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Old 11-30-2022, 11:45 AM   #1
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Airstream trailer vs tiffin motorhome

Our experiences owning both a 2004 25 Airstream Classic and 2018 Tiffin Allegro 32 SA Open Road Motorhome. First a little background. My wife and I are both retired and wife has MS and spinal problems. We owned the trailer for about 12 yrs. and thought we had have enough camping so we sold it. Two years later we got the itch to do some more camping and thought it would be great to get a motorhome. The Airstream was pulled by an Infiniti SUV with air suspension. I mention this cause in all the towing we did, we were always very comfortable in the SUV towing the trailer. No swaying, no bouncing or jarring around, quiet and in all, just a pleasure towing. We lived in Florida back then and our trips were anywhere from local to the west coast. We were also amazed that just about every time we stopped to use or camp that the inside of the Airstream had nothing thrown about or moved. It was as we left it.
Now we go to the Tiffin. This is a gas 34' motorhome with 2 slide outs. Everything about it is great while standing still. Very spacious, lots of room, very comfortable and just an all around nice motorhome while standing still. Catch my drift? while standing still! On the road this is a monster. First I got to say we were very spoiled by how our camping experience was with the Airstream and Infiniti while towing. The Tiffin on the road is a different story. This is a truck with truck suspension. It rattles, bounces and knocks you around, and is what it is, a TRUCK! My wife got more bruices trying to move around while on the road. We have 2 little dogs that were used to camping with us with the Airstream and now were petrified to get in the motorhome due to how much noise there was inside and how rough it was for them. We live in AZ now and took a trip to the east coast with it and what a trip. I had more power with towing the Airstream than with the Tiffin. Also, you better make sure everything is glued down or it will go flying. Nothing inside the refrigerator ever was where we left it. I don't know how many times we would go to open the refrigerator door to have something come flying out. Things inside the cabinets were always being moved around. It's a TRUCK! One year later and it was sold.
As far as hooking up for camping or setting up when getting to camp site, both are about equal. With the trailer, you back it up on leveling blocks under trailer wheels, unhook from vehicle and connect electrical and water (sometimes sewer). With the motorhome, first you find a place to unhook toad vehicle and have wife follow you to camp site, press the leveling switch, find out it is to far out of level on one side or the other, put it back down, get out spacer blocks to put under levelers where needed and switch on levelers again. Now you can connect electrical and water! The hooking up of toad vehicle to motorhome to me was about equal to hooking the trailer up to tow vehicle with weight distribution hitch.
If we were to decide on going camping again, I would more than likely look for a used 25' - 30' Airstream Classic and a pickup truck with air suspension to tow it with. Just my 2 cents!
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Old 11-30-2022, 12:45 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective.
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Old 11-30-2022, 12:54 PM   #3
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It's interesting for me to hear your thoughts and perspective. We just sold our Airstream after three seasons and bought a Newmar 37' diesel pusher. At this point, we've only got about 1,000 miles of driving experience in the Newmar and 4 nights in it.

I have to say, my experience so far has not been at all like you described above. Our Newmar is a diesel on a Freightliner chassis with air suspension. Driving down the interstate is almost like floating on air or flying! The diesel engine in the back rarely exceeds 2,500 RPM, so you almost can't hear it. The air suspension floats like a luxury car, and the huge windshield is right in front of you. It feels like low-altitude flying along the interstate! As for ride quality, I left a coffee cup on the kitchen counter on the last drive, and it was right there when we stopped, exactly where I left it. My experience so far is that the ride quality of the diesel pusher motorhome is excellent.

I think every choice of RV has some good things and some things are are challenging. We aren't planning on towing a car behind our motorhome, only taking our level 3 e-bikes along. When we setup camp, it's as simple as a quick inspection to verify space for the slides, followed by extending the slides and then auto leveling. It only takes a few minutes, and then you're camping. It has been super easy for us so far. The obvious downside is that without a vehicle in tow, there are limits to where you can go and what you can do. This is especially true in remote areas.

Time will tell if we go back to an Airstream after some of our extended travels in the next few years, but so far I'm happy with the change to a Class A diesel pusher. I'm also very happy with the build quality of the Newmar coach. The cabinets, furniture, and appliances are excellent. I love the electrical systems and how they function. Our Newmar is an all-electric coach, so it has eight 6V batteries, a 2,800W inverter, and an 8kW diesel generator if necessary. Everything in the coach works the same way whether you're boondocking or connected to power. It's just simple to use.
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Old 11-30-2022, 02:55 PM   #4
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Bob and Julie’s experience may be typical of a gas Class A, but our experience with our Tiffin diesel pusher aligns with Dennis’ Newmar.

We downsized to our Airstream as our camping style was changing, but a big driver in that decision was getting away from the complex mechanical systems on the large Class As.

We certainly have less room inside now, but I am spending less time fixing stuff and more timing enjoying the experience.

Like Bob, I do feel more comfortable (physically) driving the truck than I did the motorhome. I am not sure the RV designers spend as much time on ergonomics as the automotive companies do.
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Old 11-30-2022, 03:52 PM   #5
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I believe both of you are correct as the diesel pushers uses a totally different chassis compared to the gas motorhome we had. Our motorhome sat on a ford truck chassis. We even had to replace both rear spring brackets due to the bolts holding the brackets in place snapping off due to how rough the suspension was.
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Old 12-01-2022, 01:41 PM   #6
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Following these stories as I often think I’d like to try out a motor home BUT won’t give up our Airstream because it is everything we want and need in luxury and efficiency. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 12-01-2022, 03:04 PM   #7
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Often consider the switch to a Class A diesel pusher...many friends/neighbors in Star Valley Ranch RV Resort have the Class A's. Inside the room is tremendous compared to the 8' we have inside our AS, which can become a bit tight on extended stays in one location. Lots of $$ to make the switch. One friend summed it up from his experience in both; "with an AS, the vacation begins when you get to your destination"; with the Class A, the vacation begins when you step inside the coach"...at least for the wife!

Set up for both takes time for sure...we watch our neighbors come/go throughout the summer...leveling is for the most part automatic; need to make sure your slides have clearence, but backing in and getting set up looks pretty easy from what I have observed. Even hooking up the "dingy" tow vehicles is similar job to the AS; connecting power, water, sewer the same. Driving down the highway with a 28' AS and an F250 is effortless, but you do need to be careful. Have not driven a Newmark (yet!) but I had a Class A years back and on the freeways in CA, it was for sure taxing with traffic at times. Kind of like today towing in many states where speed limits are 70+...not sure a big Class A would be less stressful, but maybe others are more aware and cautious around the Class A's? I know the inside of the Newmark and some others I have been in are pretty darn sweet!

MPG of the Class A vs the F250 is not the same though...hard to fathom 150 gallons of diesel at $6-$7/gallon...I know my neighbor had a leak in his inside tire last summer...cost him $500 to have a team of 2 come out and fix it...took about an hour or so; crazy to watch it all done without any real hydraulic equipment to get the tire on/off the wheel. Still, these Class A's are sure nice inside!
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Old 12-01-2022, 05:29 PM   #8
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Based on my early experience with the Class A, I’d say the highway driving experience isn’t really that much different than the Airstream towing experience. The Newmar is 37’10”, and my Airstream/truck combination was just under 43’. You still have to be careful and drive defensively. Other drivers don’t want to be stuck behind you in either situation, and they often drive erratically.

Our coach has a 100 gallon diesel tank and a 10 gallon DEF tank. I got about 8.3 mpg on my last trip. It’s definitely not fun filling that sucker up with diesel!

Camp setup is pretty similar between the coach and the Airstream (leveling being the big exception, plus unhitching because we aren’t towing a car). The Newmar has power reels for the water hose and the 50A power cable, which is nice. The sewer connection is identical.

I’m still getting used to the plumbing and the electrical systems. In the Newmar the inverter is essentially always on. It automatically manages power, switching between using the inverter or charging from shore power. In our Airstream, we used the inverter only once or twice. The plumbing system is interesting too. When connected to a water supply, the system pressurizes the water lines and it automatically fills the 105 gallon fresh water tank.

The Class A definitely has more systems to manage, but it’s getting easier as I’m learning them.
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Old 12-01-2022, 07:42 PM   #9
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We have been full-timing in our 1993 40' Foretravel motorhome for the past 10 years. We're currently seriously looking for an Airstream to replace it. Why? Various reasons, but probably the biggest is "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." I've been on this forum since before we bought the Foretravel, and several times I've kicked myself for not choosing the Airstream to start with.



As has been mentioned, maintenance costs are quite high. Ride, on eight outboard airbags, is really great. I sit as high (or maybe a bit higher) than the 18-wheelers, yet I'm no where near as tall as they are. I have a note on the dash that says "Safe clearance 12' 6" which gives me more than 6" clearance.


We have far more storage space in the Foretravel than we will have in any towable Airstream. That includes both inside and outside space. For those who are interested, here's a link to an album with pictures of our Foretravel. https://davidlininger.smugmug.com/19...U300/n-TdJL8w/


So why are we wanting to give up all of that? Maintenance costs. As was mentioned, tires are about $600 each. I just replaced all of the batteries in the past several months. The three start batteries were $600, and the two house batteries were $1100.


If we traveled as we thought we would 10 years ago, this wouldn't be an issue. We'd be looking for a newer Foretravel. However, we're not driving as much as we thought. Granted that this year was a different sort of year for us, we still haven't made as many miles as we thought we would. I was working until school let out in May, then had the baptism of our granddaughter in June, so we didn't head out until July. We drove from Wyoming down to New Mexico, dropped off the winter stuff, and headed for Missouri. We were campground hosts for August, September, and most of October. Then on to Nebraska for a month to help out extended family. We finally headed towards Texas in November for our annual contribution to the Nacogdoches economy. We finally got back to The Ranch a week ago.


At one point during our travels someone asked about emergency departures, such as a sudden flood (the campground is known for such). Within 15 minutes of being told we need to go we could be pulling out. No hooking up needed, just get the air up, pull the tire covers and electrical cord, and head out. While the air is building inside things can be put down to safe positions, and away we go.


Oh, yes. Fuel use. The Foretravel generally gets about 8 mpg, which includes running the diesel generator to power the residential refrigerator and rooftop airconditioners in the summer. We ttow a 2015 Lincoln MKT, which gets 22 mpg overall. In colder conditions, where we need heat instead, the refrigerator can run on the inverter. Either way, the inside is always a comfortable temperature.


As I said, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Even though I've wanted an Airstream for 50 years, it still isn't a foregone conclusion that we'll get one. Even if we do, I know that there are somethings that the Airstream won't do as well as the Foretravel. I also know that there are some things that the Airstream will do better than the Foretravel. Maybe after 10 years with an Airstream I'll know better what we should get next (assuming that I'm still driving then).
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Old 12-02-2022, 10:02 AM   #10
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I went from a 40' National Tradewinds to a 26' Airstream.
I loved the MH, but at this stage of my life, it was just too big for one person, too many steps to get in, and the routine costs were too high. $500 oil changes every 5K miles? The air filter was $270, a tire is $500. Then, with all the systems something always needs maintaining. If it goes in for service you have no vehicle.
So, I never lusted after anything other than an Airstream. Looks great, has everything I need, and if I were to replace it, it would be a 30' Classic and I'd go full time.
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Old 12-02-2022, 10:14 AM   #11
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I went from a 40' National Tradewinds to a 26' Airstream.
I loved the MH, but at this stage of my life, it was just too big for one person, too many steps to get in, and the routine costs were too high. $500 oil changes every 5K miles? The air filter was $270, a tire is $500. Then, with all the systems something always needs maintaining. If it goes in for service you have no vehicle.
So, I never lusted after anything other than an Airstream. Looks great, has everything I need, and if I were to replace it, it would be a 30' Classic and I'd go full time.
Love the 30 Classic also! To me, if AS would/could marry the bath from the 33' Classic somehow with the lounge/configuration of the 30 Classic, that would be mine (and DW of course, also) in a heartbeat!
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Old 12-02-2022, 01:08 PM   #12
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To me a very funny posting. I sold my 43' Tiffin Phaeton about three years ago due to age and needing a Class A or non commercial B license, with health certificate every two tears. Had Class A ever since I was 26.
Just over a year ago, I bought a 1993 AS 30' Excella and have completely redone interior and on first cut polishing. Added second AC unit and gen on back cargo tray. Lots of granite, but still under GVCW. Loving it!!
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Old 12-02-2022, 02:35 PM   #13
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That’s awesome. It’s very interesting to hear about where people currently fall on their RV journey. Every one of us has unique needs, wants, and goals for our RV experience. We’re all very fortunate that there are so many wonderful choices available to us.
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Old 12-03-2022, 10:25 AM   #14
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That’s awesome. It’s very interesting to hear about where people currently fall on their RV journey. Every one of us has unique needs, wants, and goals for our RV experience. We’re all very fortunate that there are so many wonderful choices available to us.
Blessed for sure!
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Old 12-03-2022, 04:31 PM   #15
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Blessed for sure!


Amen !
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Old 12-07-2022, 10:39 AM   #16
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Totally understand the comparison of driving experiences as I compare my 30’ FC against my 40’ class A. I too love the comforts of the class A. The problem is that the designers ignore the driving experience. From the less then optimal driving position to the poorly selected audio components and lack of steering wheel controls - driving the class A is a full time job that requires maximum focus all of the time. Between the wind pushing to the need to maintain exponentially more distance from others on the road, the simply nature of the A limits its daily driver to <8 hours per day. Some would say that’s ok - for us, it isn’t. In a hindsight, super c would have been a wiser choice for us given the airstream doesn’t have sufficient capacity for our us for longer trips.
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Old 12-07-2022, 11:12 AM   #17
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I think you’ll find that Class A rigs aren’t all the same, just as travel trailers aren’t all the same. There are subtle differences that can make or break the overall experience. We chose a Newmar coach for many of the reasons that you mentioned above. The smaller Newmars like ours are built on a Freightliner chassis with a feature called V-Ride. This particular feature produces greatly improved lateral stability, making the coach less susceptible to crosswinds or uneven road conditions. Newmars also have a unique feature called Comfort Drive. It’s a computerized, electronic system that automatically centers the coach, helping to offset crosswinds, crowned roads, uneven roads, etc. It’s adjustable by the driver, and like V-Ride it makes a big difference.

Our coach has a great sound system with Bluetooth connectivity, and I have no complaints. We have the Freightliner Smart Wheel steering wheel with controls for lights, wipers, cruise control, etc.

I rarely drive more than six hours in a day, but I have done seven hours in one day very comfortably. I think the biggest downside to our Class A is probably visibility in dark conditions. It’s rare that we drive in the dark, but the headlights used in the big Class A rigs leave lots to be desired. A modern pickup truck towing an Airstream will have much better lighting performance than a Class A. Hopefully the Class A market will catch up soon.

Again, I see and respect your point, but not all Class A rigs are the same.
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Old 12-07-2022, 12:49 PM   #18
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I believe both of you are correct as the diesel pushers uses a totally different chassis compared to the gas motorhome we had.
Yes. My first MH was a National Dolphin. It was 34' but on a Ford chassis with leaf springs at all four corners and the V-10 engine.
Because of the long rear overhang (engine in front) a passing semi would almost blow me off the road. Climbing the Rockies to Vail Pass I was going 25 mph at 4500 RPM and could not go faster. I actually checked to see if somehow the emergency brake got engaged.
That got me into the diesel pusher, Cat engine, Allison 6 speed much button transmission, air bags, Spartan chassis with independent front suspension. It was a dream to drive with one finger.
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Old 12-07-2022, 10:57 PM   #19
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We had the opportunity to deliver a 2008 Tiffin 34' TGA, Freightliner chassis, Cummins diesel, front engine.
Driving experience was much more difficult with the Tiffin. The dash AC, which was recently charged, did not cool the cab area. Had to run the generator to use the roof AC units while driving. Used the windshield fans, tried windows open, etc. The large windshield is a heat capture device.
Once parked, the Tiffin, with 3 slides, is much roomier than the AS.
I enjoy driving my Silverado and really don't find much difference with the AS connected. Not the same with Tiffin.
While both driver and passenger seat have standard safety restraints, those sitting on the sofa do not have shoulder straps. So, backseat riders in Silverado are much safer than sofa riders in the Tiffin.
Bottom line, the trip from FL to CO and then to NE, made me glad I have the AS.
Of course, individual results may vary and past performance is not indicative of future results.
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Old 12-08-2022, 03:46 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
I went from a 40' National Tradewinds to a 26' Airstream.
I loved the MH, but at this stage of my life, it was just too big for one person, too many steps to get in, and the routine costs were too high. $500 oil changes every 5K miles? The air filter was $270, a tire is $500. Then, with all the systems something always needs maintaining. If it goes in for service you have no vehicle.
So, I never lusted after anything other than an Airstream. Looks great, has everything I need, and if I were to replace it, it would be a 30' Classic and I'd go full time.
FWIW:
I concur… “I never lusted after anything other than an Airstream.” Have had three of them in various sizes from large to smaller. And I’ll add that I thoroughly enjoy the iconic look both inside and out. The only brand in a MH that I kinda thought was more attractive than any of our Airstreams is the Newell we saw in the Keys. Much steeper price tag though than anything I’ve read discussed here. Someone else mentioned the journey starts when they step inside their large coach but I’d have to add that for >30 years we’ve always said the same about getting behind the wheel of our tow vehicle when the Airstream is hitched up. For as many years we’ve also said that we live out of the Airstream; not in it. Our sticks and bricks is for living in.

Lil antidote: after spending a week or so next to a huge newer MH in S FL where the owner had a gazillion questions about our Airstream and sat inside his rig (we’ve noticed that’s, not always, but often the case w MH dwellers) staring at our every move coming/going from our rig he got ready to leave on a Sunday morning, we said farewell and safe travels, and he continued preparing for his departure and we left on a bike ride. When we got back several hours later he was still there as was a RV repair van that evidently was called after we left on our bikes. He said when he got ready to leave his slides (3 of them) wouldn’t budge. Repair guy came and fixed slides. Shortly after the repair van left the owner of the MH said now he couldn’t get his steps to retract. Repair guy returned. Took, at minimum, 7 hours to get him ready to leave while camp host tried to figure out what to do with the family who were waiting for that site they’d reserved. Let’s say there were a few more unhappy campers.

I tell this not to knock the other type rig bc things can and do happen but we’ve often wondered if that owner either gave up RVing or is now towing a much simpler and beautiful Airstream. Who knows.
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