respond that they are full timing quite happily in Airstreams, and evenin ones that are smaller than hours.

I suppose it is a very personal thing based on your own lifestyle, or the type of lifestyle that you think you can adapt to. Although it would be ideal to make the right choice from the get go, nothing would prevent you from making a different choice down teh road if it didn't work out for you.

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Old 09-02-2011, 06:31 AM   #7
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2007 31' Classic
holland , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 190
i dont fulltime,but i think it boils down to how much you are coach is generally used for sleeping which makes it plenty big enough.the outdoors to me is what i camp i am normally sitting outside weather permitting.sometimes i see people with motorhomes that dont even come outside.not my lifestyle,but i guess it works.even at home i prefer to sit on the patio rather then inside the house.i think i would really enjoy traveling for extended periods with the airstream traveling where the weather is cooperating.just mho.
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:34 AM   #8
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 7,716
We spend six months a year with our Safari 20', thinking about 25'. It's possible to travel smaller, lighter, and more agile if you don't have to take stuff with you that you don't use every day, and if you travel in a moderate climate to be outdoors in comfort.

Establish some kind of base camp there in Missouri (rental shed, relative, own a garage) to keep stuff in, rotating what you need as you pass through the area. That solves much of the storage problem, instead of dragging it around with you.

Travel with the weather so that you don't need much heat or a/c, or need to be indoors all day. Stay active for health and comfort.

The trailer itself comes down to comfort sitting, sleeping, bath, preparing and eating meals. We do fine with a 20' because of a terrific kitchen and convertible dinette/lounge. We could live full-time in a 25' easily with a "base camp" for storage.

Its good to have a tow vehicle that is not a beast for every day transportation. Another reason to choose trailer size with care.

doug k
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Old 09-02-2011, 11:50 AM   #9
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Fort Worth , Texas
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Easier to live with too much space over too little at the beginning. A pickup with a bed cap is also recommended for full-timing. One can carry way too much and then winnow out the stuff not needed. A 34' and a 1T turbodiesel truck are made for each other. Spend the money on new axles, disc brakes, Pullrite or ProPride hitch, LT tires, TPMS, Centramatics and Maxbrake controller at the very beginning. All road performance items made state-of-the-art (where the savings of buying used is otherwise negated if not done. Same for Fantastik Fans, skylights, etc).

Then plan regular trips back and forth to "storage" to pick-n-pull once out on the road and swap out items as called for (working from a master and then sub-lists). (Clothing, alone, can consume a fair amount of time when one desires to dress other than as a child.) If one tracks the use of supplies (paper, liquid, etc) then predictions can be made that will fully utilize space available. (I see no reason to be Wal-Mart or UPS dependent). And so forth. The shake-down cruise is long-term.

An older trailer invariably has issues cosmetic and mechanical (age/use/condition) that while they may not preclude use (an older furnace or fridge) don't need to be done immediately. A truck with tools & supplies makes these projects easy to accomplish (no GVWR penalties when hitch rigging corrected). Dirty old junk is easily kept in the truck bed. There's no requirement to fix it all the first year (window operators, cabinet lifts, etc) but a project box is nice to work from when the mood strikes.

In general I prefer to have items better than what is at the house. The penalty for cheap is higher. It takes time to find out what is best. And the space of a 34' -- any brand aluminum trailer -- is good to pack and re-pack as the "natural" space to store something becomes evident.

After all this, then maybe a 28' if the 34' still feels too big.


1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
Sold: Silver Streak Model 3411
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