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Old 01-23-2007, 08:38 AM   #1
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Thinking of Buying an Airstream

I've decided to set out on an adventure across the country and am in the process of trying to decide what to buy. I have had a lifelong love of Airstreams, but, as I started to map out my route, I am discovering that parks (Carpinteria Beach in Santa Barbara, in this case) have length limits which would prevent me from being able to take a larger Airstream in.

I'd hate to give up my dream of owning one, but, if it's going to mean I'm going to encounter this throughout the country, I'm afraid I must consider it.

Do current Airstream owners feel limited when they travel because of the size of their beautiful trailers?
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Old 01-23-2007, 08:50 AM   #2
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I bought the smallest one I could get. (16 foot Quicksilver Bambi) The dealer kept trying to get me to go larger (there were many larger AS for less $$ than the Bambi) but I got what I wanted. It's a matter of personal preference of course (what your needs are and how many people and pets will be traveling with you). Mine tows like a dream, I can pull over and park just about anywhere, and even make a u-turn in the middle of a street if I miss a turn. An Airstream doesn't have to be huge. Go to a dealer and sit in the various models and imagine how they would work for you.

Don't give up on your dream. They are fantastic trailers!
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Old 01-23-2007, 09:04 AM   #3
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Thank you so much!

I appreciate the encouragement.

I'm so fussy about my environment. I was getting a little down imagining a year on the road in some horrible RV with brown velvet wagon train upholstery.
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Old 01-23-2007, 10:10 AM   #4
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Get what you want

Originally Posted by lwigod

Do current Airstream owners feel limited when they travel because of the size of their beautiful trailers?

If you were to take a poll of the forum, I believe the majority would agree that a 25' AS (Airstream) is a very workable size. It is large enough for longer trips and will fit into most parks. Keep in mind that some of the Bambi models have very small black/gray tanks and limited storage and/or weight constraints. Consider all of the specifications before making a decision as well as the feel of the interior.

As for fitting into parks, we have found that many parks underestimate the maximum size that will fit in spaces. As an example, you mentioned Carpinteria in California, we were there several months ago and easily fit into a 24' designated campsite on the beachfront with room to spare (we have a 25' Safari which is actually 25' 11"). Also some parks use the body size as the measurement figure which does not include the front hitch or rear bumper lengths. Yes it can be confussing, but it all gets easy with just a few trips.

There are advantages and disadvantages to different sizes, as long as you stay at 25' or shorter you should have no problem getting into most parks.

Good luck and keep reading past threads as well as ask questions on the forum..take your time and get what you is costly to change later.
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Old 01-23-2007, 10:15 AM   #5
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Though I'm sure there are many restrictions for larger units, I found that the 25' unit seems to fit just well in most places. 28' might also be good....I think once you cross the 30' is where you may start to find some additional limitations beyond any that you may see with say a 25' or 28'.

Keep in mind that you will encounter this problem regardless of what brand you buy and if you have to go down in flames, a bad day in an Airstream can beat a great day with an SOB (some other box/brand)....if you get a unit that has few QC issues.
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Old 01-23-2007, 11:11 AM   #6
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Hi Laura -- Welcome to the Forums! Yes, California has that reputation of state park site limits. I like out of the way camping and Nat'l Forest campgrounds are quite variable. Some of our oldest, most popular parks up here have pretty short sites packed close together. At the very least, spur of the moment decisions to go camping often face only shorter site availability with the longer sites already reserved. See

I tend not to appreciate commercial campgrounds for a number of reasons, but they do tend to have longer site lengths. Good luck in your quest!

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Old 01-23-2007, 11:28 AM   #7
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Welcome from across Hwy 85...

There are thousands of used Airstreams and quite a few new Airstream models and floorplans at 25' or less.. There is no need to go large, even for some extended travel, as bigger here is not always better...

As Bamcamper points out, smaller Airstreams are much easier to tow, to manuever and to fit into camping locales other than large pull-through commercial RV parks.. The Airstream 16's, 19's, 22's and 23's offer plenty of space for a single traveler, or a cozy couple... Several other questions to answer-

1. What do you plan to pull it with? That will often govern how large you can get.. Anything over 25' probably does require a 3/4 ton heavy truck/van/ Suburban type tow vehicle...
2. Do you need new? Trailers older than 1995 are narrower (~6") and lighter than newer ones. If you could find a clean well maintained and fully functional used trailer (see classifieds here..) you might get a couple extra feet of length at the same weight.. You'd also be getting a conversation starter and collectable...
3. What will the trip entail? If you are really planning to visit landmarks, state and national parks, friends with driveways, etc, then smaller is again better. If you want to take all your "stuff" on tour, and run a job/business from mobile office, then maybe some more space is needed.

One final point.. Anything in range of 25' looks about the same to a park ranger. While I'd never advocate blatant dishonesty in dealings with government officials, I've learned to "round down" from time to time and declare a trailer to be a little shorter than it is, as a condition of getting into a park. This won't usually work with a big long 34' triple axle model, but might get a 25 or 27' trailer into a park with an "under 25' limit"...

In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 01-23-2007, 11:37 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by lwigod
I've decided to set out on an adventure across the country and am in the process of trying to decide what to buy. I have had a lifelong love of Airstreams, .......Do current Airstream owners feel limited when they travel because of the size of their beautiful trailers?
Welcome - And why not an Airstream? There are a million great reasons to own one and size consideration should not be a limiting factor. Forever I always wanted an AS. We also wanted to do Yellowstone. I could not see myself driving into Yellowstone with anything but an AS. We have been tent camping forever and have one very special state park we love right on a river. As you can see, we purchased the Safari 22', traveled over 6K miles in ovwe 28 days and we never felt a loss for comfort. Of course everyones comfort level is different. Go to your local dealer and "live" in an AS for a part of the day. You will be amazed at what you can be comfortable in.
J. Rick Cipot
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Old 01-23-2007, 04:58 PM   #9
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We pull a 34', and we've yet to have issues with length. We've been to Death Valley NP, Big Bend NP, many many state and county parks, and while not every site works, we have yet to be turned away!

And quite frankly there is nothing more fun than camping with an Airstream - it's just fun!
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Old 01-23-2007, 08:44 PM   #10
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We have a 25' Safari named Lucy. She goes just about anywhere, but still has enough features and comfort to live in for a long period. Lucy is our second home.
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Old 01-23-2007, 08:51 PM   #11
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Naturally, you'll have the same size restrictions whether you go with a square trailer or an Airstream

We towed our 25' Safari to Yellowstone twice and to Refugio, Plasket creek and other campgrounds without any problems whatsoever. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Go for it!
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Old 01-25-2007, 10:04 PM   #12
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Dear Thinking,

I faced the same delimma and after much thought,research and owning up to my own personal preferences, decided that the ONLY option for me was an Airstream. I have family in Northern CA, and they said the same thing that you've discovered. That's one of the reasons I decided on a 25' unit. Having owned a 19' Safari 'bambi', I can tell you that it's plenty big enough for one person for an extended 'tour' of the country. A quality rig will pay you back many times and you'll have a ball 'touring' in it. And after all, isn't that what life's about? Have a GREAT trip.
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Old 01-25-2007, 10:25 PM   #13
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One more item to consider. Airstream also makes motorhomes. I was in love with those great looking silver trailers too. But we thought that a moho was more to our liking. Guess what, until 1992 AS made their mohos out of that same beautiful aluminum. They come in all sizes, are just as much fun, get just as much attention, and you get to hang out with all these great AS people. Good luck in your hunt for the perfect unit for you. Ron
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Old 01-25-2007, 10:57 PM   #14
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We are newbie 23-foot Airstream owners and bought the largest one that our Tundra could tow with reasonable margin. Since then (last August), we acquired a new Ford F-250 PSD that can tow any Airstream and are thinking about a longer one. Still, our 23-footer is plenty big for two people and has all the gear that most larger ones have. I could easily live in it for an extended period and it's small enough that I don't expect any problems in the NPs. The 16- and 19-footers are beautiful and would do well on long excursions with a single person, as well as being very easy to tow.

If you've never trailered, you don't know what you're missing. I say pick one and have fun.
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Old 01-26-2007, 06:33 AM   #15
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Like others have said, the 25' has plenty of room and there are a range of sizes in between the smallest (16') and the 25'. Do some research on older models and the newer units and you'll find a floor plan to suit almost anyone.I believe the pre 96 model are only 8' wide so thats something to consider also. If you buy used, take your time, make a check list and then go over it very carefully to make sure you know exactly what you're buying. There's a life time of information on this site so pull up a chair a cup of coffee and dig in, you'll be talking like a pro in no time.
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