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Old 04-03-2014, 09:19 AM   #1
1992 25' Excella
Leamington , Ontario
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 73
HELP! How to find out if "Airstream Life" is for us?

First post! Greetings to all you friendly streamers! I love Airstreams and would love to own one, BUT…

I have no experience with travel trailers, haven't lived in one for a long period, nor know if my wife and I would appreciate extensive travel with a trailer being considered home. We are retired and sick of Canadian winters. We would like to spend 3-5 months in a warmer climate, enjoying life rather than shovelling snow in the cold. Plus there are so many places we would like to see. We like traveling, but it is nice to return home to a fixed location, until the work begins (cutting lawns, constant house maintenance, etc.) The worse thing about travelling is finding suitable motels where and when you want them.

Since we travel with a dog, and decent pet-friendly accommodation is hard to find, I thought an Airstream might be the solution. My research indicates a 25'FB TB could be ideal (possibly used to save money). We could spend winters in a warm climate, and also visit many places in other seasons. Glamping looks and sounds just great!

My problem is as follows. An Airstream and maybe new TV costs a lot of money. I don't want to jump in and spend big bucks (which would mean selling other assets, maybe even the house), without first "testing the waters". My fear is jumping in, making major life-changing decisions, then regretting the nomadic life living months out of a box 1/5th the size of what we are use to. So my question for the forum is what is your recommendation on how to proceed? How do we find out if the "Airstream Life" is for us? Should we try to rent an AS to try out? (Short-term camping might be great, but how do I know over weeks and months?) What have others done who have been in this boat before?

Your comments would be appreciated.

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Old 04-03-2014, 09:30 AM   #2
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1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
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Welcome to the Forums!

The answer to your question is simple: go used. (or "vintage", as we like to say).
Airstreams have such great longevity, and have been around for so long, there are plenty of fully-depreciated units available that are in good condition. If its in camp-ready condition, its value will only go so low, and then stop. Buy one of those, use it for a while, and if you like it: upgrade. If you don't--sell it, and get all your money back.
This isn't possible with most "SOB's" ("some other brand"), as they tend to depreciate rapidly from their purchase price to zero. (for a good reason).

(or, if you're both cheap frugal, AND risk-averse, like me, go vintage, and stay that way )

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Old 04-03-2014, 09:33 AM   #3
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You don't have to rent an airstream. Rent any RV of the size you're interested in. Doesn't matter if it's a travel trailer or a Class C motorhome, as long as it has about the same amount of interior space. The idea is to find out if you can live in that amount of space. Preferably a long-term rental of about a month.

If the space limitation isn't a problem, THEN consider an Airstream. Besides, by renting something else first, you'll also gain a greater appreciation for the quality and style differences betwen Airstream and the competition.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:33 AM   #4
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Toronto , Ontario
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Another option is to go to a dealer, spend a day sitting in various trailers. Get a feel for the size. We travel with three young kids and love it - not full time right now, but if we could, we would. The day we took delivery my wife and I sat on the sofa with a glass of something celebratory and she looked at me and said "I could easily live in here". I feel the same, every single time I open the door.

You're in Leamington, that's a two hour drive to CanAm RV in London. Give them a call on 1-866-226-2678, ask for Evan Weaver and tell him that you'd like to drop by and take a look. Evan was our sales guy when we bought our trailer, we were extremely happy with his help and support. There was never any "selling", he just took 1/2 a day with us showing us both new and used trailers. Most of the time he just left us alone to explore but was always available when we had questions.

We sold a beautiful cottage close to Goderich and bought our trailer instead - less work and we like to explore rather than go to the same place every single weekend. We also went used - older trailers tend to be lighter (meaning our existing car worked as a tow vehicle) and going used we could buy it for cash rather than having to finance.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:34 AM   #5
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Hi from AZ. . . and welcome. Yes, that's why most of us do this airstreaming thing, 1) we love traveling, seeing new places, going and 2) we love Airstreams. If you & the Mrs have no 'camping' experience, I'd rent something for a week or so just to see if a moving cabin deal is your idea of fun. I know couples who don't think so & they buy/rent cabins or such for the cold months get away in our neck of the woods. An Airstream & TV are going to be relatively expensive, so best to know if it suits you before writing those checks. Good Luck, and regards, Craig
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:52 AM   #6
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2014 25' Flying Cloud
West Dummerston , Vermont
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Welcome to the Forum. You have definitely come to the right place to get your questions answered. First off, your description of your situation most perfectly matches the situation/questions my wife and I had. We are also recently retired, tired of long, northern winters(Vermont), and loved to travel to the SW. We had previously vacationed out there, flying out, renting a car, and just traveling for a week. When we retired last year we started thinking about a trailer and becoming Snowbirds. Like you, we did not want to give up the house and beautiful Vermont. Not to mention my bass fishing. So we opted for the best of both worlds: winter in the southwest and summer(and fishing in my Triton bassboat and our gardens) in New England. Since I already had a truck to handle towing the boat, we just made sure our travel trailer choice fell within its capabilities. A Ford F150 with a tow package pretty much had us covered. We chose an Airstream for a couple of VERY important reasons: 1) it's reputation and 2) it's resale value. The last one I think will address one of your concerns. Check the Forum for airstreams for sale and you'll get an idea on how they hold their value as sell as the interest in used airstreams. I hope I covered everything. If you'd like to discuss further you can PM me.
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:36 AM   #7
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2013 28' Flying Cloud
Central , Canada
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I guess I could also jump in here...

My wife and I just retired and very much enjoy getting out of Canada in the winter. We also enjoy of home and cottage so leaving Canada in the summer is not in the cards for us. That said, we spent the last couple winters going south, renting different places (park models/ hotels, Etc) as we explored where we wanted to be and what we wanted to do...

In the end, we decided the thing we enjoyed most was our ability to travel and go see different things. So armed with that knowledge, we purchased a (used) 28' airstream and will use it as our snowbird accommodation moving forward. At this time I'm thinking we will head back to the SW areas of the US again as we enjoyed this region.

But also might (just for fun) drive over to Texas and Florida and hang out there for a bit. "That's the advantage of the Airstream - we can go and do what we want when we want".

Years from now I might find that driving and seeing different places is no longer of interest. If that happens, I guess we will be like many other snowbirds and buy a park model someplace. But until that happens, I plan to put as many miles on as I can and see as many places as possible.

So yes - get your self an airstream and stay in touch as we could meet up in the south as Happy hour awaits....

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Old 04-03-2014, 10:42 AM   #8
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2015 28' Flying Cloud
Ladson , South Carolina
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Posts: 223
Find an Airstream rally near you and go visit. I'm sure others would let you look at their units and give you suggestions. All are friendly and you will quickly get the feel for the wonderful Airstream life!
Kathy Narowski
SC Coastal Unit
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:05 AM   #9
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Battle Ground , Washington
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You can easily rent a motorhome to try out on a vacation or two to see if you enjoy the lifestyle. Everyone has their own style. I have friends who really love the roominess of their giant 5th wheel, but we are just as happy in our cozy little vintage AS.

We enjoy seeing new places, traveling with our dogs, meeting other friendly campers, and our AS feels like a little 'home away from home'. I agree, I am happy to get back to home base after a trip. I don't know that I would want to live in one, and I would have to give up my hobbies to do so, but it certainly is nice for get-aways.

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Old 04-03-2014, 12:37 PM   #10
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Hoover , Alabama
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That is a big decision....others seem to have given good advice already...

My wife and I are quite far from retirement and will be using our AS for holiday and weekend use (and we regularly enjoy it for date night getaways and the kids enjoy just going in there often to watch a movie)....I speculated with my wife just last week about upon retirement full timing...she was extremely up-beat....but I will be skeptical that this will be something I would know for sure she would want to comitt to until we have much more longer trips...or even many weeks living in the trailer before I would feel more certain....

Having said that, if the only way this happens is selling the house....then I would strongly consider renting for an extended period and see how it flies...forget renting an AS...there is a couple services out there that do it, but as I recall its very $$$.

Good luck and hope to see you on the road one day!
“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them...We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.”

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Old 04-03-2014, 12:48 PM   #11
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Another strong vote for not jumping in at high end with expensive new trailer and tow vehicle... The up front cost plus hit on depreciation losses if you have to sell will add to pain of thinking you made bad decision.. If you like spending a couple months in warm climates and travel with a dog, then RV world should have some version that fits well.. Even though we love Airstreams here, many people are happy parking larger 5th wheel at RV park in warm areas from San Diego to Florida, while others cruise in their motorhomes with cars on back hitch, and we tow our Airstreams around.. Renting motorhome is tough without adding a car behind, since you really don't want to have to unhitch/disconnect each time you need groceries or want to go offsite.

In vintage world, you can easily buy a good Airstream 25 for ~$15K (late '80's to late 90's), and sell it for same or more a year later if you don't like it.. You can also buy tow vehicle like a used Suburban or Tahoe/Yukon or Club Cab Pickup for less than $10K, and sell it for nearly the same a year or two later if you need to upgrade yet, though we still do occasionally buy Lottery Tickets...

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Old 04-03-2014, 12:56 PM   #12
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2008 23' International
Sunny San Diego , California
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We have 3 big dogs so we decided vacationing would best be suited in an Airstream. We own an International 23d which is a little tight so the 25' FB International would be a great fit for you. I would upgrade but I can't get my hands on a pre-owned. They sell within hours of posting!! No joke one sold in less than an hour of being posted so you know you will retain value of your AS.

If you would like to rent California offers Airstream2Go. They provide a tow vehicle along with the trailer. Nice units too!! Come visit sunny CA and check it out.

Best Wishes on your AS journey,
Glamper Girl
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:56 PM   #13
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2013 30' Classic
Greenwood , Mississippi
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Have you camped at all, even tent camping?
We were tent campers 40 years before we ever had the 1st trailer. A travel trailer was the logical next step.
If you have never camped I suppose you should first determine if that lifestyle suits you. I would say most everyone on Airforums is obsessed with the RV lifestyle.
We are mostly weekend warriors and we get about 4 long holiday weekends per year and 3 week and a half long trips per year.
The Airstream lifestyle goes beyond camping. It is the love of the iconic trailer. It is similar to a love of retro or vintage anything- cars, tractors, motorcycles, architecture, antiques, etc.
Things originally designed in the 30's, 40's, 50's had more style and pizazz- were easier on the eyes/more pleasant to look at/more aesthetically pleasing.
The aircraft style monocoque construction is unique and provides a much more pleasant towing experience compared to a white square box.
Then there is the quality/durability/longevity. Airstreams are far from perfect, but are the highest quality travel trailers around. There may be some of equal or greater quality, but I have never seen one- unless the company is out-of-business, like Avion, Streamline, or Silver Streak- all of which hearken to a similar design/style/appearance.
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Old 04-03-2014, 01:30 PM   #14
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2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
Vintage Kin Owner
Virginia Beach , Virginia
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Posts: 6,201
Here's your Airstream & Tow Vehicle

1993 Airstream Excella 30 for sale in Binghamton, New York

This Airstream has a HUGE "ouchie" down one side - which does look cosmetic as the owner claims. That helps get the price down. It's in New York too.

You Could put a huge decal down that side to cover it up. I actually saw a unit with an aluminum patch on the back - in the shape of a maple leaf. Most beautiful patch I've ever seen. Looked like an art statement, not a patch. Let your imagination go wild.

Renting is a great idea, but it's pricey. If you've already got a good tow vehicle you could use this Airstream for a year or two, and even if you sold it for half what you pay, it wouldn't be a prohibitive introduction to Airstreaming.

When buying USED - first let your nose be your guide - poke your head into cabinets, etc. and if you smell mold (mould - HRH English) don't walk away, RUN. Get a moisture meter and probe the floors around the edge of the camper, especially near the door and the toilet. If the reading is high, again, RUN! Floor rot is the biggest most expensive problem to try to correct.

Happy trails. Paula

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