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Old 01-30-2019, 07:20 PM   #1
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Hamilton , Virginia
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Arrow 30ft vs 34ft for Family of 5?

Hi Folks,

We're ready to buy an Airstream! (Once we figure out which one to buy...)

Hoping that's where you come in. We've narrowed down the field to a 2000+ 30ft or a 2000+ 34ft for our family of 5x (2x adults and 3x children under the age of 6).

Our intention is to use it primarily for boondock vacationing, but it will get a mix of use, and from reading intensely on the subject- it seems that the length won't restrict us as much as we'd originally feared. Our 3/4 ton vehicle is capable of easily towing either, so that's not a factor.

That said, we're very keen to learn your thoughts/wisdom/experience/hearsay about a preference towards either of these trailers and hope to use it for making our purchase decision.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-30-2019, 07:28 PM   #2
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As a 34 owner myself, I say go all the way....get the 34. You will love it. John
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:06 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by sandlapper View Post
As a 34 owner myself, I say go all the way....get the 34. You will love it. John
Thanks, John- appreciate the feedback and would be interested to learn why you chose the 34 given the same option?
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:19 PM   #4
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Not how long, but how well the space is arranged

While I don't own one, I understand the 30' bunkhouse was designed for just such a family, with one master bedroom up front, and a double bed with overhead bunk in the rear.

The 34 footers have more "space" but much much of it seems to be open, unusable space in the "living" room" and will require making the couch and dinette areas into bedding at night.

You might want to look at the floorpans to see the layout, but again, the main thing will be spending some time inside each and imagine how the trailer will work out for you. That will be the real test. Best of luck, you'll have fun no matter what!

PS (Sadly, all only have one bathroom!)
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Old 01-31-2019, 01:44 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Masterz View Post
. . .
. . . We've narrowed down the field to a 2000+ 30ft or a 2000+ 34ft for our family of 5x . . .
. . .
Welcome to the forum, Ross, the adventure begins!

Have you actually been inside each unit under consideration, or at least inside similar nearby Airstreams?

It will be very difficult to make a fully-informed decision unless you have done so IMO.

You are not too far from Colonial Airstream in NJ, so it might be a good idea to take the brood up there to inspect whatever they have in stock in the 30' to 34' range. Patrick Botticelli, and the rest of the sales staff, are experts at putting families in the right trailer IMO. He may know of used units nearby or en-route to NJ.

There is no substitute for being inside your future home, with everyone there, and imagining being inside for a week of terrible rainy weather!

A good "road test" of one's dreams, don't you know . . .

Good luck,


PS -- Good comments so far, especially about the 30' bunk layout vs. open space of the 34' .
PS2 -- There is an AS dealer in VA, but their inventory can't match Colonial IMO, and recent comments about them have not been exactly glowing.
PS3 -- The new search function in the blue box above [using the desktop version of AirForums, not the App] works great.
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:20 AM   #6
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You have to really spend some time in the trailers to discover what's right for you and your family. Also you may want to think about how you will be using the trailer. The larger the unit the less flexibility you have in where you can take it and park it. Not a show stopper but something you need to think about. You will discover there is no perfect answer, so we adapt and get on with creating wonderful memories!
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:22 AM   #7
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Remember, your kids will grow quickly. The 30 bunkhouse is a great choice for kids.
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:30 AM   #8
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30 or 34

I second the comment about visiting Colonial. We traveled all the way across the country from California to buy our 2018 30’ Classic there because they were the only dealer who had our choice in stock and they matched the price of our local dealer who would have ordered one for us.
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:45 AM   #9
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Having owned and used both the 31' and the 34', I have to say that the extra length is well worth it. I find that there is a lot more room with the twin bed option. As far as pulling the longer trailer, I find it pulls as easy as the 31'. It is marginally more difficult to park, but it is only 3 feet longer. Like any long trailer you have to pick your fueling spots and where you can park. We love our 34' and would have a hard time to go back to a smaller trailer. Yes, we carry too much stuff with us because we can, and you will appreciate the extra closet space with kids. JMHO
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:49 AM   #10
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I've had the dealer and owners of the tri-axle 34' models tell me that the 34' models really do tow well. That extra weight of the trailer is spread across 3 axles which puts less load on each tire. Storage is better on the 34' model vs some of the 30' units. My 30' unit with the center bath does not have the double closet. That 30' center bath is nice but you lose that double closet. The 30' and 31' models are almost 31' long. The difference being the position of the bathrooms and interior layouts. While some say all you get is more air space, I could tell you that air space becomes important on a lengthly trip or when you get trapped inside in inclement weather. The downside of the 34' model means 6 tires and 6 sets of brakes, so understand there will be extra expense to maintain. Also be aware that those older 34' units and 30' units were equipped with one 13.5K air conditioner as standard equipment. Those 13.K units are woefully inadequate in hot weather and hopefully if you go with that 34' model, you will find it equipped with two air conditioners. My 30' slide out came with a 13.5K unit and I opted to have it built with the 15K unit instead. That size works just great for me, but if you are in a hot full sun environment, you probably should have two units also.

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Old 01-31-2019, 10:13 AM   #11
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1995 34' Excella
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Welcome to all things Airstream. Owning an Airstream will change your life- in a good way. Lots to learn and this is the place.

The bunkhouse layout would be nice, but the 34’ has more room and tows better. Now it will weigh about 10% more than the 30’ but you have 50% more braking and tire capacity. This makes it much safer to tow.

You might reach out to the northern Virginia WBAC club ( for their assistance. I know they are having a super bowl gathering this Sunday. Check out their newsletter. They may have members that have a 30’ and a 34’ that you could see in person.

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Old 01-31-2019, 10:48 AM   #12
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1993 34' Excella
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Estancia , New Mexico
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As in anything Airstream my answer is "it depends"

I have a 25 and a 34. I use the 25 for shorter trips and trips off the beaten track on dirt roads in the woods etc. I use the 34 for longer trips where I am going to be parked for a while and to RV parks with hookups.

The primary concern for using the 34 would be it is more complicated (and sometimes impossible) to maneuver in small spaces, tight turns etc. For example if I need to turn around on a 4 lane undivided highway with a smaller trailer I can do a U turn. With the 34 I need to go around the block. The 34 is also more difficult to back up especially without a spotter.
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Old 01-31-2019, 11:54 AM   #13
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Toledo , Ohio
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You haven't mentioned weather the 30or 34 you are looking at had the rear Queen or twins . With the 5 of you regardless of where everybody sleeps you will be making 2 places to sleep each night . If you have the rear Queen 2 adults can sleep there or maybe 3 kids if small 1 adult on the couch and 1 on the dinette .If one has the rear twins then what ? When we take our grand daughters 7and 11 they get the rear Queen I get the dinette and wife gets the couch . We get up earlier than the kids so we can make up the couch and dinette before they wake up and have a cup of coffee. Good luck with your search I'm sure you can make it work.
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Old 01-31-2019, 12:09 PM   #14
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30ft vs 34ft for Family of 5?

Welcome to the Airforums. I just saw 2 custom Airstream 30’ bunk house trailers on eBay. They are late models built by an authorized Airstream customizer. I would check them out.
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Old 01-31-2019, 01:20 PM   #15
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pickering , Ontario
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30' or 34' purchase

Hi Ross; either would suit your family, but its like comparing apples and oranges; pick the unit based on the best deal for its condition and year; I was pulling a 31'AS with a 3/4 ton Suburban in the 1980's; kids don't care what size it is; we started with a 21' camper and the kids thought it was one big adventure.
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Old 01-31-2019, 01:59 PM   #16
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Florence , Alabama
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I'll second the comment about layout and thinking through daily living. We camp with an oldie, an '81 31ft Excella with my family of five and often a sixth friend that wants to sleepover. The 3 kiddos are 9 and younger. Our layout has rear twins, one bunk, center bath. This is wonderful for us because the area between the kiddos twin beds gives them a place to change clothes without having to stand in the kitchen, like they would with the newer 30' bunkhouses. It also gives them space to invite over a friend, let them sleep on the floor, and we can still close them off in their own bedroom so we have our privacy. With a rear bedroom for kids you can close off and let the parents stay up late/get up early, go to the restroom, etc. without waking up the kiddos. Well, I guess that depends on how loud you are with some of those activities. If I could have my exact layout in a 34ft, then I would do that, but I'd have to upgrade my tow vehicle.
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Old 01-31-2019, 02:33 PM   #17
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Chris and I feel cramped after a while and we have a 1988 Airstream 325 Classic Moho, 32.5 feet. Of course I should mention that we have a Kelpie Dog and two Tuxedo Cats, plus we live in our Airstream for anywhere from 4 to 7 months at a time. In Texas. Where the heat is so bad that you can only live inside with AC fullblast 24/7and all the windows covered outside with tarp, and inside with cell shades and towels.

GO 34!
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Old 01-31-2019, 07:19 PM   #18
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Watch the Movie the Accountant 34 Pan American ..
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Old 01-31-2019, 07:29 PM   #19
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2002 30' Classic S/O
Jackson , Mississippi
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Hi from a mom of 4!

We found the perfect model for our family of 6– a 2002 30’ Classic with a slide out. The slide out gives us extra wiggle room we didn’t realize we needed, but if we didn’t have it, we’d still have sleeping arrangements on the couch, the dinette, and of course the twin beds in the rear.

We bought ours when our youngest ones (twin girls) were 2 years old, our boys were 4 & 6. At that age, all of them could sleep comfortably together on the sleeper sofa. More often than not, the girls at that stage would crawl into the twin beds with us. That curve at the top of the mattress is a sweet little nook for a toddler to curl up in. Even my 6’1” tall husband didn’t seem to notice when one of the girls claimed that spot in his bed in the middle of the night.

Now that they are 10, 8, and almost 6 years old, they sleep wherever they want, including the floor. It doesn’t even seem to matter that the sleeper sofa is pulled out & comfy, floor palettes are still pretty fun, apparently.

Message me if you want to talk about this further! We’ve been so pleased with our decision. Good luck!
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Old 02-02-2019, 01:51 PM   #20
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Hamilton , Virginia
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Wow...blown away by the quality of the responses. Thank you all!

A few responses to the guidance you've provided:
  1. 1. Bunkhouse. An interesting idea to us, but with consideration to their pricing (even used)- it's unfortunately nothing more than that for us (this will be a weekend toy, so we're attempting to stay south of $45k)
  2. 2. "Road Test". 100% agree with that solid advice. Trouble is- we've viewed 3x M-30 Slide-Outs so far (our 30' choice), but have yet to find a 34' nearby. Colonial may indeed be the solution and we'll look into this. Thanks
  3. 3. 34' Benefits. Consistent with what we've read- towability(?), storage and real estate. All interests, but I'm still curious how these would compare with a tongue heavy M-30 Slide Out.
  4. 4. A/C. We live (and will likely travel a decent amount) in the South, so if 1x 13.5k is not sufficient for a 30ft+ trailer- that's a game changer and we're glad to know that upfront. Thank you, Jack.
  5. 5. WBCCI. Thank you, Dan! Won't make the superbowl party, but will most certainly reach out! Might solve for #2 above.
  6. 6. Sleeping Arrangements. I kept this to myself in my original thread, but our plan (regardless of 30 or 34) is to remove the rear bedroom furniture and custom build-in 4x bunkbeds for the kids. Sounds like Losfeliz and Nomadleslie have blazed this path already, so I'll be reaching out to you both shortly- thank you!

Sounds like most recommend the extra space and towing of the 34ft, but that the 30ft is adequate to house 5+ if needed; especially w/bunks. We no doubt need to find a 34ft to walk-through before making our final decision and will make that a priority. The pricing between two we've found to be surprisingly similar, so barring any "must haves" found in the 34- expect we'll be basing our decision on condition and cost.

Thanks all!
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