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Old 08-14-2009, 07:59 PM   #1
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Bend , Oregon
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Question Airstream owner wannabe

I want to get a small RV trailer so I can travel to visit family and have a place to stay for up to three weeks or so. I have never owned a travel trailer before and am very concerned with how difficult it is to haul one safely. My husband is not at all interested in hauling any kind of travel trailer, so it will be up to be to do it. I have always loved the look and quality of airstream, but would like some feedback as to the following:

1. For the difficult is it to learn to haul a small airstream (I'm thinking no bigger than 20ft)....especially if you have to back it up?
2. How comfortable would a 16 or 17ft travel trailer be for one person to occupy for about three weeks.
3. Is there a good resource offering advicefor a novice on how to buy a used trailer and not get taken?

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Old 08-14-2009, 08:05 PM   #2
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MILAN , Illinois
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Airstreams for Rent

You could rent one as a trial. Most Airstream dealers now provide this service. The smallest trailers are very "cozy" in a confined sort of way. A 19 or 23 foot would probably suit you better. Go to a Airstream dealer and see what models they have in stock. Try one out in the showroom for a while. See how it feels on you! Happy Trails, Ed

1967 Safari Twin "Landshark" w/International trim package
1999 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT
"My tire was thumping, I thought it was flat. When I looked at the tire, I noticed your CAT!" Burma Shave
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:17 PM   #3
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2008 23' International CCD
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If you try and learn it all on your own, i.e. reading manuals, perusing this website it will take a while. If you can get someone who knows everything to spend a few days or join you on a trip or two, it'll be a whole lot more efficient and quicker. Step one is to make sure that your tow vehicle can safely pull the trailer. If you're only going to use it for 3 weeks a year, you might want to look for something cheaper and lighter.
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:28 PM   #4
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Welcome from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

What you are proposing is quite doable. A small Airstream would be livable for three weeks for one person. A 19' Bambi would work well. A 20 or a 23FB would even be nicer. All of these can be towed by a reasonable tow vehicle. Maneuvering and backing an Airstream travel trailer is not launching rockets. Anyone can learn to do it.

We will be glad to provide you any help that we can, just ask.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:28 PM   #5
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Airstream owner wannabe

Greetings Popcorn!

Welcome to the Forums!

There are many Airstreamers of both genders who travel solo, in fact the WBCCI has an Intra-Club called the Free Wheelers that is dedicated to the special needs of those who travel alone. Some things that you might want to consider as you look at prospective trailers:
  • While a single axle is more maneuverable while going forward, they require somewhat more practice before backing up becomes smooth. The tandem (double) axle models react a little more slowly to driver inputs when backing so are a bit easier to master. I own both, and much prefer trying to back my 26' Overlander as it is easier to predict what it is going to do when backing in tighter quarters.
  • When towing solo, everything becomes your responsibility. One of the things that I quickly learned with my Minuet 6.0 Metre (20' approximately) is that it is a real chore after a day on the road to make up one of the sofa beds. This summer, I traveled with my Overlander for the first time in more than three seasons, and I had forgotten how nice it was to be able to fall into bed after a long day at the wheel without having to make up a pull-out sofa. Quite honestly, the longer coach is no more difficult to tow than my 20' Minuet -- the biggest factor is that the Overlander is just short of being twice a heavy when loaded for a vacation than the Minuet.
  • Bathroom accommodations also vary considerably when looking at the 16' -- 23' models. Many of these smaller trailers will have "wet" bathrooms that while practicle in terms of floor space required, they can require a bit more cleaning and care -- and from a size perspective aren't practicle for all travelers.
You are fortunate to be on the West coast, and Oregon has a very active WBCCI Unit. Try to arrange to visit one of their rallys and visit with the participants about their experiences -- you may even encounter a Free Wheeler or two. You can find information about upcoming events in the Oregon Units via the WBCCI website at this link.

Another resource that can give you some ideas about what to look for in a previously owned Airstream is the Inspectors Check List found on this site via this link. AirstreamCentral -- a sister site of Airforums also has a number of articles that may be of help in researching your purchase decisions at this link. If you are curious about floor plans in the various years and models, there is a very helpful section with this type of information on the Airstream website at this link.

Good luck with your investigation!

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 11-04-2009, 10:16 AM   #6
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1991 25' Excella
Wenham , Massachusetts
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First outing - Mom drives!

We are newbies to the Airtream world. Our first outing with the Airstream was while my husband was away at work and I took the kids away for the weekend.

I had no problems towing it at all! You can do it! The only thing I had to do is adjust the brakes- easy.
I had a chuckle thinking to myself that maybe I should have a sign, like Shirley Jones when she was Mrs. Partridge saying "Caution Nervous Mother Driving" - certainly would have given me a reason to wear a purple crushed velvet blazer!!

Have fun!

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Old 11-04-2009, 10:32 AM   #7
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2007 23' Safari SE
Central , Connecticut
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Popcorn, two questions might help us give better advice:

1) What is your tow vehicle?
2) What is your budget?

Personally, I'm thinking that if you're travelling alone (and it fits the budget), an used 2008 Safari Sport 17' trailer could work very well. That trailer floorplan is set up well for the solo traveller - it even has a roomy bathroom. (You will have to make the bed up each day - or just leave it made.)

Since it's basically new, you won't be hassled by fixing an older unit. It's also lightweight, so you can tow it with a smaller vehicle. Finally, they can often be found in the low-$20,000 range; even some new leftover units can be found heavily discounted.

Of course, if that's too much money, there are older trailers. Note though that smaller Airstreams tend to hold their value better than the larger ones. It's tough to find a small "newer" (less than 10 years old) trailer for much less than $15k. Even vintage small trailers, like 60s and 70s Caravels, often sell close to $10k.

Finally, keep in mind that there are other trailers out there. I'm thinking a small fiberglass trailer like a Casita would let you get an easy-to-handle and newer trailer for less money.


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