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Old 11-15-2023, 07:10 AM   #1
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Pros & Cons of Owning A Airstream

We are researching the possibility of purchasing an Airstream travel trailer. We currently have a 32ft Toyhauler, however, it has a few drawbacks. We were interested if anyone would share their pros & cons after purchasing their Airstream; regrets, recommendations, etc. Thank you!
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Old 11-15-2023, 08:10 AM   #2
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RE: Pros & Cons of Owning A Airstream

Greetings PDGotro! Welcome to the Forums!

I am probably better at identifying pros than I am at identifying cons although I have owned my Airstream for 29 years and my Argosy for 21 years. Some of the pros would include:
  1. The construction of an Airstream means that with reasonable maintenance, it can become an RV that will serve the family for multiple generations.
  2. Most of your fellow campers will be unable to tell how old your Airstream is, and that will also apply to most campground hosts as well.
  3. There is a sense of camaraderie among Airstream owners that doesn't exist with most other makes.
  4. The WBCCI/ACI (Airstream Club International) is there for owners, and it is a means of getting even more use and enjoyment from your Airstream product RV.
  5. When I tow my now 60 year old Airstream, I never feel like I am towing an Old trailer as I am towing an Airstream -- an Icon of the Road.
  6. You will never arrive nor depart a campground unnoticed -- this may be either a pro or a con depending upon your desire at the time.
  7. Over the years, many of the Airstreamers that I have met have become like members of my extended family.

My list of cons is much shorter, and not really critical to me, but may be for some potential owners:
  1. Airstream only built their toy hauler trailer and trailers with slide-outs for a few years so they are relatively rare items on the market.
  2. Full coverage insurance can be more expensive and remain so for longer periods of time due to the degree at which Airstreams retain their value. You may also find the need to obtain a professional appraisal for full coverage insurance once your older Airstream reaches a certain age (depends upon your insurance carrier).
  3. Hail storms can be a particular peril as it is not easy to repair an Airstream body as panel replacement is typically the solution. Sometimes, this means making a decision on whether to total a favorite Airstream or accept a settlement for reduced value. My 60 year old Airstream has its share of hail pock marks, but most of them become less obvious overs the years as the aluminum expands and contracts with the heating and cooling cycles during the year.
  4. Many, if not most of the newer, heavier, Airstreams (1990+/-) require a truck-based vehicle for towing.
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Old 11-15-2023, 08:24 AM   #3
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Airstream trailers tend to need a bit more maint and they are expensive. The shell can damage fairly easily, but if maintained, there are 80 year old+ Airstreams still on the roads today. The newer units with composite flooring may even be less problematic as they age.

You'll get hundreds if not thousands of answers to this question, each tailored to the posters experience.

What I can tell you is that nearly 100 years of these trailers on the road is no small feat. If you are looking for a specific model or a few models, that may narrow the scope as there have been some beloved Airstream models that went away and some dismal flops. That may help narrow the scope of replies then talking in generalities.
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Old 11-15-2023, 08:25 AM   #4
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Pro:
Pride of ownership.
Never get tired of seeing it and others.
I never feel "outclassed" in a campground full of fifth wheels.
Active 'rally' opportunity.
Plenty of knowledgeable opinions on the forums.
Tows great!
Never out of style.

Cons:
Expensive per sq ft.
Difficult to repair.
I'm terrified of a big hailstorm.
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Old 11-15-2023, 08:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
I'm terrified of a big hailstorm.
I can't tell you how many times I've seen the bad storm clouds a comin' and the moments of pause that ensued. I think every Airstream owner at some point can easily share this one, and not limited to a big hail storm!
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Old 11-15-2023, 09:18 AM   #6
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Cons:
They are not very roomy compared to the big white box.
Insanely expensive if purchased new
Hail Storms!
Not a lot of exterior storage



Pros:
With regular maintenance, they will last a very long time
Much better mileage while being towed
Lower to the ground. (Better towing and getting in and out)
Plenty of interior storage



I suppose I could go on but I probably wouldn't stop soon. Mine is 17 years old, the doors still shut, the drawers all open and close and the windows open and close without problems. I have owned a white box and had lots of trouble with it in the 5 years I had it. The Airstream had one problem with the heater caused by a loose wire. That has been it these last 15 years.


Any trailer you get will work as long as you spend time maintaining it.
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Old 11-15-2023, 09:57 AM   #7
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Are you keeping the toy hauler or getting rid of the toys? If you're just adding another trailer, then the Airstream is pretty much top of the line. Airstream trailers are best suited to two adults or possibly two adults and two small children. They aren't the best choice if you have teenagers traveling with you. In the end, It depends on your circumstances.
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Old 11-15-2023, 10:00 AM   #8
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Most of my thoughts have already been covered but I will add a few more.

When an AS is built the shell is completed first. Everything inside goes in thru the door which means everything can be removed thru the door. Why is that an advantage? As long as you maintain the exterior you can forever update the interior of an AS. That is one of the reasons why about 75% of all AS's ever built are still being used.

No matter where you travel you will have an instant connection with other AS owners. I've made some great friends because of having an AS and joining the AS Club.

I have absolutely no regrets about having an AS and it brings me great joy.
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Old 11-15-2023, 10:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
Pro:
Pride of ownership.
Never get tired of seeing it and others.
I never feel "outclassed" in a campground full of fifth wheels.
Active 'rally' opportunity.
Plenty of knowledgeable opinions on the forums.
Tows great!
Never out of style.

Cons:
Expensive per sq ft.
Difficult to repair.
I'm terrified of a big hailstorm.
I concur
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Old 11-15-2023, 10:14 AM   #10
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I am in same boat as PD. Have enjoyed the RV experience with a Mini Lite 2506 ( 26 feet) for almost 3 years.
The slide out does make for a great kitchen area and we like the electric fireplace. I had never been in an AS until about 3 weeks ago at Weareairstream in Az. Immediately impressed with fit and finish and the windows seemed to make up for the lack of a slide. I share the concern of hail and the insulation inability of the aluminum. Perhaps the Azdel is a better material? Please keep on posting your observations as there are other Lurkers out here ��. Thanks.
Best to all, Big Al
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Old 11-15-2023, 10:29 AM   #11
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Most of the pros and cons have been mentioned. From my viewpoint I willl add a couple more pros:

The towing dynamics, gas mileage, stability etc will be a big improvement over a large slab sided trailer.

The interior finishes on the airstreams are generally fabulous. Great materials, solid plywood, no particle board etc.

The large amount of windows and skylights are wonderful and give a feeling of being outside and not in a cave. Couple that with almost all of those windows opening and it is a very pleasant camping experience.

Best of luck in your decision. Hope to see you in your Airstream down the road somewhere!
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Old 11-15-2023, 10:34 AM   #12
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Love ours, no regrets. Great kitchen and floor layout. Don't really fear hail in our area. Wish they spent a few more dollars in some of their parts and procedures. a reliable dealer is important.
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Old 11-15-2023, 10:36 AM   #13
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I would concur with what has been said above. When we looked at buying an RV we looked at a number of different ones. My wife is a bit claustrophobic. All the other brands made her feel closed in. The Airstream didn’t. That was our main reason for going that direction.

Also resale value is higher. You will take a hit on depreciation if you buy new. Just not as big of a hit if you maintain it. And you won’t have a problem selling a used Airstream.

CONS; Expensive. No other way to say it. If you can get a good used one, I would do it. For one thing most of the bugs have been worked out.
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Old 11-15-2023, 10:41 AM   #14
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I can add just a few additional things that haven't already been well said.

Pros
  • Towing - High winds are no problem. We've actually been surprised to open our door and discover the winds were really strong, as the coach didn't act any differently
  • Fuel Milage - That aerodynamic shape mean we easily see 14 ~ 16 mpg in our 28' - even in hilly areas
  • No Slides/Full Use - If we pull off for lunch, we have all the room we always have, no "non access" to something because it's blocked by the slide.
  • Airstream Clubs - They're everywhere and the rallies they organize are both really fun and bring together wonderful people who are always happy to help you with a problem or a challenge. And they give you a great excuse to use your coach on a regular basis while building some amazing friendships.
  • BIG windows - You really get to enjoy where ever you are with large windows and panoramic windows wrapping around the front and back of some models.

Cons
  • Ground Clearance - There's not as much as some box trailers, but it's common to add a 3" lift.
  • Exterior storage - Much more limited. The majority ends up in your truck bed.
  • Limited amenities - your not going to have dishwashers, washer/dryers and wind coolers.

This is the first RV we ever purchased (almost four years ago) and it still makes me smile after almost 40k miles of adventuring.
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Old 11-15-2023, 10:51 AM   #15
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Another "pro"...they look great out in the wild reflecting the surroundings rather than standing out as a big white box in nature.

Another "con" would be they are not 4-season trailers - but neither are a lot of other traditional trailers.

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Old 11-15-2023, 11:07 AM   #16
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Pros

Don't forget this forum. An absolute goldmine of information when you have questions or problems. No shortage of helps from other Airstreamers.

The torsion axles are a tremendous part of the stability in towing. Watch this video on youtube:

My unit is 17 years old. The last time I had it out, 2 different people could not believe it was not new.

Good luck!
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Old 11-15-2023, 02:06 PM   #17
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Knowing what is a pro and con about an Airstream depends on what you see as a con on your current trailer! We've trailered for 45 years and love the Airstream which only accounts for 5 years of trailering.

We love the lack of slides, push outs and fold outs. We our last SOB (Some other brand) was a hybrid and we were tired of having to lower and raise the bunk ends, make sure they had enough room and constantly adjust the angle of the chains that held it in place.

We thought an island and coffee station in the kitchen were nuts, preferring to just use the kitchen and put stuff away when we were done. Our pull out sofa on that SOB was just for really tiny people, it topped out at 48" long, 30" wide. Who fits on that? At least our Airstream has a dinette and gaucho that pull out into 60" single beds.

Never used all the storage on our SOB, so we aren't hampered by the smaller storage spaces in the Airstream.

And, I had to laugh when someone said Airstreams have more maintenance...not in our experience. Between running down leaks in our SOB, replacing lights, speakers and a stereo that were damaged by the leaks, readjusting the bunks, and trying to figure out why the stove wouldn't light this time, it was never ending. We still had to do all the regular stuff stuff: cleaning, checking seals, tire pressure. Our SOB water heater had to be lighted by hand outside and protected from any slight breeze if we wanted hot water, it was a production that required 2 people. Our Airstream? Flick a switch and we have hot water.

We are happy with the Airstream because it was far less work for us. We are comfortable and enjoy traveling with it. And it doesn't have the hideous giant red, white and black abstract floral upholstery of our last SOB...it is just so classy looking.
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Old 11-15-2023, 02:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aftermath View Post
Cons:
They are not very roomy compared to the big white box.
Insanely expensive if purchased new
Hail Storms!
Not a lot of exterior storage



Pros:
With regular maintenance, they will last a very long time
Much better mileage while being towed
Lower to the ground. (Better towing and getting in and out)
Plenty of interior storage



I suppose I could go on but I probably wouldn't stop soon. Mine is 17 years old, the doors still shut, the drawers all open and close and the windows open and close without problems. I have owned a white box and had lots of trouble with it in the 5 years I had it. The Airstream had one problem with the heater caused by a loose wire. That has been it these last 15 years.


Any trailer you get will work as long as you spend time maintaining it.
Amen! I love our 2005 Safari, wouldn't trade it for a new one!
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Old 11-15-2023, 03:32 PM   #19
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My unit is 17 years old. The last time I had it out, 2 different people could not believe it was not new.

Good luck![/QUOTE]

Yep. I get asked quite a bit about the Airstream when I gas up.

And as per maintenance, I have a friend who has an SOB. He has way more issues. Mine have been mostly minor things like a lose screw, etc.

I did have some body repair after hitting a bird. But that’s a bit different.
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Old 11-15-2023, 03:46 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PDGotro View Post
We are researching the possibility of purchasing an Airstream travel trailer. We currently have a 32ft Toyhauler, however, it has a few drawbacks. We were interested if anyone would share their pros & cons after purchasing their Airstream; regrets, recommendations, etc. Thank you!
Those are very good questions to be asking. We owned a 1975 Airstream for 12 years, and never regretted buying it. It was getting old and needed work, however, and we chose to sell it and buy new.

I looked at all kinds of options, mostly mid-range (e.g. rPod and GeoPro) to expensive (Safari Condo, Airstream). It came down to Safari Condo vs. Airstream. Optioned up to a comparable level (they are built to order), the Safari Condo was not that much cheaper than the Airstream Bambi. The reasons I chose Airstream:

1. We plan to keep this trailer a long time.
2. The aluminum skin, wood floor and steel frame can always be repaired; the Safari Condo uses a laminate called Alufiber, and I have no idea how it will stand up over 25 years or more.
3. Towability.
4. Aerodynamic efficiency.
5. Livability - floor plans, big windows, skylights.
6. Exterior design. SOBs are almost all incomprehensibly garish and ugly when you really stand back and look at them. Airstreams are the only trailer brand that architects say nice things about.

There are some cons:
1. Cost (due to materials and hand-building).
2. Fragile skin and finish, rather susceptible to damage - they take consistent effort to keep them looking good over time.
3. Some materials such as exterior moldings are not UV-resistant.
4. Specific design and construction shortcomings, although these are probably no worse, and probably better than most brands.

There are some things that are features more than cons. SOBs have a lot more storage space, but Airstreams have enough space for everything you actually need. No slide-outs, but slide-outs raise centre of gravity and reduce towability, and often lead to mechanical issues in time.
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