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Old 07-14-2015, 04:11 PM   #1
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Length "handicaps" on longer Airstream trailers

Greetings folks...

First-time poster here, feeling a bit overwhelmed at the depth and breadth of content on the forums. Looks like a pretty amazing community! I've spent a fair amount of time rooting around for information on trailer length "handicaps", and haven't quite found a direct answer to my question. Apologies in advance if this has been covered previously, or if "On The Road" isn't the correct subforum (mods, please feel free to relocate if needed).

My wife and I are looking to embrace the Airstream lifestyle on a long-term basis. This would involve extended tours of full-time living on the road (perhaps a year or more, in multiple locations). It's just the two of us, and two small dogs. As the Airstream would, in effect, become our home on wheels, we're favoring longer trailers with more space. My folks might also be joining us occasionally, so we'd be sleeping four when they do. Towing weight isn't a consideration (new Ram 3500 with the Cummins diesel and AISIN transmission).

Having never towed a trailer before, I look at the rear overhang behind the wheels on the longer Airstreams and think *scraaaape* anytime we're traversing bumps, inclines, etc. Examples might include entering/exiting driveways, or random road conditions in unimproved areas when boondocking. I'd also imagine the longer trailers might run into space challenges in campgrounds, both in terms of maneuvering, plus finding a space deep enough to accommodate the trailer.

We're trying to find a "sweet spot" that strikes a balance between size and any limitations that might come with longer trailers. Any anecdotal information from folks who've logged miles in the longer trailers? Did you go big, but ultimately end up wishing you hadn't? Considering how long some of these plus size trailers have been on the road, I'd imagine these concerns aren't new. Well, they are to me, of course, which is why I'm here! ;-)

Thanx in advance for your time and responses - much appreciated!


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Old 07-14-2015, 04:19 PM   #2
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I am looking forward to reading answers posted in this thread...I have always wondered if anything 25 feet and over would restrict the ability to stay at state parks etc....

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Old 07-14-2015, 04:38 PM   #3
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us. I see that you registered here quite some time ago, but are posting for the first time.

You have a tow vehicle that can handle any Airstream ever made. There's an old adage amongst Airstreamers. "Everyone wishes that they could tow a Bambi and when they got set up in the campground, it would turn into a 34 Slide out."

We have traveled extensively (1,600 nights/140,000 miles) in our Airstreams over the past nine years. We have had two 25FB's and a 23FB. We have always found the 25's to be very adequate for the two of us. If I were [planning to have regular guests along with us, I would look at a 30 footer. That would give you the bedroom plus a pull out couch for the guests.

That being said, a 30' Airstream will go virtually anywhere that a 25' will. There would be some exceptions, mainly state parks.

I would start by studying all of the Airstream floor plans. Then I would visit an Airstream dealer and sit in some of the units that look the most interesting on paper.

Price the new ones. Then see if what you want is out there in the used market and what it costs compared to the new one.

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Old 07-14-2015, 06:38 PM   #4
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Thanx, Brian! Yes, I've been lurking on and off since joining. Our conversations about full timing it recently shifted from "Wouldn't it be nice to someday...", to "Why wait?". Not a small shot to line up, so I'm starting with a little due diligence.

We've been looking at a used 30- to 34-footer, but wanted to consider some of the practical logistics of towing something that long. Great suggestion, too, about visiting a dealer and getting a feel for the interior. Only so much you can tell looking at pictures online. There would appear to be some great online resources for reviewing campgrounds, boondocking locations, RV parks, etc. We may not be able to fit everywhere, but it sounds like we can find room in plenty of great spots.


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Old 07-14-2015, 07:04 PM   #5
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As do most people, we tried to research this carefully before we bought a trailer. We started out thinking we wanted an 18-20' trailer. Even before that, my wife thought she wanted a teardrop trailer so she could cook out of the rain (doubtful in a teardrop). My requirements to shower and actually cook inside, as opposed to cooking in a semi-covered outside area, quickly expanded the size requirement to the 18-20' range. Then we began looking at what was available in that range, and of course the next range up. So many more features were available when we considered a 23', and so little was lost in terms of accessibility to the places we wanted to go that we decided on a 23' trailer. But the point is, everything depends on how you want to use it. We wanted a trailer that would fit in most state parks, and that we could haul on dirt roads for disbursed camping away from any kind of hookups.

I think that if you plan to stay in parks with pull through spaces and 50 amp service, then get whatever you can afford up to the max. I've looked through some of the bigger models, and Airstream has made good use of every extra foot they add on. I think if the sky was the limit for me, it would be the 28' Land Yacht, but there are even more amenities available for the 30' Classic, at a lower price. Frankly, we all have to be careful not to scrape the back bumper and the hitch, even my 23' FC. After a few scrapes, I learned what service station driveways work, which ones I'll have to go extra slow over, and which ones I'd better find another way around. I don't think they're going to design an Airstream you can't pull into or out of most gas stations, although you might have to pick and choose. They avoid those kind of bumps in the better RV parks.

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Old 07-14-2015, 07:34 PM   #6
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We have owned our 31' Sovereign for ten years now. We half-time so in hundreds of nights and 65000 miles we found exactly two campgrounds of any type (state/federal/private) that could not accommodate us.

Mind you, our trailer has magically shrunk a foot on occasion as a lot of state parks seem to have 30' as their magic number...

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Old 07-15-2015, 06:11 AM   #7
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I've scraped my 30' trailer once or twice in four years and dozens of trips, on weird sites that had a slope at the entrance. In hindsight, removing the lifter bars might have avoided the problem. I've yet to encounter a campground that couldn't handle a 30' trailer.

If I were staying in a trailer long term, I'd want a larger one like we have, but that's a personal preference. The rare issues with length are very much offset by the advantages of the longer trailer.
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Old 07-15-2015, 06:55 AM   #8
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Although you are a long way from FL I can tell you that from my looking on State Park camping here, you could visit about any park with a 30-34' though the number of actual campsites diminish quite a bit past 28' for some reason. You would just have to plan a bit sooner to get a spot that fit as they are there, just fewer in number.
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Old 07-15-2015, 07:52 AM   #9
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I have just traveled the length of Ca from L A area north and am now in Oregon.
This in my 345 motorhome and found that there are many parks along the coast that do have size limits, most at 30 , some even below 25 feet. Older parks built when most R V s were smaller. Or those confined by space or trees just can't handle longer units.

Seeing that you are located there in Ca this may be a factor for your use.

I spent a couple of years reading here before my purchase, and was looking for a motorhome up to 31'. Then my planned use changed from small family vacation camping to full timing for just me. With occasional family visits.
And the 345 I ended up with really suits this use very well. I love the extra space especially in the winter when more time is spent indoors.

So as was mentioned earlier the area, and intended use factor into the thought process leading to the best suited choice.

You are certainly not limited by T V.

Happy hunting, let us know what you end up with.

Cheers Richard
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Old 07-15-2015, 08:11 AM   #10
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Length "handicaps" on longer Airstream trailers

I've not found issues with state parks regarding handling my 30' slide out. In a lot of cases I find that while the area the wheels of the trailer rolls on is less than 30', you have a lot of clear area behind the site which accommodates the area of the trailer overhang. Typically what you may have to watch closely is the length of the site for the combined length of the trailer and tow vehicle. It is not unusual to be blocking the road in front of your campsite while you are hitched up. In those cases you minimize that time and also be careful that you have enough room to navigate in and out of those back in sites.

As far as dragging the rear end, yes that is something to be aware of. You may experience these conditions at gas stations or if you pull off for some fast food when traveling. My advice is to look for those dips and avoid them. It's not unusual for me to pull off the Interstate for gas only to see that the fuel stop requires you to traverse a dip. In those cases I'll forgo the stop and head back to the Interstate. Needless to say, I'll start looking for fuel once I get between half to a quarter tank to allow for some extra travel.

If you have to traverse a dip, go very slowly. Too fast and the trailer will bounce and you will scrape. If you are in traffic and you need to go dead slow to keep from scraping, consider not crossing that dip for the fear of you being a hazard.

Look for telltale signs of other vehicles that have scraped. That's the classic sign to me of not taking that route.

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Old 07-15-2015, 08:40 AM   #11
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We did the same type of pondering before we bought. We came up with the perfect sized Airstream on paper.

All that went out the window when we actually went and saw, sat, laid down in real Airstreams. Floor plan is way more important than length.

Please go and test test out every Airstream you can get into. You may be surprised which length works best for you.

When you test make sure you both lay on the bed. Sit on the throne etc. Ask yourself. Do we fit comfortably. Is there alone space. Is there room to wipe my behind. Where can the dogs sleep. Do we like the sink. etc.

You can do this at a dealership or an Airstream rally. The beauty of a rally is that actual owners can relate their experiences to you.

You can also ask forum members around you if you can check out their trailer. Airstreamers in our experience are more than happy to give interested folks the tour and answer question.

In the end a 25 foot FB was best for the two of us and two 90lbs dogs. Great length for off road boondocking, Alone space, Comfy throne room, sleeping spots for two large dogs and fits into every dinky out of the way State Park. 8 for cocktails, 4 for dinner and sleeping.

Good luck.
I'd rather be boon docking in the desert.

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Old 07-15-2015, 08:58 AM   #12
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Having a 27FB I will say this automatically eliminates about half or more campsites in any given campground from consideration. Too short or too much grade, impossible to level. I'm speaking in regards to state and federal parks, mostly in California where I've traveled since getting the trailer. In a pinch I could use a short site and find somewhere else to park the truck.

Having said that I've not had a problem yet as I make site specific reservations early on or try to arrive Thursday or earlier at first come first serve campgrounds. Last week I dragged the rear pretty bad at a gas station as I was exiting. Bent the metal skid some. Nothing a few pounds with sledge hammer won't fix.

The older forest service campgrounds can be a challenge to navigate. Lots of trees next to the campground drive with lots of scrapes. Saw a big bus RV slice the side of his RV at Yosemite negotiating an impossible curve for his length. Mostly though this is not a big issue for my size trailer. Just be careful.
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Old 07-15-2015, 11:14 AM   #13
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Greeneville , Tennessee
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Dave, welcome. I have owned 2 25' Airstreams. My first was a Classic with twin beds and no dinette. The second was a 25' Safari with a queen bed and dinette booth. I couldn't tell much difference in the way they pulled. I then went to a 30' Excella, walk around queen bed and dinette booth. I don't feel limited by the extra 5'. It's a breeze to pull, I use a 2500 GMC, 8.1L. My only complaint is gasoline mileage, empty or loaded it is terrible. I do like the power.
Enjoy whatever you do.
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Old 07-15-2015, 11:24 AM   #14
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There is no handicap in a 30' trailer. I have scraped once in a low gas station dip when GPS took me down a dead-end street and I had to turn around.
The trailer has "runners" or "skid plates" welded to the rear of the frame just for occasionally bottoming out.

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