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Old 06-05-2017, 02:42 PM   #15
Half a Rivet Short
2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 4,310

We went through some very similar math and came to very similar conclusions. One of the best suggestions I can make now: Burn the spread sheet. The deal is done, just go enjoy life !!


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Old 06-05-2017, 03:03 PM   #16
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2015 30' Classic
Sherwood , Oregon
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This is the same exercise I did with my fishing boat. The first Chinook Salmon cost about $1,150 per pound, five years later it is about $136 per pound, but I keep finding have-to-haves for the boat so the cost doesn't go down much anymore. However, the fun and enjoyment are priceless.

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Old 06-05-2017, 03:26 PM   #17
"Space A" S/O Registry 11
2006 34' Classic S/O
Fort Worth , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2007
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In your RV you have some or all of the following that is worth a lot value not found in commercial lodging:
dirt (your own)
suitcases and hang ups
personal items (if you did not forget them)
room service
TV parking
computer and iPads
utilities (your's or theirs)
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Old 06-05-2017, 05:01 PM   #18
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2018 27' Globetrotter
Greensboro , North Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 118
Thanks so much for sharing the facts, figures, and feelings!!
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Old 06-05-2017, 09:53 PM   #19
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2004 22' Safari
Albuquerque , New Mexico
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Take another Look!

Originally Posted by Lara Me View Post

Before we purchased it, we made a spreadsheet that listed the comparative costs of (1) buying the AS, (2) taking trips and paying average hotel/air/gas etc, (3) buying a lake cottage or cabin, (4) renting an RV for 2-3 trips a year, or (5) taking over our folks' timeshare and paying the annual fee plus extra nights. We had tent camped and while we liked it, the hassle factor meant we did maybe 1-2 trips a year. Per our spreadsheet, the only way the AS penciled out vs the other options was if we actually used it about a weekend a month.

In just under 4 years, we've taken about 8 trips a year, averaging 3 nights each trip. The farthest we've traveled is about 1200 miles one way, and most trips are within about 100-300 miles from home. We've visited lots of places in Oregon, a few in CA and Idaho, and one in Canada. But we've also seen a ton of great places in WA, places we would have never traveled to but for buying an RV.


So much money has rarely been better spent.

Your analysis has a major flaw that might not apply to you but I think it would for most people.

To start, let me say I have done the same thing analyzing cost and never ever believed I would buy any kind of hard sided trailer, fifth wheel, or diesel pusher much less own an Airstream. I did the analysis and determined that for the money I would spend just towing the thing around, I could stay in a Four-Star Hotel. My analysis discounted the food as well, but I can see that was an error. It is much more significant even for two much less four than I counted in the beginning.

But the problem with your analysis is highlighted in numbers 1 -5 above where you count all options as even. It is not the cost... but the lifestyle that I think most people do this for. In your case is is absolutely possible that all options are equal, but those are not equal in my case.

I don't want to go to a time share in the same place every year... and I don't want to get involved in "banking points" to go to other peoples time shares in other limited locations, so in my case, the time share takeover is a non-event. I would bet that that option is even more costly than an Airstream! I am equally unlikely to be happy renting a unit. I spent a few days in Monument Valley last month, and the rental units were equipped with absolute garbage for sewer hookups. I felt so sorry for the foreign couple that was next to me, I provided nitrile gloves for their departure as well as their initial hookup after the fellow took a bath in black water. I would probably have to rent the unit for a couple days ahead of the planned trip just to fumigate and clean the rental rig (not my favorite pass time). Count that out too.

Now in earlier days my wife and I would backpack into the Colorado Mountains about 20 miles every weekend and you indicate you had tented... so given that, National Forest areas and BLM lands are not going to regularly add $40 each night. I have the advantage of an All Agency Pass, and in Yellowstone $14 a night quickly recovers fuel costs to drive the 1200 miles to get there. My wife and I had been renting a VRBO in Gardiner, Montana just out the gate from Mammoth Hot Springs. It was $1100 a week plus a $300 security deposit. It had a full kitchen so count the food equal. Towing the AS to Yellowstone and staying for two weeks at $14 a night (not everything is equal, but for past backpackers, equal enough) I can save half the cost of doing the VRBO and driving a fuel efficient vehicle to the Park.

You will have to try to put a value that fits your situation onto your options (which I presume you did before buying yet another AS) but you may be shortchanging yourself. If you felt the AS was worth the money using an "all equal" basis, you will be even happier to re-think the analysis and provide "lifestyle", "freedom of choice", and other weighting factors.

By the way, I told people I would never own a trailer because everybody I saw paid dearly, lost half when they sold it, didn't use it as much as they thought, and I could stay in a 4 star hotel for the same money... What I didn't count on was developing two hobbies where there are no four star hotels (often not even a bed and breakfast). Astronomy begs dark skies and there are no dark skies around big cities that I have found. The top Star Party (arguably) in the U.S. is the Okie-Tex event in September. It was listed as 8th in the world and the first listing for U.S. events... it is headed for its 35th or 36th year and lodging anywhere near it has been booked for years and is booked for years into the future... I bought my Airstream solely for that event each year. Then I joined the 4CU and found some really great people I enjoy meeting up with at the various rallies, and the whole picture changed. (The other hobby, by the way is metal detecting which likes to go to out of the way places, often without lodging).

So I hope you enjoy your new Airstream, but be fair in your analysis, and you might find that the value to you isn't all dollars and cents, and like you say, what price do you put on camping with your kids while they still want to be with you?
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Old 06-05-2017, 11:36 PM   #20
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2017 27' International
Fall City , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2013
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All great thoughts here. Lest anyone think I live life via a spreadsheet, I agree the intangible benefits were priceless. Agree we didnt need a fancy trailer to achieve these but the AS has truly inspired us to make new adventures a more regular part of our lives, and vs the other options, we actually did more together, than we would have thought we would.
2014 28' Flying Cloud
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:57 AM   #21
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2015 28' International
Ofallon , Missouri
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 252
You are right on the money so to speak.

If you try to justify the cost to rationalize owning a camper the math may not play out.

But how much value is there is your kids growing up in a great family that does things together and in the memories they will have forever!? How much value do I place on a week at the Grand Canyon and having a bull elk bugling right outside my AS!? Or seeing sun rises and sun sets on Yosemite Valley half dome when all the day tourists have gone!? Or dinner by a outdoor fire and "quiet time" with your spouse after! Priceless! We have seen and experienced things only due to our AS that we could not have otherwise. That to me is why we buy AS instead of just staying in hotels.

You are training your kids and they will hopefully do the same for their families. "Train up your children in the way they should go and they will not depart from it."
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:57 AM   #22
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2003 25' Safari
salem , Virginia
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 60
Airstream inspire adventure. My wife and I were so inspired we moved in full time, got jobs that allowed us to travel, and generally love every minute. Not that every minute is perfect, we've had some issues from time to time, but they add to the adventure, especially after you get over being mad about whatever it is and realize it's just a small bump in the road. Keep going, new trailers depreciate quickly, old ones don't, if you'd have bought a trailer that was a couple of years old you wouldn't have lost much if anything. We camped and lived in our 2003 for 5 years and sold it for more than we paid for it. Plan on similar on our current 1981 excella we call home. That will make you're spreadsheet work, but you should do what makes you and your family happy. If you ever question why you love airstreams so much and worry about the cost google some Wally byam quotes or read some of the stories about his adventures and you'll understand that the inspiration provided is born into the trailers well before the first rivet is installed.

Adventure is where you find it, any place, every place, except at home in the rocking chair.

Wally Byam
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Old 06-06-2017, 11:27 AM   #23
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Hillsboro , Oregon
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Thumbs up Great story!

Great stories and great respondents

We were in the same boat and at the end of the day, we CAN put a price on memories and pictures and that made our AS a drop in a bucket
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Old 06-06-2017, 05:32 PM   #24
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We're full-timers, so our situation is a bit different than yours. Right now we're in Wyoming waiting for the birth of our third grandchild. Having our own place to stay makes it so much easier on everyone.

Had we not gone this route, we would be sitting at our place in the Ozarks, not doing much of anything. We had no family there, no great connections, and not enough money to keep the place and still travel. Got rid of the place and hit the road.
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Old 06-06-2017, 05:35 PM   #25
Half a Rivet Short
2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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One of the unfortunate alternatives in life is indeed becoming TV drones (or internet drones). It will always be the "low cost" option. Having a reason to get out and about may well be worth far more than any spreadsheet can predict.

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Old 08-03-2017, 03:27 PM   #26
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2011 22' Sport
Portland , Oregon
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As someone that is shopping for an AS for my family, I really appreciate this type of thread. We are also in the Pacific NW, we have a 2 year old...and we do like to car camp, but it is such a chore to pack the car after work at the end of the week and to unpack it before work. With the hassle we don't do it very often.

We also had made the assumption that we could just stay in a hotel for cheaper than ever owning an RV/TT, but then we are finding that many of the places we would like to go to have no hotel options available (think anywhere in Oregon, Washington, Idaho that isn't next to a freeway or population center). My thoughts it that it will encourage and enable my wife and I to take our daughter out to explore the wonderful nature we live here for.

I appreciate the "value" elements that everyone finds in their experience, as that is encouraging (hopefully) to those of us that are thinking of buying into this hobby/lifestyle, as it helps offset the discouraging repair reports
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Old 08-04-2017, 07:09 AM   #27
Half a Rivet Short
2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 4,310

Life with kids only gets more complex as they get older. However much of a hassle a trip is with a 2 year old, it's only going to get crazier over the next 20 years. An RV (of any sort) is a lot less hassle than tents ....

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Old 08-04-2017, 07:31 AM   #28
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Denton , Texas
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 9
Great info.

We take delivery of our 28 serenity in about 1 month, just in time for fall travel. We have no family, but have come to hate airports and large hotels. We plan to still take a few trips by air each year, but will have lots of time to utilize our airstream for full week trips. And of course our puppy, 4 yoa Rottweiler can now go and not have to kennel, she loves to ride. We are blessed to be able to do what we do, and know the airstream will add so much to our memories and experiences. We traveled on a Honda gold wing for many years, but don't have the desire to tackle the weather and stay in a different bed each night any longer.

We feel the experience of the road and the outdoors keep us excited and active. Looking forward to many airstream miles in the future.

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