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Old 06-03-2020, 06:28 PM   #1
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Should I take the plunge and buy an Airstream?

Hi there. Long time lurker. I love these forums.

My question is whether my wife and I should take the plunge and get an airstream? I know this is in some respects unanswerable, but I would love to hear folksí views.

I love the IDEA of having an airstream and I am a sucker for the marketing and the beautiful Instagram pictures of airstreams sitting next to picturesque lakes and mountains..

I know the reality of it will be different.

We are in our mid 50s and have children in college. I am taking a year or two off after having worked at the same company for 21 years. We have the luck of being financially secure for now at least.

We would probably use it for long weekends and for one or two long trips each year out west. We live on the East Coast.

We like hiking and the outdoors but the way we do these trips now is flying somewhere and staying in a hotel and hanging out in towns, going to bars and restaurants, etc.

I havenít pictured myself really as a an RV person, although I do picture myself hanging out in an airstream. But I worry that Iíll miss staying Ďin towní when I travel, or that Iíll end up in crowded trailer parks rather than in the picturesque places in my unrealistic airstream fantasies.

Iím curious if any of you felt any of these thoughts and how it turned out?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-03-2020, 07:06 PM   #2
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We are in a similar situation but are sticking it out with our business for a few more years. We just got a new Sport 22FB 2019 Model. We expect to use it about 10 times this year (maybe more if we can) Our camping season runs from February to November so we have a lot of opportunity to get out. Our new reality looks like more time in the trailer and less time in planes, trains, restaurants and other public places. We would be looking at going away travelling to some far away land but now we have our house on wheels to travel around closer to home for the foreseeable future.

These trailers are really something special but do come with some initial issues which, if you are handy, can be easily corrected. Best advice that everyone says is go through the trailer you are interested in and be critical of every little thing. Make sure everything works sit on the seats, lay on the bed, try out the pillows, take a shower. If you find anything not to your liking try to get repairs done right away preferably before you leave the dealership.

We didn't have that opportunity or the awareness to do this thorough inspection either and now we are dealing with little issues which are taking some time to correct. I am slowly working through them so by the time we go back to the dealership everything will be fixed! We shouldn't be focused on repairs, we should be out enjoying the trailer.

Here are some shots of our first trip with our new trailer a few weeks ago. It is possible to get some spots that are quite nice!

Happy trails!
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Old 06-03-2020, 08:09 PM   #3
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It's just fun! There are times it might be a little challenging, and you will find yourself in crowded campsites...sometimes. But mostly it's a great adventure to get out there and explore. The longer you wait, the harder it may be to really enjoy the RV lifestyle. The question is answerable, but only by you. The water is fine!
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Old 06-03-2020, 08:27 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum. As you already know it's a great place, with great people who are willing to share.

My advice, based on my own experience, is to get your AS now. Don't wait till the "right" time because there is always something that could prevent you from doing so. I wish we would have bought our first AS much sooner. I'd have even more good memories.

And as you mentioned, there is a certain amount of AS advertising hype although we have found some spots on the lake. We have had great times traveling in our AS. We like to find an area we wish to visit, then find a campground (public or private depending). We spend a lot of time in small towns, exploring the area. It seems as though there is always something of interest to enjoy. No need to miss what the small towns have to offer.

I hope this bit of advice helps and wish you the best in your decision making process!
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Old 06-03-2020, 08:34 PM   #5
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The first question is RV or not? A trailer is the best RV if you have an acceptable tow vehicle as a daily driver and is even more cost effective if you have storage. We believe a class C is the best RV for a family. It's not hard to drive and has beds. The Class A is the most expensive, but gives you living space. Gas powered As can be good value.

The AS is a wonderful RV for two people, has a great community and is a good solution for people with time. The weekend traveler who goes to New Orleans this month, Las Vegas next month and then takes in a NYC Broadway play is not going to do well with an RV. It's why many folks go with an RV in retirement.

You are off work. Rent a Cruise America Class C RV. Visit the Airstream factory, the Tiffin Motorhome factory, the Winnebago factory and any other that might be of interest. Add some interesting sites on your route. After seeing those facilities and talking with the people along the way, you will have a better idea of what is a good plan for you and your wife. Nothing like doing it to learn about it.

Good luck. Hope to meet you down the road with a smile. Pat
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Old 06-03-2020, 08:41 PM   #6
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Yes now is the right time for YOU to buy an Airstream.

Welcome to the Forum and glad you asked. Yes now is the right time to buy an Airstream. Given the fact that you are even considering it makes you an admirable candidate for a "used" trailer. USED because if you really are not comfortable after 6 months or so then sell it for probably what you paid for it. Advise staying away from a brand new rig your first RV. You'll be avoiding warranty issues, depreciation, and "oops..this length/layout isn't what I quite wanted".
So just shop around the many sites and locations and find yourself a nice used model. FYI...I have never owned a new trailer in 26 years and I am now on Airstream #7. They all served their purposes well for whatever I needed or how I was camping/traveling at the time.
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Old 06-03-2020, 09:03 PM   #7
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I know the reality of it will be different.
Not too much! I love it.
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Old 06-03-2020, 09:39 PM   #8
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My question for you is this.
Do you like to drive?
I mean. Really drive.
Do you like the journey as well as the destination?
If you, right now, had to visit a relative in say Portland, would you enjoy, would it fill you with pleasure, to drive there and take 8 or 10 days getting there?

If you find driving kind of relaxing, and you enjoy the time to pull back from electronics and really listen to music and news and sports (in typical time where there is a variety of all 3) and converse with your spouse, and sit in a car for an 8 or 10 hour day if the destination for the night is just one more stop on you way to someplace really awesome like a national park or a city where you have something fun planned.

Then yes.

If what I just typed sounds like you, in a car, living out the Griswold vacation on a loop, and you would rather just actually get on a plane and be there in half a day, despite the cost and the other people and the crying babies and the dried out hockey puck food (no offense to hockey) and the delays and the TSA lines and the crazy Uber driver with too much fabreeze and cologne and the hotel taxes but wow Portland is great, then no.

You can still enjoy some lovely dinners at those amazing hotel restaurants even if you get the Airstream. Last summer we drove Kansas City to Glacier NP and Banff NP in Canada. Our 2 adult kids came as well. Great trip. One of the highlights of the trip was an amazing dinner at the Lake Louise Fairmont. Which fits the budget if you are mostly eating in the Airstream (we like to cook and cook amazing meals in the Airstream).
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Old 06-03-2020, 11:24 PM   #9
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I am seeing a few red flags in your post. I might be wrong but here goes.


Have you ever camped out of a trailer? Is your idea of "camping" catching a plane to a destination, getting a motel room and using that as your base to go out and see the sights? Are you on a limited time schedule, with a three day weekend here and there?


We have always camped, first in a tent and then in a tent trailer with our two daughters. We did this for 17 years. After they left we moved "up" to a hybrid for the built in fridge, bathroom and kitchen. After about 5 years of that we were looking at retirement and planned on taking long trips to see much of the west. We liked the Airstream MAINLY because of the sturdiness of the build. No, they are not perfect but I really believe that they are much better than your typical white box. We also wanted a basic trailer. No fireplaces, no outside televisions, no bunk beds, no outside kitchens, etc. The Airstream fit the bill for us.



We bought our 2006 in 2009. It was used very lightly and in pretty good shape. We paid less than the guy owed on it so we felt good about the deal. Ours in now going on 15 years old and I would put it up against any 14 year old trailer on the road. If I sold it today I don't think I could get

the full price I paid all those years ago, but It would be pretty close.


If you are looking for the glamor and allure of sitting beside your shiny Airstream with the lake in the background while people file by oohing and awing at the sight, you might want to reconsider. These things have actually happened to us, but they don't happen often.


Think about what you will do with a trailer. I agree that a trailer has may benefits over other RVs. You can tow it to your destination, you can park it and put your bikes or fishing gear in the back of your TV and head up into the mountains or the beach and enjoy the day.



We have towed ours close to 50K miles so far and have had great times doing all of that. Best wishes to you. I do believe that trailers are the best and if you want the best trailer, Airstream is it.
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Old 06-04-2020, 12:54 AM   #10
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Welcome to the forum.

Hi, For us it's like magic. I drive to a location away from home. Find a camp ground and settle in. Take my tow vehicle to town, restaurants, museums, or any other attraction. After I have done and seen everything, I head back to my trailer. Now the good part; I have my own bedroom, bathroom, Livingroom, and kitchen. We don't have to share this with anyone. Going to motels is like going to a stranger's house every day.
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Old 06-04-2020, 03:48 AM   #11
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I am kind of a negative guy about all of this. First, in the East, at least, most campgrounds are pretty busy during the season. Private campgrounds pack in the trailers, a revenue thing. Public campgrounds give you more of a feeling of being in the great outdoors, but often have fewer amenities. I believe camping is going to be more popular and campgrounds will be even more crowded. It just is not like my youth days of backpacking in the wilderness. I enjoyed sailing much more, anchoring in usually uncrowded places.
Next, Airstream trailers do not live up to the hype...study this forum. You will be taking on continuing maintenance and some frustration. If you are handy, you will always have projects. If not, you will be making trips to a dealer. If you want this added to your life, great.
Lastly, the single best thing about an Airstream is the community and the people you meet. Join a local unit and WBCCI and you will meet and camp with some great people who will become good friends.
If you are going to do this, there is no reason to wait. As said above, buy used and jump in.
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:38 AM   #12
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Money, Money, Money If you have never camped or travelled in a trailer I would suggest to rent for a trip ( like for the summer). Buying an AS is an investment. Second, Buy your first one lovingly pre-owned. There is a huge cost saving here. Note that AS are not only expensive to buy but require maintenance and if damaged are expensive to repair.

We have been camping for well over 20 years before we invested $35,000US ($50,000CDN) in our 16 year old AS - which by the way is a beautiful thing.
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:54 AM   #13
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Since you asked, hereís my feelings. If youíve never RV camped (or limited camping in general) Iíd NOT choose an Airstream for my first RV. Why? Simply because the initial investment is sooooo high. Between a suitable tow rig (if you donít already own one) and a new mid size Airstream youíre looking at about a $150k investment. If you decide after a few months that you donít like Airstreaming (happens more often than you might think) youíll take a huge loss getting rid of it. Thereís many other brands that can be had for less than half to half as much as a similar sized RV. Try that for a couple of years, then decide if youíd like to invest in an airstream.

I didnít buy my Airstream until after 27 years and three other rvs and years of tent camping. I hate seeing people make expensive mistakes.
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Old 06-04-2020, 10:13 AM   #14
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I am in my mid 50s and our 3 kids are out of the house too! My wife & I were scheduled to rent an Airstream in April but the rental was cancelled because of the virus.

On a crazy impulse, my wife purchased a slightly used 2018 23RB off of Ebay in April. The seller was a used car dealer 450 miles away and I had to pick up the Airstream the next day because the dealer needed the money and space.

So far it has been quite the adventure. On the pickup day I learned about tow sway bars and how important they are. I had to keep under 60 mph all the way home. On the first camping trip i learned about De-winterizing & the yellow water valve hidden behind the hot water heater. I'm still a bit scared of the big front awning. (We have been watching a bunch of youtube videos)

I do have my own business and work crazing hours even during these virus times and one thing I can tell you. After a quick setup I sat in my camp chair and for the first time in a while I had absolutely nothing to do. It was refreshing & relaxing. Also that night it rained, with the air conditioner running and the rain hitting the top of the trailer it has been a long time since i slept that sound.

We are looking forward to our second Airstream camping adventure this weekend.

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Old 06-04-2020, 10:23 AM   #15
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I come from an army family who would rather NOT stay in a tent or camp, but in a hotel and visit museums. My husband comes from a large, canoeing, fishing camping family. We have camped in tents, and as soon as I step outside any gnat ,mosquito or ant in the area heads right for me. So camping as always been fraught with nuisances. When we got a dog, we thought we would still travel but go the hotel route. Well, that didn't work, as she gets nervous hearing footsteps in the hall outside of the room. So RV'ng was our last resort. The husband wanted to keep going outdoors and see the USA. So we got a Bambi. As someone filled with anxieties, the camping adventures now work out better as long as I have my lists, and have my hooking/unhooking checklist handy. There is something calming and soothing about shutting the door of an airstream, knowing you are "inside", as compared to a tent, which if it doesn't eventually leak, or get flooded, can be just a thin layer between you and a moose or bear. Last year we went to the Grand Canyon from Florida on the way to Maine. We stopped 16 times to see the USA, and by the time we got to Maine, I was way beyond used up. Between sleeping with the dog (and getting up early to pee her), and my husband who enthusiastically talked the whole way with facts, questions, comments and opinions, 16 stops or 3 weeks was a bit long for me. So, my point? If you want to have a stylish RV, Airstream is the way to go, no SOB's with boxy shapes and swirly things all over it. If you like camping outdoors, and want the convenience of having all of your basic needs met, Airstream is the way to go. We bought ours used, and I recommend that as well. My little "story" about how I tolerated the long trip illustrates that you have to realize the "idea" of camping in an Airstream or any RV for that matter, and what that means.
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Old 06-04-2020, 10:26 AM   #16
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If you've never camped or traveled in an RV -rent one and see what you like and what you don't. Far less expensive that purchasing and it will clarify instantly whether you are really ready or just daydreaming.

If you are hankering for an RV, it is best to determine your RV IQ BEFORE you take the plunge, there are lots of slightly used trailers out there purchased impulsively by folks who thought it would be fun.

1. Do you have a decent tow vehicle? So many folks purchase a trailer without really calculating whether their vehicle will work and wind up having to purchase a big, gas guzzling monster to actually travel with the trailer.

2. Do you like to drive? RVs of any kind are not for folks who don't like driving or riding for any distance. One to two hours trips are a great start, but to really enjoy yourself you will need to go farther from home.

3. Do you like to learn on your own? Trailers have a wonderful array of systems all which are different from your regular house and you need to be able to operate them as well as the best way to use them to be successful. A full day lecture at the dealer is nice, but doesn't necessarily all you need. Took us three years to actually become efficient with our black waste tank...and we kept blaming out issues on faulty sensors. Nope, faulty users.

4. Do you like to do/fix things yourself? With rare exception, a trailer offers plenty of time to customize and problem solve. Even with a new trailer there's bound to be any number of "what the heck?" moments. Often problems arise when you are nowhere near your dealer and getting things working is just up to you.

5. Also consider what you will need as far as facilities when you travel. That will allow you to customize your system before you start and discover you really needed something else.

Some folks are fine boondocking, but that means their trailer needs solar, extra water storage and monitored sewer systems before they start, plus outdoor chair, fire pits, whatever they will need. There is a middle class of camping in "improved" parks that may offer picnic tables, pit toilets and centrally located water spigots but you still may need solar, water jugs, and a clear idea of how often you need to clean out the waste water. Big, fancy RV parks also exist with sewer, water, electricity and WiFi (well, they say they have WiFi...and sometimes they actually do if you are close enough to the signal or willing to sit at the central office), the price can rival a hotel!
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Old 06-04-2020, 10:59 AM   #17
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Ridge line?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB_NB View Post
We are in a similar situation but are sticking it out with our business for a few more years. We just got a new Sport 22FB 2019 Model. We expect to use it about 10 times this year (maybe more if we can) Our camping season runs from February to November so we have a lot of opportunity to get out. Our new reality looks like more time in the trailer and less time in planes, trains, restaurants and other public places. We would be looking at going away travelling to some far away land but now we have our house on wheels to travel around closer to home for the foreseeable future.

These trailers are really something special but do come with some initial issues which, if you are handy, can be easily corrected. Best advice that everyone says is go through the trailer you are interested in and be critical of every little thing. Make sure everything works sit on the seats, lay on the bed, try out the pillows, take a shower. If you find anything not to your liking try to get repairs done right away preferably before you leave the dealership.

We didn't have that opportunity or the awareness to do this thorough inspection either and now we are dealing with little issues which are taking some time to correct. I am slowly working through them so by the time we go back to the dealership everything will be fixed! We shouldn't be focused on repairs, we should be out enjoying the trailer.

Here are some shots of our first trip with our new trailer a few weeks ago. It is possible to get some spots that are quite nice!

Happy trails!
Hello there... just curious, how do you find your Ridgeline for towing your trailer? (OK in the mountains?)

Thx, just noticed your pictures and your 22FB, and thought I would ask

Thank You!
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Old 06-04-2020, 12:56 PM   #18
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We too are future Airstream owners, but I can share some personal thoughts that might help.

Some folks have already raised some great points and asked some very thoughtful questions to provide some valid reality checks, so I won't further comment along those lines. Likewise the equally valid considerations about cost, proper tow vehicles, and the like. That all absolutely matters, but I'm going to go bigger picture here.

I'm 53, soon to be 54. We enjoyed tent camping for many years but stopped about 7 or 8 years ago because it was getting a little uncomfortable unless the weather was just right, and wasn't as much fun as it used to be. I'd thought about getting a camper for quite some time but talked myself out of it because I didn't want to spend the money and wondered if I'd make the time.

Fast forward to last year where I witnessed a succession of friends and acquaintances passing away shortly after they retired. To one degree or another, they'd prepared fairly well for retirement, doing all of the "right" things in terms of saving, investing, scrimping, and waiting.

One fell down and ended up spending two years in assisted living and rehab and spending nearly all of her life savings in the process. Another died 6 months after retiring with a hefty bank account and a bunch of bucket list trips unfulfilled.

The last straw was an old friend who used to camp with his wife and kids early in their marriage. During his working years, he didn't have time to camp anymore, but they started to make post-retirement plans to pick it back up. Autumn before last, they'd saved up and found a used pick-up and a truck camper to fit in it. She spent the winter making curtains, buying stuff for the kitchen, and picking out bedding. He spent time fixing mechanical things. The following Spring she became suddenly and unexpectedly ill and passed away shortly thereafter. The camper sat for over a year because he couldn't bring himself to take it out without her. Only last year did he finally go, and every trip is bittersweet.

Adding to the equation, I had a heart attack three years ago. I was a healthy weight, good cholesterol, active, never smoked, don't drink, no diabetes - just a history of heart disease on both sides of the family. Three stents later, I got a second chance at living.

When that happened, I make the conscious choice to make sure I lived before I was ready to die.

We bought our first camper - a T@B 400 teardrop - last August and have enjoyed every minute we spend in it. We haven't taken any long trips yet, but we have done several long weekend jaunts and have even work camped (we both work remotely anyway) at nearby state parks.

I'm not suggesting anyone be irresponsible and buy something they can't afford, or go into something headfirst without thinking it through, but I also wouldn't overthink it. If you end up liking it and can make your own version of the compelling scenarios on the brochures and magazines, fantastic! If you find out it's not for you, you might lose a few bucks. Big deal. You'll make more.

Bottom line: You can't change yesterday. Tomorrow is not promised. All we have is today, and I'm committed to making the most of it.
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Old 06-04-2020, 01:16 PM   #19
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As others have said, if you don't have camping experince, rent first.

Wife and I both tent camped as kids. We got a popup when our kids were small -- camping is a wonderful activity for kids. When they got older, we got away from RVing for a few years but got back into it after they were gone. We started with a 'cheap' SOB trailer, decided we liked RVing, moved up to a 5th wheel. That was too big! They don't fit in many state or national parks, so we ended up in the 'private RV parking lots' a lot & didn't care for that. Decided we wanted to go smaller but wanted quality after HUGE problems with the 5th wheel. Tried a smaller Class A but hated the way it drove. Then we 'discovered' Airstream. You'll see a lot of complaints about quality on the forum here. AS isn't perfect but is by far better built than other brands. Have had our AS for almost 2 years now & are VERY happy with it.

BTW, I see you're in the DC area. Virginia has some of the nicest state parks we've seen. When we lived in Crofton, we went down to VA a lot for weekends. There's also some nice state parks up in PA, not too far from your area.

Best of luck with your decision process!
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Old 06-04-2020, 01:31 PM   #20
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Thoughts from a lotta miles in an Airstream. In no particular order or significance.

I like staying in my trailer a lot more than I like staying in a motel. We still go out to eat when we want. We do not really eat out a lot.

It takes a lot longer to get to a destination with the trailer. But you can carry all your stuff.

For a few weekends and and one two week trip a year it is cheaper to fly and stay in motels and rent a car

We absolutely knew that traveling long times and long distances in a camper is what we wanted to do when we retired. 13 years later we still know we were right and have spent 5 months or more a year in one of our 2 trailers.

It is not as easy as just getting a trailer. We had to adjust to a 2500 truck too. But whatever, you end up running around the whole time you are camping in the TV.

For a couple of months trip, which is what we mostly take..well I just would not do it without the trailer.

Some campgrounds actually are pretty and in good locations.

Many campgrounds are just a place to stay.
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