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Old 09-01-2011, 03:53 PM   #1
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Best length for newbies

Well, we finally made our decision that an Airstream is for us. Now, which length? We would like to sleep four, want maximum flexibility in terms of getting into parks, etc., but would love a queen size bed and don't want to feel cramped. Also, our driveway is pretty narrow (9 ft.) and parking will be a challenge. What is your experience towing 15 footers versus 20 footers vs. 24 footers in terms of ease of towing/parking?::
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Old 09-01-2011, 04:08 PM   #2
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MaraLindstro -
Also newbies, two years ago we were walking the same path you are on right now, asking the same questions. this forum is an excellent place to get your answers and hone your requirements!

We also started thinking about the cute 16' models, the great kitchen in 20', the sideways queen in 23' and 25', and finally ended up with a 27FB that we absolutely love. Each have their advantages and disadvantages, and it's a matter of deciding what's most important to you.

The best advice that we got during our search was "Go with the one that makes you smile" :-)

Enjoy your journey, both the search and the traveling after your perfect unit is found.

BTW a couple of our favorite spots are not far from home at all - Seacliff and Sunset beaches.....

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Old 09-01-2011, 04:11 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by MaraLindstro View Post
What is your experience towing 15 footers versus 20 footers vs. 24 footers in terms of ease of towing/parking?::
I started with a 8' wide 22' International. From there to an 8 1/2' wide Classic 25 and then an 8 1/2' wide Classic 28. There are 2 of us plus 3 cats.

The longer trailer is just as easy to tow and actually easier to back. The extra 1/2' width is only noticeable in construction zones with Jersey barriers.

IMHO: If you have 4 persons, a 25' is the shortest I would recommend. Even at that, if all are adults, the couch is a mighty tight fit for two adults and not real comfortable. The extra 6" width is really a bonus when there are more than 2 people in the trailer; just keeping out of each other's way.

The wheels are closer together than the trailer width, so an 8 1/2' wide trailer should fit on your drive quite nicely.
John W. Irwin
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Old 09-01-2011, 04:16 PM   #4
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I think 23-25

I have been visiting the dealer on weekends (they don't seem to get anymore helpful with each visit). I sit in them, walk around...Keep feeling like the 23-25 would be good for 2 part time living. The 16 & 19, I would think would be great for camping, say in the coast for a weekend. Let us know what you end up with!
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:34 PM   #5
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23 foot flying cloud with the front bedroom might work for you.
Cameron & the Labradors, Kai & Samm
North Vancouver, BC
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:02 PM   #6
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We have a 19' with two Labs and love it! But were camping on weekends and a few week long trips. If we used it more we would go 23 or 25 but for now (and several more years) it suits our needs and we love it
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:03 PM   #7
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I purchased a 26ft model and I am pleased with my towing ability with that size.

I have talked with other owners about what length to purchase, most stated having the proper tow vehicle from the beginning of purchase is necessary for a pleasurable towing experience. Secondly, I was told a single axle is more difficult to back up than a dual axle trailer and thirdly buy one a little bigger than you need, then you can grow into it. Then you will not be looking for another (larger) unit so soon.

I am sure other will chime in.

Good luck in your search.
Winston Salem, NC
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Corresponding Secretary Piedmont NC Unit 161,
1967 Overlander International.
1979 Avion 30ft rear bath
TV's 88 Chevy Suburban 454, 3:42, TH400
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:22 PM   #8
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Best length for newbie's

Greetings MaraLindstro!

Welcome to the Forums!

One of the things that can make towing less stressful for first-timers is a coach with tandem axles regardless of length(IMHO). Tandem axles seem to keep the coach from reacting quite as quickly to changes in direction making the process of backing just a little easier. Something that I find that I enjoy about my Vintage coaches is the narrower width . . . 7-feet for my Minuet and only 8-feet for the Overlander. I frequently (almost exclusively) travel secondary highways and the extra width of a wide-body coach would hinder my travel pleasure significantly. If I were only going to own one coach, I would be looking at 24-foot as the minimum and 27-foot as the maximum length. To me, the Overlander at 26-feet is a near ideal compromise between sheer size and towability for vacationing (if full-timing were in my future, a longer coach would be a prime consideration). While I was single, I full-timed in my Overlander for the better part of a year and it was ideal for me; but it would not be such an ideal match for my spouse and I under full-timing conditions.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:47 PM   #9
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We have a 25' 1980 Excella II twin bed which sleeps 4. We find it easy to tow and can park it in most of our Provincial and Natioanl Parks in Canada. We currently ow it witb a Roadtrak Class B Cmper Van but had also used a 2006 Pontiac Montana. We seldom travel more than 1 & 1/2 hours from home. Works well for us
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:27 PM   #10
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My wife and I just purchased a 25' FB Flying Cloud. We looked at the 19' and the 22' but did not particularly like the layout. It just felt more comfortable, maybe because it is wider by 5". I have only towed it about 250 miles, mostly on interstate and local highways. It was an easy tow behind our 2007 GMC Yukon. I also agree with John that the 25 is probably the minimum for 4 people without tripping over each other.

As to ease of parking I believe the answer there is practice and I still have a long way to go. In fact my neighbors watch me for their evening entertainment in their lawn chairs with either a glass of beer or wine.

Not sure about the sites in the parks. I have heard that many are restrictive to 25 feet however we are staying this weekend at a state park where many are 40'.

Good luck in your search and let us all know what you settle on.
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:42 PM   #11
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Portland , Oregon
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We started with a 2005 22' International CCD and loved it for five years. We occasionally took another couple camping with us for a few days at a time, and the dinette bed was tight and not that comfy. Also, making that front bed was a real ab workout!

About a year and a half ago we upgraded to a 27'FB International and love it even more. It's very comfortable for sleeping 4, and the layout is my favorite by far. We've spent over half time in it for the last year and a half...no complaints. It tows great, has enough space, and is smartly designed. Love it. So far we haven't had any issues with it being too large for spots we want...we camp mainly in state parks and national forests up and down the west coast.

I used to take the 22' out to the coast on my own and never felt any issue at all towing or backing into spots without help. The 27' tows wonderfully (better? maybe), but I do notice that extra 5 feet when backing into a spot (especially on the blind side) and really appreciate having my husband to guide me. Could just be a matter of getting used to it a bit more.

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Old 09-01-2011, 08:00 PM   #12
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East Central , Alabama
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We had a 1993 25' Classic for over 15 years, it was only my wife, myself and our small Shihtzu. The '93 was only 8' wide.

Initially, we thought we were in hog heaven, then as time progressed, we found it was somewhat smaller (seemingly).

We now have a 2002 30' Classic, 8 1/2' wide, and it makes a world of difference comfort wise.

As for driving, I think the 30' might be easier to handle, pulling and backing (my personal opinion).

I would recommend (for 4 people) no smaller than a 25' to 28' and really think you would be more comfortable with a 30', as far as sleeping accomodations.
Good luck.
Curt, Joan and "BonJovi"
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:13 PM   #13
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Like most things in life, there are significant tradeoffs ... and ones only you can decide.

My take is that they all tow about the same, with perhaps three principal exceptions: a.) ya' gotta' be more careful on right angle turns with a longer rig; b.) longer ones tend to weigh moer and thus require more of a tow vehicle; and c.) shorter is easier to get in and out of fueling stations. It is probably also true that multiple axle rigs are somewhat more stable and less "twitchy" under tow.

Parking is another matter ... longer ones are easier to back up, IMHO, BUT shorter ones fit into smaller spaces - DOH! - and multi-axle coaches have a definite advantage if/when you get a flat. But they've also got more brakes and tires and wheels and lugnuts to maintain, etc.

Of course, when trailers get bigger ... (drum roll, please!) the interiors are also larger! So more folks can fit into them more comfortably. Or put another way, in bad weather, even a few can sit it out better in more space.

Me, I've got a 23 footer. It is very nice for just me, which is most of the time. When the DW is along (not very often), it works fine. With three it's pretty crowded. We've done four on four to five day jaunts, and it's pretty tight. If we had three straight days of rain, we'd probably be going bonkers. But it's got dual axles, oversize tanks, and I can back it into almost any space, even in NF and SP campsites.

So in the end, the folks at the dealership are never going to really help you make this decision - only you can decide what's right for you. Best you can do is to figure out your most typical mission profile and get what works for that and then compromise for the rest. Best of luck!
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:54 PM   #14
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I'm a "newbie" also and am presently looking. I retire next May and for the summers I presently have a 22 foot Toyota Dolphin that serves me well with my dog.

However, when I retire, I hope to "up the stakes" and travel 1/2 the year. I'm "quite taken" by the 23 foot Serenity D International. I want a sofa - that's for sure. I know I'll have to look at a vehicle to tow also, but would really like an SUV instead of a big ole truck. I'm going to carry my kayak and bike, and want something to "explore" an area with that feels more like a car. (I'm a "girly-girl." ;-)

I don't know if it's logical to become attached to a certain style and size, but I looked at the Airstream dealer in Eugene this summer while on my trip (I'm a teacher and was gone for about six weeks to the Pacific Northwest).

I belong to a singles RV group that has winter and summer circuits and want to make sure I can keep up with them in an Airstream. (My Toyota Dolphin has solar panel and I dry camp a lot!)

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Old 09-01-2011, 10:41 PM   #15
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Best length for newbie's

Greetings Desert Diva!

Welcome to the Forums!

There are a number of mid-sized SUVs that could handle a 23' Airstream with minimal trouble. The biggest determining factor regarding choice would be what you want to spend on a new tow vehicle. Late model 23' Airstreams have a GVWR of 6,000 pounds, and while most usually weigh less than the GVWR when loaded for a vacation it is a good place to begin your search. Some of the potential candidates with specific trailer towing packages would include:
  • Volkswagen Touareg
  • Toyota Sequoia
  • Nissan Armada
  • Mercedes ML 550
  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Lexus LX 570
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Infiniti QX56
  • Ford Expedition
  • Dodge Durango
  • Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon
  • Cadillac Escalade
  • Audi Q7
I am sure that you will enjoy the combination of a mid-size SUV and an Airstream. I have towed my Airstreams with automobiles, pickups, and SUVs . . . and for versatility, nothing comes close to a good SUV (IMHO). My least favorite of my tow vehicles was my one and only pickup . . . it was uncomfortable to drive under any conditions (it was a 1995 Chevrolet Silverado with premium leather interior, Z71, and 6,000 pound trailer tow package). My all-time favorite tow vehicle is a full-size American-made Convertible, but since those haven't been produced since 1976; I have really enjoyed my 1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer as well as my current 1999 GMC K2500 Suburban.

Good luck with your investigation!


You can check the trailer tow ratings of late model vehicles via this link.
Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:36 PM   #16
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1988 32' Excella
Bonita , California
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Well, welcome. You will find much info on this site. Let me tell our story.
We started with a 16", had it 8 months and got an older 32". It really depends on your tow vehicle and what your wants are. We liked the 16", but wanted more storage. We found a 32" that needed a home, and its the end all be all. Tons of storage. Never a need to unpack and repack. Our unit calls it the Apartment. We love it. You may want certain floor plans. Different lengths have different floor planes that suit different people's styles. Please just remember, its camping and meant to be a good time. Get what you can afford and surround yourself with fun loving like minded people and you cant wrong. Enjoy the adventure. You only live once.........
Happiness only real when shared.
Christopher Johnson McCandless
2/12/68 - 8/18/92
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:02 AM   #17
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2004 16' International CCD
Santa Fe , New Mexico
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Posts: 39

You will find all kinds of great information and advice here. It made a huge difference when we were trying to decide which size silver home away from home to buy.

The folks who have been talking about matching your trailer to your tow vehicle are dead on. We had a Land Rover Discovery II when we were looking. Based on advice for that vehicle's towing capacity - we bought the smallest trailer - a 16' CCD.

It has been great over the years. It fits 2 adults and one very big Newfoundland dog. We had a 3rd person as an overnight guest - once. Only once!

You mentioned 15' in your original post. The small trailers are great for 2 - but no more than 2.

Finally, we now tow with a Land Rover LR3 (as you can guess - we're Land Rover people) - it has been a great tow vehicle.

Good luck with your choice!

The People from the Pod
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:37 AM   #18
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2000 25' Excella
Danville , California
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I used to have a 16 foot shasta trailer and when I got my 25 foot Airstream, I didn't notice any difference in towing. They tow really well. I let my husband do the backing up, though!! I wouldn't want much smaller than a 25 foot for 4 people. We have 2 people and 2 dogs and it's just right! 4 adults inside, really do fill it up! good luck on your search!
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:55 AM   #19
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I love to be contrarian on this subject so here goes:
Smaller, narrower trailers are generally easier to tow and handle than bigger ones. They're easier to maneuver into small sites, around tight obstacles, and common locations such as fuel stations. They can be towed with smaller narrower tow vehicles which themselves are more enjoyable to drive. They are easier to keep clean and maintain. Yes they're more touchy when backing so thats something you'll have to get used to. I've towed everything from single PWC trailers, medium to large boat trailers and travel trailers. A little single PWC trailer is a dream as long as you're in drive, and very snappy in reverse (as long as you can see it). Anyone saying pulling a 30+ foot 102 inch wide travel trailer is "easier" than a personal watercraft or very small travel trailer is full of beans lol.

Nevertheless in your post I see that you want plenty of room, large bed, and that you'll be sleeping four. So my only question is.. what kind of rigs are in the campgrounds/parks you tend to camp in?

If it is tends to the larger end of your spectrum, I'd go ahead and recommend one of the larger trailers on your list. You can adjust to towing anything and most people are doing it enjoyably and successfully.
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Old 09-02-2011, 01:32 AM   #20
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1988 32' Excella
Bonita , California
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Oppps.. Ok stop laughing. Im not small minded just key board challenged. No really I do know the diff between inches and feet. See what I mean, laugh. Enjoy.
Happiness only real when shared.
Christopher Johnson McCandless
2/12/68 - 8/18/92
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