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Old 10-07-2016, 06:14 AM   #1
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Who wishes they had a SMALLER Airstream or a LARGER one?

My wife and I are hoping to purchase our first AS, and we're interested in hearing from people who - if given the opportunity to do so (cost aside) - would purchase a SMALLER AS or a LARGER AS than they own. We are a very active couple, and are avid hikers, runners, and general "active outdoor" type people. We expect to use our AS to take us to state and national parks and travel the country for approximately 6+ months each year. We are *not* "bigger is better" people, and yet we DO love comfort. We are drawn to the 30 Classic for the lounge chairs and extra storage, but don't want to regret purchasing a larger camper by finding that we are severely restricted on where we can go.

I've read many threads on this issue, and the most useful ones are where people share their thoughts on how happy they are with their own AS (wishing they had SMALLER, LARGER, or SAME size). We are especially interested in hearing from anyone that feels that their AS is TOO LARGE, but all input is desired. Please share your honest feedback. We know that there is no right answer, but your input is SUPER DUPER helpful :-).

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Old 10-07-2016, 06:49 AM   #2
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Who wishes they had a SMALLER Airstream or a LARGER one?

We have a 25' SS with rear corner bed and shower. It's still the perfect size after 7 years for us and our 2 kids. Large enough to lounge in and move around, cook, play games with the kids, etc... but small enough to be agile through the national park campgrounds, mountain back roads and tow with a large SUV vs a 3/4 ton truck.

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Old 10-07-2016, 06:58 AM   #3
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We travel six months a year and are active outdoor retirees. We wish our Airstream was smaller when parking it and getting fuel in some service stations, and wish it was larger in the campsite on a rainy day. So a mid-size Airstream is pretty good overall.

For long-term travel, the greatest comfort problem is the bench seating provided in every new model but the Classic. We converted ours to recliners, but you can't put two recliners easily in most models. The Classic has the only genuine sofa, and two positions recline somewhat with a leg rest, that looks pretty good.

Another long-term comfort problem for some is the bed mattress, everyone has a favorite. We replaced ours with a Sleep Number air mattress, individual firmness controls, terrific and the RV Queen Radius corner model fits the Airstream platform perfectly. The bed access is also difficult for many in the double beds with one side against or near a wall. The 27 and up models solve this with the queen bed and walking space on each side, and most 25 and up models offer twin bed option, or can be converted to twin beds.

You may want to do some custom work to fit your trailer to you, and upgrade some equipment. Most do. The new Classic has been a very popular model, you would be in plenty of good company.

We would wish for a Classic rear queen bed 27 with front recliners for the amenities and finishes of the Classic, and the liquid heating system, in a little smaller size. That most probably won't happen so we'll hold the course, it's working well. We head out for the winter next week, Calif, Arizona, and New Mexico stays.
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Old 10-07-2016, 06:59 AM   #4
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As several dealers about when folks trade in an Airstream, do they go bigger or smaller. I think you will find that most go bigger.
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:01 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Outdoorpeak View Post
we DO love comfort. We are drawn to the 30 Classic for the lounge chairs and extra storage :-).
I think you answered your question. If you like comfort and storage then the 30 is the way to go.

I personally love my 30 and I got it for the comfort. But yes there are times when I think it is too big. When I need to pull into a fill station that is jam packed with vehicles or is just super tight. When it is off road and there are some serious dips and bumps it can bottom out the hitch or back of the trailer. And then it is limiting in getting some sites. The larger the trailer the more difficult it is to get sites. The larger sites are the ones everyone wants even the guy with the tent. Most sites are first come first serve so getting the good sites or just even a site where the trailer will fit onto can be a challenge in the high season. Private places usually always have sites and I have rarely had a problem there, but personally I try to avoid private parks. You are packed in like sardines with no privacy. I might as well stay home. I ran into this issue this summer, where my usual go to place was closed for renovations. By the time I realized it all of the sites at other parks with power were gone. I added another 200 watts of solar and went boondocking. Best experience ever.

There are always pros and cons to owning a large or smaller trailer ( I have had all of them). But at this point in my life the pros to owning the 30 out way the cons. Once I'm in my 30 I forget all about the issue at the fuel pumps and the difficulty in getting the site.

BTW. You can purchase the Lounge chairs separately. I swapped mine out for the director type chair.
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:07 AM   #6
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I had bigger and went smaller - could even go more smaller now - we are hikers bikers - bicycle - outdoors ourselves - smaller is much better in my view - I like to cook outside as well - so smaller makes us spend more time outside :-)
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:10 AM   #7
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I spent almost 10 years living and cruising on a 32 ft sailboat. Almost every cruiser I knew either wanted a smaller boat if they had a large one and same with the small boat owners they wanted a larger boat. I started with a 16 foot trailer and went up to a 23. There are times when it would be nice to have a smaller simpler trailer for quick easy getaways. That seems common here with some owners having several Airstreams. On the other hand hopefully going full time in the future and thinking a larger trailer might be a good move.

Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:22 AM   #8
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2016 27' International
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Since you want to spend your time in national and state park I suggest you take a look at reserveamerica web page to see the size of available sites at a few parks you intend to visit. Some parks are really tough to get into , the size of your AS might make it even tougher by limiting the number of sites you could fit into. We have a 27fb and were lucky enough to book sites in 13 differents Florida state parks where we will be spending the winter. I am not sure this would have been possible with a 30. We also like to be outdoors and unless we are sleeping or it is raining we see no reason to be inside so we would probably never go for a larger AS. As for going smaller we really wanted a bed that you can walk around and we did not want a wet bathroom so that limited our choices somewhat.
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:43 AM   #9
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Full time (to me) means being able to carry roughly 4-seasons worth of gear. Call it three plus.

One needs storage.

And then the reality that one may fall ill and be incapacitated to some degree for 10-14 days, say. Two people cooped up in a 25' is dreary where with a 35' there are (literally) two lounging areas. Thus, inclement weather and temporary handicaps should be considered.

To extend trips to places without re-supply is the other.

To this alignment, bigger fresh water, propane and holding tank capacities are superior. Not to mention dry storage of food and refrigerator capacity.


I've found that a 27-8' TT of our type trailer is a fair minimum. The last three trailers for me have been 33', 30', and now a 35'.

Being alone I'd prefer a 28' (and somewhat older Silver Streaks are better laid out as to storage -- and much better than AS), but there isn't much unused storage at present in the 35'.

Were I simply a vacationer taking off on a number of trips per year I'd be packing the trailer specifically for conditions expected in that time frame. So, maybe a 25'. But I'd rather have the 28' IF analysis of differences showed an advantage. There isn't any real difference in towing or backing.

Backing becomes a chore with 30' and longer due to tail swing (distance from axle centerline to rear bumper).

Good luck.
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:43 AM   #10
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Like you, we are active people who visit state and national parks (averaging 50-60 nights a year) for the natural experience the parks offer. We also like comfort: we have a large home and a kingsize bed! We started our camping on the ground, moved to tents, VW buses and then to a 23' Safari SE.

In the 23' we always felt like we were "inside" and insulated from the experience -- we started calling it our mobile cabin. Plus that is a lot of stuff to be dragging over mountains and through towns and there are many great campsites that even at 23' it would not fit into. So, we bought an original Basecamp for (we thought) the shorter trips.

For us, the smaller trailer was so much more fun and so much easier that we stopped choosing to use the 23' trailer, and recently sold it. This year, in addition to the shorter trips, we spent three weeks in Teton/Yellowstone and another three weeks on the Oregon Coast and Olympic NP.

Ultimately it is a personal choice. My advice: do not be led by common wisdom, or by anyone else's individual choice. Spend time in the different models imagining how you will use it to achieve what you want from it.
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:52 AM   #11
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We had a 2001 Safari 25 for two years. It was a great size for driving, and getting into campgrounds. The original owner had it converted on delivery to two recliners from the gaucho/jacknife sofa. They were great for relaxing and watching TV, but for eating, not so much. This model did not have a dinette so we had to eat off of TV trays when we ate inside. There was no place for guests to sit. The newer 25/27/28 trailers do not have these problems since most, if not all have a dinette.

We opted for a 2002 Classic 30 with a slideout and love it, but it still has the original style jackknife sofa which is lacking in head support if you are over about 5' tall. The newer Classics with the reclining sofa solved that problem. I'm planning to build and install a removable headrest cushion across the top of the sofa.

The only problem I had with fueling and/or backing was with my 25. ALWAYS use a spotter when backing.

The 30 may restrict your flexibility somewhat but so far I/m OK with it.


"You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"

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Old 10-07-2016, 08:06 AM   #12
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After 15 years of avid boating, my wife and I learned one lesson. Bigger is better. We had a 38' power boat and wished we could afford something bigger, but decided to trade the sea for the road.

So we went 30' right off the bat. Our experience told us we enjoyed the comfort of the extra space. But that's us. Some folks don't like towing that much Airstream, or prefer camping in smaller sites. Us, if our Airstream doesn't fit, neither do we. So far it hasn't been an issue, but we don't do boondocking or national parks. YMMV.

I recommend people consider the biggest AS they can safely tow. Those few extra feet inside make a big difference when you decide to relax for the evening in your AS if it's too hot outside or if the mosquitoes are biting. But they make Airstreams in different sizes for different folks to pick the size that suits them.
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:26 AM   #13
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Have had my 24 footer for 15 years. When all three kids were still at home, we were cramped but loved and enjoyed every memory that was made. We considered buying a larger AS but life got in the way. We are now 1 child away from being empty nesters and are actively planning our downsizing on all fronts except the Argosy. For the wife, pets and myself 24 feet is more than enough room for our planned travels.
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:29 AM   #14
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When our trips were limited to weeks rather than months we traveled with VW Camper vans, four of them over 35 years. Nothing in tow allows you to camp almost anywhere, tour cities and the backcountry easily, and head out with little more than a turn of the ignition switch. Simplicity adds greatly to touring and we loved it, and we may get another for limited touring lengths.

Extending our travels to months, the Camper Van was too small and we got an Airstream 20, at first spacious but soon uncomfortable seating and sleeping accommodations. We got our 25 with the plan of converting to reclining seating, a folding side table for hobbies and meals, and have now added a larger folding table top between our recliners. A very comfortable Airstream.

I think the "right" size depends on how you use it, each individual's idea of comfort, and how much stuff (be careful of stuff) you need to carry around the country. Each time we upsized it became a little more difficult to use, but for months at a time comfort matters a lot.

Doug and Cheryl
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