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Old 11-01-2020, 09:31 AM   #1
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Photographer seeking right solution

Hi. I'm a landscape photographer SoCal and my goal is to hit the road for extended trips to photograph National Parks such as Glacier and mosey through the Oregon Coast, Paluouse in WA etc. I'm thinking each trip could be weeks at a time. It's just me and my dog.

I have a budget of $200K and I'm trying to decide on an Interstate vs a Caravel or Flying Cloud. Each has its obvious advantages and disadvantages.

I've been reading these forums for quite some time and I'm dismayed at all the issues the trailers have: most seem to be electrical, which is my weakest point.

I want to be taking pix, not visiting dealers for recalls and endless repairs on stuff that should work but doesn't. The Interstate is an easier package for obvious reasons but just have the same advantages as say, a 22" Caravel. On the other hand, storage is a big issue and I don't have a driveway do I'll have to pay for RV storage monthly. A Sprinter makes life easier.

I'm open to any advice and in no hurry to make a decision. I know there's plenty written here about trailer vs Sprinter but you just don't want to make the wrong decision. I'm probably going to try and rent both and see how I like them.

Looking forward to input from the pros here.


Thank you.
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Old 11-01-2020, 09:56 AM   #2
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2021 27' International
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Buy a 2-3 year old unit that has already had the bugs shaken out of it. Every RV is a "do-it-yourselfer." You'll need to learn about all the systems to keep it working. It's a house that undergoes earthquakes on every outing.
You need to be honest with yourself - do you really want the RV... or would you be better served with an awesome SUV and a frequent guest card at <some hotel chain here>?
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Old 11-01-2020, 09:59 AM   #3
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I haven't had any major problems with my AI -- apart from those pesky blinds. The one shortcoming of at least the older ones like mine (2016) is the electric-only fridge, which limits your ability to camp without hookups.

Otherwise, the AI is big enough for me and the dog. And I do like the maneuverability of the AI. And the gas mileage is on a par with the tow vehicle that I used to use to tow a vintage Airstream. (I can also tow a car behind the AI as long as it's a small one. If I tow with it, it's my Honda Fit, weighing in at ~2,500 lbs, or the MGB, at ~2,800.)


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Old 11-01-2020, 10:20 AM   #4
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Another vote for an Interstate.

A good, gently used model.

I am also one adult and a medium sized dog, and it is very comfortable for us.

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Old 11-01-2020, 10:26 AM   #5
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You won't find any other make that doesn't require a shakedown cruise or two to work out problems. I bought mine used, a 2018 Flying Cloud, in June this year and I've fixed many small problems that might have required a trip to the dealer if it weren't for the great amount of knowledge found on the internet. Most were small and easily managed but the poster above is right. You need to be handy to keep everything working regardless of the kind of unit you buy.


My philosophy is this: If you can read and write and follow directions you can do just about anything.
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Old 11-01-2020, 12:45 PM   #6
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AI if you're on the go...

We've had our AI Grand Tour for almost 6 months now. After a 4 wk trip from SoCal to Yellowstone and back, and a 1 week trip to Monterey CA and back, we've worked out most of the kinks in our used 2017 unit. We did purchase an extended warrantee package through Good Sam's club and saved a lot of money for the same coverage vs purchasing through the dealership. We road trip vs find a spot and park for a week or more so if you are constantly on the move the AI works great. If you're taller than 6' you have to learn to duck, and storage is def at a minimum but with 1 person you should be fine. We manage with 2 of us. Bringing bikes with us makes it easy to get around and to park away from the center of towns but close enough to bike in. We've seen some vans carrying ebikes and scooters which is tempting us to switch. Renting is a great idea and another suggestion that I recently read is to park it in your driveway or close to home and truly dry camp for the day/night with all of the manuals and access to the YouTube tutorials BEFORE you take it on an overnight trip. Enjoy!
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Old 11-01-2020, 01:17 PM   #7
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Photoshooter, I think you have the perfect use-case for an Interstate. Totally portable at a moments notice, nothing to hitch up etc.

That said, I donít think an Interstate is any less complicated than a travel trailer when it comes to electrical. If anything, thereís more because you have your house batteries plus your camperís.

I was in Jackson Center this past week and met guy in the customer lounge with a 6 month old Interstate. He was there for a punch list of small items, nothing major.

But, he did have a major issue with the Sprinterís transmission. It started leaking fluid right after he got it. He had to find a shop that handled Sprinters, not just a Mercedes dealer. It was laid up for weeks while they finally replaced the complete transmission. Now everything is good and Iím sure he can expect years of trouble-free service. Just saying, things can happen to a trailer or a self-contained!

Focus on how you plan to use your unit. Will you be in a location for an extended period? If so, a trailer and a tow vehicle might be a better choice. I donít think you want to tow a second vehicle behind the Interstate; defeats the advantage of being nimble.

Check out the YouTube videos by Irene Iron Fitness, Chris and Aaron. Theyíre full-timers and Airstream Ambassadors. Theyíve posted some great videos about traveling in an Interstate.

Iíd go Interstate if it met our needs. And, it may in the future!
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Old 11-01-2020, 01:46 PM   #8
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Kansas City , Missouri
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I'll speak up for the truck + trailer point of view.

While it's true that you are self contained with an Interstate, you are actually also self contained with a Caravel or 23 Flying Cloud (which I would recommend for your use) plus a good 4x4 pickup truck.

The many advantages of a 23 flying cloud plus truck vs the Airstream Interstate are
Water Capacity
More space
Ability for more solar
Ability to have a high clearance 4x4 for location shoots
Ease of service

Water Capacity
A double axel trailer offers substantially more water capacity. This is a major limitation of how long you can stay in one spot without hookups. By getting into the double axel Airstreams, you get to the ability to have nearly 40 gallons of water in each tank. A single axel Airstream or Airstream Interstate give about half of that.

More Space
With a trailer plus vehicle you would have ability for more gear to be with you and actually put away to not be in you face 24/7. Under bed storage, wardrobe closet, plus back seat and truck bed. With an Interstate at best you could add a hitch hauler for some additional storage. There is just more storage with a truck and trailer.

Ability for more solar
With a two axel trailer your roof space is bigger which allows for more solar.

Ability to have high clearance 4x4 for location shoots.
By getting a real 4x4 truck you can go a lot of places that the ground clearance of the Airstream Interstate would not allow. This is one of the best advantge of truck + trailer is that you can drop the trailer at the campsite and then proceed out in just the truck.

Ease of service.
There are far more Ford/Chevy/GMC/Toyota/Ram dealers across America's small towns than Mercedes dealerships. This makes service just easier.

As to my recommendation of the 23 vs the Caravel. The Caravel with single axel is not really any easier to drive/park/tow or manage than a double axel trailer like a 23. But the double axel offers a bit of security if you get a flat. You can run on 3 tires to get to safety vs changing on the highway. When you do change you can use wood/levelers to raise up to change vs having to jack up the trailer. That plus the additional water capacity, bigger refrigerator, better storage all make the double axel trailers a better choice in my opinion.
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Old 11-02-2020, 11:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piggy Bank View Post
...the best advantage of truck + trailer is that you can drop the trailer at the campsite and then proceed out in just the truck.
^ x2

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Old 11-04-2020, 03:27 PM   #10
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Photoshooter;
You have gotten many great suggestions & tips - many what I was going to say as well. One thing to keep in mind is that while you travel about, it may be easier for you to have a trailer and tow vehicle as there are going to be times that you need just the truck/tv to run errands to the store, etc. Also if you were to have a breakdown and only have the sprinter (?) as your means of travel, you are stuck. Make sense?
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Old 11-04-2020, 04:38 PM   #11
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That's kind of why I like to tow the Honda (or the MG) behind the AI.

But there's another reason as well: The AI is woefully short of storage space. Well, so is a trailer, but then you have the back of the truck to pile stuff in. That's what I also do with the Honda. When not in use, it's got folding chairs, folding bike, other camping junk in it.


Lynn

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Photoshooter;
You have gotten many great suggestions & tips - many what I was going to say as well. One thing to keep in mind is that while you travel about, it may be easier for you to have a trailer and tow vehicle as there are going to be times that you need just the truck/tv to run errands to the store, etc. Also if you were to have a breakdown and only have the sprinter (?) as your means of travel, you are stuck. Make sense?
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Old 11-05-2020, 10:28 AM   #12
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I can take my 4wd tow vehicle to lots of backcountry paces that I’d never take a Sprinter.
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Old 11-05-2020, 02:11 PM   #13
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I’ve never had a motorhome, and don’t know how much “stuff “ you will be taking, but our covered pickup bed with a 5’ wide by 4’ deep shelf 18 “ above the bed works great for hauling all the wife’s questionably necessary stuff and still being able to get to the latest random requested item.
Access! The 23FB has a lot more storage, but the real advantage is being able to get to stuff without lying on your belly and pulling all the other stuff out first!
I totally agree about the flexibility of a TV once unhitched. We carry an electric cooler in the backseat to simplify meals during daytrips away from the trailer.
We love those parks, and hope you will share some of your work with the forum.
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Old 12-02-2020, 11:08 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photoshooter View Post
Hi. I'm a landscape photographer SoCal and my goal is to hit the road for extended trips to photograph National Parks such as Glacier and mosey through the Oregon Coast, Paluouse in WA etc. I'm thinking each trip could be weeks at a time. It's just me and my dog.

I have a budget of $200K and I'm trying to decide on an Interstate vs a Caravel or Flying Cloud. Each has its obvious advantages and disadvantages.

I've been reading these forums for quite some time and I'm dismayed at all the issues the trailers have: most seem to be electrical, which is my weakest point.

I want to be taking pix, not visiting dealers for recalls and endless repairs on stuff that should work but doesn't. The Interstate is an easier package for obvious reasons but just have the same advantages as say, a 22" Caravel. On the other hand, storage is a big issue and I don't have a driveway do I'll have to pay for RV storage monthly. A Sprinter makes life easier.

I'm open to any advice and in no hurry to make a decision. I know there's plenty written here about trailer vs Sprinter but you just don't want to make the wrong decision. I'm probably going to try and rent both and see how I like them.

Looking forward to input from the pros here.


Thank you.
Well here’s an update. I’ve placed an order for 2021 interstate 24 GT with the 4 x 4 option, the hydraulic leveling jacks, Satellite Dish and upgraded all weather BF goodrich tires. There’s about a six month back order so it’ll give me plenty of time to get educated on what I’m gonna be looking at but all in all, I think the smaller footprint and the easier parking and maneuverability won out. We’ll see.��
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Old 12-02-2020, 01:47 PM   #15
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Congratulations on your early Christmas present! Enjoy!

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Old 12-02-2020, 02:42 PM   #16
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... and don't forget Olympic National Park in Washington ...

My favorite National Park because it is close to home.

And congratulations on joining the Airstream family!!
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Old 12-03-2020, 12:16 AM   #17
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It's on my list for sure! I won't get delivery till next May-June and I try to avoid Natl Parks in the summer. Looks like April is prime season however so maybe not till 2022.
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Old 12-03-2020, 12:17 AM   #18
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Thank you.
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