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Old 07-31-2014, 09:08 AM   #1
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Does size REALLY matter when full-timing?

Yes, folks, I'm another man that's hung up on size, so to speak

Here's the skinny: we are expecting our first munchkin in a few weeks, or thereabouts, and are underway with plans to transition to a full-timing family in about two years. In the meantime, I'm trying to do all the homework I can so that we make informed and intelligent decisions.

Our plan is to purchase the trailer sometime next year, but the size of the trailer seems to be a more difficult decision than I thought it would be. Now, we already have the tow vehicle: 2014 Ram 2500 with the Cummins. With the kid on the way, I needed to trade up from my regular cab Tacoma to something with a backseat, so the time was right for a new vehicle. I chose this truck because, having just moved back to Texas after 10 years in Colorado (I know, right??...who does that), we plan to spend a lot of time dragging the trailer up and down the Rocky Mountains. I knew with the Cummins I would never want for power, and I'm certain the exhaust brake will come in handy. I know the TV subject can really stir things up around here so I'm happy to have that decision made and done!

So, back to the topic at hand: trailer size. I think we could possibly squeak by in a 25FB, but I believe the 27FB is really as small as we would want to go. We plan to have at least one kiddo along with us, possibly two. And if you are at least as good with math as I am, you will see that means two very young munchkins in the trailer (if we decide to have 2, we would like to hit the road when the second hits 6 months). We are also considering the 28 and 30 lounge. I believe I'm partial to the layout and space of the 30. I'm a tall guy, and that larger lavatory space would be nice, as would the additional storage the trailer provides. If it matters, I plan to be working full-time as a software developer, so I need space to store the work gear and spread out a bit to get things done.

Here's the big question: would springing for the larger trailer - the 30 over the 27FB or 28 (same exterior lengths) - limit where we can take it and stay? I've not had a trailer before and I just have no concept of how big the 30 feels when squeezing it into a campsite. We've always been tent campers and look forward to having a home on wheels, but I don't want for us to choose something that will limit the places we can take it. The ability to boondock and stay slightly off the beaten path is very important. Assuming this means relatively tame dirt/fire roads, how will this come into play. I've done a lot of reading on the subject, and it seems the general consensus is that 25' or smaller is best for true boondocking access, but I don't believe that size is a realistic option for us (unless you fine folks can show me otherwise). I suppose one perk for the 30 with boondocking is larger fresh water tank.

We would like to have a year to practice with the trailer before going full-time in order to work out any kinks, perform any trailer customization, and simply make sure that we could make the change in lifestyle.

I'm leaning heavily on the experience and knowledge of each of you. If you full-time, what trailer did you choose and why, and would you choose differently a second time.

Thank you to all! I look forward to the conversations ahead...
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Old 07-31-2014, 09:16 AM   #2
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With two kids - get the 30. There will be a few roads it won't be prudent to drive on (there are a few I wouldn't take my 25 on!) but those few extra feet with two small children - priceless.

In your case also go for the full awning package AND get the screen room, or at least get a freestanding screen room/pavilion - it can be the kids playhouse. My sister is into medieval reenacting. Some of that group use yurts as knights tents, and more than a few dress up a big screen room with canvas sides in bright colored stripes for their knights tents..... If it amuses a bunch of adults to play "in days of old when knights were bold and paper wasn't invented...." why wouldn't your kids love it? When they're very small it could be your workroom, as they get to be 4 or so the tent becomes theirs and you reclaim the work area inside.

DO think carefully/realistically about children's perception of time. 15 minutes is an eternity to ask of a wide awake child of two. "Daddy's at work and can't be disturbed" is going to take some serious re-tooling. Can YOU function if you really have to have "kid breaks" 6 times a day? Do you want to try to play with the kids during the day and work half the night? Got enough "you" to have something left for your spouse if you do? A tent/pavilion may be the "wall of invisibility" that helps turn that trick into reality.


Good luck brave souls... Paula
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Old 07-31-2014, 09:45 AM   #3
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Get the larger trailer. The need for workspace and the kids demand it. There is no real downside to the larger trailer. No Airstream has enough ground clearance to do much with unimproved roads and fields. Yeah, there are sites a 25 would fit that a 30 would not, but not many. There are places the 30 will drag and the 25 will not. But you have to be careful with either. You will always be able to find a place to camp with the bigger rig. The forest service has put in a lot of sites that hold a longer trailer and have electricity. I would be looking for a used 34 and a little customizing if I were you. You are going to want to park where there is ews and a laundry much of the time anyway.
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Old 07-31-2014, 10:00 AM   #4
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Paula, I think your advice is priceless. I had been thinking of a screen-room office and workspace, and it would serve great double-duty as a playroom for those of us with active imaginations (kids included). I think there's something in a knight's tent! I do plan on getting away to the nearest coffee shop, etc when available for some valuable work-time during the day. That won't always be an option, but when it is it will be good for my time management.

Bill, thank you again for reaffirming my thoughts on the 30. I'm quite certain I couldn't talk my wife into a 34 as she already feels the 30 is borderline too big. I honestly haven't seen one in person, so it might behoove us to check one out. I feel like I should know this, but what is EWS?

Thanks folks!

I promise to be one of those who doesn't disappear after getting a few questions answered. I'm certain once we have an AS, I'll be logged in here quite often
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Old 07-31-2014, 10:42 AM   #5
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I don't yet have a trailer but I have raised two kids. I would suggest that you research the 2005 & 2006 30' bunk models. Not that many were made. But one comes up for sale every year or so. I know Colonial Airstream of NJ just sold on this month. You might lose a little floor space but having real beds for each of the kids is much better than fold down sofas or dinettes - especially for their own development. They have a bed of their own.

Paula's post was spot on.

Now some stream of conscious thoughts....

Consider airconditioning. One roof unit or two. Generator, or generators, for recharging batteries and/or running the A/C if you are at non-electric sites.

If you might be boondocking a lot, maybe a composting toilet to eliminate or reduce in size the black water tank. And then maybe remove the black water tank and replace it with more fresh water storage.

Solar panels for recharging batteries. Especially if you are in areas where the A/C isn't a concern.

You have the truck. If there is room in the bed, maybe a scooter (or something) to make small grocery runs to save gas. Major shopping you'll still need the truck of course.

As your kids grow you will be forced in that limited space to regularly get rid of toys and clothes they grow out of and replace with new.
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Old 07-31-2014, 10:54 AM   #6
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We have a 34' with 3 of our 5 grandkritters and a rainy day the AS gets small.

We can retreat to the rear bedroom when quiet time arrives.

Having some experience raising out 3 sons and now our grandkritters, you will find spending time in the big sky room (outside) will be a favorite place.

I would consider a screened area next to the AS. The Zip Dee folks and others make them. Also you will want to be able to have sunscreens you can deploy!

Your children will only know what they live....for a while.

Don't doubt that you will make best decisions for your family... And you can always upgrade
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Old 07-31-2014, 11:06 AM   #7
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You don't need that big of a trailer. I know a family that has been on the road full time since 2007 with 3 kids in a 25 ft FB Airstream: Mali Mish - An Airstream Travel Blog

We are about to have our second, just found out. And will be full timing soon, and we've chosen a 27ft FB Airstream.

If you haven't already, I suggest you go look inside the actual trailers. A lot of the older crowd on here seem to go for huge giant trailers.
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Old 07-31-2014, 11:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoldAdventure View Post
You don't need that big of a trailer. I know a family that has been on the road full time since 2007 with 3 kids in a 25 ft FB Airstream: Mali Mish - An Airstream Travel Blog

We are about to have our second, just found out. And will be full timing soon, and we've chosen a 27ft FB Airstream.

If you haven't already, I suggest you go look inside the actual trailers. A lot of the older crowd on here seem to go for huge giant trailers.
You know why????? We done been there and done that! After raising our kids (3) in a 22'er and making and unmaking beds every day, Tripping over one sleeping on the floor, pitching tents when they got older and wanted space, moving gear out at bedtime, converting dinette twice a day...............on and on.......I ain't doin' it no mo!

Lest you say, "but now there's only two of you", we got grandkids!
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Old 07-31-2014, 11:29 AM   #9
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I cast my vote for the 30. The interior space and layout difference is huge. The difference in towing, weight, parking, and fitting into camp spots is small. If you buy the biggest they currently make then there is no second guessing.
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Old 07-31-2014, 12:26 PM   #10
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We went from a 28' to a 30'. We frequently camp with 3 dogs and a parrot. One dog is an Irish Wolfhound. That extra 2 feet made a big difference. Charlie has grown since that picture.
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Old 07-31-2014, 12:38 PM   #11
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Would strongly suggest 30 Bunk. Kids room for toys and naps. No dinette setup multiple times per day. Dinette functions as office work space. Spouse can retreat to front bed room when some private space is needed.

25FB did not work for us with cross frame bed (no twin bed option in International models in any dealer's stock - very expensive special order in International trim line). Was close on rainy days with just the two of us.

Thus we went with 31' Classic. Wife is very happy now and actually looks forward to next trip.
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Old 07-31-2014, 01:16 PM   #12
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The 25' works really well for the two of us 6-7 months half-time each year, and we customized the seating/cabinetry to make it better. Maybe you could customize a 25' to add two small kids, I think you could. You need comfortable seating and sleeping space.

It's your workspace with a need to have a degree of isolation that concerns me, no matter what size trailer. The only place I see that is in the bedroom, convertible somehow to work and sleeping space. There must be someone who has invented a bed/desk transformer.

I don't think you can make this work well in hot or cold climates, so following the seasons to seek 72 degree days ought to be part of a successful plan.

No matter what size you'll probably outgrow an Airstream as time goes on, they are all tiny.
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Old 07-31-2014, 01:55 PM   #13
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Airstream Shows

I don't know where in Texas you live, but Austin, has an RV Show each year and they display many of their AS to check out. The SA show does not have AS, so don't bother. Or you might want to go and check a dealer to help determine how much space a 30 really is. It has helped us in deciding what size to go for..
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:28 PM   #14
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Hi Getaways!

Thanks for the great input - we are definitely consciously streaming the same things.

Nature's Head composting toilet is our current potty lust, so check.

Solar, batteries, and generators are a current research obsession, which I call amp-hour lust, so check. Stewing on the EU3000 vs two EU2000s currently.

Scooter for quick trips to town, coffee shop, etc - love it, so check.

We have seen a couple of the new 30FB bunk models (one here in Fort Worth, and one in Denver). Initially, I loved it, then I got a bit stressed on the shortage of 'living space' - so the jury is currently out on this. I'll let them simmer over some takeout for a few months and give them another look. I think my local AS dealer may still have one.

We will be going back to visit my wife's family in NJ early next year, and I am looking forward to visiting Colonial. I have already warned her that I will need at least half a day to ponder and pontificate. Can't wait!

Love the input, thanks so much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Getaways View Post
I don't yet have a trailer but I have raised two kids. I would suggest that you research the 2005 & 2006 30' bunk models. Not that many were made. But one comes up for sale every year or so. I know Colonial Airstream of NJ just sold on this month. You might lose a little floor space but having real beds for each of the kids is much better than fold down sofas or dinettes - especially for their own development. They have a bed of their own.

Paula's post was spot on.

Now some stream of conscious thoughts....

Consider airconditioning. One roof unit or two. Generator, or generators, for recharging batteries and/or running the A/C if you are at non-electric sites.

If you might be boondocking a lot, maybe a composting toilet to eliminate or reduce in size the black water tank. And then maybe remove the black water tank and replace it with more fresh water storage.

Solar panels for recharging batteries. Especially if you are in areas where the A/C isn't a concern.

You have the truck. If there is room in the bed, maybe a scooter (or something) to make small grocery runs to save gas. Major shopping you'll still need the truck of course.

As your kids grow you will be forced in that limited space to regularly get rid of toys and clothes they grow out of and replace with new.
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Old 07-31-2014, 04:08 PM   #15
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Aw man, I just wrote this really great reply and it somehow got lost in the ether. Let's try again...

Quote:
Originally Posted by cwf View Post
Your children will only know what they live....for a while.
Don't doubt that you will make best decisions for your family... And you can always upgrade
Channing, that's great input. It's true about the kiddos, and I think confidence in the decision will come in time. And it never hurts to remember that we can always upgrade, or that nothing is really permanent. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BoldAdventure View Post
You don't need that big of a trailer. I know a family that has been on the road full time since 2007 with 3 kids in a 25 ft FB Airstream: Mali Mish - An Airstream Travel Blog
Hi Bold, thanks and congrats on the great news. I suppose we don't even really NEED an AS, but we sure do want one for our own adventures! Yup, we have followed Mali Mish a bit, and I have also recently come upon Currently Wandering (Google 'em), another family of 5 kicking about in a 27FB. My understanding is that Mali Mish don't really full-time anymore, instead opting for longer vacations from their home. It always seems like the bigger fam/smaller trailer dilemma brings about more compromise, or trade-offs we might not be willing to make. I'm not real sure yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkrug View Post
We went from a 28' to a 30'. We frequently camp with 3 dogs and a parrot. One dog is an Irish Wolfhound. That extra 2 feet made a big difference. Charlie has grown since that picture.
dkrug, that Charlie is our George's twin! We love our wolfie, but he is getting on in years and I'm not sure he will be around to join us on this next adventure. Love the pic!

Quote:
Originally Posted by switz View Post
Would strongly suggest 30 Bunk. Kids room for toys and naps. No dinette setup multiple times per day. Dinette functions as office work space. Spouse can retreat to front bed room when some private space is needed.
Hi switz, I'm filing away another vote for the 30 Bunk. I think we should give it some more thought. I worry about the lack of living space, but I reckon in an AS it's ALL living space.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
It's your workspace with a need to have a degree of isolation that concerns me, no matter what size trailer. The only place I see that is in the bedroom, convertible somehow to work and sleeping space. There must be someone who has invented a bed/desk transformer.
Hi Doug, the same thing concerns me - workspace privacy. I think that's a great idea, something I hadn't thought of, and might make a case for some mild customization. I may have to dust off my SketchUp skills. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by kstewart23 View Post
I don't know where in Texas you live, but Austin, has an RV Show each year and they display many of their AS to check out. The SA show does not have AS, so don't bother. Or you might want to go and check a dealer to help determine how much space a 30 really is. It has helped us in deciding what size to go for..
kstewart23, we are definitely planning on attending the show in Dallas next February, and also a trip out to visit family in NJ where we will be stopping by to visit the lovely folks at Colonial. I have spent a bit of time in every model I'm thinking about, but not all at once. That might be an option at Colonial. Thanks!

Great input folks, I love talking about Airstreams. Keep it coming!
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Old 07-31-2014, 05:05 PM   #16
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Here is my opinion for what its worth. I am 53 years old. I full time due to my work in a 1963 26' Overlander. I have 2 children who are now grown.

26' is doable for me, but even then, I wish for more space at times. Especially if I have company, and I am talking about 1 extra because thats all that will fit. When my wife is here, we have to squeeze by each other to get around. Minor detail but its the difference between 2 and 1 in a 26 footer.

Full timing is much different than the weekend camp. You need everything in the camper that you have at home for the most part. Sure you can improvise here and there but at the end of the day you will acumulate.

TV, copmputers, coffee makers, tables to work on, pens and pencils, copiers, paper, sheets, blankets, diapers, toys, playpens, food, crock pots, pots and pans, cloths, towels.games, stereos, guitars, cameras,....you get my drift.

Introduce 2 young children plus a wife into the mix and you have the makings for an insane asylum. Again, I am talking about 24/7 365. This aint the Brady Bunch and all the romance of raising the fam in a cool Airstream will probably get stale quickly.

IF you must have an airstream, I would not even consider anything less than a 34. Having said that, I wouldnt even consider that untill I had looked at all the other campers out there, primarily the 5th wheels. I have friends that I work with that have some very nice rigs. Tons of storage, and pretty much all the comforts of home.

Remember, your young kids will not have a say so in the matter, but really, dont you think they justify all the room and normalcy you can afford them. I would really feel like I was living in a prison with 4 people full time in a small trailer.

I admire your desire to be different and daring, but sometimes reality dictates we adjust our dreams so that everyone benefits the most. I wish you luck in your decision and hope you take my thoughts in the right way.
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Old 07-31-2014, 06:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfhound View Post
Hi Bold, thanks and congrats on the great news. I suppose we don't even really NEED an AS, but we sure do want one for our own adventures! Yup, we have followed Mali Mish a bit, and I have also recently come upon Currently Wandering (Google 'em), another family of 5 kicking about in a 27FB. My understanding is that Mali Mish don't really full-time anymore, instead opting for longer vacations from their home. It always seems like the bigger fam/smaller trailer dilemma brings about more compromise, or trade-offs we might not be willing to make. I'm not real sure yet.
We follow them too. (Wandering) Malimish actually used to part time, I think they full time more now. You'd be surprised how many full time families are on the road. We know another one TickNor Tribe with 11 kids in a 5th wheel. It all comes down to your own comfort zone/level of need though in reality.

It's easy for someone to tell you you need 40 feet and that end up being too much for you. And easy for someone to tell you, you'll survive in 23ft. Maybe you will, but you won't be happy. Everyone's comfort zone is different.

We are down sizing our lifestyle, from a 2500sqft 2 car garage home, 4 cars, and lots of stuff. We're kind of embracing minimalism. We've spent the past several months selling off almost everything out of our home. So for us, we settled on the 27FB after seeing how others are managing. We personally want to force ourselves to do with less and spend more time together and outdoors.

I'm sure you probably found and follow Worksology? They just ended their 3 yrs of full timing, they only had one child though. Awesome video on the philosphy of doing with less: Tomorrow Somewhere New on Vimeo

Anyways, there are various levels of trade of/compromises. You just have to determine what works for you.

I personally push for trying less first, because it's easier to scale up then down. I don't know how to say this in a nice internet voice, but I tend to think people in general blow things out of portion when they talk about all the stuff you're going to need and saying that childern in an airstream will be insane.

I usually roll my eyes at this nonsense. But it's everywhere.

People told me my life would be over when I got married. THEY WERE WRONG.

People told me my life and dreams would be over when we had our daughter. AGAIN WRONG.

People are telling us right now THERE IS NO WAY TO FULL TIME WITH CHILDREN. THEY ARE WRONG.

Either way, weather 19ft or a 50ft bus, living full time on the road with children will be full of various compromises and choices. But I am sure it will be filled with lots of fun and adventure and memories to last a life time doing what others can only dream of because they stayed in their little "comfort zones".

We'll have first hand experience as soon as we get on the road in a couple more months.

Good luck.
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Old 07-31-2014, 06:49 PM   #18
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I'm still relatively new at this, especially compared to many here. We've had our 25 footer for about a year, have traveled around 5,000 miles, and spent somewhat over 100 nights in it. However, I pay attention - and I do *a lot* of online research prior to our various trips. So I think I have a pretty good idea as to trailer length and limitations as it grows. I don't think you will find that 30' vs. 27' will be a significant limiting factor with campgrounds and campsites. Somewhat limiting, but you can often fudge and there is typically additional space through over-hang.

As far as towing, I don't think it makes the slightest bit of difference with your TV.

As far as space, we are happy as clams in our little middy, but I think you woukd find the additional space of a 30' over a 25' to be worth its weight in gold. Beyond that I don't know. The biggest trailers just seem huge to me.

Have fun!

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Old 07-31-2014, 06:50 PM   #19
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Kind of an off-the-usual suggestion, but I have a book to recommend.

By Sarah Susanka. Called the Not So Big House.

She is an architect, and the book explains--very well--what makes spaces FEEL certain ways to us, and how to have success in layout and views to get something that is not large or fussy, but seems enveloping and yet lets everyone have separation when needed.

Reading it, I think, will help you and your wife have insight, and communicate better about why you like/dislike certain features in different layouts.
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Old 07-31-2014, 07:04 PM   #20
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Two points:

I have never heard anyone complain that their TT was too big, but on here, you will read about people saying that their trailer is too small

Also, it's like motorcyclists always say, "Too much horsepower is just about enough". Sub TT length for horsepower of course.
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