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Old 08-07-2012, 11:28 AM   #1
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A newbie seeks advice

Hi Folks,
I'm very excited to have found this forum. A little background about us: my husband and I are first time parents (14 month old baby) who are considering buying our first trailer. I grew up tent camping at national and state parks, husband did not. In fact, I don't think he has ever slept in a tent. Now that we have a baby, I want to be sure our little fella gets the same wonderful national park experience I had. A trailer seems like a good way to make that happen and make both the men in my life happy. My husband wants a queen sized bed. (He is not kidding around about that, btw.) In general, having all the amenities is probably pretty important for him to be comfortable with a trailer/camping experience. We will use a Yukon Denali XL to tow, has a 7500 towing capacity. We are planning to use this for longer weekends away, and week-long trips here and there. Thinking about something in the 23 foot range.

So here's my question: based on your experience is it better to spend less money (10kish) and buy a cheaper used trailer that is less attractive and solid (not an AS) to figure out what we really want/need or is it better to buy a used AS (20-30kish) and feel like we got the right thing in the first place? (Is it pretty common to feel like you got the first one not quite right and replace it?)

Any feedback would be welcome - grateful for the opportunity to hear from experts.
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:55 AM   #2
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Just an opinion from a grandpa...

Your family is small, and you are probably unsure if there may be more children in your future. For now, I would consider a smaller sized trailer that would conceivably be large enough for two adults and two preteens/teenagers, with the thought that you may need to move to a larger RV in 5-10 years.

You will probably be able to get a larger trailer with more features, for less money, by buying an SOB; and it would probably last until your children are grown. Then, you can get your dream RV a few years from now when your family size has stabilized, and your income will probably have increased.

There is another decision point when your teenagers are ready to head out to college, and it'll be just the two of you again. You may or may not want a large trailer that will carry you into retirement; but, by then, you'll have enough camping experience to know exactly what you want.

Our family's personal experience in RV ownership involved tent camping before children, 12-foot SOB from toddler to preteen, cabin cruiser when kids were teenagers (got into boat camping during this period), then a 19-foot Bambi after the kids were grown, and as my wife and I approached retirement.

This worked for us, without taking huge losses in depreciation; mainly because we kept each RV long enough to get most of the use out of it (and to enjoy it, after the loan for each was paid off). In fact, we still own the cabin cruiser, along with our 19-foot Bambi.

Our Airstream is large enough for our preteen granddaughters to accompany us on summer roadtrips, but it is sized perfectly for two adults who plan to travel extensively in retirement. The smaller size means our Bambi will go about anywhere our Tundra will go alone, and it gets relatively good fuel economy. Plus, despite lacking a little room to spread out, it has all of the features we would want in a larger RV.
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Old 08-07-2012, 02:34 PM   #3
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Thank you for your thoughtful feedback! Makes sense about the order of events you rolled out - there probably will be a different experience we want as parents than we will want as empty nesters. Thanks again!
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Old 08-07-2012, 03:25 PM   #4
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Tursipops,
Wow, what a great idea, and welcome to the Forum! While Linda and I are a bit older than you, we also grew up being taken to the great parks by our parents, and we continued the tradition with our two boys (now 36 and 31) always tent camping out of our VW Bus.

We have grown to need a little more comfort, warmth, and dry accommodations and so turned to an Airstream. (We only considered Some Other Brand [SOB] for a short while.) We started shopping in January 2011, and found our perfect AS in March 2011. I searched the classifieds here and also RVTrader.com. We bought from a neat couple in South Carolina.

Like your husband we narrowed our search down to a Queen Bed because we had an extra Tempur-Pedic just like here in the Cabin at home and we love them. That helps when you are looking at the classifieds. Ours is a little bigger than you can pull comfortably with your Yukon. I'm not sure (others will tell us) which of the 25s have Queen set-ups, but I think they can be had. If you want to buy just ONE trailer for many years of joy, look seriously at a pre-owned 25 footer from about 1995 on.

There is lots of help here on the forum regarding what things to look for in a used AS. Shop. Your perfect Airstream is out there.
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Old 08-07-2012, 04:38 PM   #5
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How did you pick up a trailer from South Carolina if you live in Virginia? Also I was thinking the same thing about mattresses - no matter what I was thinking we would change out the mattress and reupholster where-ever our kid was going to sleep as well.

Also you mentioned 1995 as the magic year - what makes you name that year over later ones?
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Old 08-07-2012, 05:07 PM   #6
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Buying out of state

Like Greg and Linda we also purchased our used Safari out of state. In our case we looked for about a year at used trailers and found the one we ultimately purchased on eBay after having seen a number of less desirable units. Our trailer was located in New Jersey. I emailed the owner through eBay. He sent me his phone number and email address. I had a list of questions which he answered. After reading his answers, several phone conversations, and him sending more photos we decided the trailer was worth seeing so we made the several hundred mile journey to see the trailer. After inspection it appeared as advertised and the owner seemed genuine in person so we placed a bid after returning home to North Carolina.

It turned out we were the high bidder but didn't meet his minimum. After a couple of days of negotiating over the phone we reached a price. I drew up a purchase contract from an RV purchase template I found on the internet which the owner signed before I sent him a small deposit. He also agreed to take the trailer to a nearby Airstream dealer for an inspection which I paid for working directly with the Airstream dealer's service department. A few small defects were found on the inspection and the owner agreed to cover the cost of the repairs.

My wife and I traveled to New Jersey to finish the transaction. We met the owner at a branch of my bank (Wells Fargo). He came with title and paperwork which we completed with the branch manager doing the notary work. We paid with a cashiers check drawn on my account and then went to DMV to transfer the title and get a temporary plate. I would have paid cash if the owner wanted it but he was okay with the cashiers check.

My wife and I were a bit nervous making a large purchase from someone we didn't know out of state. We did take precautions, as noted above, and are very happy with our purchase. We saved a considerable amount of money buying a used unit in good condition. Nothing as nice as our trailer has ever shown up used in our local market.

Research carefully the trailers of interest to you (any brand) and get a feel for the market price based on model, size, year, and condition. Look at Craigslist, eBay, RV Trader, Airforums classifieds, WBCCI classifieds, and other resources. Whether you buy locally, or a few hundred miles away, take precautions such as inspecting the trailer before committing and making sure you have a valid title in hand before handing over payment to the owner. By looking over a wider geographic area, and taking time to look at a number of units, you will have a better chance of finding the right trailer for you in good condition at a good price. Don't get discouraged. Many trailers will come on the market in October and November once camping season ends. Prices will also decline in the off season.

When we started this process, someone told us the right Airstream would find us. A year after bringing it home, we agree. Best of luck to you. Feel free to ask questions at any time.
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tursipops View Post
How did you pick up a trailer from South Carolina if you live in Virginia? Also I was thinking the same thing about mattresses - no matter what I was thinking we would change out the mattress and reupholster where-ever our kid was going to sleep as well.

Also you mentioned 1995 as the magic year - what makes you name that year over later ones?
Columbia is not too far from here in the Blue Ridge, and we *love* to drive. I had found several in South Texas and California, so South Carolina was close in comparison. We talked on the phone, and we drove down with $$$ but ready to walk away if it was not in great shape. Turns out they had taken good care of her and now she's ours. Funny Story: We went down to The Canopener last January (where we met Chuck and Sue [Florida55]. Lo and Behold the former owners where there in their big new rig. They enjoyed seeing their former AS and the upgraded carpet Linda had installed.

Nothing magic about 1995. Some of the vintage units are even more adorable. We just wanted a "classic" and real wood interior fittings, after having seen some of the newer (more plastic or modern) styles at the dealers. We didn't know it at the time, bet we also wanted a "widebody" style because I'm fairly tall. I don't know when they started with the widebody, but our 1999 is one.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:17 AM   #8
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Thank you, Silver Otter. Makes sense!
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:10 PM   #9
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Tursipops, you have come to the right place for help in making this decision. I started out with a small MoHo when my son was a little guy. We loved it, my wife -- not so much. My son is now grown, my wife has passed away, and I took delivery of a brand new 28' Intl last November. I absolutely love my trailer and while I'm on the cusp of retirement, I'm not exactly ready. In the meantime, I am making maximum use of it whenever I can. Since I lived in Del Mar for 8 years, and you're in SD, I would most assuredly find enormous opportunities for Airstreaming in So. Cal. -- or even out to the desert, up to Tahoe, etc. My recommendation is that you not move too quickly on this. Look at a LOT of units and trust me....when you find the right one, you're going to know it. Obviously, those of us on this site are A/S devotees. Buy the most you can, and realize that ALL require maintenance. The SOB's can be just this side of junk, and you want someone who knows RV's to be your conscience before you plunk down cash. Nothing better for a family than to be together like this.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:46 PM   #10
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SilverLeaf, it's gratifying to hear it worked for your family. Your advice about not moving too quickly really feels like that's good advice too. There are so many options, I'm just not sure what to do about it all yet. It's funny, I've seen similar advice before. It almost sounds like the advice people give when others are looking to adopt their first dog - you will know the right one.

What is your best advice for doing the trailer thing with a little fella?
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tursipops
Hi Folks,
I'm very excited to have found this forum. A little background about us: my husband and I are first time parents (14 month old baby) who are considering buying our first trailer. I grew up tent camping at national and state parks, husband did not. In fact, I don't think he has ever slept in a tent. Now that we have a baby, I want to be sure our little fella gets the same wonderful national park experience I had. A trailer seems like a good way to make that happen and make both the men in my life happy. My husband wants a queen sized bed. (He is not kidding around about that, btw.) In general, having all the amenities is probably pretty important for him to be comfortable with a trailer/camping experience. We will use a Yukon Denali XL to tow, has a 7500 towing capacity. We are planning to use this for longer weekends away, and week-long trips here and there. Thinking about something in the 23 foot range.

So here's my question: based on your experience is it better to spend less money (10kish) and buy a cheaper used trailer that is less attractive and solid (not an AS) to figure out what we really want/need or is it better to buy a used AS (20-30kish) and feel like we got the right thing in the first place? (Is it pretty common to feel like you got the first one not quite right and replace it?)

Any feedback would be welcome - grateful for the opportunity to hear from experts.
We did the start small dance and one year later needed more space to be comfortable. I wouldn't suggest wasting 10K on SOB trailers! A superb mid-sized starter AS is a Safari LS with a front queen bed. AS uses real sad mattress products. We replaced ours with custom made REAL comfy ones. Keep hubby happy!
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:05 PM   #12
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My wife and I are new to RVing and did not know if we would enjoy the experience. After looking at new and used AS's and SOB's we purchased a used AS. While the unit was almost twice what we could have purchased a comparable SOB we felt that if we decided to sell the AS within a couple of years we could recoup most of our initial cost.
Welcome to the forums and good luck with your search.
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:20 PM   #13
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You might also consider the resale value of your "interim" trailer. You can get a sense of this by sleuthing around on the Internet and this site's classifieds. Our understanding is that Airstreams hold up pretty well if people look after them.

We had never owned an RV before buying our Bambi, but have never regretted our choice. Getting it lightly used helped on the price.
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:07 PM   #14
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We did the start small dance and one year later needed more space to be comfortable. I wouldn't suggest wasting 10K on SOB trailers! A superb mid-sized starter AS is a Safari LS with a front queen bed. AS uses real sad mattress products. We replaced ours with custom made REAL comfy ones. Keep hubby happy!
So true! Keeping hubby happy is very important. Thanks for the great advice.
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