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Old 11-05-2012, 04:19 PM   #1
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Thinking about an Airstream, please help

Hi all,
My name is Joseph and I have been dreaming about owning an Airstream for years. Here is my story:

We are totally new to RVing. We are a young family in mid-30's. My family include me, my wife and a 1.5 yrs old baby boy. Hopefully we will have 1 more kid down the road.

We love the outdoors and dream of RV camping for a long time. I recently purchased a 2008 Toyota Sequoia since I want more room and more tow capacity. This will be my main tow vehicle. I believe it claims to be able to tow up to 10,000 lbs. I am eyeing an Airstream Bambi or International: 19, 20, 22 or 23. New or slightly used, doesn't matter. Our side yard which I think can house up to 23 fts long Airstream. That is the limit. How do I know if I am ready to get Airstream? I think my benefit is about $30k, financing. How much does it cost to maintain the vehicle? In reality, how frequent do you (fellow Airstreamers) use your Airstream? What are the good places to visit in the Airstream around the west cost?


Please educate me. I am a total newbie and need some help in this Airstream journey. Thank you so much!!
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Old 11-05-2012, 04:49 PM   #2
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you sound very similar to my situation. I'm 33 (at least for 3 more weeks), married and have a 17 month old son. I had been dreaming about an airstream for a long time, my grandfather had one when I was a kid. So my wife and I started talking about it 2 years ago so we started looking. We looked around at gently used but no luck. With the discounts that dealers were giving on new compared to the couple year old used ones, I ended up going new. You've got to make your own call on that, it's up to your situation.

Is your Sequoia the current generation? I don't think the 2008 is, but I could be wrong. I know the newest ones are rated up to something like 10,000 like my Tundra is but I doubt the previous generation is. Regardless it should be able to handle a Bambi without a problem with the right hitch setup.

Personally I don't see the point in going with a 23' and not stepping up to a 25' unless your spot to park it won't fit it. The 25' is wider and has larger tanks. There's quite a big difference between the 23' and the 25' and you probably won't notice much difference towing it.

We don't get to use it as much as we'd like of course, which would be every weekend. We are definitely weekend warriors. We both work very demanding jobs so we're usually sneaking out early on Fridays and hauling tail out of town and rushing back on Sundays but it's worth it. I love having my son out in the woods and out of the house. It's extremely relaxing. I know there's people on here that think I'm crazy for paying that much for a trailer and using it as little as we get to but it's what we wanted and we absolutely love it. We're in Texas so we didn't use it much during the heat of the summer but now that's cooled off we're using it about every other weekend.

My maintenance costs have been minimal so far b/c it's all been under warranty. My biggest expense is storage which doesn't sound like a problem for you.

There's definitely a lot to learn but it's been fun and there's plenty of people on here to help. Just have to have a positive attitude about it all. The trailer isn't going to be perfect. there's going to be problems, it's just part of it. Accept that up front and handle them as they go and you'll be better off.

To me there's nothing better than getting to camp, getting setup and kicking back and having a beer while my son plays.
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:55 PM   #3
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What are the good places to visit in the Airstream around the west coast?
Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California (some parts) are all the best of the west; they have their special charm and should be explored. As far as trailers go, at your age, (Like mine, when we bought our first AS trailer), I'd be looking for a well-maintained 80's to early 90's coach. That seems to me, is when AS built their best coaches. It will be vastly cheaper than newer, plus give you some time and $ to get to know how these dears work. If you are planning on another little one (born on the road?), I'd be leaning to a 25' to 28'. I was 11 years old when I saw my first Airstream and was blown away. The enamorment has never faded; fifty seven years later, two trailers and two motor homes later, nothing's changed.
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:43 PM   #4
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Welcome!
When choosing the trailer to tow with your Sequoia you should pay close attention to the payload capacity of the tow vehicle. (payload is the amount of weight the vehicle is rated to carry, like passengers, generator, camping gear, and the tongue weight of the trailer) I think your vehicle's payload capacity is between 1300 and 1400 lbs. Calculate the weight of your passengers, then add 10% to 15% of the trailer's GVRW (which will be approximately the tongue load on the TV). This will tell you how much wiggle room you have for other stuff.

You will need to study your owners manual to figure out exactly what your specific vehicle's capacities are.

Yes that Sequoia is rated pull the trailer. But, make sure it will carry the tongue load, the passengers, and all of your equipment.
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:54 PM   #5
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This will tell you how much wiggle room you have for other stuff.
Good point, like when I had tell my honey that her rock collection was getting a tad too thick. (Think "The Long Long Trailer").
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Old 11-05-2012, 07:21 PM   #6
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Welcome aboard masayako! Glad to have you here... There is a lot to see and do in SoCA and neighboring areas without having to go far far away...

We have a 19' and love it ... but we don't have a growing child, either... we have two dogs though, a cocker and a standard schnauzer but they are not going to get any bigger and so on ... we all know where we belong in the trailer depending on what we're doing so we all get along fine, but I'm not sure I'd want a 19' with a young family that's bound to grow. A newer 23' is a nice size...we particularly like the 23 front bed layout...which we would like for us. The 25' does go to the wide body mode and is often call "the largest of the small Airstreams and the smallest of the large Airstreams"...it fits many to a T. 27 & 28 footers are very nice...but they are bigger and heavier...so there's a trade-off. It all really boils down to how you plan to use it, where you want to take it, and your storage situation...it sounds like you are limited to a 23' for storage purposes? How often folks use their Airstreams varies widely. We are in Tucson so we camp all year round...in the summers to escape the heat and in the winter more locally all winter long. When we bought it (new) we promised each other that we would not allow it to become an expensive piece of yard art...and we have stuck to that promise. If we are home for more than 2 weekends in a row it's unusual. Even long weekends sneaking away on Thursday or Friday and coming home on Sunday or Monday count... and short, frequent trips are almost as cathartic as longer trips...and we don't have to go far. We even go to campground that are no more than 50 miles from home and have just as good a time as if we had towed 400 miles. We do take 10-day to 2-week trips when we can, and we like those...but we've been out as long as 3 weeks at a time...and we haven't strangled each other yet in the 19'...we like its versatility and ease of going anywhere.

Good luck in your search... go to a rally here and there to visit folks and see their Airstreams in use if you can...that will be very helpful. Whether you get used or new depends on your budget and fix-up capabilities, etc. There is maintenance on any age rig... If you are restoring or renovating a vintage rig you can expect more of that kind of expense as you go ... and potentially more time in getting road-worthy, etc. If you buy new(er), you will be paying more up front, but basically ready to roll and enjoy...so it depends on how you want to spend the $$.

Again, welcome and happy trails! Hope to see you down the road...
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Old 11-05-2012, 07:47 PM   #7
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we haven't strangled each other yet in the 19'....
I do believe that's what all would-be Air Streamers have to figure out; "what space do we need?" Some can handle, occasionally, small areas, but some cannot. I'd be looking at trailers of various dimensions (who cares what brand they are) and putting yourself, honey and kid(s) in the picture. Coaches are cheap here in Arizona because hubby and honey did not have enough space and dumped the whole R.V. idea.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:00 PM   #8
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Welcome to the Airstream life. You are smart to buy one now when your family is young.

The 2008 Sequoia is a terrific TV, very similar to the Tundra which I have and love. Don't believe the 10k tow rating. That is only if you drive naked with no gas and no passengers or stuff. What you really need to watch is the gvwr of your TV. You will find the GVWR on the door jamb or in your owners manual. Take your Sequoia to a CAT scale fully loaded and ready to camp. Subtract the weight from the GVWR. This will determine how much trailer you can add to the loading. I suspect with either a loaded 23' or a 25' you are going to be very close to the TV GVWR. In either case, get educated so you can make the best decision on the best Airstream for you and your family. Just for your information, I am at the GVWR for my Tundra (6,900 lbs) towing a loaded 4,700 lb 66 Tradewind. My Tundra is rated to tow 10,500 lbs.

You may want to go for a smaller gently used airstream, so you can get some experience camping in it. This will help determine which Airstream you may want to move up to for the long haul. Good luck and you are making a great decision for your family.

Dan
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:20 PM   #9
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I am with bike_addict, I am 34, married with two little girls. We opted to go vintage with an 1982 34' triple axle. We were able to pay cash and put some extra into some restoration work. Not sure about the nuances of shorter models but mine has a divider between the bedroom and the living kitchen area we find works well with the little ones at bed/ nap time. The extra room is nice as well. I am not suggesting towing a 34' with a sequoia, but the extra room with a 25' as suggested above might be nice.
We also try and make the most of the weekends/ holidays; run out friday and come back sunday. Great family time! We always have a lot of fun!
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:25 PM   #10
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Welcome!
This says it all:
"To me there's nothing better than getting to camp, getting setup and kicking back and having a beer while my son plays."
The other stuff is a question about spending money, but in the end the above is what your spending the money for.
Our situation is different of course. We are in our 50's and sort of semi retired. Going places now to make up for the 20 years of working 6-7 days a week as small business owners, but the above sentiment is the same.
Good luck on your search!
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Old 11-06-2012, 08:35 AM   #11
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The extra room is nice as well. I am not suggesting towing a 34' with a sequoia, but the extra room with a 25' as suggested above might be nice.
The extra room is always nice and regardless of what size you get you will at some point wonder if you should have gone one step bigger. I know my son can make our 25' seem tiny. We don't spend much time in the trailer but sometimes it's unavoidable. The weather is going to get bad or something is going to make it where you're hanging out in the trailer and when you have a wound up toddler that trailer just isn't big enough. I like having the 25'. There's room on the floor to play or we can convert the dinette and he can have space to play and lay his toys out.

I spent my childhood in the woods at family property and the Airstream is my way of giving my son those experiences. It's a huge stress relief to get out of the city and disappear for a weekend. And yes you can do it without an Airstream. My wife and I used to do it with just a tent. And you can do it with any other much cheaper trailer. But I wanted an Airstream. We looked at all the other brands but they just didn't do it for me. One of the sales guys at a non-Airstream dealer was showing us trailers and asked what we were leaning towards. I told him Airstream and he said that either I wanted a travel trailer or I wanted an Airstream. And I wanted an Airstream. Took me a little while to get my wife sold but she loves it now.
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:16 AM   #12
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Our 25' Tradewind feels ample for my husband and myself when it's just the two of us. We have lived in it for weeks at a time without difficulty. We built a dinette/single bed with a removable bunk in the middle room so that our college age children can join us on some trips where a tent is not feasible for them.

One thing to ask yourself is how long you plan to keep this trailer. Are you a person who trades up or down as needed? Or is this a more long term investment? If you'll be holding on to this for a long time and you plan on having another kid, make sure there are two sleeping spaces. They won't always want to sleep side by side on a single dinette bed.
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:55 AM   #13
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Hi Joseph! You might be interested in reading through this blog - Bill (the author) and Larry also live in Southern California with their 23' Safari. Gives you some idea of where you can take the trailer.

$30k would buy a 2007ish 23' Safari similar to mine (and the one in the above-mentioned blog.) A 25' wouldn't cost much more - maybe it would be worth parking in a storage facility for the added room (but it is nice to have the trailer next to the house.) Watch out for 22' CCD models - they'll be common in your price range, but they had some weak frame problems and their OSB floor is particularly prone to rotting away.

I know that people with bigger trailers generally are advocates for the larger interior room. We like our 23' - it's a nice floorplan for us, and it fits into some of the tight state campground sites we like. While it would likely get tight with 3 people, plenty of Airstreaming families have fit into smaller trailers.

Good luck, and have fun looking!

Tom
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Old 11-06-2012, 02:50 PM   #14
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Thank you so much for all the great feedback. I really want to be able to park near to my house and access it daily. I started looking for slightly used & new (if the price permitted). Funny thing, I also show my wife pop up tents, roof top tents, nothing flies. She love the Airstream. Usually she is very tight with money. But when it comes to Airstream, we both just love it. :-)

I will definitely visit San Diego Airstream rally and see which size and layout fit our needs.

When it comes to maintenance, how much and how often? What needs to be done regularly? Also, I am not a handyman type of guy, so just want to get more info before committing myself to this project. Thanks!
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