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Old 01-11-2017, 05:40 AM   #1
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Airstream vs Jayco: Help Me Gain Perspective for our Year-Long Trip

My family (2 adults, 3 kids) have long wanted to have a year-long adventure of traveling the US. We’re finally at the place where we can do so and have been looking for an RV. Early on, we settled on the Airstream due to its quality construction, ability to hold its value and even the community aspects. We like the Flying Cloud because of the bunks. But it is expensive.

This last weekend we hit an RV convention and were surprised to walk inside a well-reviewed Jayco Jayflight that had two bunk beds inside, a larger floor plan with slide-outs, extra amenities such as an outside cooking area...and it was one third of the price. No, it’s not made as well, and it won’t hold its value, it's heavier and it’s dog-ugly on the outside by comparison, but for a one-year trip, it could be more comfortable for a family of five.

So I’m looking for a bit of perspective, Airstreamers. Are we being seduced by the Dark Side? Or is it more realistic to consider an RV for our situation? What are we missing?
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Old 01-11-2017, 06:29 AM   #2
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Personally with that many occupants, especially with the three young 'uns to cause mess and damage and needing space to be rambunctious, I'd be more tempted to go with the Jayco for now and consider an Airstream later on!

One of our daughters and son in law and two kids went that route - although they do admire our AS and may well opt for one later.

They started with a Jayco with one slide for a couple of years, and have recently moved to one ton diesel truck and a large fifth wheel with multiple slides.

We camp with them quite often, and right now their rig seems a perfect fit for their lifestyle. The amount of space is amazing compared to our 31' AS !

Seems as easy to handle, and their gas mileage unbelievably is just about the same as ours.

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Old 01-11-2017, 06:40 AM   #3
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IMO, hands down, go for the Jayco (or some other white box). I (not we) love traveling in my Airstream. My wife misses what the white box folks offer and I can certainly understand where she is coming from. The best description I've heard for an Airstream is minimalist elegance. I am a minimalist and I enjoy owning the best of the best so I'm willing to make the many compromises entailed in owning and traveling in an Airstream. Net carrying capacity is extremely limited as are tankage and battery storage. Interior locker storage is very compromised by the shape of an airstream and exterior storage is almost non-existent as compared to most other RVs. As far as Airstream holding it's value I think that could be argued. Maybe as a percentage of initial investment Airstreams hold up better but on a pure dollar cost per year of ownership I doubt they win the race. My wife would gladly give up the Airstream for the amenities of something more conventional. I vote Airstream for me, Jayco for you with your wife and three kids. You might not be the grooviest guy in the campground but I'd bet your family will be happier.
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Old 01-11-2017, 06:50 AM   #4
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They (Jayco & Airstream) are NOW one happy family; owned by THOR Industries. How could you go wrong ?
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Old 01-11-2017, 06:52 AM   #5
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With your plans and criteria I would go with the Jayco. Save the Airstream for someone that can give it a good home for life.

Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:00 AM   #6
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We started with a pop-up, when we were camping with the three kids. It was fantastic. We never had a problem, and dry camped all over CO, WY, and MT. It's a great adventure for the family. Now that it's just the two of us, we want a bit less set up, and a bit more luxury. FYI, the pop up had toilet, shower, kitchen, furnace, propane fridge. It could go anywhere, and fir in any campsite. We were all about NFS campgrounds, and really out of the way campgrounds back then. Two canoes on the SUV, and five bikes on the pop-up. (We did take grandma one time, but no rocking chair.) We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies going down the road.. Nothing but great memories. Have a blast with whatever you decide. (You could even rent a time or two, to see how you like it.)
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:06 AM   #7
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Sounds like the Jayco may be better suited for your journey, and after its complete, trade up to the Airstream.

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Old 01-11-2017, 07:16 AM   #8
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Given that its a year long trip, you'd be much happier in Jayco. Aluminium trailers are really suited for a couple. The price of a Jayco could be similar to depreciation of a brand new Airstream.
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by JuryDuty View Post

This last weekend we hit an RV convention and were surprised to walk inside a well-reviewed Jayco Jayflight that had two bunk beds inside, a larger floor plan with slide-outs, extra amenities such as an outside cooking area...and it was one third of the price. No, itís not made as well, and it wonít hold its value, it's heavier and itís dog-ugly on the outside by comparison, but for a one-year trip, it could be more comfortable for a family of five.
If I had the same situation as you I would get the Jayco now, an Airstream later.
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:57 AM   #10
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Here's my take...

When I was a kid my dad had a pickup camper for family of five. I slept in the cab of the truck. It was all about the adventure not the comfort. That said we had great times and I loved it.

Jayco is a very good brand in the box trailer world. Problem is they have issues like all the others and the resale is terrible. Plan to just give it away when done. Yes, I have been there done that...never again!

To me a better approach would be to buy a nice used Airstream that the family can fit into and sleep (even putting one on the floor) would be the better choice. Dollar for dollar you will be a happy camper and enjoy your trip more in a Airstream.
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:02 AM   #11
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I'll offer a slightly different perspective. Find a used fifth wheel that suits you. You will pay less than you would for a new one, and you won't lose as much when you sell it in a year. Look for a Bighorn or Landmark from Heartland, a Montana, etc. Check PPL for prices, even if they are too far away to actually buy.

You didn't mention the ages of your three children. Three teens is a whole different ballgame than three preschoolers.
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:39 AM   #12
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Appreciate all these responses! Did not expect to get so many votes for the Jayco on the Airstream forums.

This is very insightful for us--I think we may just do what several of you have suggested and get a Jayco for this trip, and eventually get an Airstream when the kids are grown.
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:44 AM   #13
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Is this about traveling or camping?

A Jayco with slideouts makes a great camping trailer. Go to a park, set up, slides out, cook outdoors. Put the kids on bikes, and set out your camp chairs to read in the shade of the forest trees, or pitch your umbrella and lie on the beach. Take daytrips from your campground.

Airstream is a great travel trailer. Easy to tow, pull it anywhere. Stop anywhere. Stay anywhere. Pull off the road for a quick lunch. Stop at every scenic lookout, and every historical marker. AS is suited for people on the move.

The Jayco can be used for travel, but you may tire of extending the slideouts just to open the fridge door or get to the bedroom for a fresh pair of socks. It’s not aerodynamic and won’t pull as comfortably as an AS.

Airstream can be used as a park trailer too, but again, it has less play room than a camper with slideouts. Could get ugly on rainy days. No outdoor widescreen HDTV.

A motorhome may be the best of both worlds. It’s great for a family on the move; way more comfortable when dad’s behind the wheel. This could be much cheaper if you don’t already have a tow vehicle, and especially so if you only plan to keep it for a year.

Is there a chance you will want to keep the trailer? Prepare for the worst: Expect the Jayco (or just about anything other than an AS) to self-destruct in 10 yrs. Dead. Expect the Airstream to need massive renovation in 20 yrs. Reborn.
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:17 AM   #14
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It's a valid question, glad you're asking!

My wife, 2 kiddos, dog and I live on the road in our 31' AS. We asked this same question early on... We had to make a decision about what our motivation was for hitting the road. Did we want to simply take as much of our stuff with us and try to have most (if not all) of the same comforts we had at home while on the road? Or did we want a lifestyle that differed greatly from what we were accustomed to?

We opted for the 2nd option... something different. That decision was what pointed us in the direction of the Airstream... we wanted a travel trailer that facilitated a minimalist "Less stuff, more experiences" lifestyle. True, Airstreams do not have the internal square footage or storage capacity of white box trailers, but that forced us to *choose* what to bring with us, the process of which naturally shed a lot of the things that were bogging us down.

What an amazing experience you are planning for your family. Good for you! How exciting! My advice, whichever travel trailer you choose, embrace a "less is more" mentality that will enable you to live in the moment (good or bad) and not have to spend too much time "managing" your new home on wheels.

See you on the road!
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Old 01-11-2017, 10:21 AM   #15
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The Jaco for a year long trip with kids would be my vote. Personal space for everyone when they need it, more storage for things the kids need, more space for 5 persons to live in. The AS is better suited for a couple on a long journey. Just my opinion as someone with two kids and a lab.
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Old 01-11-2017, 10:32 AM   #16
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If you absolutely want to avoid SOBs, IMO, your best bet would be a modified 34' Airstream/Avion, where you would add 2 bunk beds in front/rear. Avions have significantly more interior/exterior storage than Airstreams and, since they are not as popular as Airstreams, you can find one for a very reasonable price. Still, an SOB would be more spacious and would have more interior/exterior storage. Best of luck!
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Old 01-11-2017, 10:42 AM   #17
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Get the Jayco. There is such a thing as too much closeness.

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Old 01-11-2017, 10:44 AM   #18
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Well, I'm in the "purchase a Jayco" grouping .

We travelled with our three children for a summer with a pop-up tent trailer and had a blast (though I would never travel for a year in a pop-up!) and have travelled with our two grown children and 15 year old in our 25' Airstream for a month. Have also spent two months in a rented motorhome in Australia and New Zealand with our 15 year old.

My thoughts: Jayco for a third of the price allows you to conserve cash for a family's future needs (let alone spending less right now!), you will have much less concern when things get worn/damaged as they will when traveling with kids for a year, you will have SO much more room inside as well as for outside-accessible storage, and you'll find out what you like and don't like about your particular trailer with a year of experience under your belt for, again, a lot less money.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:13 AM   #19
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We do a annual campout w/wifes cousin that started when he had class c now has jayco fifth wheel w/ 2 slide outs vary nice. I did not have very good impression of jayco when started with canvas pop up then box trailers that were cheaply constructed. I changed mind set last summer with his when I learned they are welded aluminum tubing frame and light wght. I would never pur. 1 as to large over all to feel comfortable towing. [still tow large impl. trailers] but when pleasure AS is for me as we are out doors people no tv. I also think for you and family would be way to go even tho I have owned AS since 1963. We started on ground then back of st. wagon then tent then several small box trailers, enjoyed all, only now have wife pull boat when we do both.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:15 AM   #20
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Well said. I liked your comments, I copied and pasted into my notebook for future reference!
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