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Old 09-22-2002, 06:22 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 1
I don't know where to begin - part I

I posted a much, much shorter version of this post on another forum and got an email response from Peter (My handle is PeterH-79MH) who said, "you can tell folks that I invited you over". So first of all, thank you peterJ

I'm selling my home and want to buy an airstream and travel to see the country and many friends.
I'm 49, recently D and female.
I am not genetically programmed to drive slowly, fix anything or endure endless aggravation.
I haven't bought anything yet. I can hear some of you sighing relief already.
The Bambi is too small.
I will be traveling with a 70lb dog and 2 cats. Occasionally I may take a trip with a friend. The International certainly is 'attractive' but after reading John's prolific reports of small design flaws I'm dissuaded from purchasing one because without his creative talents and practical knowledge I intentionally would drive myself over a cliff after a week.
I will not have a permanent home until one day I happen to land in an area that sparks a desire to stay. So…..
I could really use some fundamental, initial thoughts and contributions regarding how best to approach a purchase and questions I should consider essential to making the right, or most correct, choice.
For example:
New or used
What model(S)
What kind of vehicle to use to pull
Do I need to tow a small vehicle
Do campgrounds allow pets
Do campgrounds allow pets to run
How do I learn to responsibly drive one
How do I use the internet when I'm on the road, or can I?
What's the required packing list for a virgin owner

Things that are important to me are:
Easy access to stored items
Good repair service
Dependable service
Peace and quiet
Reasonable Maintenance
Getting help if I'm in trouble

Please don't be shy, I promise to be grateful for all replies. Thank you, susie

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Old 09-22-2002, 06:54 PM   #2
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1997 30' Excella
1983 31' Airstream310
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3,099
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Hi Susie, welcome aboard. You just entered a whole new world, so get ready!
I am sure you will hear many good opinions and advice.
I am a Motorhome nut, so I will leave the tow and trailer answers to the many experienced people on this forum.
We all share the same things that are important to you, everyone just tries to achieve them in their own way.
In my opinion, you are not a good candidate for a vintage trailer that requires constant maintenance.
You should consider a fairly new trailer, possibly with dealer warranty.
You also need to join a road service, you can rely on in case of trouble.
Also joining the WBCCI Airstream Club, could be of great benefit to you.
I already envision you driving down the road in a 3/4 ton silver van with a big motor, pulling a 25' Airstream. Here comes SilverSusie.
If you haven't done so already, read this good thread about long term trailering:

1983 310 Classic Motorhome
1997 30' Excella Trailer
AIR #13
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Old 09-22-2002, 08:39 PM   #3
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2005 28' Classic
Austin (Hays County) , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,370
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I would suggest you look for about a 25' or 27' recent Airstream. For full-time living, and especially with a large dog, the additional 6" of width is well advised. A "gently" used, recent unit will have all the small problems ironed out. Trailers in that size range are much less demanding to tow than the longer units.

The International is really too small for you and 3 pets. It is not a good full time trailer since there is only the dinette for seating. You need a place for food, water, and litter and there is no place in the Internationalfor these items. I intend to try removong one of the drawers under the bed for a place for a litter box, but that will be only for short trips. You couldn't afford to lose that storage space.

A 3/4 ton, crew cab or extended cab, HD (Heavy Duty) or SD (Super Duty) truck is a fine tow vehicle. You want a 6 Litre or larger engine and a 7.4 or 8.1 is not overkill.

Actually, at this point in time, I love my International; however, it is a trailer suited for my use, not your intended use. I will never spend much more than 2 weeks at a stretch in the trailer and don't need a full-timer's trailer.

To learn to tow, find a large, deserted parking lot. Take some cones or other markers and particularly practice backing. Find out how far you can safely jacknife the unit when turning in tight quarters.

Most campgrounds allow pets, although some have size limits on dogs. No, they generally can not run free. Campgrounds don't generally care whether you have an indoors cat and that is pretty much the only safe cat to have on the road. Cats getting lost in campgrounds are a problem.
John W. Irwin
2005 Classic 28 "Sabre-Dog III"
2013 Silverado 2500HD Duramax/Allison LTZ
WBCCI #9632, TAC TX-10
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Old 09-23-2002, 12:24 PM   #4
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Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 268
Susie, welcome. I envy you. I hope to do the same thing you are about to do in five years. I have a 25 foot Safari and sometimes wish I had gone with the 27 footer. My longest trip to date is three weeks and we experienced freezing weather, snow, tornado and thunder storms. The Safari performed well under these sometimes harsh conditions. The Safari model is less expensive than the Excella or Limited but the difference seems to be in the furnishings rather than the actual construction. I pull my 25 footer with a half ton Chevy pickup with no problems but my next truck will be a 3/4 ton Heavy Duty with a diesel engine. You can never have too much tow vehicle! As far as roadside assistance, I went with THOR due to the fact that they will tow you to the nearest authorized Airstream repair facility.
There are many ways to access the internet while on the road. You can use the facilities at public libraries. Many campgrounds have modem hookups. May I suggest the book "Fulltime RVing" by Bill and Jan Moeller.
I hope this helps with some of your questions. Keep them coming as there are lots of experienced travelers on this forum.
Jerry Sullivan
'01 Limited
'01 Safari
On The Road, USA
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Old 09-23-2002, 05:44 PM   #5
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We discussed some of the issues on the Yahoo site, but we can take up the particulars here.

New or used:
One of those would be fine. Actually, not knowing your finances, this is not something any of us can answer. If money is no object, one would certainly say, buy new and pick out all the options, fabrics, etc. But there is a lot to be said for a clean, two or three year old unit that has had the "bugs" worked out of it.

What model(S):
Depends on the ratio of travel time to stationary time. It takes no genius to figure out that longer and wider is more roomy than short and narrow. But short and narrow is easier to pull. Since all the late models, except the International, are wide bodies, and people are recommending a newer model (rightly so, I think), the issue is length. A 34' will require a major truck. 25' is, for most people, the minimum size for fulltiming. In general, the extra length of an Airstream gets you mostly storage space - look at the floorplans on the Airstream site.

You might be a candidate for the now-discontinued 27' Safari.

What kind of vehicle to use to pull:
Many of us are partial to diesels from GM, Ford, or Dodge. The extra low end torque makes towing a lot easier. There are also good gas engine options available. Do a search on this site for tow vehicles and you will find a lot of information.

Do I need to tow a small vehicle:
No, unless you buy a motorhome.

Do campgrounds allow pets to run:

How do I learn to responsibly drive one:
There are schools. There may be ads in Trailer Life. Failing that, attend a rally and ask lots of questions. Learn about hitches. Learn about bow waves. Learn about turning radii (plural of "radius" - didn't think I would know that, did you?).

I really like the shower in my 25' Sovereign, but I believe that all the longer trailers have even larger showers.

Easy access to stored items:
One of the real strong points in an Airstream.

Good repair service:
Dependable service:
Within the context of RV life, there is probably none better than Airstream

The problem here is that EVERY maker turns out a significant number of trucks that are no end of trouble to the owners. You can get lots of recommendations for every brand, but the particular one you purchase may be a loser. All you can do is go with the averages. Stay with GM, Ford, or Dodge. The ability to choose from full size van, Suburban, Expedition, Excursion, or Pickup truck will depend on the size and wieght of your trailer. Getting enough truck and gearing for your trailer will be more important than the brand.

What does the sign say? You can have it cheap, quick, and done right. Choose any two. Something like that. I bought a 85 Soveign 25', and a '94 Chevy diesel for a combined price of less than $15,000. But then I am handy with tools. The new equivalents would be, oh, maybe $75,000?

Keep asking questions until you get the answers you need.

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Old 09-23-2002, 06:26 PM   #6
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1963 26' Overlander
1958 22' Flying Cloud
1963 19' Globetrotter
Portola Hills , California
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Hi Susie,

My advice to you would be to go new or as near as new as you can afford it.
Get a Suburban type vehicle or a full size van, your animals will not have enough room in a pickup when you go on long trips. Also, the van or Suburban can offer additional shelter if things go wrong, or if you need a minute to yourself or to transfer animals from vehicle to trailer etc.
Go at least 25, better to 27ft. Our 25 tradewind has great space, but a tiny shower. The 27ft models usually give you more space everywhere, but especially in the shower/head area.
Consider a Motorhome as well, if trailering scares you, some of the Motorhomes are very easy to deal with and typically have generators for electricity and hydraulic levelers etc. They also have underfloor storage and set up very quickly. Then you might tow a small car and have good flexibility. Of course Airstream trailers are way more romantic, but for a single woman on the road, a Motorhome might be something to consider. I do not intent of changing your mind or scaring you away from the tow experience. My wife and I got used to towing very quickly, and don't mind it at all now. Just to remind you of other options. My wife and I looked at some motorhomes in the 30 to 34 ft range, and were impressed by the conveniences and ease of use. A good motorhome will cost upwards of $ 100000, a brand new Airstream and tow vehicle probably closer to $ 80000.00, a slightly used trailer/tow vehicle combo might set you back around $ 50000.00, maybe a bit more for a "Deluxe" rig.
I believe the other posts already have a lot of the information i was going to suggest to you.
Good luck with your decision, and keep reading posts on the things you find questions on. The forum won't leave any of them unanswered.
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Old 09-24-2002, 08:26 AM   #7
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1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
Join Date: May 2002
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Definately something to think about, the point that Uwe brought up about single women and security. If someone is trying to break into your trailer, you're pretty much trapped in there. a motor-home, you could just drive away.

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