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Old 09-16-2014, 08:24 PM   #1
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The COST of the AIRSTREAM LIFESTYLE

There are a very small number of Airstream trailers made each year and over the lifetime of the company compared to all of the other brands available. The Airstreams stand out from all of the other, usually white, travel trailers. There are some trailers that looked similar over the years... but not an Airstream. Just by traveling the highways in the USA it is obvious that Airstreams are scarce. This is what makes them so special.

Towing any other brand of trailer costs no more or less than an Airstream. Although the Airstream will tow for less fuel than the majority of other brands of travel trailers, in common are their tires, wheel bearings, axles, electrical components, batteries, interior and exterior fixtures and a multitude of components.

Many of these components may be used by other brands. All of the owners of any travel trailer is proud of their home on wheels. Which they are. A home on wheels. Fully contained with a miniaturized home containing their own heat, cooling, electrical supply, cooking appliances, restroom, closets and bedroom... or a bed within a space. When any travel trailer owner parks and sets up his trailer... their home is complete and when the sun sets, all trailers become, alike. A home on wheels, with occupants aboard.

As humans, we are naturally attracted to beauty, be it Scenery, a precious stone, a home, an automobile, a bridge or even a trailer... this is where the Airstream stands out. It is different.

From the outward appearance the Airstream may appear to be... fragile and easily dismembered, just by traveling at any speed on any road one may travel. It could be an aircraft that has lost its wings. An... aluminum tub with wheels. A bright object on the highway that can be spotted miles before it arrives... much like a comet making its rounds around the Sun. I can not think of only one first impression as it has been too long ago for me. Airstreams were untouchable and not affordable to me.

The "idea" of one day owning an Airstream was the beginning. The initial cost of an Airstream prevents everyone from owning one... or two. Be it as it may. But if you dream hard enough and develop the idea that some day, even I could be this person, the owner, towing this glowing traveler through space and time. A terrestrial comet. An Icon of travel trailers.

Many consider price very important before purchasing a trailer. Airstreams might have an initial cost that is higher than the majority of trailers, but the resale of a used Airstream is much higher after several years or a decade of use. Beauty may be only skin deep... and the Airstream is the charmer on the highway and its beauty runs through the entire trailer. It is a head turner. An attention grabber of those who are dreamers, like myself. Bashful onlookers will walk past an Airstream and dream, finding themselves within this capsule of beauty of design. The Airstream will captivate the imagination of anyone wanting to travel to anywhere, from the bright lights of Las Vegas, Nevada to the empty plains of central Wyoming. All is possible.

What my purpose as an Airstream owner is to give those Forum members, who are dreaming about owning one in their future, some confidence and comfort in knowing that all Airstream owners... dreamed before owning.

My story is not important in the scheme of things. We want to hear your story. What you felt about owning an Airstream before you did. What did you need to made it possible? What made an Airstream special? Did owning an Airstream meet your expectations?

If no one steps up to make a comment, I will then at least express my pride in owning an Airstream. Why I even needed a travel trailer when a tent and the back tail gate of a pickup supplied everything I needed as a camper. What expenses an Airstream owner must accept as a price of ownership. There is a cost per mile. Per trip. Per year. Is this cost acceptable? Is there an option? Does the depreciated value of a used Airstream bring a much higher return than most other brands? There are many questions and answers that can be answered to help a potential or even a "newbie" know that Airstreams and their owners all have a common bond. Their love of travel. The Airstream is merely the mode of transportation, but this mode of travel is the heart and soul of these lucky individuals who gave up something in their lives to possess this Terrestrial Comet.
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Old 09-16-2014, 08:29 PM   #2
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I came at Airstreaming from an entirely different perspective. My first plan was to buy a boat that was big enough to live aboard for a few weeks at a time. Compared to a boat with the same amount of living space, an Airstream costs maybe half as much. Campground sites cost half as much per night as do transient marina slips. Fuel costs way less than half as much, because my Airstream Interstate gets 19mpg on the highway on a good day, 15mpg on a bad day, while a 27-foot Ranger Tug with roughly the same living space gets 4 miles per gallon on a good day, and 4 gallons per mile on a bad day.

Compared to the boating lifestyle, Airstreaming ain't expensive; it's cheap!
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Old 09-16-2014, 09:27 PM   #3
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We had Airstreams back in the '60s and '70s, and then found that motorhomes fit our lifestyle more.

We felt something missing, tho. We started thinking about it, and decided one of the big things missing in the motorhome crowd was Airstream people. (Yes, I know, Airstream makes motorhomes now.)

So, now we are back, and we are enjoying both our Airstream and our Airstream friends.
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Old 09-16-2014, 09:45 PM   #4
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I grew up tenting with my family with other families that had tents and/or Winnebagos. I always thought those motorhomes were cool. When I began shopping for a camper I first considered the motorhomes then as I researched I began looking at trailers. I read that Airstream was special. So, I drove 130 miles to a dealer and looked at them. I really liked the modern interior. I recognized the exterior from when I was younger seeing the silver trailers on the road. Then as purchase time drew closer I had a chat about longevity and concerns over RV roofs with a "big wig" from Winnebago at the big Tampa RV supershow (they were debuting their new Winnebago One trailer) who told me that if I lived in FL and planned on keeping it outside much at all that whatever I purchased should have an all fiberglass or metal roof. He said that he was not familiar with trailer coach builders that used either. I said Airstream and he said ah yes, but you will pay for that one. That began my hunt for a used model which I found a month later.
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Old 09-16-2014, 11:04 PM   #5
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'grew up'.... loving Airstreams... my wife... didn't... until she met Mjolnir....

It's one of those 'things'...ya know.. you can't quite describe, but when you see it.. it rings truth... Kinda like, giving your Grandkritters a Spaghetti-O supper which they eat with their hands... then paint all over the table... satisfaction ... of a job well done.

The AS is similar, but, not the 'new' ones.. the older, less expensive, but in need of TLC.. the 'wide body'... yes.. when my wife stepped into the Wide Body of our 34'... the lights went off and it was a done deal.... gentle perseverance...worked for us.

I am grateful for the previous 'keepers' of our AS... they did a pretty good job keeping things running...
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Old 09-17-2014, 11:15 PM   #6
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I think C. S. Michael made an appropriate comparison in his book "The Long Long Honeymoon." He could relate to Airstreams coming from a community of Porsche lovers.

For me it comes from owning several Jeeps over the course of a lifetime. A Jeep owner will get upset if you call it a "car." There is nothing like a Jeep. I've taken my Jeeps to places a Hummer can't go; trees and turns that require a short wheel base, great turning radius, etc. Jeeps were a major part of US success in WWII.

So the first rule is Iconic. I doubt I'd find a single person to dismiss an Airstream as not being iconic.

Second rule is remain true to your roots. Jeeps won the WWII contract because the windshield folded down, so they could be stacked for shipment to Europe. That's true with modern production Jeeps. You can still fold down the windshield on Wranglers. You also can, with the necessary skill, take a production Wrangler and do the Rubicon Trail.

Wally took a group of Airstreams across Africa. How amazing. Owning one gives you a right to display a little moxy. Jeeps aren't exactly the best ride on the road. The Car Talk guys once said that Jeep Wranglers were the official vehicle of the NBA, because they mimicked a basketball bouncing down the road.

Next, the product is viewed as a 'platform,' ready to be customized or personalized. Jeep owners rip off the bumpers, the fenders, and much more, to make their jeep unique. Buying a Jeep isn't a destination, it's a starting point. I've read plenty of conversations on here to find the same kindred spirit.

Lastly, it's the community. Hard core Jeep owners wave to every Jeep they meet on the road. They'll go out of their way to help another Jeep owner. Heck, once when I was a teenager, my friend's Jeep broke down after a trail ride, and some guy stopped in a dually Ford truck to help us, saying "I used to own a Jeep."

At the end of the day, being iconic, yet open to personalization; adventurous, with a go anywhere attitude; consideration of others on their own personal journey, and that sense of community epitomize the pioneering spirit that founded this country.

Sorry for sounding sappy, but I'm reading some John Muir right now, and it's pretty amazing. Google him and Teddy Roosevelt. What an amazing story.

Growing up a southerner I never heard this part of history, but it is taught in western high schools. My kids know more about John Muir than Robert E. Lee, so I have to keep up.

A favorite quote for me:

“A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you . . . Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use.”
― Carlos Castaneda

I'm guessing no reasonably intelligent person ever regretted owning a Jeep or an Airstream. Might they be inappropriate? Sure. I sold a 2011 Jeep Rubicon Black Ops Edition, because I only put 8k on it in a year, and that investment would be better spent on my kids, but oh the joy of driving that Jeep. Going for a gallon of milk has never been so much fun.

Anything that inspires a detour in your life is pure gold.
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Old 09-18-2014, 06:43 AM   #7
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Good post, really enjoyed it? Jim
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Old 09-18-2014, 06:46 AM   #8
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Anything that inspires a detour in your life is pure gold.

So is that statement!
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Old 09-18-2014, 07:22 AM   #9
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I grew up camping in travel trailers - the year I was born we were camping in a pop-up. In 1990 or so, after a string of SOBs, my parents bought an Airstream.

I originally bought a B190, and we sold that and bought a truck and trailer in 2011. So I'm a second generation Airstreamer. We were just camping next to my parents in August at the Outer Banks (and we did the same at another rally last fall), so even though they live in Florida and we live in Maryland, we do get the two trailers together sometimes.

There aren't many other brands I'd buy - Airstream's method of building one offers a much better chance for longevity. I know the execution isn't perfect, but the method they use means the trailer theoretically could be on the road forever. I don't like the idea of buying a disposable camper, which is what it seems most of the brands are.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:52 AM   #10
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I've always had this notion that I should only buy something once, unless it is truly disposable - and try to limit the disposable purchases. So I drive my cars until the wheels fall off, and maintain them diligently. And I like objects that appeal to my sense of style (whatever that is).

Thus, when I got to an age where my old bod' was starting to get a bit creakier and I wanted to do less backpacking and more "easy" time in the out of doors, it was a pretty easy decision: an Airstream, IF maintained properly, will last more or less forever, and I'd only need to buy one. So far, that is proving to be true. And it appealed to MY sense of style. Maybe not yours, but MINE. (Since I've only got to please myself, I don't give a hoot what you or anyone else thinks!) It doesn't have the most interior space, the tanks are small for its size, it lacks "square" storage, it doesn't have slide outs, it doesn't have a dealer on every corner, and it does have pretty much generic appliances, etc. But it does have style and potential durability. I do wish they'd build them with no-rot floor materials. Sigh.

But it does keep the rain off me, and has enough storage space for at least one bottle of good single malt Scotch whisky and a few fly rods. Good enough for me.
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Old 09-18-2014, 10:03 AM   #11
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We had always, only, wanted a Class B motorhome. No towing, and something we both could manage.

We had looked at Roadtrek and Pleasureway, thinking that was all there was. When we saw the Interstate, quite by accident, it was so beautiful that it was then the only option.

We had saved hard for 10 years, lived in a small, paid for house, and this same unit we had looked at was still on the lot in 2007.

Got a good deal on it, and drove it home.

6 months later, we found out we could take an early retirement, and did.

7+ years later, and 152,000 miles, we/I have never looked back nor regretted it for a moment.

Don't intend to ever trade it in.


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Old 09-18-2014, 10:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirsDream View Post
I've always had this notion that I should only buy something once, unless it is truly disposable - and try to limit the disposable purchases. So I drive my cars until the wheels fall off, and maintain them diligently. And I like objects that appeal to my sense of style (whatever that is).

Thus, when I got to an age where my old bod' was starting to get a bit creakier and I wanted to do less backpacking and more "easy" time in the out of doors, it was a pretty easy decision: an Airstream, IF maintained properly, will last more or less forever, and I'd only need to buy one. So far, that is proving to be true. And it appealed to MY sense of style. Maybe not yours, but MINE. (Since I've only got to please myself, I don't give a hoot what you or anyone else thinks!) It doesn't have the most interior space, the tanks are small for its size, it lacks "square" storage, it doesn't have slide outs, it doesn't have a dealer on every corner, and it does have pretty much generic appliances, etc. But it does have style and potential durability. I do wish they'd build them with no-rot floor materials. Sigh.

But it does keep the rain off me, and has enough storage space for at least one bottle of good single malt Scotch whisky and a few fly rods. Good enough for me.
Excellent description! However, if you look, you should be able to find a bit more room for a "spare" bottle of single malt, and a couple more fly rods...then, my friend life would be complete..

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Old 09-18-2014, 11:11 AM   #13
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After reading what AirsDream wrote, I feel I would only say "ditto!"

More fundamentally it matters not if we had an airstream, or something else...or no RV at all. More fundamentally our happiness as a family does not hing on such a purchase.

Having said that, ohhh my have we enjoyed our first year of ownership and look forward to so many more!

We keep our AS in our backyard and enjoy the aesthetics of it as a permanent fixture of our home and as second living quarters when in-laws visit (hurry escape to the "man can").Click image for larger version

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Old 09-18-2014, 11:24 AM   #14
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Cool Thread. Sure do love our old Jeep TJ. Its like a good pair of jeans, fits just right. I liken it to a shirt pocket, handy, can't do without it. Reliable and 16 years old. Great in snow or on a trail and super easy to park on campus.

We have owned the Airstream for just a short time, still trying to get to know it. Pulls like a dream when compared to the last travel trailer we had. It's a horse, but it has completely met every expectation we had ! Its awesome, we are truly lucky and blessed to own it in this time. I think we're taking it out on the road next week, have to see if rain is in the forecast.
Its a long ways from the Shasta my parents had.
It is cool to have a couple icons. Now if I just lived in Texas,

Thanks Ray Eklund on starting this thread!
Have a good one!
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