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Old 06-15-2010, 06:31 PM   #29
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Its much more comfortable than a tent, much more like sleeping in a small rolling building. Great convenience of oven, big refrigerator, freezer, shower, etc. Most of your camp stuff is always stocked in the trailer. And I think it is drop dead gorgeous parked in a campsite.

Do RV trailers fit in the campsites you frequent? Are you a patient capable driver? Do you like washing big hollow aluminum tube? Do you like fixing and maintaining stuff (unless you get the top 1% trailer you'll be doing much more of this than on a car)? Are you already spread thin and have too many irons in the fire?

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Old 06-15-2010, 07:41 PM   #30
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Even if you buy the $40,000 Airstream and don't like it you can always sell it. Worst case, counting things like money spent on a trailer hitch and other accesories you might lose $5000. Or you could break even.

But that is the worst case. If you like the Airstream there is a good chance you will be able to use it for 5, 10 years or more and sell it for nearly as much as you paid for it after getting thousands of $$$$ of use and priceless memories.

So, if you can afford to take a chance like that without sinking the family financially I say do it. Have the fun and adventure when you can. Show your children the world. They grow up so fast you need to make the most of the time you have together. Think of what it will mean 20 or 30 years from now to have the photos and family memories

Living in the trailer park of sense, looking out the window at a tornado of stupidity.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:19 PM   #31
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We camped pre-kids and with kids but not on a regular basis. Always had a great time and wanted to do it more but just never seemed to make it a habit.
Hubby and I have planned for years to RV when we retired. A couple of years ago we decided to take it up early. Thought our now late teen boys would like it too. They didn't like RVing but we did. We realized we had made two mistakes...we started too late and we purchased the wrong RV. (Winnebago Aspect Class C) We sold it within a year but hubby and I missed RV camping.

We went to another RV show in Feb of '09 and saw the Airstreams. Fell in love and purchased a used 2004 28' CCD for a lot less than 40k. We have both loved AS's since we were kids and wondered why we didn't think of them the first go-round. The boys do not come with us often but they think the AS is cool and are not embarrassed when they do.

I prefer the AS over the vacation home/cabin. I do not want to go the same place every time I get away. The thought of upkeep on a 2nd home does not appeal to me.

RVs of any type are not for people who do not know how to tinker and use tools. Even an AS is in constant need of attention.

We rarely go camping without mentioning that we wish we had started RVing when the kids were young.

There are some campgrounds where you will feel out of place in an RV. Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite is an example. You may feel a bit guilty but you will still be cozy and have a shower!

An RV makes a nice guest house if you have a lot of company.

You even worry about bed bugs in nice hotels when you own an RV.

Your dog is almost always welcome in an RV park.

We are avid road cyclists and it is great to have a home away from home that follows us to rides in the mountains and on the flats. We can unclip at our door, refuel, clean up and rest. It is no fun lugging bikes up an elevator!

It seems a lot easier to prep for an RV trip than it did when we tent camped.

We were your age when we started our family and in hindsight we wish we had started RVing in our 30's when our boys were little.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:43 PM   #32
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First things first - decide what you most enjoy today. Then keep doing it - a lot.

All the comments above are really great stuff to chew on. Stay for a week in a cheap hotel in Italy in the summer and a tent in Death Valley could look mighty fine. OK - maybe a tent in some other valley.

Consider the choice of having a semi-permenant routine with the cabin, multiple destinations with the tent or the trailer. Ask people who own vacation property what they think about the requirement to schedule vacations around cabin maintenance. Ask people who own trailers what they think about the cost of buying, insuring, maintaining and using an RV. In the end travel is about getting on the road - cost is simply the fuel for the trip. What experience enhances your life and puts a smile on your face - after you have paid the bills?

My fer-gawd's-sake-be-careful-with-yer-money gene suggests that a large capital expenditure today reduces choices later, no matter what your budget. If the $40,000 is budgeted for fun stuff already then by all means continue with gusto. If spending $40,000 in a lump takes a moment's thought you may wish to do a quick time value of money calculation - and then do what you want to do anyway but you will be better informed about the choice.

That's going to be a magnificent tarp and Camping World has a nuclear-powered lantern that is to die for.
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Old 06-15-2010, 09:05 PM   #33
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1. Your own germs are on the floors, beds, bathroom
2. You won't lose a kid out the side of a pop-up (we did & so did my brother--stitches & major cuts)
3. Your kid won't be followed in the bathroom by anyone in the middle of the night,(just a normal man, but how was I to know?!) causing you to have a heart attack while you watch them from your tent (I survived, but actually beat my daughter's shutting of the door in the stall by the time I ran there).
4. Never have your bed float (my neighbor's did last year after a huge rain while we watched from our dry, comfy trailer!!!!)
5. Lots of other really great things

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Old 06-15-2010, 09:48 PM   #34
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Best reasons for a trailer...

- a shower, without cooties
- a comfortable bed
- warm when it's cold out, cool when it's hot out
- full kitchen, whatever you want for dinner
- it's home, wherever you may be
- hate hotels, too much like work travel
- tow vehicle available for exploring while trailer holds your campsite

Reasons to not buy an expensive $40K trailer:

- massive depreciation likely
- one quick hail storm can total it (as it did to mine)
- really nice slightly used ones can be found for half that

Reasons to not buy a second home:

- always feel you must go there
- spend your time there mowing, painting, weeding, cleaning
- property tax, insurance, utilities
- very difficult to sell in a down market (anyone want to by a nice house on Lake Superior?)
- appreciation or depreciation?
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Old 06-16-2010, 06:38 AM   #35
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DH's company puts him/us in some very expensive, very nice hotels when he travels for business. Before our Airstream, we always felt we were in the lap of luxury. Now the carpets seem scuzzy (we bring socks to walk around in, no more bare feet!), the bathroom is often not clean enough, I wonder when the duvet cover and pillow shams were last changed, it all feels kinda slimy. Looks nice, but does not feel welcoming and luxurious any more.

We much prefer our cabin on wheels, and are negotiating to be able to take it when possible on business trips!

Plus, when in our yard, it makes a great quiet office when DH can work from home, a perfect spot for an uninterupted afternoon nap, works out great when DS17 has a friend here visiting and they use that as home base, only come in to eat, can talk privately as late as they want with no parental interferance; is lovely to have a quiet place to relax and read a book, I could continue, but you get the picture.

Oh! When larger families come to visit we can sleep out there and give them the house, or put all the kids out there. With a baby monitor, it makes a perfect spot for an infant in need of a nap. Serves as a great second kitchen when visiting friends and I want to contribute to the meal without being in the way. Even makes a lovely spot for a small brunch when the house is a bit messy! OK, I'll stop!

I love our cabin in the yard almost as much as I love it when parked beside the ocean or in the forest! No matter where we go, we always have people come by to admire it and usually request a tour.

As a woman who enjoys camping alone (makes a great retreat house!), I feel very safe and sound sleeping in the Airstream.

When on the road, I love pulling into a rest stop, heading right back into the Airstream to use our own facilities, then be able to prepare an inexpensive, nutritious meal for the family, even take a nap if needed or brew some coffee. When done, lock up, stairs up, check on hitch, hop back into the truck, diesel up if needed and press on. Nice! I have never liked rest stops anyway.


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Old 06-16-2010, 10:58 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Mihoff View Post

If you need people to tell you why to buy an Airstream then you're probably not ready for one. Continue tent camping until your wife tells you she's had enough of it, that's what I did, you might get another 10 years out of your camp gear.

Most people who step up to an Airstream for the first time have wanted one for years, pointing them out when you spot one on the road, saying to each other "one day we'll have one ".

No way should you feel the need to ask others to justify your purchase, your Wife will tell you when you're ready for your Airstream .
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:28 PM   #37
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There are some specific advantages. The posts above are all good but here's more.

Compared to tent camping for a family:

1. There is, generally, less preparation time required to be ready to embark upon a trip, because you will be storing the trailer more or less ready to camp, and just need to hitch up and load food. I park my trailer with water, clothes, linens, and so on in it, and can be ready to go on a trip in about 15 minutes if I plan on buying groceries on the road. I used to be able to do that when backpacking, but it didn't work with a family because there was all this stuff to haul.

2. Time required to encamp is much, much lower, usually 30 minutes max after site arrival, including spotting the trailer, hookups, awning deployment, tongue jack, stabilizers, and interior setup (things like taking the teapot out of the microwave and the covers off the sink and stove). If it's late or raining you can leave most of that stuff until morning and be in bed in 10 minutes.

3. Both preparation time and restowing time (cleanup after a trip) can be spread over a wider range of days rather than being done right at the beginning and end of a trip. For example, I can load food on Thursday night for a Friday trip, because I have a fridge and freezer instead of a cooler. On the other side I don't have to worry about the sleeping bags getting moldy if I don't air them out right away.

4. In general, Airstream trips are less weather sensitive than tent trips. The inside of the trailer is always warm and dry, period. The problems of setup and decamping in foul weather are at most a minor nuisance rather than a reason for cancellation. There is enough interior space to allow alternative activities if the weather is bad, and you can dry out clothes and things if they get wet.

5. A corollary to this is that the camping season is extended in spring and fall, and in midsummer when temps are hotter than you might want for a tenting trip.

6. Better sleep. There is more ability to close off unwanted noise (because of the walls and windows), and you get an inner spring mattress rather than a therm-a-rest.

7. Greater flexibility to have guests. In most cases, you can't have guests when tent camping unless you have, bring, and set up extra gear, because no one in their right mind packs a couple of extra air mattresses and sleeping bags for those kinds of trips. With an Airstream, unless you end up on the small end of what's suitable for your family, you should have room for extra bed linens or a sleeping bag for a guest or two.

8. Ability to prepare food to a higher standard. You get a stove, a sink with hot and cold running water, an oven, and a nice big fridge, so you don't have to eat freeze-dried beef stroganoff. On my trip last weekend, the meals included baked catfish with saffron rice, blueberry muffins made from scratch with bacon on the side, and ice cream, as well as more typical camping foods like bbq chicken.

9. Ability to maintain a higher standard of dress if necessary. I can take my Airstream on trips where I'm working on stage or in a professional capacity and be confident that I will be presentable, sartorially speaking. Doesn't work reliably enough with tents.

10. Higher standard of sanitation. People do get sick on camping trips, due to problems with handwashing, cross contamination, flies, etc.

11. Less reliance on outside facilities. As long as you have a periodic ability to dump wastewater and refill freshwater, you don't have to use public showers or bathrooms, or check into a hotel from time to time to clean up.

12. More ready ability to travel for longer distances. When tent camping, you have your car, made smaller by the camping gear you've stuffed in it. Should you wish to stop to fix lunch, or for the night, prior to reaching your intended destination, logistics problems ensue. For lunch you have to get the stove and fridge out and figure out how to wash dishes. For the night, there's hotel selection, security of the gear, locating items necessary for one night without unpacking everything, and so on. With an Airstream, you can pull into a rest stop and fix sandwiches or a hot dog if you want, or stop at a campground with little fuss and no concern about the quality of the beds.

13. Improved overall security situation allowing you to bring things you wouldn't bring in a tent. So you can have a computer, musical instruments, personal electronics, cameras, if you want.

14. TV. I don't watch it but for some people this is a big deal especially if they end up scheduling their camping trips around some sporting event they want to watch or something.

15. Fewer bugs. I suppose because it takes longer to open and close a zipper than the screen door, and because the trailer sits up off the ground.

16. Easier on the back. There is less stuff to lift and haul, because you're not getting out and setting up a tent, beds, kitchen, etc. or loading and unloading luggage.

17. More predictable experience. Camping trips are famously memorable for the things that went wrong -- the stove that wouldn't light, the leaky air mattress, the wet sleeping bag, the lantern that almost set the tent on fire, the burned stew. Part of the charm, they say. In a 'stream, unless you are running an unrestored older traylah of dubious provenance, the expectation should be that everything will go exactly the way you want it to. This allows you and yours to focus more on each other and the destination, which to me is what it's all about.

Now, compared to a tent, it's going to cost more, and you have to decide if it's worth it.

... stay tuned for a comparison to hotels and cabins ...
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:15 PM   #38
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Now, compared to staying in hotels and motels while traveling, Airstreams have advantages, too.

1. It is possible to travel with pets. While pet-friendly hotels do exist they are generally failed properties that management is trying to salvage any way they can.

2. There is no luggage handling, because beyond doing the laundry you leave your stuff in the trailer between trips.

3. It is practical to prepare your own food when you wish to do so. Especially with kids, eating three meals a day out is neither economical, nutritious, nor fun.

4. You have more options regarding security. In a hotel situation, you are going to have to leave the car and your room unattended at times, and you may have limited ability to switch hotels if you arrive and find the layout or clientele troubling from a security point of view. Theft is endemic to hotels, and while theft from RVs is not unheard of, it usually results from people doing dumb stuff they could have avoided.

5. The quality of the experience is consistent, high, and predictable. Even good hotels have bad rooms and bad nights, and with a new destination you may end up someplace with a stink that you can't quite place, where the hot water never gets quite hot enough and you're right next to the elevator in which the Spencerville high school soccer team keeps pushing the "alarm" button all night because it's kind of fun.

6. Because there is less money at stake many cost and payment-related problems go away. So if you're four hours late because of the weather or some crisis at work, you don't have to stick to your itinerary to keep from forfeiting the one-night deposit you had to make. Even if you did make a nonrefundable reservation, campground rates are much lower so it just doesn't matter as much. Similarly if you show up somewhere and find out the place is a dive, or you get crosswise with management over one thing or another, you can move on.

7. The cleanliness of your living space is under your exclusive purview rather than that of someone getting paid a flat fee per room to clean.

8. While everyone's situation is different, you may well find that the overall costs are lower, especially if you end up with three kids or more (since most hotels now require two rooms in that situation due to changes in the fire codes). Make your own spreadsheet and put in the assumptions you think are reasonable.

9. Depending on the nature of your travels you may find that it is possible to stay closer to your destination in an Airstream than in a hotel. For example, with music festivals, craft fairs, etc., there is often on-site camping, or if visiting friends or relatives you may be able to park in their driveway.

10. While the practicality of the unplanned, itinerary-free Airstream trip is overrated (the good places do fill up early on the popular weekends), there is a greater overall likelihood of success than with hotels especially if you have a family whose patience is not inexhaustible. There are several reasons for this. One is that campgrounds generally have vacancies except on major holiday weekends (a state park near my house only ever fills up twice a year -- on Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends -- and some years doesn't fill up even then). Another is that it is rare that a campground is so poor as to be unacceptable for a single night's stay. A third is that campground rates are usually fixed while a hotel desk clerk is going to try to gouge you if you show up at 9:15 at night with no reservation and a couple of young kids saying, "Mommy, I'm tired."

11. As with tent camping, the overall travel experience is, potentially, better. You might not even consider a 12 hour car trip with kids, but it might be doable if you stop halfway for lunch and a nap in the trailer. A corollary to this is that some "plane trips" can collapse to become "airstream trips" on the slow but steady model and be more enjoyable overall.

12. The traylah is available to use as a guest cottage while parked at your house, if desired, or for temporary living accommodations while you're having the floors done or whatever.

... stay tuned for the flip side of the coin ...
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:00 PM   #39
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On the other hand, traylahs aren't perfect and aren't for everyone, so I list herewith the dirty laundry of the RV industry, the reasons people get out of RVs after taking the plunge.

1. A certain minimal amount of practical mechanical ability is required, though less than in the past.

2. You are going to have to learn how to back up trailers, and if you have never done it before, you will be embarrassed in front of your peers, because it is going to go badly at times even though people of lower socioeconomic caste than yourself make it look easy. Some people switch to motorhomes or get out of RVs altogether because of this.

3. You are going to have to figure out where to park the traylah when you are not using it. Ideally this will be indoors and within walking distance of your house. If you have to drive across town to a storage lot then you lose a lot of the benefits. A fact to consider is that many communities restrict trailer parking by convenant, ordinance, or through zoning, and the trend is towards more such restrictions.

4. On a related note, with trailers (as opposed to, say, vans) it is generally not advisable to camp in areas not specifically open to camping (e.g. campgrounds, state and national forests, blm lands, and similar public lands, organized events, private land where permission has been obtained in advance). Minnesota recently passed a law against camping at rest stops, has disallowed any gathering of more than five RVs in one place without a permit without a permit from the Dept. of Health, and some years ago disallowed camping in most wildlife management areas by administrative decree.

5. In general you are going to have to buy and maintain a vehicle specifically for the purpose of towing the trailer. With a larger trailer (over 25'), in practice your choices are a 3/4 ton suburban or a 3/4 ton crew cab pickup (though some people get away with less). These are not ideal for driving to work, getting groceries, or dropping the kids off at dance class, so either you're going to have a vehicle specifically for towing or make compromises in ease of parking, drivability, gas mileage, maintenance costs, implied social standing, etc.

6. You have to be prepared to accept a fuel economy while towing of 8-10 mpg and factor that into your cost calculations. Some people on the forums claim they do better than that, and perhaps they do, but I don't and you might not either.

7. You should realize that Airstreams are, generally, not practical for winter living (temperatures below 20 at night and below 30 during the day) for more than a few days, even though some people make it work.

8. With a family, it is generally not practical to stay anywhere without access to fresh water and waste dumping facilities for more than 2-3 consecutive nights, because unless you're fanatical about conservation you'll run out of water.

9. Be sure to factor the costs of a weight distributing, sway-control hitch, a brake controller, any necessary tow vehicle alterations, and outfitting costs (dishware, cookware, other kitchen stuff, linens to fit funny shaped mattresses, folding chairs, portable grill, initial stock of supplies, tools, leveling blocks, etc etc) in your purchase.
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:07 PM   #40
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In a word...air conditioning.

Of course you could always go this route for A/C:
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:20 PM   #41
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... ok then a few words on cabins ...

There are three main problems with cabins as compared to traylahs.

1. Money. That is, recurring cost.
2. Time. That is, the requirement to perform maintenance during your vacation time.
3. Flexibility. That is, the cabin is a fixed destination.

While cabins can potentially appreciate in value it is important to realize that not all of them do, because tastes in cabins change over the course of years, and cabins tend to accumulate back maintenance and develop serious flaws over time. So you have:

Real estate taxes
Association fees

Cabins in general, and lakefront cabins particularly, receive unfavorable tax treatment and have high insurance rates. Traylahs, on the other hand, receive favorable tax treatment in most jurisdictions. As a point of comparison I would expect to pay $2000 a year in taxes for a very average cabin here, and pay around $30 a year in taxes in my traylah. I pay around $800 a year for insurance for the traylah, and would pay typically $2000-$4000 for insurance for a cabin, mainly because of the fire risk in remote areas.

Everyone's situation is different but I came to the conclusion that in the long run it was considerably cheaper for me to purchase a brand new 30' classic than it was to purchase an unremarkable cabin on an unremarkable lake or river, a considerable distance from home.

Then there's time. The problem my cabin-owner friends have is that they are forever mowing the lawn, putting in or taking out the dock, cutting down trees, fixing the roof or otherwise engaging in one or another maintenance or repair project right in the middle of their vacation. Now, Airstreams are not maintenance free, but there are no grounds to keep, no driveway, no waterfront, and you at least have the option of doing any remaining stuff at night or on weekends (because the traylah, unlike a cabin, is close at hand) so that you can actually be on vacation for your vacation.

Finally, flexibility. The central problem of cabins, for me, is that they become your only vacation destination, because they are a money sink and if you have one it doesn't make sense to go anywhere else (Besides, the lawn there needs mowing). With a traylah, you can change the destination on each trip if you want.
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Old 06-16-2010, 05:14 PM   #42
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Quality Remains Long After The Price is Forgotten

Originally Posted by Mihoff View Post
Then we start thinking that $40k will buy a lot of nights in fancy hotel rooms or a huge deluxe rain tarp and the best lantern ever made to make our camping experience that much more comfortable.
$40K will only buy 285 nights in a hotel at $140/night, not to mention you'd be eating most of your meals out which tend to be overpriced and packed with sodium and fat. Campgrounds charge fees, but it's less than a decent hotel. Why rent hotel rooms when you can own your own Airstream? You'll have the Airstream decades long after you've spent that same money on hotels.

Personally, we are no longer comfortable in hotels. Don't like the bedding, the disappointment, eating out, marginal food, crappy coffee, packing in, packing out, no forest-front views. You get the point. I could go on and on.

Janet & Leon
2007.5 Dodge 2500 5.9L Cummins 16+ mpg towing
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