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Old 05-09-2009, 11:13 PM   #1
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2007 19' Bambi
Irving , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2009
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No doubt you've all been through this before...

Length vs bed vs bathroom vs price

Still haven't pulled the trigger...

I've never owned a trailer before and consequently never towed one before.
I'm leaning toward shorter for that reason. I'm also not rich although I can pay cash if I choose too.
Main usage will be just me and my wife at bluegrass festivals and one summer trip a year to Colorado or the beach.
However, we do now have two young grandkids we'd like to eventually spend some time with.
A 22' seems GIGANTIC to me although sounds like most of you consider it small...

My short list:
1. 17 Safari Sport
- short
- great bath
- cheapest
- longest bed but narrow and obscures doorway
- also has to be put up and down every day
- only sleeps 2 (most of our usage)

2. 22' Safari Sport
- seems long ... scared to pull and afraid I'll have difficulty maneuvering
in campgrounds ?
- 2'nd best price
- same great bath
- full-time bed possibility instead of dining area +/-

3. 19' Internatiional Bambi
- got a price of 40M on new '08 - good?
- like the shorter length
- full-time bed (exact length as me - 75")
- full-time dinette - very comfortable
- sleeps 3-4
- very nice interior

4. 16' International or OB
- love short length
- price of 36M - new 2008
- bigger bed
- tiny bathroom right next to door
(that might be better than right next to bed ?)
- sleeps 4?

I know that none of you can tell me what to do but you all must have dealt
with these variables before and eventually made a decision.
Any lessons learned or tips prior to buying?
Would you do it different if you could do it over again?

I've shopped so long it's all turning to mush.
I'd like to hear from your voices of reason and experience.

Thanks,
JBell
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Old 05-09-2009, 11:33 PM   #2
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Welcome from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

The 16 is as cute as a puppy, but has a wet bath and a combo gray/balck tank.

A 19 is better, but still has a corner bed. That's not our cup of tea.

The 17 Sport is neat, but the bed must be made from living space each night.

Same for the 22 Sport.

Of these, the 19 Bambi is the most palatable to me.

Look at the 25FB. It has a separate bedroom, and can sleep several kids in the living area if necessary.

Brian
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Old 05-09-2009, 11:41 PM   #3
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I like the looks of the 25FB but probably out of my price range.
Also, even longer (and scarier).
Thanks for the reply Brian.
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Old 05-09-2009, 11:49 PM   #4
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Bell,
DH and I have no grandkids, but a dog. I picked out the 16 ft international and we have no regrets. He is 6'2, and the bed is fine for us. We tend to use the bathroom only at night and early am, but getting in and out of it is awkward. We didn't want to set up or take down a dinette. I didn't want to waste space on a second sink within a short distance. The easy clean wall surface was a big factor since hubby has allergies and the mouse fur could become a nightmare. We are new at backing in to spaces and it is still challenging. Very pleased with the 16 ft layout.
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Old 05-09-2009, 11:58 PM   #5
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"Longer and Scarier"... That will last about one trip of 100 miles or less. Please note I am a woman who towed for the first time at age 55.

I bought a 22 CCD and after 2 years went up to a 25 FB SE. Believe me, the difference between the two is not a huge issue at all. ALL Airstreams tow easily. I could have saved a load of money had I just bought bigger in the first place.

Look in the classifieds here - there quite a few gently used 25 FB's for sale... you can also check www.rvtraderonline.com and www.craigslist.org among other places. If I were going to get yet another Airstream, I would go to a 27 FB CCD so bigger is simply a non-issue once you learn the basics. Don't rely on websites to make your final decision though. Until you try out the bathroom or the bed, you have no idea whether you can really live in it. And that one or two trips... you'll go on more once you find out about forum and WBCCI rallies, etc. Don't be surprised if you spend most weekends in the stream - from spring right through the first freeze.

I was driving down Sandbridge Road in Virginia Beach today and saw a 30ft Classic with a Slideout that the owner is selling because he and his wife found a cabin they wanted to buy. They'd used the Airstream for about 4 years as a lakeside cabin. If I wanted something that size I would have NO hesitation buying it based on size (and for a 2004 at $39K it tempted me momentarily).

Good luck and see you down the road.

Paula
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Old 05-10-2009, 02:47 AM   #6
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We like the 19' Bambi SE (also has the aluminum interior) for our needs...we are 2 adults and 2 cocker spaniels...it works well for the 4 of us. But evryone is different and it all really depends on how you want to use it, how long your trips will be, and how many people you need to accommodate...and how well you do in small spaces... And oh, yes, what you are towing with. We like the manueverability of the 19' and getting into small spaces easily, but the towing thing is all relative...once you have towed, you learn the tricks and then a few more feet wont matter a lot. If we were to upgrade, we'd be looking at the new 23' front bed or a 25'... but for now we are just pleased as punch with our wonderful 19' Bambi!
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Old 05-10-2009, 04:31 AM   #7
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We all have been through it and come up with different answers based on our particular preferences. I see your list skipped the 20' Flying Cloud, which should still be in your price range. For the two or us and our two dogs it works great. It has a full time bed, good bathroom and more kitchen counter space than many larger models.
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Old 05-10-2009, 05:30 AM   #8
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Somewhere I read that one criteria for size selection might be to imagine yourself and family out in the boonies, in the rain for a couple of days and having to live inside. If you can imagine doing that comfortably in the size you're considering then that one could be right for you. Good luck with your decision process because you'll love Airstreaming.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:00 AM   #9
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It sounds like most of your trips involve being outside the trailer (bluegrass festivals, enjoying the music, at the beach enjoying the waves), so even with grandkids, you would probably be comfortable with a small unit. And there's always the option of tossing a tent, air mattress and a few sleeping bags in your car, so the grandkids can sleep outside if they want to.

If your vehicle is up to the challenge of towing your trailer safely, then Foiled Again is right. After a shakedown trip or two, you will become more comfortable towing, backing up, getting gas, and knowing the space requirements for your trailer. And in a campground, you're surrounded by folk who will be falling over themselves to help out. If you buy your airstream at a dealer, a good dealer will give you time behind the wheel before they let you leave, to make sure you're comfortable.

Personally, I'd go for the 22'er.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:17 AM   #10
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1972 25' Tradewind
old mystic , Connecticut
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I'm with Paula on this one, don't let the length scare you. I'm also a woman and I know how to tow, I haven't yet towed the airstream, but I have towed our car trailer and If my husband trusts me to tow one of his many precious antique car babies then I know I won't have any trouble with the AS.

Just always use causion. Year ago when I was just learning to tow and my husband was giving me instructions, One was which NEVER jam on the brakes. We had not gone another 2 miles and what do we come upon but a SUV that was towing a camper the was laying on it's side across 2 lanes! He didn't have a brake controller and had Jammed on his brakes and jack knifed the camper. That is a visual that will always stick in my head.

If the bambis are single axle that will also cause you to have more sway at times than and double axle will another consideration if you are leary of towing. Which ever you chose you are gonna have a ball.

We are taking our 2 oldest grandkids 9&11 to Mt Rushmore this summer and we have a 25 footer,can't imagine spending 3 weeks with them and the bulldog in anything smaller.

Annette

P.S. Welcome to the forums.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:43 AM   #11
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I've not had the experience of using the smaller Airstreams. Our first trailer was our 30'. The smaller ones do seem cute, but we want more comfort. I've seen many comments on this forum where people 'move up' to a bigger unit.

One of your comments struck me...

Quote:
Main usage will be just me and my wife at bluegrass festivals and one summer trip a year to Colorado or the beach.
However, we do now have two young grandkids we'd like to eventually spend some time with.
You might find, like us, that this turns into more of a passion, and you'll be spending much more time in it. We originally bought ours so we could be on site when we started building a second/retirement home in Colorado (not yet started).

However, we found we LOVE the Airstream, and head out in it as often as possible.

Plus - grandkids! Fun stuff! Get some space...

One last comment - we've not yet been forced to avoid a state, federal or local park because we were too big. In a few, we've had more limited choices (i.e., Great Sand Dunes in CO), or we had to be careful (more common). But before you make a choice based on this concern, look online at the parks you're likely to visit and see what their restrictions are. I'll bet a 28' will always be OK.

We usually find that our 30' Airstream is the smallest-looking rig in the park, except for the pop-ups.

And finally - fear of towing. After a few years, plus the addition of a Hensley hitch for our bigger trailer, my wife will now drive for extended periods on open roads.

Good luck - hope to see you out there.
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Old 05-10-2009, 07:39 AM   #12
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Every trailer has compromises - the great value of a small trailer is the economy of scale - a ton less money to purchase, to tow and to operate - with the added bonus of incredible flexibility to "get up and go" - just about anywhere. The downside - obviously - is the limitations placed on "stuff" - bed size, bath, counter space, fridge size etc.

We've enjoyed our 19' Bambi since 2003 and still love it - counter space is OK, fridge size is good, separation between the bed/bath area from the rest of the trailer is a big bonus, having a real bed as opposed to a bed/dinette/couch combination was a must for us, separate shower as opposed to a wet bath was also a must.

In terms of comfortable living - the only thing that has worn thin over time is the 48" bed width - six weeks on the road really stretched our tolerance. We solved this by turning the bed into bunks - huge improvement in sleep comfort.

Today we still think the 19' Bambi floorplan and its amenities are pretty much the perfect compromise between economy and comfort (bed width excepted) - our trailer is with us for the long haul - no desire to trade up, down or sideways.


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Old 05-10-2009, 08:00 AM   #13
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2004 25' Classic
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Welcome to the Airstream neighborhood I went through this thought process last year. First, I had to decide on getting a new one or looking for that perfect used one. Cost was a BIG factor in my decision making. I found that most Airstream owners do take good care of their trailers to the point that you can not even tell they are used! I saved over $35,000 and it was only 4 yrs. old in perfect condition.

Size does matter! most people start out small and wish they had bigger, no matter what it is. My criteria on what size I wanted was to have the longest trailer that an SUV could tow (that's a big can of worms to open!) and have tandem axles (less sway and safer if one tire blows). We (it is just the 2 of us) have taken it out about 6 times this past yr with length of stays being anywhere from 4 days to 2 weeks. If I had to do it again, I would either get the same length or maybe a 27'?

We looked at smaller ones. They are nice! Just not for us. We liked the idea of having a separate queen bed area and having the extra room in the front for living area when the weather is bad outside. Towing is a joke once you are used to it. Like anything, there is a learning curve.

Good luck and Welcome! Bob
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:01 AM   #14
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2007 19' Bambi
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Thanks RangerJay,

Good information
(at least what I wanted to hear)
and the bunks were a great idea.

Hope to meet you down the road someday,
JBell
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:11 AM   #15
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Mine is perfect

I got a Caravel. Compare it, if you will, to your newer Bambis. I got it for the exact reasons you mention. It tows great. It fits into music festival and Bluegrass gatherings perfectly. It is open enough to accommodate the wildest Banjo playing guest . It's warm and cozy but does miss a few of the
"gee whiz" items a new one would have.
By the way, Ardmore Okla. Bluegrass this week. It will be there.
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:29 AM   #16
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Went through the same gyrations. Ended up with the 22'. Being narrower than the other models outside the SS line makes for easier towing. I wanted a single axle for manuverability. The large bathroom was the clincher. We leave the dinet made up as a bed and use two folding tables which store neatly out of the way and can be used in or out of the coach.
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:52 AM   #17
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Not what you want to hear

Have you considered a vintage unit? They are easier to tow being both lighter and narrower (narrow is nice in construction zones). I take my 68 down on the beach at Padre Island NSS when I can and love it. The two days in the rain test is a must, I think. Even on the beach you get rain or more often wind that you will want to take some refuge from.

I also spend a bunch of time up in the Rockies with it- I boondock and the narrow body pays off their as well. Again, the two day test is important. Depending on when you go nights and mornings can be down right cold. Last summer in early June I ran into some mid twenties nights. The fact is, there are times when everyone will want to be inside, and during those times, you will want some space.

If towing and price are your concerns, then vintage may worth looking into. They are less expensive and better for towing.
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Old 05-10-2009, 09:10 AM   #18
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I started pulling semi trailers at about 16 on a farm,and to tell the truth the shorter the trailer ,the harder it is for me to back.Towing down the highway doesn`t make much different.Towing in town ,just make a little wider swing.Go with the biggest trailer you can afford,you will learn to tow soon enough.Dave
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Old 05-10-2009, 09:23 AM   #19
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My wife and I decided the 26' long Overlander was perfect for two. We're a bit taller than most couples and we really wanted a comfortable bed and a usable bath. We're willing to compromise on the other aspects, but a good night's sleep is essential. Best of luck to you.
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Old 05-10-2009, 10:16 AM   #20
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We have two trailers...short & shorter. We've used the 19-footer for 8 years and love it...however, for longer trips it can be cumbersome to make-up the bed into a couch every am/pm and based on the layout, leaving made up as a bed is not doable. The 22-footer has full time twin beds which because of the open floor plan will allow us to used them as couches during the day and beds at night. Both have dinettes which are a must for us. We camp alot in the cold/rain and being able to be have the option of being comfortable inside is nice...following the "6 for cocktails, 4 for dinner 2 for overnight" philosophy we usually camp with. The dinettes in both will make into twins for the occasional overnight nephew or friend. As far as towing - no difference between the two however, generally speaking, double axle trailers are easier to back up...both ours are single though and you get used to whatever you have after a trip or two.

Regardless on what you decided, you'll love Airstreaming and the camaraderie it brings. Welcome aboard!

Shari
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